NZSoS - Sculpture for a Cause

The 12th biannual New Zealand Sculpture OnShore takes place at Fort Takapuna in Narrow Neck this month from 3-18 November. It’s New Zealand’s largest outdoor sculpture exhibition with 90 large works by artists from around the country, with an accompanying gallery packed with smaller scale works for sale throughout the 15 days of the exhibition.

Glass sculptor Sofia Athineou is one of 90 sculptors who have created works for the 2018 NZ Sculpture OnShore exhibition to raise funds for Women's Refuge

But it’s not just about the art, spectacular though that may be. NZ Sculpture OnShore (NZSOS) was established (and continues) to raise funds for Women’s Refuge. Over the 24 years the exhibition has been going, with the support of hundreds of volunteers and a supportive group of sponsors, NZSOS has raised more than $1.65 million to support the work of Women’s Refuge across New Zealand.

Dr Ang Jury, chief executive of Women’s Refuge, says the funds are generally distributed evenly to member refuges across Aotearoa. Other support, such as the Counselling Fund, are administered nationally via an application process with support directed to individual clients and their whanau.

“Last year,” she adds, “more than 40,000 women and children required the assistance of Women’s Refuge. We provide a wide range of services including safe houses, a 24-hour crisis line, education programmes, support and advocacy, practical support and legal help. Essentially we puts lives back together any way we can and we rely heavily on donations and the goodwill of New Zealanders, as we are only partially funded by the government for the round the clock critical services we provide.” 

If you wish to support Women’s Refuge (in addition to attending or volunteering at NZSOS, of course), the best way to help, says Ang, is by cash donation. “If individuals would like to donate goods, we are most appreciative, but would encourage those wishing to do so to contact their local refuge to enquire what is most needed at that particular time. While most of our volunteer opportunities require training due to the sensitive nature of our work, there are volunteer opportunities that arise and we really count on our wonderful supporters who can be generous with their time - like those who volunteer at New Zealand Sculpture OnShore for example!”

This year, funds raised from the exhibition will be used to support the Counselling Fund, which provides sessions with a professional counsellor to support women getting their lives back on track. It will also provide new bed linen and towels for each refuge, and funds for each refuge to improve their safe house environment, with each refuge submitting its own requirements for using their portion of the 2018 donation. Safe house improvements will range from refurbishment of run-down rooms to purchases of furniture, whiteware, soft furnishings or small kitchen appliances; improvements to kitchens and bathrooms; and installing children’s playground equipment. With support from Bunnings and The Warehouse the money raised by NZSOS is “stretched” to allow each refuge to achieve more than the funds alone would do.

While Women’s Refuge is perhaps best known for its provision of safe house for women and their children, Channel Magazine spoke to a Women’s Refuge worker who explained that the scope of work undertaken by Women’s Refuge is far greater than safe houses alone. Whanau Protect, for example, is a service provided across the North Shore and Rodney by Rodney Women’s Refuge for women who do not wish or are unable for various reasons to leave their own homes. This involves a risk assessment, the provision of personal safety alarms, the installation of new locks and window stays, and assistance for the woman to develop a personal safety plan. It can also include installing safety lights.

“Women don’t necessarily go to a safe house,” says the worker. “Our safe house can only take 10 people, and there is often not room. Or some don’t want to leave their home and don’t want their children n to have to change schools. “Each woman has a different safety plan. We also talk to women about a safe room inside the house, and can put a deadlock on that room. When she pushes her alarm, it activates a Priority One call to the police.”

Refuges across the country a crisis line and have workers on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “I’ve worked many a Christmas and Easter,” the Women’s Refuge worker says. “The holiday periods are quite stressful…. We do crisis work but we offer long-term support as well.”

“Family violence doesn’t have a demographic; it’s not unusual to help a woman in a mansion,” she adds. “It takes courage to leave.”

All Women’s Refuge services and programmes (including an education programme for year 10 students that she developed in Rodney) are provided free – but are “invaluable” to the women who need them.

It’s tough work we do,” the worker admits. “We’re hugely appreciative of Sculpture Onshore, and reassuring to know that people support the Refuge movement. It means a lot to us, and to know the community is behind us is special.”

New Zealand Sculpture OnShore, 3-18 November (closed Mondays 5th and 12th)

Fort Takapuna, Narrow Neck

Tickets online at iTicket or at the gate: adults $20, children $5, concession $15, family $45.

By: Christine Young
Issue 93 November 2018. Click HERE to see the article in Channel Magazine online.