Family violence rates soaring in Hamilton
Family violence continues to climb rapidly in Hamilton with refuge workers putting at least a dozen women and children into hiding.
Police urge families to seek help to get out of abusive situations.
Over seven days in July police attended 95 family violence callouts - far more than normal for the city.
On Saturday night alone, police attended 14 callouts. Staff had to work overtime to deal with the influx.
Senior Sergeant Peter van de Wetering of Hamilton said the spike was "regrettable" and urged families to seek help.
The high number of women and children in need was also being absorbed by Te Whakaruruhau Maori Women's Refuge, which is seeing an unusual number of "high-risk" families.
Refuge manager Ruahine Albert said the high risk category meant the threat of death was real.
"What I am finding unusual, and I have been in this job for more than 30 years, is the number of high-risk families seeking refuge. The men that are forcing them to seek refuge are capable of murder, and some have committed murder."
Albert said the priority was to keep the victims safe, which meant putting them into hiding or relocating them out of the area or overseas.
"Every case is serious, but the number of families in crisis - where the threat of death is real - is high. Our service is running around the clock."
Albert said the Government urgently needed to introduce stronger penalties for violent offenders.
"We can only do so much, then our hands are tied."
A report on released in July said domestic violence cost the country $8 billion per year.
The 155-page report by Herbert and Deborah Mackenzie, called The Way Forward - an Integrated System for Intimate Partner Violence and Child Abuse and Neglect in New Zealand, denounced the current approach to domestic violence as being in "overwhelming disarray".
IF YOU'RE IN DANGER
Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours or friends to ring for you.
Run outside and head for where there are other people.
Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.
Take the children with you.
Don't stop to get anything else.