Rotorua support services say the closure of Relationships Aotearoa is a huge loss to the community and puts extra strain on other organisations.

The counselling service closed its doors for the last time in Rotorua and throughout the country yesterday, after it became insolvent due to funding issues.

It provided counselling for couples, support for victims as well as perpetrators of domestic violence, wraparound therapeutic interventions for individuals, couples and families, and a Maori for Maori whanau service - Whakapakiri Whanau.

The Ministry of Social Development said Barnardos, Family Works, Stand Children's Services, Lifeline and Vitae were the chosen services to take over.


Waiariki Women's Refuge manager Miriama Roberts said they were unsure what the impact of the closure would have on their staff's already heavy workload.

"At the moment we're just going to be taking it day by day and see if it will have an effect," she said.

"It is a huge loss for the community and will increase the workload for other services."

Mrs Roberts said staff worked in "crisis mode" and responded when required.

"You could have a lull and then it can hit all at once. It's not like we can say we will be busier, a crisis is unplanned."

Salvation Army Rotorua commanding officer Major Bill Millar said there was already a huge need in Rotorua for counselling services, which had now increased with Relationships Aotearoa's closure.

"We are very said to hear it, it's a shame they are having to close down but we don't have a lot of capacity right at the moment to pick up the extra workload," Mr Millar said.

"However we are processing applications at the moment for a social worker and hopefully will have one joining our team in a matter of weeks. There is absolutely a need here in Rotorua for social workers and counselling.


"There is a whole lot of dysfunctional people who need help and to get their thinking right. This is where counselling comes into its own. Work-through-issues people are grappling," he said.

Ministry of Social Development deputy chief executive Murray Edridge said progress was being made on transition planning for clients impacted by the closure of Relationships Aotearoa.

He said the service made the decision to close yesterday, despite being funded until June 30.

"There's huge co-operation and commitment being shown with everyone's primary focus being the well-being of Relationships Aotearoa clients as we develop the transition plan.

"Nevertheless, there is a big job to be done over the next week in pulling together a plan that provides nationwide coverage and ensures continuity of service. It is too early to determine how services will be delivered at a regional level at this stage," Mr Edridge said.

Anyone needing information or counselling should call the Lifeline helpline on (0800) 543 354, he said.