• Make Matariki a public holiday
    On Tuesday 19 May 2020, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said more public holidays for Kiwis to experience New Zealand is among a number of things the Government is "actively considering" to encourage domestic tourism. With the Māori new year coming up, now is the perfect time to make Matariki a public holiday. You can read more about Matariki here: https://thespinoff.co.nz/atea/05-06-2019/matariki-what-to-know-about-the-maori-new-year-and-how-to-celebrate-it-in-2019/
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  • End Youth Homelessness
    During Covid-19 young people experiencing homelessness have been at increased risk. There has been no coordinated, or youth specific strategy to provide for the needs of young people, and no housing made available to specifically meet their needs. We know that young people are over-represented in the homeless community, with young Maori, and rainbow youth, disproportionately affected. We know that there is limited safe, secure and suitable accommodation for young people experiencing homelessness. We know that - due to limited resources - Youth Housing services are having to turn hundreds of young people away. Yet, our nation has no youth specific strategy - and has provided limited resources - to meet the needs of some of the most vulnerable members of our community. If you are a young person, and you experience homelessness in New Zealand, your options for finding emergency accommodation are low. If you're 16-17yr's old, your chances get even bleaker. With the gains made during COVID19 for our homeless community we have an opportunity as a nation to end rough sleeping in Aotearoa for ever. However, to end homelessness, we must first End Youth Homelessness. To do this, we need your help. Manaaki Rangatahi call on Aotearoa, and the NZ Government, to join with us to #EndYouthHomelessness. Will you sign the petition and support the call and help us to #EndYouthHomelessness? You can read more about Youth Homelessness here: Youth Homelessness is Hidden Homelessness: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/116095068/the-hidden-homeless-alarming-child-and-youth-homelessness-in-auckland If we truly want to end homelessness, we need to start here: https://www.noted.co.nz/currently/currently-social-issues/nz-ending-homelessness-starts-with-helping-young-people
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  • COVID19: Re-set Our Economy Sustainably
    Sustainability has been at the forefront of New Zealand’s news, our elections, and spurred hundreds of thousands of kiwis to peacefully protest. Despite this, and the extremely urgent message science is giving us, there has been a distinct lack of action. COVID19, in an unexpected and undesirable way, has given us the opportunity to re-set. Our new normal does not mean going back to the ways we know are broken. Our new normal means re-setting how we live, work, produce and govern in a way that regenerates. To start to heal what we have done while living outside the biophysical limits of the Earth. This gives us, future generations and other species a fair chance. It will help prevent, and be more resilient to, future crises. This disruption is a time to re-think systems and unite business, government and NGO's. Unlike ever before, we have the means and motivation to collaboratively and fairly transition our economy for a sustainable future. It's clear that if this opportunity is not navigated properly, with courageous and informed decision making, the future we are borrowing from our Mokopuna (Grandchildren) will not be a bright one. The decisions now will make our bed for decades to come and they must be the right ones. Our Leaders have a moral, and legal (Paris Agreement), responsibility to create a strong, resilient, local economy that regenerates Papatūānuku (Mother Earth) and fosters actualised human wellbeing.
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  • COVID-19: Grant Emergency Benefits for Migrants
    We are global citizens. Aotearoa NZ must show a good example of manaakitanga. Our migrant community contribute hugely to our society, our diversity, the economy and workforce. Everyone needs a secure place to live and access to life's essentials at this time. Migrant communities are at risk of facing severe economic hardship due to loss of employment and the inability to return to their home countries due to travel restrictions around the world and the danger of COVID-19. If the government does not provide this emergency benefit, people may feel they have to fend for themselves and possibly break lock-down. That's a concern. We are all in this together and we must all support one another to get through this. Granting benefits to migrants is the compassionate and healthy thing to do.
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  • Covid-19: Emergency housing plan
    5 April 2020: We have delivered this petition in an online event to MP Marama Davidson: https://bit.ly/3aOtAla For the update on housing since this petition began: https://medium.com/@actionstation/the-level-3-lowdown-on-housing-and-covid-19-72207cab54aa You can still sign to keep in touch with the campaign or add your visual support by sharing a photo at https://actionstation.org.nz/campaigns/emergencyhousingplan 🏠 No matter who we are, or where we come from - all of us need a safe place to call home. Yet for decades politicians have allowed the housing market to be driven by the demands of property speculators which has led to a housing crisis. And that was before the coronavirus hit. Because of the covid-19 situation and the inevitable economic downturn, many New Zealanders will lose their jobs, have their hours reduced, or be forced to self-isolate with little or no income. This will have a particular impact on those who are homeless, live in insecure or overcrowded housing, or have high rent and mortgage payments. The government must intervene now to ensure everyone has a home through this challenging time. The latest government announcement of a rent freeze and no-cause evictions give some relief but these measures do not go far enough. Government ministers are meeting in the next couple of days to make further decisions and we have the chance now to push for the best possible outcome for people renting, in insecure housing or who are homeless. The choices our Government makes now to help us weather the outbreak of this virus has the power to shape our communities and social systems for the better for decades to come. We can choose to look after everyone. To respond to the current emergency we ask for: 🏠 AN IMMEDIATE RENT AND MORTGAGE AMNESTY from paying rent or mortgages and a ban on all evictions throughout the covid-19 pandemic (to be extended for a period afterwards to help people recover financially and emotionally). Already, thousands of New Zealanders are living in unaffordable and insecure rentals, with the pressure always growing. An unexpected loss of income due to businesses closing down, job losses or the need to self isolate will make paying rent impossible and push people into homelessness. The government should provide renters and owner-occupiers with an amnesty from paying rent and mortgages, and to ban all evictions. Mortgage payments should be deferred interest-free. Rent payments should be waived instead of deferred. 🏠 LONG TERM RENT CAPS to enable people to recover financially, emotionally from covid-19. 1 in 4 households already spend 40% or more of their household income on rent and housing costs, and that proportion is greater for students and young people.[1] Renters are much more vulnerable to income loss and rent increases. Rent caps are about capping the amount of rent landlords can charge so that tenants are able to meet their housing costs. These will protect renters in this time of crisis but also longer-term in addressing the continual housing crisis we are facing. 🏠 THE GOVERNMENT TO BUY UNOCCUPIED HOUSES (ghost homes) and buildings on the private market for public housing for homeless people. Homeless people and whānau, including those living in overcrowded housing, need to have a secure and safe place to live especially when needing to self-isolate and protect themselves and others from the spread of COVID-19. There will be many more people who find themselves unable to afford private rentals. In the immediate term, the government should purchase empty ghost homes and buildings, making these permanent state homes. By bringing these unused homes into public ownership we will be able to provide safe and healthy state homes for homeless people and whānau.[2,3,4] 🏠 REMOVE ALL OBLIGATIONS TO PAY FOR THE COSTS OF TEMPORARY EMERGENCY HOUSING and reinstate this as a non-recoverable grant. People should not have to re-apply for emergency housing. People should not have to pay rent for emergency housing with no rental contract. The government recently made those living in emergency accommodation pay for a portion of the costs at a quarter of their income. We ask the government to go back to making emergency housing a non-recoverable grant so people are not made to go into debt. We also call on the government to remove any obligations to re-apply for emergency accommodation and prove to Work & Income that you have been looking for alternative accommodation. Having to do house visits for rentals may not even be possible during a Level 4 pandemic, and will cause extreme stress for people looking for housing. By standing united can we ensure collective wellbeing through this outbreak and rewrite the rules to ensure better health and homes for us all and the generations to come. Sign now and together we will send a strong message to the government that the time is now to guarantee safe, warm affordable homes. ⭑ ⭑ ⭑ Notes One in four households already spend 40% or more of their household income on rent and housing costs [1] Household income and housing-cost statistics: Year ended June 2019, Stats NZ : https://bit.ly/2y2rLCP There are over 40,000 homeless people in New Zealand and in 2018 there were 191,646 unoccupied dwellings, with nearly 40,000 in Auckland. [2] Severe housing deprivation in Aotearoa New Zealand, Kate Amore, University of Otago : https://bit.ly/3dlQB0t [3] 'Worrying' rise in empty homes in Auckland highlighted in Census 2018, Sep 2019 : https://bit.ly/3afAhg6 There are nearly 15,000 people and whānau on the waitlist for public housing but there are many more in need of safe and secure public rental housing but do not currently fit the criteria. [4] Housing crisis: Wait-list for public housing nears 15,000 households, NZ Herald, 28 Feb 2020 : https://bit.ly/2Ux9OE3
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  • Include the Waiheke Ferry Service in Auckland Transport's 'Free Child Weekend Fares'
    Auckland Council has the vision of encouraging more families onto our buses and trains, and encourage the next generation of Aucklanders into becoming public transport users. This is why it doesn't charge 5 to 15 year olds fees for using public transport in the weekends. However children on Waiheke have been left out. With the current Waiheke child fare $21 return, many of us are unable to travel to Auckland. This is compared to a similar trip from Manukau Station to Britomart station on train which is a total of $5.80 return. The use of the ferry in the weekend will make a considerable difference to our lives. We will now be able to attend our sports games, swimming lessons, doctors’ appointments and to use the facilities off-island in greater Auckland. Currently, the “Free travel for children in the weekend” initiative covers ALL of Auckland’s other public transport modes except our Waiheke ferry service. This includes the Devenport ferry service. We think this is astonishingly unfair since the Fullers monopoly service is unsubsidised and the most expensive ferry travel on the Auckland Harbour. We have Gold Card for Seniors after 9 every day of the week, so why not a one for Juniors at the weekend? Waiheke was not exempt from fuel tax which goes to maintaining transport loops. Our rates go to Auckland Council to maintain museums, swimming pools and recreational facilities that need to be available to us as Aucklanders on the same terms as elsewhere in the city. We hope that you can see from these signatures that this initiative will make a considerable difference in our lives. https://ourauckland.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/articles/news/2019/09/free-child-fares-at-weekends-on-public-transport/
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  • Protect First Responders: #SayNo to Revenge Based Policy
    First responders are the people who are first on the scene of an emergency and do so sometimes at risk of harm to themselves. They need our complete support and protection from the risks involved in the essential work they do. However the proposed Protection for First Responders and Prison Officers Bill now going through Parliament fails to provide a solution to the issue which it seeks to address. The Bill if passed will create a new offence – injuring a first responder or prison officer with intent to injure – and carry a mandatory minimum sentence of six months’ imprisonment. This will not prevent any assaults on First Responders or Prison Officers. Policies based on ideas of punishment and revenge do not help to reduce violent crime or protect our First Responders. Many people who commit these kinds of crimes are not safe, stable, or in a sound mind at the time that the crime occurs and are the people who need support themselves. Many of the people this Bill would affect if made law would be people suffering from extreme trauma, addiction, mental illness and mental distress. The Bill would send people who themselves need help into the court system and increase Aotearoa’s already too-high prison numbers. This bill fails to recognize that many of the people who will be affected by this bill are not in a rational or calm state of mind during the time these assaults occur. People who could be severely distressed, mentally ill, intoxicated, or any combination of the above at the time the offence occurs. If this bill goes through it will have catastrophic consequences for our communities. We know that the justice system disproportionately causes harm to Māori.[ref] This bill, if it goes through, will continue to work within this racist system sending more Māori through the justice system rather than the health system. When you send one of our whanau to jail, it does not just affect the individual. It harms all of us. The children left behind without parents, the partners left alone to manage on their own, the whanau and friends who have to struggle with the stigma and loss of losing someone they love. If the Government is serious about keeping First Responders and Prison Officers safe, it needs to address the root causes. We believe Parliament would be better served using our time and resources seeking real solutions. For example: ★ Focus on prevention (as outlined above). ★ Review the calibre and frequency of de-escalation and assessment training provided to First Responders and Prison Officers. ★ Provide ongoing de-escalation and assessment training to all professionals working on the front line. ★ Provide intensive training for all first responders and prison officers around addiction, mental illness, and the effects of trauma and colonisation. ★ Bring back the previous government's plan to create a mental health team equipped to support the Police and our First Responders in de-escalating and caring for people in crisis and suffering from mental distress. This is now being trialed in Wellington. ★ Review whether First Responders and Prison Officers have the right support to manage these high and complex situations they are being asked to walk into. Are they staffed adequately to deal with these situations? Do they have adequate safety and support plans in place to mitigate the risks they are dealing with? If not, the Government must fully resource these services, providing them with what they need to do the job safely. To protect our First Responders and Prison Officers we must provide solutions that prevent them from being harmed in the first place. A serious commitment to our First Responders safety would address the impacts of colonisation and generational trauma, would look at ending poverty, increase support for our under resourced mental health and addiction services, and would fast track the reform of our current Justice system in order to ensure that it heals victims, and restores those who perpetrate crime back to healing and wholeness. In January we made a submission to the Justice Select Committee to make these recommendations, and we thank you for your support so far. However the Bill will still go forward to its Second Reading, and Parliament will get another chance to vote on it. If you want our politicians to #SayNo and #EndRevengeBasedJustice, then please sign. Your signature will be delivered together with others as a petition to Andrew Little, the Minister of Justice, prior to the Second Reading of this bill If you would like to read more about this bill you can do so here: Revenge Based Justice Wont Keep First Responders Safe, Noted, 23 Jan 2020 https://www.noted.co.nz/currently/currently-crime/revenge-justice-wont-keep-new-zealands-first-responders-safe Law change not necessary to protect first responders, NZ Law Society, 9 March 2020 https://www.lawsociety.org.nz/news-and-communications/news/law-change-not-necessary-to-protect-first-responders,-says-law-society
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  • Let Martine Abel-Williamson Stand for President of the World Blind Union
    I hope you will agree it is completely unacceptable for the Board of Blind Low Vision NZ, as a public charity and New Zealand's primary provider of blindness services, to hide from scrutiny and take such a defiant, unilateral, and provocative action against a high profile blind New Zealander, without a word of explanation. The Board's actions are so hard to explain that some are asking what on earth is really going on. One director, Clive Lansink, has openly stood up to say that he is embarrassed by this decision. He has said that he did support Martine's nomination, and he knows of no genuine reason why the Board of Blind Low vision NZ has chosen to block her aspiration to stand as President of WBU. They have agreed to support her to stand again as Treasurer, so cost cannot be the reason. We and many others believe that a decision like this must be open and transparent and should fully take into account the clearly stated wishes of Blind Citizens NZ as Blind Low Vision NZ's DPO partner. We're here to support Martine and we hope you are also. But at the same time, we hope you agree that the Board of a public charity like Blind Low Vision NZ should not behave like this. Please join us in calling for the Board of Blind Low Vision NZ to come out of hiding and enthusiastically give its support to Martine as a passionate, hard-working, successful, blind New Zealander - the person that Blind Citizens NZ has nominated as its candidate for WBU President. Note: if signing this petition from overseas, please just enter 0000 when asked for your postcode. The following links may be useful if you want to quickly check more into Martine's background: Receiving qSM: https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/GE1806/S00011/martine-abel-williamson-awarded-qsm.htm Attitude ACC Supreme Award: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/108946777/martine-abelwilliamson-wins-attitude-award-for-changing-the-lives-of-people-living-with-disabilities World Blind Union global website: http://www.worldblindunion.org/English/Pages/default.aspx World Blind Union Asia Pacific website: http://wbuap.org
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  • Say NO to revenge based policy: Oppose NZ First's 1st Responders Bill
    We are concerned that the Protection for First Responders and Prison Officers Bill fails to provide a solution to the issue which it seeks to address. This bill fails to recognize that many of the people who will be affected by this bill are not in a rational or calm state of mind during the time these assaults occur. Many of the people affected by this bill will be punished for an action which they did not have full control over at the time of the offence. People who were not making a calculated decision to harm someone, but who were in fact reacting out of the pain and trauma they were experiencing. People who are - no doubt - severely distressed, mentally ill, intoxicated, or any combination of the above at the time the offence occurs. If this bill goes through it will have catastrophic consequences for our community. When you send one of our whanau to jail, it does not just affect the individual. It harms all of us. The children left behind without parents, the partners left alone to manage on their own, the whanau and friends who have to struggle with the stigma and loss of losing someone they love. And when that person has done their time and they are released back to us, they will be only further traumatized and harmed by a system which is just not working to rehabilitate our people. This bill will not prevent people from assaulting First Responders or Prison Officers, instead it will succeed only in increasing our prison numbers. Instead of seeking punitive responses to complex problems, we believe parliament would be better served using our time and resources seeking out real solutions. For example: ★ Review the calibre and frequency of de-escalation and assessment training provided to First Responders and Prison Officers. ★ Provide ongoing de-escalation and assessment training to all professionals working on the front line. ★ Provide intensive training for all first responders and prison officers around addiction, mental illness, and the effects of trauma and colonization. Build understanding within our frontline workers so that they are equipped to identify the risks and respond accordingly. Knowledge is power, and the more our First Responders and Prison Officers understand about the complex challenges facing people within our community, the more equipped they will be to deescalate tensions and provide a compassionate and effective response. ★ Bring back the previous governments plan to create a mental health team equipped to support the Police in de-escalating and caring for people in crisis and suffering from mental distress. ★ Review whether First Responders and Prison Officers have the right support to manage these high and complex situations they are being asked to walk into. Are they staffed adequately to deal with these situations? Do they have adequate safety and support plans in place to mitigate the risks they are dealing with? To protect our First Responders and Prison Officers we must provide solutions that prevent them from being harmed in the first place. The concern we have with the Protection for First Responders and Correction Officers Bill is that it fails to actually address the concerns it seeks to highlight. It will not prevent our First Responders and Prison Officers from being assaulted, and will only punish the very people who need our help and assistance the most. Our hope is that parliament will not proceed with this bill, but rather will redirect it’s energy into providing solutions that will mitigate the risk that our First Responders and Prison Officers face, with the goal of preventing these assaults from happening in the first place. If you would like to read more about this bill you can do so here: https://www.noted.co.nz/currently/currently-crime/revenge-justice-wont-keep-new-zealands-first-responders-safe The Protection for First Responders and Prison Officers Bill https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/bills-and-laws/bills-proposed-laws/document/BILL_78241/protection-for-first-responders-and-prison-officers-bill
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  • Remove BMI test from B4 School Checks
    We all want to live in a country where children are healthy and thriving. The B4 School Check is an opportunity to provide children and families with the best information on their health. However the BMI test (the Body Mass Index is a measurement which combines a person's weight with their height) is just a tool and on its own does not show if someone is healthy. In fact on its own relying on a BMI test can have negative results. By naming children as 'fat', 'overweight' or 'obese' because they are outside of the ‘correct’ measurements gives them the idea early on that they are judged by how they look, and that weight is a measure of their health. According to the BMI formula, a handful of the All Blacks are obese and the rest are overweight. Weight on its own is no measure of health. Worse than that, this language can plant the seeds that lead to disordered thinking around food and exercise, leading to eating disorders in the future. Eating disorders are the number one cause of mental health-related deaths.[2] We should be publicising body neutrality and promoting body positivity, in contrast to a diet obsessed culture. The BMI test is unnecessary for B4 School Checks and misguides children and parents when looking for healthy solutions. Dietician Lucy Carey, from Christchurch says "Instead, (of BMI tests) we should be taking a universal approach where every family, regardless of the size of their child, could have a conversation with the health professional about healthy living." [3] Please sign to ask the Minister of Health, Hon. David Clark, to remove the BMI from the B4 School Check. 1 - 2 - Anorexia nervosa is the third most common chronic disorder affecting adolescent girls, with the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric disorders. https://www.nzeatingdisordersclinic.co.nz/anorexia-nervosa 3 - https://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=12289228
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  • Save NZ Review of Books Pukapuka Aotearoa
    A creative culture needs critics and forums for discussion about art. NZ Review of Books reviews books published in New Zealand, it is solely dedicated to NZ books and is the only long form print review channel left in NZ. They have been running for nearly 30 years, and their editors estimate they've reviewed 15,000 NZ books in that time. Without funding this journal cannot survive. Without NZ Review of Books, writers, publishers, readers, librarians, booksellers, academics and students lose a vital part of the conversation about NZ literature. We wish to communicate our dismay at the decision Creative New Zealand have made to stop funding the journal New Zealand Review of Books Pukapuka Aotearoa. We ask that Creative New Zealand reconsider this decision. We believe that by deciding not to fund the journal Creative New Zealand is doing harm to the literary arts ecosystem in Aotearoa by removing one of the load-bearing pillars of critical discussion of books and ideas across multiple disciplines. As writers, readers, librarians, booksellers, publishers, academics, students and promoters of New Zealand writing, we rely on journals such as this to inform how we buy, lend, read and talk about our own literature. Our understanding is that Creative New Zealand’s work is to encourage, promote and support the arts in New Zealand for the benefit of all New Zealanders. We believe the decision to stop funding NZ Review of Books undermines this work. It also sends a message that open discussion, debate and critical exploration of the literary arts and the world of ideas are not valued. We sign this statement as a protest against the withdrawn funding and to ask that Creative New Zealand will reinstate it so that NZ Review of Books can continue to publish.
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  • Petition for the Support to Decriminalize Homosexuality in the Cook Islands
    Ko Sonya Apa Temata toku ingoa, I am known as 'Apa' here in our Ipukarea after my papa Tapeka Apa. I am Cook Islands Māori Tahiti born in Aotearoa NZ. Ko Vakas Takitumu, Te Au o Tonga & Puaikura. I am Atiu (Tangapatoro/Tekapo/Ngaata anau), Mauke (Noema/Temata anau) Mangaia (Cummings anau) Rarotonga (Tamaiva/Tepuretu anau), Arorangi (Apera/Temata anau) Tahiti the Parau fanau (Rurutu/Raiatea) ko Tupuna Paora Parau iwi Ngati Kahungungu, Aotearoa. I am Aka TutuTane/Takataapui we don’t fit into any specific constructed mould’s of gender & sexuality, traditionally we are known as Takatāpui (NZ Maori), Mahu (Hawaii & Tahiti), Vakasalewalewa (Fiji), Palopa (Papua New Guinea), Fa’afafine/Fa'atama (Samoa), Aka’vaine/ Aka'Tutu Tane (Cook Islands), Fakaleiti (Tonga), Fakafi’fine (Niue) & other Indigenous Rainbow peoples Sister Girls & Sister Boys (Australian Aboriginal) Two Spirit (First Nations Peoples). My mother Tuakana Apa Temata was my number one advocate and supporter of LGTBI rights, her acceptance of my sexual orientation and that of my two brothers allowed us to be who we are, and to love whom we wanted to be with regardless of sexuality, gender and sexual orientation. My mother and great grandma Mama Mii Cummings Ngaata instilled in me strong values of respect, humility and acceptance, they also taught me the ‘art of compassion’, to give unto others as they would give unto us. There teachings speaks volumes, and that is reflected in the work I do as a nurse, an activist, a feminist, a humanitarian, an advocate & a leader. It is with great sadness that our mother passed away last year and so her legacy continues in me and the work she was so passionate about and for. As a survivor of domestic & sexual violence, she passed onto me the same passion and determination to provide advocacy, support & assistance to women fleeing from violence & trauma and those less fortunate especially from our LGTBI community. My own personal involvement within our Rainbow Pasifika/LGTBI community extends from my own in a professional and volunteer capacity. As one of the Auckland Pride Board members from 2016 to 2018, I am one of our diverse community leaders who lead & coordinated our Pasefika Pride float, a non-profit collective of diverse community leaders & volunteers based in Tamaki Makaurau, Auckland. For the first time ever in 2014 our Pasefika Rainbow community had ‘visibility’ & showcased our diverse arts, heritage & culture along Ponsonby Rd, Auckland. Then in 2015, Pasefika Pride established to bring forth a generation of young and older Rainbow Pasefika LGTBI represent again in 2016 with our theme: ‘It Takes a Village to Raise a Child’. Pasefika Prides message was to address & highlight the counteracting issues of suicide, violence & abuse, poverty, stigma & discrimination that is prevalent amongst our diverse Pacific & Maori communities. In 2017 we merged with Tangata Whenua, Ue Nuku Whanau & created the biggest ever float with Maori & Pasefika combined renaming ourselves as Oceania Pride Aotearoa: Ngā Aho Tapu o Te Moana-nui-ō-Kiwa, Sacred Connections of Oceania. In 2018 Oceania Pride Aotearoa amplified its voice to reduce stigma & discrimination across Oceania and to support the amendment, removal & action on the Decriminalization to the Homosexual Legislation that currently exists in the Cook Islands & other Pacific nations. This year 2019 we marched with our Rainbow LGTBI community & Auckland Pride once more in support of our Takataapui & Rainbow Pasefika community to amplify our voices and to decolonize the very same hegemonic systems & structures that continue to perpetuate hate, violence and discrimination against those most vulnerable. It is important to acknowledge the historical influences & devastating impact of Colonisation and early settlements by missionaries and its impact on indigenous knowledge & understandings of gender, sex and sexuality, and how this has shaped broad social attitudes and norms in Aotearoa NZ (Reid et al, 2017) and across Te Moana Nui o Kiva. The Cook Islands is one of several Pacific nations, which, still criminalize same-sex relations between men and offer no human rights protections to those who are widely ostracized & often discriminated by their families & communities. For many across Oceania, these nations cling to anti-gay laws enacted under colonial rule and the influence of conservative Christian missionaries. Those laws criminalized consensual sexual relations between males but not between women until just recently here in the Cook Islands. The launch of the United Nations Pacific free and equal campaign in 2014 was to end Transphobia and Homophobia this also reignited calls in the Cook Islands & other Pacific nations to change the law. Aotearoa NZ has a long-standing track record & history of being the first country to Give Women the Vote. The first country to have the largest number of openly gay or lesbian politicians to have served in New Zealand's Parliament, Tim Barnett, Chris Carter, Louisa Wall, Maryan Street, Georgina Beyer became the first transgender mayor in the world and the world's first transgender MP. Our LGTBI Rainbow communities continue to experience discrimination, stigma, homophobia, violence and suicide. We have the highest suicide rates amongst Māori & Pacific whereby our Rainbow LGTBI community statistics are the highest amongst this population. In New Zealand, it is unlawful to discriminate against anyone because of their sexual orientation or sex/gender identity within areas of life as stated by the Human Rights Act 1993. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, a collective approach to remind us all the reality of the issues that we continue to fight for and against. Resilience comes in many forms built on courage, mana & integrity.. my sexuality does not define who I am..who I am and where I come from defines 'me'..Kia Orana e Kia Manuia #SpeakUpAndAgainstStigmaDiscriminationAndHomophobia
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