We welcome Awatea Mita as our new Women’s Services coordinator

Posted: June 26, 2024Category:

We welcome Awatea Mita as our new Women’s Services coordinator

We’re excited that, after a year of working at the Centre, the wonderful Maia Hall has moved into the role of Centre Manager, which means the inspiring Awatea Mita (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Pikiao) has joined us to look after Women’s Support (free advice, referral and information), and to coordinate our community education programme.

Awatea brings enormous empathy to wāhine and women in crisis, due to her own lived expertise of incarceration, sexual harm, substance abuse, maternal grief and cancer survival, and her professional experience working in restorative justice.  She tells part of her own story of healing and hope, in text and beautiful short film, over at He Ture Kia Tika / Let the Law be Right (we highly recommend you have a look!)

Awatea holds a Bachelors degree in psychology and criminology, as well as an Honours degree in criminology (with First Class Honours), and she is currently researching Waitangi Tribunal criminal justice claims for her Masters thesis. Impressively, as a justice advocate, she herself has led and helped take claims to the Tribunal, giving evidence about why prisoners need voting rights, with the likes of Annette Sykes and Khylee Quince; and why bail laws are discriminatory which contributed to the commencement of the Justice Kaupapa Inquiry. There’s been partial success: in 2019 the law was changed to give back voting rights to prisoners serving sentences of less than 3 years. Awatea is not yet satisfied: “eventually I want all women to vote,” she says.

She’s also clear about the importance of community work: “Police are seen as the frontline but actually a lot of community groups are doing work responding to harm, distress and trauma – that is where the real front line is, decreasing the risk of harm.”

Awatea also sits on the Corrections Services and Strategies Portfolio Board and serves on the Te Ngapara Centre for Restorative Justice Advisory Board. And if she looks familiar to you, it might be from her unforgettable appearances in Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen (2018), her brother’s film about their documentary-making mother Merata Mita.

Awatea is a loyal Warriors fan and – not one to be predictable – she also loves watching Chinese costume dramas, such as Blossoms in Adversity. “They have a special place in my heart,” she laughs. For sure it’s escapism but also Awatea was immediately taken with the strong women leads, as well as the portrayal of LGBTQIA+ relationships. “I had never seen western shows portray women as leaders in quite the same way: in charge of their lives and helping people.”

In charge of our lives and helping people who help us in turn: a great motto of empowerment for Women’s Support.