It is so great to be here but I can hardly believe that we are and so before I go on, I think it is important that we take a moment to acknowledge those that are working tirelessly this week to support communities left adversely affected by Cyclone Gabrielle. We awaited our event permit this week, issued by Auckland Council to ensure that the resources required for today’s parade are not compromising any part of the community most in need of help. I would also like to acknowledge and pay respects to those that have lost their life in the recent floods and in Cyclone Gabrielle – unprecedented and so unexpected. It just goes to show how fragile we are and that our existence really is in the hands of mother nature.
If you haven’t already, then Rainbow Parade Auckland is asking that you donate what you can to support the relief efforts. The best place to access ‘how to donate’ is via tvnz’s 1news.co.nz
As we emerge from so many challenges over recent years, let’s use the Rainbow Parade, now more than ever, to bring our communities together – united in love and support.
The reason for this pre parade gathering is to express our thanks to you – your sponsorship, funding and presence is crucial and not unnoticed within the rainbow community. We simply wouldn’t be here, without your support.
Why do we need to continue to have that support? Aligned to this year’s parade theme – it’s about changing hearts and minds.
The major goal of the Rainbow parade, here in Tamaki Makaurau is to honour and celebrate the rainbow community, as well as to raise awareness in society so that people can break free from the stigma and biases that surround them. Because believe it or not – they still do exist.
Pride events, such as the Rainbow Parade, are about empowering individuals visibly. Visibility is crucial to fighting shame and social stigma, and the Rainbow Parade certainly provides an uplifting platform, for that visibility.
The celebration of pride parades and the rainbow community has been around since the 1970s. In the wake of the Stonewall Riots, the rainbow community has worked to gain respect and recognition for their fundamental rights and to end discrimination. In the present day, pride parades remain as relevant today as they were then.
Parades serve as a rousing reminder that the rainbow community still faces significant levels of challenge in life. For example, members of the rainbow community are disproportionately represented in terms of poor mental health compared to other groups and their basic human rights are threatened in many countries – countries whose communities now thrive in their new home, Aotearoa but otherwise wouldn’t back in their previous ‘home’.
Many members of the rainbow community have experienced isolation and marginalisation due to their identities – with whanau, work and many other aspects of society. The Rainbow Parade gives these members a sense of community and belonging amongst their allies, to honour their differences and counter that feeling of exclusion.
For these reasons, pride parades continue to remain relevant and important events.
If today helps change the hearts and minds of even just a few – a few that might now openly embrace a family member, a friend, a colleague – struggling to come out in their true authentic self, then this Parade is more than relevant, and more than worthwhile.
Today’s Rainbow Parade is an opportunity to be active in the community and to bring people together – thousands of people in fact – all here today to either take part or spectate and shout from the roof tops that bias has no place in our society.
And today’s Rainbow Parade is an opportunity to pay homage and respect to those that in the past, kicked the door open, to allow me to live the life I live today. A life far more fortunate than theirs.
And finally, we keep these parades alive so that we can hold our hands back and pull forward those that have a lesser voice than ours. Auckland’s Rainbow Parade has the opportunity to become a globally recognised event that celebrates all walks of life and truly represents what so many New Zealander’s are so proud to be. Perhaps now it’s time for the rainbow community to show its manaakitanga and see how we can evolve this parade to support those still ostracised in society and continue to change hearts and minds.
Te Aroha Tino Nui – great is our love.
On behalf of the Board at Rainbow Parade Auckland AND the Rainbow community – thank you, our sponsors, thank you ‘Love Ponsonby’ and thank you Shaughan Woodcock at SDW Events.
Enjoy the parade, have fun!