Embattled counselling service Relationships Aotearoa says it has been forced to shut its doors by the end of the week, leaving its vulnerable clients feeling betrayed.

Funding negotiations with the Government to keep the service open fell through this week.

Barnardos, Family Works, Stand Children's Services and Lifeline have now agreed to take on the service's clients.

Relationships Aotearoa is the country's largest counselling service, with 7000 clients on its books and a staff of almost 200.


It has fought to stay afloat since its funding was slashed, but claims the Ministry of Social Development broke good faith provisions.

Relationships Aotearoa principal strategic advisor Cary Hayward said despite working with ministry officials, it appeared most were already committed to the organisation's closure.

He said Relationships Aotearoa's clients were some of the most vulnerable in the country, and they would feel betrayed.

About 900 clients would now be referred back to the courts.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said the service had a responsibility to its most vulnerable clients.

She said the ministry needed to work with Relationships Aotearoa to get the names of its neediest clients so they could be helped.

Mrs Tolley appealed to the counselling service to let a ministry clinical team identify those most in need.

The Government was willing to pay extra to have its team go in to manage the situation, she said.


Ministry of Social Development deputy chief executive Murray Edridge said the ministry may look at taking on some staff in certain areas.

He said Relationships Aotearoa realised very late in the piece that it was in financial difficulty.

The service's clients remained the main focus, he said.

Mr Edridge said if current clients were having trouble contacting Relationships Aotearoa, they could call Lifeline on 0800 543 354.