Search Browse Media On This Day Map Quotations Timeline Artificial Intelligence Research Free Datasets Remembered About Contact
☶ Go up a page

AIDS Candlelight Tribute

2023 marks the 40th anniversary of the first people in Aotearoa New Zealand to be identified as living with AIDS. In that same year (1983), the first AIDS Candlelight Memorials took place in San Francisco and New York City.

To mark these significant anniversaries, teamed up with filmmaker Peter Duncan to create an AIDS Candlelight Tribute featuring audio from previous Candlelight Memorial services combined with film footage shot in Wellington during 1993. This recording is dedicated to Cole Hampton, the host of Wellington's 2021 Candlelight Memorial who sadly passed away in 2022.

An audio version is below and the full video can be viewed here.

Audio and Text Download mp3 Download HQ mp3Plain Text (for Gen AI)


  • 00:01 - Richard Tankersley (2021)
  • 02:28 - Waiata, Tīwhanawhana (2017)
  • 04:32 - Chanel Hati (2017)
  • 05:43 - Maringi noa, Tīwhanawhana (2021)
  • 07:35 - Trish McBride (2019)
  • 10:28 - I Can't Keep Quiet, The Glamaphones (2021)
  • 14:00 - Grant Robertson (2017)
  • 15:48 - Whitiora, Tīwhanawhana (2018)
  • 17:30 - Kjel Griffiths (2017)
  • 23:34 - O runga O raro, Tīwhanawhana (2019)
  • 26:08 - Richard Tankersley (2021)
  • 28:45 - Hutia te rito, Tīwhanawhana (2021)


This summary encapsulates the essence of the "AIDS Candlelight Tribute," a commemorative recording that observes the 40th anniversary of the identification of the first individuals with AIDS in Aotearoa New Zealand, linking to the origins of the AIDS Candlelight Memorials in the United States in 1983. The recording, which is 30 minutes in length, encapsulates recollections and testimonies from various participants, covering the societal and individual journey from the 1980s through to the 2020s.

The event begins with a poignant tribute to friends who have passed away due to AIDS, imploring listeners to remember them in spirit if only briefly, and thereby allowing their essence to momentarily persist in collective memory. Participants shared personal experiences from the times when AIDS heavily stigmatized those affected. A notable recount is of the 1991 candlelight memorial at the Parliament grounds, where the names of 179 New Zealanders who had died were read out, creating a powerful and solemn atmosphere. This visual spectacle also incorporated torches, choirs, and bells—elements that sculpted a somber yet hopeful experience.

The tribute further explores the evolution of societal attitudes, particularly the persistent stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, despite advancements in understanding and treating the disease. Speakers share intimate stories of their diagnosis and the subsequent journey through fear, ignorance, and stigma. They underline a time when HIV/AIDS was equated to a death sentence and coming out could elicit a warning to avoid contracting the disease, highlighting how deeply the fear of AIDS permeated society.

The trajectory of HIV and AIDS, from an incurable scourge to a manageable chronic condition, is acknowledged, along with the change in perception—moving from a death sentence to a condition that can be lived with, provided one has access to medical care and support. Testimonies address the transformation from secrecy and shame to openness and advocacy, citing individual growth and the strength gained from community support. The recording emphasizes the necessity of eradicating stigma and discrimination, advocating for compassion and understanding for individuals living with HIV.

The speakers underscore the importance of recognizing and supporting those in the present living with HIV, while simultaneously honoring the memory of those who have passed. They call for an end to the silence and invisibility that has allowed HIV to remain a threat and advocate for proactive engagement to prevent further spread of the virus and to support those affected.

An affirming message emerges—one of resilience, strength, and community support. The recording culminates with a call to remember the past and the individuals who faced the adversity brought by AIDS, as well as to embrace life with HIV in the present day, advocating for a future free from stigma and filled with holistic support.

This summary is created using Generative AI. Although it is based on the recording's transcription, it may contain errors or omissions. Click here to learn more about how this summary was created.

Production date:2nd May 2023
Location:Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand
View on Map
Metadata:View metadata
Archive:The master recording is archived at the Alexander Turnbull Library (OHDL-004713).