By now you will be aware that Hawke's Bay Today, in conjunction with Women's Refuge, is running a week-long series titled Seeking Refuge, which started on Saturday with the tragic story of Gail Bower.

I take my hat off to Ms Bower's sons and wider family who have spoken out about how their mother was killed by her ex-partner, Raymond Christison.

I can only imagine how hard it is for them to talk about the tragedy but in doing so, they are highlighting the need for our community to talk about what can be done to prevent this ever happening again.

Although Ms Bower did everything in her power to stay safe, it wasn't enough.
I've written on this subject many times before but it's a subject that needs to be written about and talked about.


Domestic violence has been brushed under the carpet for far too long. It's not just up to the likes of Women's Refuge to prevent domestic violence; it can't do it alone.

Communities all over the country need to make the message loud and clear: It's not okay to hurt the people you are meant to love and protect.

What really resounded with me in Saturday's article were the comments from Hastings Refuge manager Julie Hart about Christison.

She said more emphasis needed to be placed on the offender changing his behaviour.
How true is that? How many times do we hear people say to victims of domestic abuse "Why don't you just leave?"

As we all know, that's easier said than done. However, even if victims do mange to leave and start a new life, the offender moves on to his next victim.

As Ms Hart says, it's up to the family and friends of the offender to at least try to get them to seek help to change their behaviour.

It's not being a busybody or interfering in other people's lives. It's showing that you care about them and want them to change their behaviour so they understand what it's like to have a healthy relationship with someone; a relationship where there is no fear in the atmosphere, there is no boss of the house. Until they have lived in a loving relationship, they don't know what they are missing.

The series is about raising awareness about every aspect of domestic violence. Today we look at why Hawke's Bay's family violence figures are so bad (page 7).

It's also about raising money for a much-needed new kitchen at the Hastings Women's Refuge. There is a pop-up shop on Heretaunga St West, Hastings, selling donated clothes and household goods.

Pop along and have a browse. You might just find yourself a bargain while helping a great cause.

Another fantastic cause that will receive a huge financial boost from Saturday's Hawke's Bay Wine Auction is Cranford Hospice.

Celebrating 25 years of fundraising, organisers were hoping to raise $150,000 for the hospice.

Of course, they couldn't do it without the incredible generosity of our wineries, artists and sponsors who donate items to be auctioned.

I went along to the auction and the place was packed. People I spoke to were only too happy to spend money, knowing it was going to a good cause. And they did just that, with an amazing $180,000 raised. Wow.

Now, the final word this week has to go to Mr Neat.

I've come to the conclusion that he really needs to get out and about a bit more.
I managed to persuade him to go to Celtic Illusions in Napier last Thursday. I also managed to persuade him to take me out for dinner before the show.

We went to Charlie's in Napier which was very nice. When Mr Neat was ordering his food he chose his first course and then for dessert he ordered Chocolate Mouse. Oh, dear.

In his defence, he doesn't eat dessert very often. Maybe we need to remedy that by eating out a bit more.

Linda Hall is assistant editor of Hawke's Bay Today.