Aro & Ha: Turn to face, share breath.


Aro & Hā meaning, “Turn to face, share breath.” Aro & Hā utilised design to communicate the complexities of wāhine Māori experiencing domestic abuse to response service workers.

Wāhine Māori (indigenous women of New Zealand) are disproportionately represented in domestic abuse statistics, yet many wāhine have expressed that they feel unsafe approaching response services such as police, WINZ (Work and Income New Zealand), and social workers. Many response service providers fail to understand and empathise with the complex situations of wāhine Māori experiencing domestic abuse.

The design project Aro & Ha investigates how design can emotively communicate existing research into wāhine Māori (indigenous women of New Zealand) experiencing domestic abuse. Research suggests that Wāhine Māori are disproportionately represented in domestic abuse statistics which highlighted the need for response service providers to understand and empathise with their complex situations. The brief required the design of a resource to educate and connect with first response service provider such as police and social workers.

This design project has been undertaken with a reflective inquiry methodology, engaging in targeted expert feedback, analysing existing research, and learning from indigenous perspectives. This project was developed utilising contemporary research from the 2021 report: 'Wāhine, E Tu Whānau: Wāhine Māori keeping safe in unsafe relationships'. The outcome of the project is a graphic storytelling taonga which can be presented by a facilitator to response service workers in a professional development context. This taonga has the potential to be a healing tool, improving the quality of domestic abuse response services for the benefit of wāhine Māori who are seeking help. Media and materiality play an integral part in the delivery of subject, meaning and message. The decision to create multiple formats with interactive touchpoints are underpinned by the types of forums that this taonga will be utilised in. Image, motif and language both graphic and textual are sympathetically managed to hold and imbue the depth of knowledge and experiences being shared.

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This artefact utilised the data and findings from the E Tū Wāhine, E Tū Whānau - Māori women keeping safe in unsafe relationships study, supported by the Marsden Fund Council from Government funding administered by the Royal Society Te Apārangi.

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