Family violence

The New Zealand situation…

  • Appallingly New Zealand has the worst rate of family and intimate-partner violence in the developed world.
  • There were 165,039 family violence investigations recorded by NZ Police in 2020.
  • 80 per cent of domestic violence incidents go unreported — so what we know of family violence in our community is just the tip of a massive problem.
  • 1 in 3 (35%) New Zealand women have experienced physical or sexual assault in their lifetime. Including psychological/emotional abuse, 55% NZ women have experienced assault and/or abuse in their lifetime . The rates are higher for Māori women, non-white women and migrant women.
  • Half of female homicide victims 18 or older are killed by a partner or ex-partner. In 98% of these deaths the women had a history of abuse by their male partner.
  • 35% of Kiwi men report being physically violent to their partner
  • Around 1 in 3 New Zealand women and 1 in 10 men report having experienced child sexual abuse.
  • One in five female secondary school students report having experienced unwanted sexual contact (2017).
  • We rate 3rd highest for child homicide out of 27 OECD countries
  • There were 71,400 reports of concern, relating to 52,600 children and young people made to Oranga Tamariki - Ministry of Children in 2021.

So, what does this all mean?  It means that New Zealand has a terrible record at protecting our most vulnerable citizens, and that we as Government agencies, communities and individuals, need to take some action to improve this situation.

What the Church is doing about it

As well as taking a public stance against family violence, Presbyterian parishes around NZ are working to help build stronger families.  We believe this is the cornerstone of fixing the country’s appalling family violence record.  Some of the things we’re doing to strengthen families are:

  • Parishes throughout New Zealand support and participate in White Ribbon Day 25 Nov - an international day which aims to eliminate men's violence against women - in various ways. See previous Church White Ribbon campaigns here. Some parishes work with Presbyterian Support for joint White Ribbon events. 
  • Current PCANZ White Ribbon NZ Ambassador since 2022 is Rev Hana Popea. Very Rev Ray Coster was the previous Ambassador, appointed in 2016. The PCANZ White Ribbon Ambassador prepares resources for parishes and speaks at Church and public gatherings to raise awareness about domestic and family violence against women and children, and to equip and resource change in our communities.
  • Since April 2022, the Church has committed to actively support and promote the World Council of Churches’ Thursdays in Black campaign, committing to a world free of violence and rape.
  • In 2008 the PCANZ produced a resource for all its parishes to study and use, Caring for our Children.
  • Operating formal early childhood education centres in various locations around New Zealand including Otahuhu (St Andrew’s community Presbyterian), St Heliers and Mangere Pacific Island Church, which is of the biggest preschools in the country with 120 children.  St Andrew’s College in Christchurch also provides preschool education, as does Wellington’s St John’s in the City.
  • Providing fellowship meetings for parents and children including music and movement classes like Mainly Music.
  • Running coffee and worship groups for teens and young people to congregate, reflect and hang-out in a safe environment
  • Running youth groups that teach life skills as part of their regular programmes, which cover things like anger management
  • Offering relationship counselling and parenting courses are at various parishes around New Zealand

Check out what the Church has said about family violence and other important community issues in our media releases and in our White Ribbon communications.

  • Church says no to family violence At its November 2016 General Assembly the Church endorsed the "Justice in Action: We Say Yes" statement produced with Presbyterian Support NZ: "We say yes to safe and loving families. We say no to family violence. Therefore we support White Ribbon and Neighbours Day and conversations in our communities that break the silence on family violence." Read more.
  • Church supports Thursdays in Black At Special Assembly April 2022, Presbyterian Woman Aotearoa New Zealand successfully brought a recommendation that the PCANZ actively support and promote the World Council of Churches’ Thursdays in Black campaign, committing to a world free of violence and rape. Read more.
  • Read the Church's submission on family violence (2015) Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand Submission: Strengthening New Zealand Legislative Response to Family Violence. Read here.

Where you can get more info

Christian perspective on issues associated with family violence

  • Faith Communities Workshops on Family Violence: A presentation by Children's Commissioner Dr Russell Wills at July 2013 workshops held to support faith leaders to put their commitment to address family violence into action. Download.
  • Creating change - working with faith communities to prevent family violence. A presentation by Sheryl Hann from the 'It's not OK' campaign at the July 2013 workshops held to support faith leaders to put their commitment to address family violence into action. Download.
  • Christian Faith and Family Violence: A Report for Samoan Communities in New Zealand by Dr Mercy Ah Siu-Maliko. See the University of Otago Centre for Theology and Public Issues for this report in Samoan and English here.

Resources (see also Help Services below)

  • New Zealand Family Violence Clearing House: is the national centre for collating and disseminating information about domestic and family violence in New Zealand. It provides information and resources for people working towards the elimination of family violence.
  • Families Commission: information about actions you can take to prevent family violence in your community, check out the Families Commission website. 
  • White Ribbon NZ: White Ribbon Day, 25 November, is the international day when people wear a white ribbon to show that they do not condone violence towards women. It celebrates the many men willing to show leadership and commitment to promoting safe, healthy relationships within families and encourages men to challenge each other on attitudes and behaviour that are abusive.
  • Family Violence It's Not Ok see website for resources.
  • E Tū Whānau movement for positive change developed by Māori for Māori. 
  • He Are Mataora - tools to stop violence (a collaboration between Te Wānanga o Raukawa and Creative Interventions)
  • Pasefika Proud pathway for change.
  • NZ Police - See information and resources on the Family Harm approach by NZ Police which aims to drive down the significant harm experienced by families in New Zealand. 

Help services

  • Police If you require immediate help - you are afraid for your safety and or for those around you and or someone has been assaulted, phone 111 the emergency number for the Police. If you are in danger but can't talk see here how to phone the Police without talking to them.

Many services are available in the community to help those who are impacted by family violence.  These services include:

  • Women’s Refuge New Zealand’s largest nation-wide organisation that supports and helps women and children experiencing family violence. Their vision is for all women and children in Aotearoa to live free from domestic and family violence.
  • The National Network of Stopping Violence Services (NZ) Is a federation of community agencies offering men's violence and abuse prevention programmes, support and education programmes for women who have experienced domestic violence, programmes for youth and community education on domestic violence prevention.
  • Ministry of Justice public register of services. NZ public register of family violence safety and nonviolence programme providers.
  • Shine. Part of Presbyterian Support Northern and a leading specialist domestic abuse service provider in Auckland.
  • STOP. Stop provides community-based assessment and intervention services for adolescents and adults who have engaged in harmful sexual behaviour. 
  • Family Violence It's Not Ok list of the key family violence services, the help that they offer, and how to contact them.
  • Jigsaw Is a network of community-based agencies advocating for children and supporting families. The agencies provide parenting support, services for children and a national child abuse hotline.
  • Relationship Services Deliver a wide range of counselling, mediation and education services in 70 communities throughout New Zealand and a wide range of online services.
  • Shakti New Zealand — culturally competent support services for women, children and families of Asian, African and Middle Eastern origin who have experienced domestic violence.
  • Victim Support | Manaaki Tangata
  • Te Kupenga Whakaoti Mahi Patunga - National Network of Family Violence Services