Ruahine Albert QSM JP is one of the founding members of Te Whakaruruhau, Aotearoa’s first Māori Women’s Refuge. She is passionate about social justice and works in local, national, and international government and community services to improve the well-being of survivors of violence.
Te Whakaruruhau is New Zealand’s largest women’s refuge and has helped thousands of women and children over the last 35 years. The refuge began as a one-bedroom flat and has grown into an organisation with a purpose-built, marae-style safe house and wrap-around care services.
They now work with other NGOs and advise government organisations and departments on how to combat violence in the home. The refuge has grown into a multi-site organisation that works closely with the Te Ao Marama Unit at Waikeria Prison and focuses on reintegrating offenders and reducing reoffending. Since opening, the refuge has helped around 150,000 women and children. They currently assist around 4,000-5,000 women and children every year.
Ruahine has also held leading roles at Oranga Tamariki, Work and Income, Housing New Zealand, Hamilton Abuse Intervention Project, the Maori Reference Group, the Waikato Youth Offending Team and Family Start. She is on the External Maori Advisory Group for the New Zealand Police and is a representative of Hamilton Women’s Refuges at national and regional conferences.
In 2012, Ruahine received the Queen's Service Medal for services to Maori and the community. She also received a Hamilton City Council Civic award in 2015. Her mahi has shown a commitment to a kaupapa that is accepting and unconditional. She has continued supporting women and families until they can step out independently.