Sculpture OnShore: Biggest fundraiser for Women's Refuge returns

The biggest fundraiser for Women's Refuge is back, after a five-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

It's coming at a time when demand for Women's Refuge services is at an all-time high.

In the last five years, Aotearoa has seen a steady uptick in family violence occurrences, with Police recording 132,000 events in 2018 compared to more than 175,000 last year. On average, Police receive 22 reports of family harm an hour.

Sculpture OnShore is New Zealand's largest and longest-running outdoor sculpture exhibition. Proceeds from sales during the exhibition are donated to Women's Refuge.

Artists Bernie Harfleet and Turtle Sarten have created a confronting piece for the exhibition, designed to be a metaphor for the experience of women fleeing domestic violence.

"We've had some people come through to have a look and they're in tears by the time they get to the door," Harfleet said.

Women's Refuge CEO Dr Ang Jury said the fundraiser is crucial for the charity, as "it allows us to do the things our core funding doesn't allow, to make life better for the women and children we're dealing with".

A cost of living crisis and housing shortages across the country has heaped even more pressure on Women's Refuge too.

"We've got women staying in our safe houses much longer than they used to. We simply don't have anywhere we can move them onto," Jury said.

Harfleet hopes his exhibition encourages people to speak up.

"I hope what we can encourage is whistle-blowing. That when you hear something happening, call the police. Open your curtains and say 'help's coming'. Not just turn the TV up."

Sculpture OnShore is running for the next two weeks at Ōperetu Fort in Devonport, Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland.