Irene Wakefield

Irene Wakefield

Irene Wakefield is CEO and founder of Prepair NZ. Launched in December 2015, Prepair NZ aims to educate young women about healthy relationships, emotional abuse and self-love.

New Zealand has an extremely high rate of domestic violence: one in three women experience some form of abuse in their lifetime. According to Women’s Refuge, the most common form of abuse is psychological or emotional. It’s often subtle and hidden, and its effects are underestimated. 

After learning about abusive relationships, Irene realised that a former relationship had been emotionally abusive. Unhealthy or abusive relationships were something she had never been taught about in school – she questioned why and felt compelled to start Prepair NZ.

Hear Irene’s story and why she started Prepair:

Irene Wakefield from makingadifference-entry on Vimeo.

Prepair NZ is a relative newcomer to a range of groups which support and empower women who have suffered abuse. Many of these groups began as part of the women’s liberation movement in the 1970s. Women’s Refuge has been helping women escape domestic violence since 1973, and the Shakti women’s network has been assisting ethnic women since 1995. Prepair’s point of difference is its focus on empowerment through self-love.

Prepair NZ works with women aged from 15 to 29 through workshops and online tools. Irene wants to encourage positive relationships by educating young women about healthy relationships, the early signs of abuse and what to do about it. Prepair NZ focuses on self-love and engages its audience through digital platforms such as social media.

Irene set up Prepair NZ while working as a bank manager. Twelve months later, she left banking to focus on the organisation. Since then, Irene has presented at TEDx, partnered with a major clothing retailer for the national ‘#TrueLoveIs’ campaign, and worked with the ‘It's Not Ok’ campaign.

By sharing her story, Irene makes a personal connection with the young people she works with. Prepair NZ workshops are run in schools, universities and youth groups. Irene says that while the face-to-face approach is most effective, social media is also an important tool, as ‘It’s where young people live and connect’. Irene engages with young people on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

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