Finn Warner shoves his wife Esther into a kitchen bench and breaks her rib.

It's Shortland Street's next foray into social issues, starting with tonight's episode. The New Zealand-made TV soap shined a light on domestic violence in the hope of getting people to talk about the issue and change bad habits.

Dr Warner "will leave viewers shocked with his sudden violent outburst in the upcoming episodes", says the company which makes the show, South Pacific Pictures.

On Shortland Street, Lukas Whiting's character Dr Finn Warner is violent to wife Esther.
On Shortland Street, Lukas Whiting's character Dr Finn Warner is violent to wife Esther.

Ngahuia Piripi, whose character Esther, Warner's wife, is on the sharp end of the shoving, said: "I think it's a really important story to tell.

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"... if we can make at least one person realise that it's not okay, then we have helped to highlight the issue."

Lukas Whiting, who plays Warner, said Piripi and he "wanted to make it as real as possible in order to confront the audience and shed a realistic light on what is really going on behind closed doors.

"Hopefully from seeing this, people will talk about the issue head on, and victims/abusers will speak out.

"It's an issue that needs to be addressed. And if our work can help people feel more open about their own experiences, show them that it's not okay, and there is help, then we have done our jobs."

Citing 2016 statistics, South Pacific Pictures said the police attended a family-violence incident every 4.5 minutes.

The show's producer, Maxine Fleming, said, "One of the most shocking aspects of our story is that it focuses on characters we know, both doctors, rather than 'outside' characters.

"... we are exploring this issue from within our world to highlight the extent of a social problem that is not confined to class or income."

Shortland Street actor Ngahuia Piripi's character Esther suffers a broken rib as the show explores domestic violence. Photo / Dean Purcell
Shortland Street actor Ngahuia Piripi's character Esther suffers a broken rib as the show explores domestic violence. Photo / Dean Purcell

Holly Carrington, of the anti-domestic-abuse charity Shine, praised Shortland Street for portraying the problem.

She said the show's storyline highlights the fact that domestic violence can be experienced by, and perpetrated by, people of any class, with any level of education and of any socio-economic status.

"We also congratulate them on making the effort to consult with Shine to help make their storyline authentic and meaningful."

Need help over domestic abuse?
Shine - 0508 744 633, 9am to 11pm

Are you ok? Family violence information line - 9am to 11pm, with an after-hours message redirecting callers in the case of an emergency

Women's Refuge - 0800 REFUGE (733 843)

Oranga Tamariki, Ministry for Children - 0508 326 459 if you are concerned about a child or young person