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.