History of the Awhina Society Inc.
In 1977, the Taupo Baptist Church, the Inter Church Welfare Society and the Taupo District Council created the Awhina Society Incorporated. At this time the purpose of the Awhina Society Inc. was to provide emergency accommodation to families and individuals and to assist people in finding permanent accommodation.
In 1979, the Awhina Society Inc. ran 13 Emergency Houses. However due to changes in government policy it was no longer viable to continue this service. Through the experience with the first Emergency Accommodation house and the subsequent 13 Emergency houses it became apparent that a large number of Women and children whom had experienced violence and abuse in their relationships were seeking assistance from the Awhina Society Inc. As a result of this emerging need the Awhina Society Inc. created the Taupo Women’s Refuge.
In 1991, in response to a request by the Taupo Council of Social Services, the Awhina Society Inc. began to manage the Taupo Community Food bank.
In 1992 the Awhina Society Inc. provided accommodation to single people whom had nowhere else to live or for some reason could not live independently in the ‘Awhina House Hostel’. In 2007 ‘Awhina House’ was sold. The Awhina Society Inc. manages the income from this sale for future initiatives relating to affordable housing in Taupo.
Today the services offered by the Awhina Society Incorporated are the Taupo Women’s Refuge and the Taupo Community Food bank. The Awhina Society has seen many changes throughout the years and has developed services for the Taupo community in response to community requests and the needs apparent in our community. Today the focus of the Awhina Society is to offer a caring helping hand by promoting Women and children to live free from violence and also to reduce the effects of poverty on families and individuals.
The Awhina Society Incorporated
The Awhina Society Incorporated is governed by a governance committee elected from members of the society. There is a constitution setting out the rules of the society. Membership of the governance committee is unpaid. The governance committee meets on a monthly basis to oversee the strategic direction of the society. An annual general meeting (AGM) is held each September. At the AGM position holders within the governance committee are elected. Those positions are; Chairperson, Secretary, Committee Member(s). The governance committee consists of no fewer than 4 and no more than 12 members.
This group also oversees the budget and authorizes the monthly accounts.
Äwhina Society Incorporated employs staff to deliver the core business of the society. 1 full time Society Coordinator, 1 fulltime Food bank coordinator, 1 full time Refuge assistant coordinator and 1 part time financial administrator.
John Pendergrast - Chairperson
Kathy Wiltshire - Secretary
Angela Giddy - Treasurer
Eileen Devane - Committee member
Kevin Taylor - Committee member
Allan Humphries - Committee member
Past committee members
Taupo Women’s Refuge
Paid employees and a large number of dedicated volunteers allow Taupo Women’s Refuge to offer a 24 hour, 7 day a week, 365 days a year Crisis Line. We do not operate a call answering service. We endeavour to always provide a listening ear and an empathetic voice to take your call.
Taupo Women’s Refuge offers assistance, advice, information and at times home support.
Taupo Women’s Refuge networks and maintains positive relationships with the National Collective of Refuges although Taupo Women’s Refuge chooses to be a stand-alone entity and is not part of the collective. Taupo Women’s Refuge meets weekly with the Maori Women’s Refuge and other agencies to provide a coordinated approach to meeting the needs of the whanau with whom we work. It is these strong connections and relationships that contribute to Taupo Women’s Refuge offering a meaningful and effective service.
In 1998 and 2007 the Taupo Women’s Refuge won the Health and Wellbeing category in the Trustpower Awards,
In 2008 the then long time Society Coordinator, Pam McLeod was awarded the Paul Harris Fellow a Rotary International Award for services to the community.
Taupo Community Food bank
The Taupo Community Food bank is run by 1 fulltime staff member and a large number of volunteers. The Food bank Coordinator manages all of the following initiatives all of which contribute to the success of the Taupo Food bank service as well as being available Monday to Friday to see and speak with whanau who need assistance.
Weekly/Monthly and Annual Initiatives
- Approaches by Youth services are encouraged when fund raising ,for spare produce
- Past clients and the public are invited to bake goods, make jams-when required food bank offer ingredients
- Member of the Taupo Civil Defence welfare team
- Bread/Vegetable and Excess Donations are dropped to the Salvation Army Shops for members of the public to access freely
- Emergency bins are filled and distributed to four local schools with breakfast and lunch items
- Volunteers check and replenish bins each school term
- The Taupo Community Food bank distributes Christmas presents to children who may not otherwise receive any gifts. Christmas baskets are also made up for the elderly who may be on their own or have no family in Taupo at Christmas with special treats for them. In December 2011, Taupo Community Food bank coordinator and volunteers sent out 524 gifts, distributed 128 Christmas hampers and dispensed $2000 meat vouchers to families via requests from Taupo Social Services.
- Taupo Harcourt’s Real Estate co-ordinate a Food Bank Appeal promoted by the Taupo Mediaworks team with the Taupo Community Food bank Coordinator at the beginning of December each year throughout the Taupö community. Fire/Police and Ambulance have supported with Staff and noisy vehicles every single year. The non-perishable food collected helps maintain the Food Bank during the year. Emergency Services, Service Groups businesses and Individuals volunteer their time to drive a vehicle, pick up donations at the road side and sort goods into storage.