|Aorewa Mcleod receives her award from Mayor Hubbard On 28 June 2007 Aorewa Pohutukawa McLeod received a Mayoral Living Legend award from Auckland's mayor Dick Hubbard.
The award was presented at the start of a full Council meeting in the Council Chambers of the Auckland town hall. Aorewa, who has been openly lesbian for many years, was a much-loved lecturer and academic at the University of Auckland from 1964 until her retirement in 2005. Among her academic achievements is a Bachelor of Philosophy from Oxford, as well as two distinguished teaching awards from Auckland University. Prominently mentioned in her award citation was the fact that she had spent ‘many years carrying out local community work including involvement in the Switchboard Gay and Lesbian Line and “Leso” Lesbian Line'. Aorewa was nominated for the award by the Eden/Albert Community Board. The steps taken that led to her receiving the award are of interest to the gay and lesbian community, and highlight the importance of having openly gay and lesbian people elected to political positions. Prior to McLeod's award the more conservative Hobson Community Board had nominated the Christian ‘family values' homophobic duo Ian Grant and his wife Mary for the Living Legend award, which the Grants subsequently received. Their award caused a lot of consternation amongst the openly gay and lesbian members of Auckland's Community Boards, Bruce Kilmister, Lindsey Rea and Christopher Dempsey, who then went on a quest to find suitable gay and lesbian recipients in their wards. Each Community Board can nominate people from their own ward. Rea nominated McLeod and Dempsey nominated renowned gay dancer and choreographer Douglas Wright. Kilmister arranged the nomination of the instigator of the Franklin Road Christmas lights displays, gay man Ross Thorby.The nominations went to the Council for Mayoral consideration. Thorby was selected last year, McLeod and Wright were both selected this year. On the night of her presentation Aorewa and her partner Fran made ‘a personal appearance' together. Thorby, McLeod and Wright receiving the Living Legends awards highlights the importance of having openly gay and lesbian politicians in positions of influence that can benefit the gay and lesbian community. This is something to think about when the local government ballot papers arrive in your letterbox in September! Doreen Agassiz-Suddens - 25th August 2007