Ariana Simpson has over 40 years of experience working with the Women's movement regionally, nationally, and internationally. Ariana is known and respected for her dedication to whānau through her advocacy for social justice and social change in stopping violence against women and children.
Her early years include the first national Family Violence Coordinating Committee (FVPAC), Māori Reference Group, E Tū Whānau, and Māori Core Group rep for the National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuge just to name a few. Starting in Rape Crisis, Ariana was part of the Māori Women ‘s movement determined to hold space for Māori women and their whānau while developing a pathway towards safety and tino rangatiratanga.
Her mantra of ‘every woman and child have the right to be safe and live their life to their fullest potential’ is reflected in everything she does. She is renowned for her ability to challenge the multi-layered forms of oppression that impact women and tamariki through the inadequate and, at times, dangerous responses by the State. She continues to lobby for the needs of battered women and children to ensure successive governments are held to account for systemic failures.
Ariana is one of the founders of the first Māori Women’s Refuge (Te Whakaruruhau) in 1986. Today, Te Whakaruruhau (now Waikato Women’s Refuge) is the largest refuge in Aotearoa. It provides a suite of services for women and children living with violence and other complex social issues. Te Whakaruruhau now works with all whānau members to ensure whānau are in control of their pathways, resulting in improved sustainable outcomes, which Ariana has been instrumental in implementing.
As part of her ongoing mahi as Pou Whakarite with Te Whakaruruhau, Ariana has pioneered the importance of preserving whakapapa in the mahi they do. In 2012, after giving years of service, Ariana (alongside Ruahine Albert) was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal.