Welcome to The Aunties – I’m Jackie. I’m the Aunty In Charge. This is my sixth year of working with women who are living or who have lived in DV.
If you’re curious about what I/we do, it is simply this. I am the interface between a number of community organisations, and a burgeoning number of individual women, and a group of people called The Aunties.
(There is still some idea that I work with women in refuges. I stopped doing that almost a year ago. All 300 women I see in a year are not in refuges. Some of them are leading violence free lives, and some of them aren’t. A couple are in “hiding”, most are not. Some of them have been in women’s refuges, some of them haven’t. They all live in the community – mostly in South Auckland – and they are all people of extraordinary spirit and heart. But they are NOT in women’s refuges.)
The Aunties primary focus is to provide the material needs for the people who use the services of those organisations, and for the women that I have as individual clients.
The organisations/people we support are: Te Rōopu O Te Whānau Te Rangimariē O Tamaki Makaūrau; The NZ Prostitute’s Collective; the emergency housing team of social workers for the Salvation Army; a youth justice worker and her clients; social workers from Family First, Strive, and several other community organisations; and a homeless shelter in Manurewa.
In March 2013, I started helping out the refuge co-ordinator at a refuge in South Auckland to get some needs met. In October 2013, after a bereavement, I sought the help of some other women and we have grown from there.
In September 2016, I started doing this job fulltime, and in May 2018, I started getting paid by Aunties who have committed to APs to our “people costs” account. Over 90% of funds raised every year – around $130,000 – are spent directly on the women and organisations I walk alongside.
I couldn’t do any of it, not a bit of it, without the money that people so kindly give, and the Aunties who give me not only stuff, but huge amounts of support, love, and time.
The Aunties, quite simply, are the reason I get to do what I do. They provide what the women need, when I ask them to. Whether it’s a trip to the art gallery for two little girls, or $20 in the bank account to buy women chocolate, it all counts, and it’s all really important. The Aunties are this extraordinary living organism – there are around 50 hard core Aunties who are always giving stuff and money. And how do you get to be an Aunty? You give once. That’s it.
We also have a very strong kaupapa of giving with love. Meeting needs with aroha is our business. I am insistent on this. If you aren’t about giving with love, and no judgement, then this isn’t the charity for you. This community of donors has been carefully collated over the last 5 years, and I am a bit demanding, because the women we serve deserve the very best at a really vulnerable time of their lives. When people need what you have, I expect that you give without strings attached. You will be thanked, by me (I cry, quite a lot, because people’s kindness is always overwhelming to me) but you will never likely meet the people you are giving to. We are about our whānau, primarily. Their needs come first. This needs to be remembered at all times.
And the women you are giving to feel your love. I assure you of this. When people are given crap, and not what they need, they feel like crap. And when they feel like crap already, I believe that the poor quality of what’s been given to them compounds their pain, and does them more damage. I’ve seen it. And I’ve also seen -see it every day – the restorative and healing power of things that are given with heart, care, and thoughtfulness.
I am also ably supported by the Board of our Trust. We’ve had a Board for around a year – these are all people I have hand picked for the skills and life experience. They are: our chairperson, Moeroa Marsters, our secretary Julie, our treasurer Phil, and board members Paul, Moeroa, Sabrina, and Jackson (and me). Our patron is Michèle A’Court.
If you think you can provide anything on this list, send me an email and we’ll take it from there. The process for donations works like this: You contact me, I put you on my list and that list goes, every Friday, to Jay and Donna who will pick up your donations over the weekend. From there, they take your donations to our storage unit.
The storage unit is in Wiri, and is tidied on a very regular basis. When women need something, they contact me, or their social workers or agencies contact me, and I either pick them up and take them to the storage unit or they meet me there. Once there, they get to pick and choose what they need/want – by and large, this is towels/bedding/clothes for them and their children – and I encourage them to take as much as they possibly can. (Otherwise the unit would overflow and it wouldn’t work for anyone). While we’re there is when the really important work starts. We talk, and laugh, and sometimes we cry. We talk about our lives, about our pain, and everything in between.
This is the main reason that the Aunties stands out in this field – we cater for women’s specific needs, and they get what they need/want when they need/want it. Including lots of love, if that’s what they’re after. We also operate as a whānau – turning the traditional model of charity as a relationship between donors and beneficiaries on it’s head, and operating as a community of people who support each other.
Please note: we only operate in Auckland. If you are in Wellington, one of the Aunties moved down there and is co-ordinating donations for Porirua Refuge. This is currently only via Twitter. You can find their account @ponekeaunties. In Christchurch, there are the Christchurch Aunties
If you live elsewhere in NZ, please contact your local women’s refuge, and ask them what they need. You can find links and contact details here.
This is a grass roots effort to support a burgeoning number of people, and to meet their needs. I am available for public speaking. I have spoken to schools, Probus groups, retired folk, a Lion’s Club, the NZ Humanists conference, and most recently was a panellist at the Ka Tu Maia Young Women’s Leadership Symposium. I am regularly asked to speak to relevant groups, and I really enjoy the chance to get our name out there.
I was a recipient of a Women’s Fund awards 2018, was a nominee for NZ Woman Of The Year Awards, was category winner and supreme winner of the Women Of Influence Awards 2018 and was a medallist in the Local Hero Of The Year Awards, 2017.
A koha for my time and speaking is always welcome, and these funds go directly into the Aunties bank account.
We thank you for your compassion and care.
The Aunties is a registered charitable trust.
Our registration number is: CC54387
You can contact me @whaeapower on Twitter
Or come and check out our Facebook page!