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About the book
  • Published: 1 November 2011
  • ISBN: 9781869796587
  • Imprint: Random House New Zealand
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 300
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Trust

A True Story of Women & Gangs


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Extraordinary insight into New Zealand women’s lives with gangs.

Extraordinary insight into New Zealand women’s lives with gangs.

In 1977 an idealistic young doctor’s daughter, fresh out of university, knocked on the door of a run-down old house in inner-city Wellington. She was greeted by a woman in a Black Power T-shirt with metal in her nose and a spidery tattoo on her left cheek. ‘Whaddya want?’ the woman growled.

So began Pip Desmond’s extraordinary time as a member of Aroha Trust, a work cooperative set up in the heady years of feminism, community activism and the first stirrings of the Maori renaissance. For three years this unique, unruly group of girls did physical ‘men’s work’, lived together, and stood side by side against a backdrop of gang violence, police harassment and a society that didn’t want to know. When the government changed the rules for relief work, Aroha Trust folded, but the friendships endured. Trust tells the women’s stories – much of it in their own words – with the respect and compassion that comes from a shared bond over 30 years.

By turns angry, funny, hair-raising, tender, frightening and heartbreaking, the New Zealand Post Book Awards-winning Trust above all celebrates the women’s struggles to overcome their pasts and build a future for their children. As a unique insight into New Zealand’s social history and a way to understand women and gangs, it is without peer.

  • Pub date: 1 November 2011
  • ISBN: 9781869796587
  • Imprint: Random House New Zealand
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 300

About the Author

Pip Desmond

Pip Desmond is a freelance writer, editor and journalist who has spent most of her working life in the community sector, both paid and unpaid. In 2000, she became Labour Minister Ruth Dyson’s press secretary before doing an MA in Creative Writing at the acclaimed International Institute of Modern Letters at Wellington’s Victoria University in 2006, where she wrote the first draft of Trust: A True Story of Women and Gangs. The book recounts her experiences in her early 20s as a member of Aroha Trust, a work cooperative for gang women in Wellington, where she learnt to paint and renovate houses, cut scrub, and lay cats-eyes on the city streets. Trust was the winner of the NZSA EH McCormick Best First Book: Non Fiction at the 2010 NZ Post Book Awards. As part of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage’s war oral history programme, Pip has interviewed Korean War veterans, and compiled selections of these interviews with photographs in The War That Never Ended: New Zealand Veterans Remember Korea (2013). Pip has also worked as a bus driver, barmaid, caterer and cleaner. She is married with three children and three beautiful grand-children.

The NZ Post judging panel described Trust as ‘an extraordinary work from someone with unparalleled and probably unrepeatable access to women in gangs’, and ‘a potent combination of oral history and memoir’ that ‘packs a powerful punch’. Convenor Stephen Stratford said, ‘I don’t think anyone will again be in a position to write a book with such inside knowledge of what the life is like. She’s known these women for years and they obviously trust her a lot and shared things with her they wouldn’t with anyone else, so it’s a real one of a kind, this book.’


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