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Story brings help for the helpers

Thursday August 24, 2017 Written by Published in Local
access to services Punanga Tauturu coordinator Rebeka Buchanan. 17081809 access to services Punanga Tauturu coordinator Rebeka Buchanan. 17081809

A CINews story highlighting some of the problems faced by Punanga Tauturu (PTI) has sparked action from passionate Rarotongan residents keen to lend a helping hand.


The story highlighted staff losses and major funding cuts that Punanga Tauturu has endured over the last few months, leaving its future uncertain.

Funding issues had left coordinator Rebeka Buchanan working for months on end without pay.

“My main concern has and always will be the clients and ensuring their safety,” she said.

Buchanan said that despite the funding cuts, the work hadn’t stopped, leaving her coping with a heavy case load of victims of domestic violence for over two months.

Recently the organisation was granted a three-year budget package, which brought with it extensive funding cuts and only provides for the employment of Buchanan and one staff member

Nonetheless, with a new budget, and a volunteer worker, Buchanan says things are looking up.

“We are still able to offer the services we previously offered, such as counselling, education, professional advice, or support, and that is the main thing.” 

She says some positive developments followed the CINews story about Punanga Tauturu’s difficulties.

After local residents read about the situation some were quick to offer a helping hand.

“I have already had people call to talk to me this morning regarding the article,” an excited Buchanan said, soon after it was published last week.

“We have acquired new clients and received multiple offers of volunteer help from people I know.

“And get this…the New Zealand High Commissioner’s Office has also been in touch with me: They are willing and wanting to help do up our kitchen/bathroom area.”

Buchanan says it is heart-warming to receive positive feedback and appreciation for the work Punanga Tauturu does within the community.

Looking to the future Buchanan says the next three years will see work on changing perceptions of domestic violence, and the offer of much-needed assistance to the outer islands.

“In our three year plan we are set to visit five of the southern group islands.

“We hope to offer training and assistance to women in areas of domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence.

“If possible, we may travel over with other NGOs, a collaborative effort that makes the trip beneficial in more ways than one.”

Punanga Tauturu staff have previously visited some of the outer islands and Buchanan said they received positive responses.

“Including the outer islands in our work is vital, especially for individuals who don’t have access to services such as counselling and legal aid.”

A non-government organisation, Punanga Tauturu recognises the rights of women and children where domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence are concerned. However, Buchanan says the organisation has on many occasions extended its services to men.

“At the end of the day, our sole concern is helping the people within our community. We are not going to turn away anyone who asks for help and support.”

For advice, help or answers to questions, contact Punanga Tauturu on 21133.

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