Annual Ladies Luncheon – This event has now passed

With Special Guest, Annah Stretton, all proceeds from this event and raffles will support Pohlen Hospital.

A gorgeous environment, sumptuous lunch and the company of dozens of local woman saw another successful Pohlen Foundation Ladies Luncheon event held on Friday with guest speaker, Annah Stretton.

Annah is well known for her fashion brand but in 2014, the Morrinsville based kiwi designer designed a different pattern helping New Zealand women that have been released from prison showing recidivist offending, get a second chance at life. Along with her sister Rebecca Skilton, a registered nurse with 25 years of experience working in mental health, Annah set up a new focus for their reclaim Another Woman (RAW) organisation.

Rebecca works with women in prison for at least six months before their parole hearing. During that time she creates a relationship of trust, in which she develops an understanding of the personal challenges they may face on release. “During that time the whole gammon of behaviour that a woman can display or go through can be observed and we can ascertain whether th eRAW program is the right fit” says Annah. “It’s not a hand out and it’s not easy. The first year comes with strict rules – but also, intensive help with mentoring, work and/or education. We have had fantastic success and with a goal of assisting 25 women per year really get their life back, are delighted to have exceeded that over the past 12 months”.

In shortchanged the RAW programme places women in “incubator” homes which provide a way to rebuild their lives not only with a safe and secure environment, but with support into employment or education that will help ensure they have the opportunity to become highly functional community members. The programme requires commitment from the participants and, as well as agreeing to relocate, the women are not to have any contact with old associates, and are without their partners and/or children.

Sharing her story, Ina pickering is a RAW girl. She had been in and out of prison and each time, felt she had no choice but to return to the life she knew after being released. Feelings of inadequacy and being unloved repeatedly saw her seek solace in alcohol and substance abuse which invariable, was followed by crime – and another sentence of incarceration. RAW literally changed her life.

“The mentoring, support and having someone who saw my potential and believed in me was exactly what I needed” said Ina. “I hadn’t’t had any really positive support in my life before so coming into a safe drug free environment and being accepted and supported regardless of my past was key – it’s not the kind of response you usually get from society.”

Although the first 12 weeks in the incubator home were difficult for Ina, she is extremely happy with how life is now progressing. Into her second year of hairdressing she has goals to complete a small business management certificate next year with the hope of starting her own barber shop the year after. She is rebuilding relationships with her children, is living a fully clean and sober life and extremely supportive of her “newbies” to the incubation home. “It won’t be long” she grins, “I’ll have my kids with me, a great career and a lovely home of our own. Thanks to RAW I am no longer a cost to the community and it’s great to be able to give back.”

After their address, both Annah and Ina took questions from the floor and offered information and resources about RAW, and Annah’s recently established wholeness retreat, Te Atawhai. Based in Te Aroha, the four-day retreat will see clients practice daily mindfulness, go mountain hiking and walking, participate in an equine assisted learning session and receive general body health consultations. For more information, visit .

To learn more about RAW, breaking the cycle of crime, visit

-Article care of The Scene

See the photos from the event