With the usual "festive" surge in domestic violence incidents expected, the Whanganui community is being encouraged to donate presents for children affected by family harm.

Women's Refuge has launched a nationwide Give a Gift appeal, with chief executive Dr Ang Jury saying it is common for women who flee violent relationships around Christmas to leave everything behind, including their children's Christmas presents.

"All of the whānau we work with during the festive season just want to give their kids a safe and happy Christmas – we believe every child deserves this," Jury said.

"We need New Zealand's help so that all the families we work with can open a gift on Christmas Day and celebrate the holiday with joy and dignity."

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In 2017, 4847 women and children around New Zealand needed the help of Women's Refuge during the Christmas period. Almost all of the Women's Refuge safe houses around the country were at capacity last December, with 1629 children among the occupants.

In Whanganui incidents of family violence soared over the 2017-18 holiday period, with police attending multiple calls a day and Women's Refuge Whanganui having its busiest Christmas period in six years.

Jury says gifts are needed for children of all ages but teenage boys were often forgotten at Christmas.

"Boys aged between 8 and 16 can be an especially tough age to buy for, and because of this they often miss out on presents at Christmas," Jury said.

"Nice clothing, sports equipment such as soccer balls and cricket sets, head phones and backpacks are all useful gifts for young boys.

"For all age groups, soothing toys and equipment are most helpful in the aftermath of trauma such as sensory toys, art supplies or building blocks that create entertainment for a long time.

"We ask that gifts are unwrapped, so they can be best distributed to local Women's Refuge centres who will assist families in need."

Bunnings stores around New Zealand are supporting the Give a Gift campaign by being drop-off points, with gifts received until Friday, December 21. Bunnings' Whanganui store is at 131 Ridgway St.

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Women's Refuge Whanganui provides a place of safety, a 24/7 crisis support line, education on the trauma associated with domestic violence and support and advocacy for women and children in the community. Call (06) 344 2204 or 0800 REFUGE (0800 733 843).