Spike in demand for New Zealand self-defence courses

A New Zealand self-defence network is seeking more funding after a large increase in demand for classes.

The Women's Self-Defence Network - Wahine Toa has seen a 50 percent increase in five years for its courses. In 2015, the network taught 8000 students a year, and in 2018 that rose to 12,000.

Annie Tupaea from the New Zealand Self-Defence Network attributes the increase to the #MeToo movement and growing awareness of sexual violence.

"There is a huge demand for it - I wish there wasn't, obviously. But there is definitely a huge demand.

"The demand is there, so we need to be able to increase the courses," she said.

Teacher Jules Reilly decided to train after she took a class, and wishes she was offered self-defence as a young girl.

"There's been situations I've been in that I can now reflect on, where I wish I had more capability with at that moment in time," she said.

Wahine Toa currently has 25 teachers, but it needs to train more to grow the number of courses.

It costs $11,000 to train one teacher, and the network is already exceeding its budget.

ACC funding has helped the network expand its self-defence programme, and Oranga Tamariki funds its self-defence courses for girls and women.

One in three women in New Zealand experience physical or sexual violence from a partner, and the publicly funded courses teach girls how to stay safe in a range of circumstances.

Wahine Toa is seeking more funding so it can teach girls the vital lesson about staying safe.