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Obituary - Matt Whyte

Thu 4 Nov 2004 In: Community

Matt Whyte NZAF PRESS RELEASE - 03NOV04 OBITUARY - MATTHEW BLAIR WHYTE 1967 – 2004 One of New Zealand's most prominent public faces of life with HIV, and a man whose work and dedication contributed greatly to New Zealand's HIV prevention/education campaigns and the lives of with, or affected by, HIV/AIDS, died on Monday 25 October, 2004. "Bare facts alone do not sum up who he was to us or measure his contribution to our work," said Michael Stevens, chair of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation Board of Trustees in his eulogy at Matt's funeral service. "Matt was fearless. Living with HIV himself, he took on the role of becoming our main public face of people living with the virus." Matt was born in Hamilton. At Hillcrest High School he gained Merit Awards for choir, orchestra and English. He was captain of the badminton team and was appointed Head Boy in 1985. After leaving school he worked as a sharebroker and in 1988 toured Europe as a member of the New Zealand National Youth Choir. He then spent 3 years working for Citibank in London. On his return to New Zealand in 1990 Matt became the general manager of Auckland's Staircase nightclub and in 1994 was employed as the New Zealand AIDS Foundation/ Triangle Trust Youth Worker in Hamilton. In 1997 he became the NZAF Community Education Worker for the Midland region and a year later was appointed Manager at the Awhina Centre in Wellington. Back in Auckland in 2001, Matt became the NZAF's first Positive Men's Project Worker – a position he remained in until failing health prompted his resignation in May 2004. "I think we overuse the word 'passionate' these days,” Michael Stevens said at Matt's funeral on October 29, “but Matt was. If something moved him, he was ready to commit himself to it fully. He was a good friend to many, and an inspiration and symbol of hope to some. He seemed to say 'yes you can go on' when others saw only despair." In honour of Matt's very special contribution, the New Zealand AIDS Foundation is setting up a Matt Whyte Postgraduate Research Grant to support research on HIV and AIDS and/or men-who-have-sex-with-men.     NZAF - 4th November 2004

Credit: NZAF

First published: Thursday, 4th November 2004 - 12:00pm

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