Suffragette's work still echoes

NATASHA THYNE
Last updated 05:00 10/07/2014
kate sheppard
DEDICATED CAMPAIGNER: Kate Sheppard led the women's suffrage effort.

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The return of New Zealand's greatest warrior for women's rights further highlights the need for action against domestic violence.

This week Women's Refuge launched a national campaign titled Bring Back Kate, bringing back the ideals of suffragette Kate Sheppard.

The campaign follows last week's acknowledgement by the Government and other politicians of the severity of New Zealand's domestic violence problems.

South Canterbury Women's Refuge (SCWR) manager Dawn Rangi-Smith said the Kate Sheppard project was a fantastic awareness campaign that asked "Would Kate put up with it? Why should we?"

"The whole society needs to say no, we all need to wake up, we're not going to take this anymore."

The campaign involves people posting their names and pledges of commitment on www.BringBackKate.co.nz.

Each pledge submitted will be added to a sheet of clear acrylic which will be laser cut into a thin cross-section to form a layer of a specially created statue of Sheppard.

When complete, it will be presented to Parliament.

Rangi-Smith was at the Women's Refuge symposium last week which discussed how life was for women and children in New Zealand in 2014.

It was there that Labour leader David Cunliffe apologised for being a man.

She believed his comments were on the right track.

"Good on Cunliffe. We need [good men] to stand up and make comments like this."

She said there were so many good men out there, who needed to stand up and shame other men with the message that domestic violence is not OK.

SCWR has provided a men's advocate for support and help for male offenders to make positive, non-violent changes in their lives.

In September, SCWR will celebrate its 30th anniversary. However, Rangi-Smith said it was not much of a celebration.

"Why are we still here after 30 years?"

The service provides support to women and children who have witnessed, experienced or suffered from family violence. In the year to June 2013, it helped 854 women and 659 children.

As part of the anniversary it will be holding an educational event for local services and a street appeal.

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- The Timaru Herald

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