For five years the Te Whare Oranga Wairua Maori Women's Refuge has had a trusty van until last Thursday night.
It was stolen from outside their community office and it has not been located by the Refuge or Police. “Wheels are crucial to our work,” says Manager Mahia Henderson Te Tomo . “This van has collected hundreds of women and children from dangerous homes, or to ferry them around to meetings and appointments. We use our van to deliver children to schools when their mums have to live in different homes and we shop in it, collect kind donations and spread the goodies to families in the Taupo community.”
“It was real hard for us to even get this van,” says Mahia. “It took a lot of time to find the funding and it has been put to good use. Our insurance is unlikely to fund a newer one, as it will cost a lot more than what we get back.”
The 1999 white Toyota Esteema Van , DST770 has sentimental value as well to this small but very busy Refuge. A past founding Refuge member, Debz Te Tomo, who passed away in 2009, was taken to her marae in the van.
“We would like this van back,” says Mahia. “It has been comforting to staff to know that we are still using Debz’s van, it was special. As much as we may have to get a new van, this one means a lot to us. Can you help us find our van?”