Whiria te Muka is once again urging those who are subjected to or witness family harm to report it on 111 immediately following what kaiarohia Cheryl Armstrong described as a spike in highly violent incidents.
Whiria Te Muka is a partnership between Te Hiku iwi and the police that aims to reduce and prevent whānau harm while uplifting mana tangata for the people of Te Hiku ō Ika. The team's core practice is to visit whānau who have been involved in reported family violence within the first 24 to 48 hours after the incident to ensure they are safe and to connect them with the support they need.
Armstrong said the past several weeks had seen a notable increase in reported family violence incidents that had been triaged as high risk, prompting a reminder for families to reach out to services early to prevent violence from escalating.
"My observation is that we have seen an increase in physical violence and the brutality of violence recently that we have triaged as high. We don't normally see that a lot in whānau harm to this extent," she said.
The police used two triage processes, one at the time of the incident and the other when the Whiria Te Muka team assessed risk and safety before visiting the whānau.
Several criteria had to be met for an incident to be triaged as "high," including threats of serious harm, sexual violence, strangulation, the kairiri (or person afflicting harm) had been or was to be arrested, serious psychological harm, three reported family violence incidents within two weeks, serious physical injuries, the use of weapons or the kaimamae (the person suffering harm) was fearful for their safety.
Recent incidents had featured some of those elements, Armstrong saying there had been a number of triggers.
"Alcohol has definitely been a factor in some cases, and unaddressed past issues and past trauma as well," she said.
"There is definitely some history that has not been addressed that lives in a whānau unit world, and that stuff comes out when the alcohol takes over.
"The fact that we have just come out of the Tamatea days on the Māori maramataka, and the unsettled energy of these days, may also have had an impact on the seriousness of the physical assaults reported."
She emphasised the need to phone 111 to report family violence as soon as it was felt that a situation "doesn't sit right."
"Whānau don't know when to phone 111," she added.
"It's OK to ring, and it doesn't have to be an escalated pattern of behaviour. If they are worried they should ring, because it's about preventing something more serious happening. A lot of whānau will say they don't want to be a hōhā to the police, but that's what their job is. It's to keep people safe. Don't wait until it's up there. Ring."
Whiria te Muka was also working on an iwi-led design project, exploring the whānau karanga and other safety measures that existed outside emergency services, recognising that for some people 111 was not the only solution.
Who to call
Anyone who is suffering, or witnessing, family harm should phone the police on 111 immediately.
Alternatively, call the Kaitaia Women's Refuge crisis line on (09) 408-2946 or 0800 733-843 (0800 REFUGE), or the Shine national helpline on 0508 744-633.