Thirty years ago three Kaikohe women decided to start an organisation to support victims of sexual abuse, after it came to light there was no services available north of Whangarei.

Three decades later and Mid North Family Support, now located in Kerikeri, is still going strong and plans to celebrate the anniversary with a book launch and a charity dinner.

Colleen Steadman, one of the women who spearheaded the organisation all those years ago, said the idea had sprung from a public meeting.

"We recognised the need, we recognised there was a lack of support."


As a result of that meeting an unlikely trio emerged to become the northernmost Rape Crisis: Kindergarten teacher Ms Steadman, chef Cathy Crawford and business owner Peggy Veldar.

The little centre was associated with the national Rape Crisis and the work was unpaid, Mrs Veldar handled the administrative side and Ms Steadman and Mrs Crawford the counselling.

Ms Steadman said they learnt along the way, attending workshops and getting a three-year diploma.

"We supported each other. It was just something you did back then if you saw a need in the community."

Spokeswoman for Mid North Family Support Davina Smolders said the longevity of the organisation made it special.

"Not many agencies go for 30 years that are self funded and provide fully free services, it's just phenomenal that we're able to do this. And the community is really fortunate."

She said people were now more empowered to come forward and seek help.

"We were a bit whakama about going to counselling but now it's getting to the stage where it's OK. Especially with the #metoo campaign, people who have never spoken about it are now saying it's OK to talk about rape now."

She said life events such as having children or meeting a new partner can sometimes trigger people, even if the harm itself occurred decades ago.

The service offers free support services aimed at victims of sexual abuse but also offers counselling for other issues.

Ms Smolders said a significant proportion of the clients are children aged 7-17 with complex issues and there are certain problems the service sees more of now.

"Methamphetamine and family violence are prevalent and have become a stream that is now flowing. Before family violence was hidden and it wasn't really talked about."

She hoped the community would support the dinner and book.

"We're asking people to get behind this community initiative where you know all the proceeds hit the ground, and go towards children and whanau."

The idea for a book came after administrator Elaine Bray, who has been with the service 16 years, decided to sort out old files.

"I knew I had to decide how to utilise our history, in a way that would keep it going, not just stuffed into archives. My original thoughts were, let's do our own little book thing, and then it ballooned to let's have it done professionally and let it be a really good resource for the community," she said.

The book, Whanau Tautoko, was written by Bay of Islands author Sandy Myhre and examines the cultural, social and economic history of counselling in the region.

The Mid North Support Charity Dinner and Auction, hosted by Mike Puru, will be held at Marsden Estate in Kerikeri tonight from 6pm, with tickets available at or by emailing