Hui Takatāpui will mark its 25th silver jubilee by reflecting on how far Maoridom has come from the darkest early days of HIV, when some victims were refused burial in their whānau burial ground – or buried half in and half out, out of fear HIV would seep through the land and infect the iwi. In the initial years of the epidemic some were also buried in lead-lined coffins. “There was a real need in those early days for an event that provided a safe space for lgbti Māori to gather, share their stories and discuss ways in which to deal with the cultural challenges that our people were facing at the time,” explains New Zealand AIDS Foundation Community Engagement Programme Manager and Kaiārahi, Jordon Harris. In 1986, members of the Auckland takatāpui community organised the inaugural Māori Gay and Lesbian Hui in response to the growing HIV epidemic in New Zealand. The first hui was aimed at addressing community concerns about HIV. The kaupapa of the hui was to establish strategies to educate Māori at risk and their wider whānau about HIV and AIDS awareness, develop initiatives aimed at preventing HIV transmission, to educate the wider whānau about HIV and to combat stigma and discrimination. In 1992, the NZAF started the Māori Youth Project which took on the mahi of the Māori Gay and Lesbian Hui, renaming it Hui Takatāpui. Today Hui Takatāpui is about creating a wider identity for Māori gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Positive social environments play a key role in raising young takatāpui who are confident about their sexuality, genders and sexual behaviours. A major study, Youth 2007: The Health and Wellbeing of Secondary School Students in New Zealand (Results for Young People Attracted to the Same Sex or Both Sexes), showed that 53.4 per cent of non-heterosexual youth had deliberately self-harmed, and 38.6 per cent had seriously thought about attempting suicide in the previous twelve months. The focus of the Hui Takatāpui 2012 will be on bridging the gaps between takatāpui and their whānau. Local hāpu and iwi will be invited to attend and participants will be encouraged to bring whānau members with them. “It is an opportunity to celebrate and strengthen the sexual and gender diversity of Māori, especially rangatahi, young people aged 16-25,” Harris says. This year’s hui will focus on the health and well-being of Māori and aims to increase Māori support for HIV prevention as well as providing leadership and advice on issues for takatāpui. “It will also provide opportunities for Māori to network, have fun, play sport and be entertained in a safe and supportive social environment.” The Hui Takatāpui 2012 will be held at Waipuna Marae, Main Road, Panguru RD2, Kohukohu, Northland, from 15 to 18 November. For an information pack and details on how to register for the Hui Takatāpui 2012, please email NZAF Community Engagement Co-ordinator Māori, Maihi Makiha at email@example.com.
Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff
First published: Wednesday, 26th September 2012 - 1:17pm
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