The moment when Tina Cross came on a big screen singing her song Walk Away was a pivotal one for Whanganui's Great Ball, organising committee chairwoman Sharon Warburton says.

"People were transfixed. They realised this is real, this is serious stuff. Then we went into the auction and people bid ridiculous amounts of money," she said.

The Great Ball to benefit Whanganui Women's Refuge took place on August 13. Along with the song the message was driven home by a senior police officer who spoke about violence to women and children.

The committee aimed to raise $50,000. It raised $90,000.


Ms Cross, New Zealand's Women's Refuge ambassador, said she wrote the song to have impact for the cause. It has raised funds for refuge and she and her "besties" Jackie Clarke and Suzanne Lynch would sing it in their The Lady Killers concert in Whanganui on Tuesday night.

Money raised by the Great Ball will be used to lease a central hub for the refuge in Whanganui. The hub will be an office space, with computers where women can apply for jobs or send information to Work and Income.

It will have a children's play area and house the meetings of a new women's support group led by domestic violence survivors.

A refuge staff member said when she started work six years ago there were five staff in a tiny shed at the refuge's Safe House. Staff moved to another place that felt like paradise three years ago - but it was now too small.

Mrs Warburton chaired the committee that organised the ball. She said it was a stunning and glamorous black tie affair for 300 people, and tickets sold out nine weeks before the day.

It was sponsored by big national businesses, and one person made an anonymous $5000 pledge.

People have been asking Mrs Warburton for another Great Ball. She said there could be one every two years.

The organising committee had met every week from February until the ball, and members remembered it fondly. They had a lot of fun and used all their skills.

"We were like a family. We fought and drank a lot of wine over those months. We had strong opinions and we pulled it together," one of them said.