Family harm figures spike following cyclone

As if families haven’t suffered enough with the effects of Cyclone Gabrielle, there are fears of further suffering, this time inflicted in the home. 

Fale Pasifika Women's Refuge has been operating for over 2 years in the central Auckland area under the umbrella of the National Collective Independent Women’s Refuge Inc. They are the only Fale Pasefika Women’s refuge under the umbrella of support for Pasifika people.   

Fale Pasifika Women's Refuge acknowledge that the aftermath of the cyclone was going to be “a difficult time” for many whanau/aiga and their clients would be the top priority. 

“We know they will need help beyond what is usually required as communities begin the process of rebuilding after the cyclone. We have had an increase in need for service and unfortunately this has come with no surprise.”  

“Experience tells us that family violence rates and calls for help increase immediately following natural disasters of this kind, so we are anticipating more calls to our services in the days and weeks to come.” 

Many women may feel alone during this time and might be unsure if they can reach out.  

Fale Pasifika Women’s Refuge really want to get the message out that we are open, operational, and ready to help. 

Women’s Refuge chief executive Dr Ang Jury said that family violence rates and pleas for help rose in the wake of disasters such as Gabrielle and the group was expecting even more calls for its services. 

She told Newshub that many women were feeling alone, and due to the situation were unsure if they could reach out for help. 

“We are open and operational including in the regions affected by the cyclone. We strongly encourage anyone experiencing family violence to reach out ... we are here and ready to help,” Dr Jury said. 

The comments of the two groups were supported by Police Commissioner Andrew Coster. 

The Commissioner said family harm figures were up 60 per cent since the cyclone struck Aotearoa in mid-February. 

Police Commissioner Coster said this was “not surprising” given the challenges facing families. 

“We can understand the pressure that is on communities (affected), no doubt that is playing out in a range of ways in terms of tension ... people are under pressure,” he said. 

The rise in family violence figures mirrors those from the lockdown Covid periods New Zealanders endured. 

During the 2020 and 2021 Level 4 lockdowns authorities noted an increase in violence for some living together. 

Kiri Carter, of crisis service Shine, said at the time many New Zealanders were trapped in a situation where they were forced to spend all their time with an abusive partner, family member or flatmate, with very few options for escape. 

There were now fears the after-effects of the cyclone could produce a similar situation for vulnerable people. 

At the time of lockdown, Ms Carter told the NZ Herald that family violence wasn’t just physical violence, but a range of coercive/controlling behaviours. 

“It’s OK to ask for help, whether you are experiencing family violence or worried about your own abusive behaviour,” she said. 


Pasefika Proud and many others in our community take family violence and sexual violence very seriously. All forms of violence are crime. 

You have the right to be safe. If you are a victim of violence or abuse, or there is someone that makes you fearful, threatens or harasses you, seek help as soon as possible.  

If you’re feeling angry or worried you might hurt someone, call, or message one of the helplines below. Help is available.  

You are not alone. Talk to someone you trust. The national helplines listed below have people ready to listen and help, whether you’re experiencing violence or abuse, worried you might hurt someone, or are concerned about others.  

If you’re in danger, call the Police on 111. 

If you can’t call for help, get out of the house and ask a neighbour or someone else to call 111. 

If you are concerned that you or someone else will be harmed, phone the Police on 111. When it’s not safe to talk, press 55 if you require emergency assistance.  

Call the helplines to find out how to help someone else if they are telling you they are being harmed or if you’re concerned. We have a collective responsibility to look out for and help victims, their families and whānau, and to ensure people stop using violence. 

CLICK HERE for Auckland Family Violence Service Providers 

CLICK HERE for Family Violence Service Providers Outside Auckland 

CLICK HERE for Ministry of Social Development Family Services Directory 
To download a PDF file of the following links / resources PLEASE CLICK HERE