Elaine Blick holding her novel

Passing on the baton

Iosis donor Elaine Blick says the name Iosis didn’t mean anything to her initially until she learned of its historical connection with Childhaven, a place with deep emotional ties for her.

Childhaven was a home for unmarried mothers and their infants, and also for young mothers who, through misfortune, were in urgent need of help and care. It was officially opened by the New Zealand Council of Christian Women in 1945. Elaine’s mother was secretary/manager at Childhaven, starting work there in 1956.

“All those years when I was growing up, Childhaven was just down the road from where we lived and we had a lot to do with it. Childhaven was like our family. I have written a novel called First Names Only that reflects that,” says Elaine.

Elaine joined the Childhaven committee in the 1970s but by that time the numbers of women staying at the home were declining. In a later series of changes, the Baptist City Mission took over management of the property, the home was renamed as Merivale, and it became a women’s refuge. 

Iosis was established in 2006 and Merivale came under its responsibility. Run today as a therapeutic residential parenting programme for mothers, it will now be known as the Iosis Whānau Centre. 

“I think it is wonderful the way that the whole thing has adapted, rather like a baton being handed on. It is still a work for women and children, but it has taken on a different kind of emphasis. It is still a very worthwhile work,” says Elaine.