2008-2009 Human Rights Prize Winner: Amokura

The Leitner Center awarded Amokura Family Violence Prevention Strategy from New Zealand with its Annual Human Rights Prize at the Center’s Annual Dinner on March 3, 2009. Accepting the award on behalf of Amokura were the organization’s Executive Director Di Grennel and Advocacy Legal Analyst Ani Pitman.

The Amokura Family Violence Prevention Strategy is an integrated community based initiative to address family violence in Taitokerau/Northland, (northern region of the north island of New Zealand). The initiative is led by the Family Violence Prevention Consortium which is made up of the Chief Executives of seven iwi (tribal) authorities: Te Aupouri, Te Rarawa, Ngati Kahu, Whaingaroa, Ngapuhi, Ngati Whatua and Ngati Wai.

Di Grennell (Ngai Tahu, Ngati Mutunga descent) is the Executive Director of Amokura. Di has extensive experience in the family violence prevention field including working with courts, programme development, provider training, research and policy. She was a member of the first Domestic Violence Programmes Approvals Panel and of the 2nd Maori Taskforce on Whanau Violence. Di was the primary researcher for ‘Guardianship, Custody and Access: Maori Perspectives and Experiences’ a research report commissioned by the Ministry of Justice prior to the review of the Guardianship Act 1968. She has also participated in Ministry of Justice research advisory groups for family violence research. She is a member of the Family Violence Clearinghouse Advisory Group and the Maori Reference Group to the Family Violence taskforce. Di is a regular speaker in regional and national fora and a strong advocate for indigenous approaches to violence prevention and service delivery. She lives in Whangarei, New Zealand.

Ani Pitman (Ngati Wai, Ngapuhi, Ngati Whatua Iwi descent) is Advocacy and Legal Analyst for Amokura. She is also a Barrister of the High Court of New Zealand. Ani has a background in policy analysis, social science research, legal research and analysis, mainstream Maori health management and organisational development. She has conducted health and legal needs analyses for the northland region of the NZ to articulate mechanisms for Maori access to services. She was part of the legal research team established to determine “Maori fishing rights” in litigation against the NZ Crown, which later culminated in the establishment of the Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Settlement) Act 1993 which was the beginning of the NZ Treaty of Waitangi settlement processes. Ani works closely with government and Maori NGO service providers working with family violence. She has extensive networks with other indigenous law practitioners in New Zealand.


Fordham University’s WFUV Public Radio interviewed Ms. Grennell and Ms. Pitman for a radio show focusing on the Crowley Program’s project in New Zealand. Listen to the show here.

In New Zealand, Associate Minister of Social Development and Employment Hon Tariana Turia praised the organization: “Amokura is dedicated to the goals of promoting safety in all the homes of the North, by innovative strategies to increase community awareness, and to provide simple messages for change. I am delighted for them – and for us all – that their expertise in this area has been given such prestigious recognition.” Read the full press release here.

Photos from the Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony are available online here, and photos from Amokura’s visit to New York City are available online here.

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Paolo Galizzi
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