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About Us

Our History

The first Women’s Refuge was established in 1973 in Christchurch by a group of women who saw a need to provide safety for many of the women and children they saw being abused in their community. From their courage and determination, the refuge movement in Aotearoa was born and in 1987 Eastern Refuge Society was established in Counties Manukau East.

women's refuge new zealand

Vision, mission, values

Eastern Refuge Society is a member of the National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuges and as such adheres to and abides by their code of ethics, behaviour, standards of practice and associated policies regarding practice, performance and monitoring.


Wahine and tane working together to cultivate violence free families, communities and society, by enhancing the mana of all peoples and upholding our commitment to Te Tiriti O Waitangi.


To provide inclusive services that support the wellbeing of all people through professional best practice, encompassing our four cornerstones and underpinned by our philosophy of social change.


  • Parallel development: Ensuring the needs of Māori are met in ways that best suit Māori
  • Collectivism: To ensure consensus decision-making, and in recognition that the actions of one refuge reflects on the refuge movement as a whole
  • Feminism: Celebrating women’s contribution to society
  • Takatāpui Nurturing Diversity:  Providing safe, inclusive spaces for diverse whanau

Our Leaders

Annie Tupaea

Annie Tupaea (Ngā Rauru Kiitahi, Ngāti Tuwharetoa) 

Operations Manager

Annie’s background in family and sexual violence prevention advocacy has been informed by her 15+ years of involvement at Eastern Women’s Refuge as well as in her role as lead navigator (Kaitakawaenga Māori) of the ERS Māori Growth Strategy. Within her role as Kaitakawaenga Māori at ERS she is responsible for aligning professional practice and organisational processes with the partnership responsibilities of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, to ensure that practitioners working within the community are culturally competent and safe to do so.

With an accounting background, previous management and leadership roles, Annie apprises the role of Operations Manager with ERS with a set of skills that are not only necessary but integral to the smooth operation of the multi-functioning services of ERS.

Other attributable experience is as an accredited Kaiako and Lead Trainer for Kia Haumaru – Personal Safety Education where within that organisation her role extends to Co-Chairperson of the KH Board.

As a counsellor and professional supervisor of Kōhatu Counselling and Bicultural Supervision Services Annie’s preferred practice comes from Te Ao Māori worldview, utilising indigenous models of practice while placing emphasis on a person-centred therapeutic approach. As a NZAC Provisional Member with a clear understanding of the NZAC Code of Ethics, Annie is organized, dependable and successful at managing multiple priorities and upholding all accountabilities professionally.

Annie’s leadership style is guided by the principles of Ata – Growing Respectful Relationships where relationships, boundaries and safe space are the preferred practice while encouraging transparency, participation and inclusivity.

Katrina Makea

Katrina Makea

Refuge Services Practice Lead

Katrina comes from the Early Childhood sector where she worked for 15 years at Te Kōhanga Reo o Te Taurere as a Kaiāwhina (Teacher Aide) and a Kaiako (Teacher).  Whilst at Kōhanga Reo she completed certificates in Te Ara Tuatahi and Te Ara Tuarua.

In 2010 she joined Eastern Women’s Refuge to manage the Kowhai Daycare. In her current role as the Residential Manager she supports and advocates for the women and children staying in the Safe House. She also facilitates the parenting programmes: Building Awesome Whanau and Early Years.

Katrina has completed a Certificate in Bi-Cultural Social Services and is currently studying to obtain her Bachelors in Bi-Cultural Social Work at Te Wananga o Aotearoa. She is of Cook Islands, Tahitian, Hawaiian, German and English descent and a proud mother of four children and two grandchildren.

Jenny Palalagi-Taulagaono

Jenny Palalagi-Taulagaono

Service Manager – Te Whare o Honore

Jenny completed her Bachelor of Applied Social Work at the end of 2014 and by January 2015 was already working as a Whanau Coordinator for the Anglican Trust for Women & Children (ATWC). Since then she has had a steady career as a Social Worker for different organisations, which has included mentoring young people at risk of disengaging from learning in the school environment and advocating for teen mothers whose social and health needs were not being addressed.

Jenny is a New Zealand born Niuean and proud mother of five children and two mokopunas.

Agnes Paul

Agnes Paul

Kaiawhina Practice Leader – Whāngaia Ngā Pa Harakeke

Agnes comes from the NGO sector in the Maori Service Community where she acquired experience working alongside Maori Whanau and other ethnicities experiencing Domestic Violence. Prior to joining Eastern Refuge she worked for Te Tai Awa O Te Ora, in Otara for 9 years.

In 2013 she completed Te Tohu Paetahi Nga Poutoko Whakarara Oranga: Bachelor of Social Work (Bi -Culturalism in Practice). In 2015 she completed a  Graduate Diploma in Professional Supervision (Bi-Culturalism).

In her current role at Eastern Refuge she works alongside the Manukau Counties Police leading a team of Kaiawhinas, supporting whanau experiencing domestic violence.

Agnes is also an experienced programmes facilitator.

Agnes is of Maori Ngaphui descent.

Ana Atkinson

Ana Atkinson

Community Engagement Lead

Ana comes from a legal background. Prior to migrating to New Zealand from Mexico, she was a lobbyist for Grupo Modelo (Corona Beer). In New Zealand, she has worked in various industries including government agencies as well as recruitment. In the UK, Ana worked as an advocate for people with mental health issues and with a team of professionals from the University of Bristol doing research on perpetrators of domestic violence.

Ana completed a Masters in International Relations and Human Rights (with Honours) at the University of Auckland and is proficient in four languages (Spanish, French, English and Italian). She has also lived in the US, Italy and England and is the proud mother of one boy.

“Kia Hora Te Marino” – May The Calm Be Widespread

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