Kiwis called on to donate to this month's Women's Refuge 'Nights of July' campaign

July's cold, dark evenings call for many of us to embrace cosy evenings at home, spending time with whānau – and often falling asleep on the couch in front of Netflix. 

But for a staggeringly large number of New Zealand women and children, that's not the reality of a winter's evening. Home isn't a place of safety or warmth. We have sky-high rates of family violence towards women in this country – the highest rate of family violence in the OECD, in fact. 

Nationwide charity Women's Refuge has worked relentlessly for decades to help New Zealand women and children escape suffering at the hands of family violence. In the last year alone, the charity has answered 26,000 crisis calls and provided 174,000 nights of safety to women and children experiencing family violence up and down the country.

Women's Refuge CEO Dr Ang Jury says the research reflects staggering stats: that one in three NZ women experience family violence at some point in their life. Around 67 percent of these cases go unreported.

"So those saying 'it's not me, it's not my neighbour or family', I'm not sure that they really know," she tells Newshub. 

Kiwis called on to donate to this month's Women's Refuge 'Nights of July' campaign
Photo credit: Supplied

"At talks a lot of people – particularly older women – come up to me and say: 'I never thought this would touch me, and now it's impacting my daughter, my niece'…it's eye opening for them." 

So for Women's Refuge, July doesn't have 31 days. It's a little longer than that – a whopping 17,680 nights in fact. That's the collective amount of safe nights needed by New Zealand women and children this month. The refuge is asking New Zealanders to help those experiencing family violence by donating to the Women's Refuge Nights of July appeal. 

While on an average day $20 might go towards a few coffees or an overpriced lunch, during the appeal Kiwis can spend $20 on a night's safety for one woman and her children. 

"That $20 goes towards helping one woman have a warm, safe place to sleep, a hot dinner, a support person or an advocate, clothing and even lawyer's support," says Dr Jury. 

"Once she comes into the safe house, it's about walking alongside her to support her with whatever she needs on that journey to safety." 

Put simply, it could be lifesaving. 

To help donations go further, energy company Contact Energy is promising to match donations dollar for dollar up to $200,000. 

Contact Energy CEO Mike Fuge and Women's Refuge CEO Dr Ang Jury.
Contact Energy CEO Mike Fuge and Women's Refuge CEO Dr Ang Jury. Photo credit: Supplied

Contact's CEO Mike Fuge says the partnership with Women's Refuge is deeply important to them. 

"Our support for Women's Refuge means they can focus on their core services without having to worry about how they'll keep the lights on or their safe houses warm."

Dr Jury says the relationship between Women's Refuge and Contact is one of the best corporate relationships the charity has ever experienced. 

"They're very real, they offer direct support for the Women's Refuge and for our clients and their customers, along with doing research and being part of the conversation about what family violence is like for women in New Zealand," she says. 

"And the thing we like about them, apart from them being so real, is their values sit right up next to ours.

"Their approach to their promotion of warm safe homes and that sense of whānau, dovetails with us so nicely."

Donate to Night's of July.
Donate to Night's of July. Photo credit: Supplied

This year's Nights of July appeal follows last year's Women's Refuge Great Night In, which saw an incredible 14,628 Safe Nights gifted to protect women and children at risk of domestic violence.

Dr Jury says if people can't donate right now, it's just as important that conversations are had about family violence in this country. 

"While we're grateful for every donation we get, we recognise people need to look after their whānau first. If they can't donate we understand, but just thinking about what family violence is, educating themselves, getting a little bit of knowledge – that is just as important to us as their donation." 

To donate, head to

Article created in partnership with Contact Energy.