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Candlelight Memorial: Tributes and memories

Sun 19 May 2013 In: HIV View at Wayback View at NDHA

Readers share memories and tributes to people they have loved and lost, as we mark the 30th International AIDS Candlelight Memorial. Gavin James Timperley 8/4/56..12/3/89. Still miss him. - Bryan Matt Whyte Matt Whyte, 1967 – 2004 I would like to pay tribute to my friend, my colleague and my inspiration. Matt Whyte worked for NZAF for many years. We worked closely together travelling the country raising awareness around HIV and AIDS. Matt knew how to captivate an audience and you could hear a pin drop when he would disclose his HIV status. Matt had a mad humour which made those tireless trips much more bearable, he knew how to make you feel at ease, how to make you feel comfortable, how to make you feel informed and aware and yet it was my friend who was fighting a losing battle. Right to the end he kept smiling and laughing with a few swear words thrown in there but that was Matt and we wouldn’t of had him any other way. Matt Whyte passed away in 2004 because he couldn't get the drugs he needed early enough. I’m glad to say those drugs are available now. He dedicated his last years for a cause he strongly believed in and as I promised you on that last night e hoa we will keep fighting for all those lost to HIV and AIDS and all those still living. Ka mihia ki to tatou Kaihanga nana nei nga mea katoa. Ka tangihia mo ratou kua wheturangitia nei, haere , haere atu ra. Tatou te hunga i whakatinana nga moemoea o ratou kua wehe ki Tua o te arai, Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa Heoi ano - Jordon Harris I would like to pay tribute to a friend Matt Whyte. When I was a young 15r old guy coming out in Hamilton, Matt (who worked for a NZAF youth programme) took me under his wing and guided and helped me through the whole "process" of coming out and teaching me about many things. He was always right and without him I wouldn't be who I am today. Matt was a beautiful person. I still think of him and wish I could have said goodbye to him. Hey up there angel in the sky, keep smiling. - Jason Hanks Rangi Chadwick In my mind to this day Rangi is a proud gay warrior. Rangi was very much a party boy, he was also artistic and combined the two enthusiasms to put in hours helping create Wellington's wonderful Devotion parties. He loved the gay scene, particularly in the Capital. He was very touchy-feely (in a good and endearing way!) and quick to bond with people of all kinds. He was comfortable in his own skin. Rangi contracted HIV when it was a death sentence and fought it hard... but the end was just a matter of time. However, worse was to come. In the mid-'90s Rangi began to fall prey to one of the mental deteriorations which were then all too common amongst men with HIV. He knew there was no way back so he took control of his end. He traveled the country with his partner Mark, visiting old and good friends a few days at a time.  He spent a lovely couple of days with us in Mt Maunganui. But looking back, behind the smiles, food and brotherliness there was a silent farewell. Rangi returned to Wellington, lay across the railway tracks and the next train along saved him from the lingering, brain-rotting fate he knew he would otherwise face. His tangi in the King Country was beautiful and there was more than one awkward smile amongst us when, during the graveside service, a train roared past in the valley below. Our warrior friend was laid to rest and remains strong and proud in our hearts forever. - David Robertson Warwick Mickell Warwick Mickell was an inspiration on so many levels. One of the first men in New Zealand to be diagnosed with HIV Warwick threw himself into learning how to stay well and passed on his findings to others. In those prehistoric pre-internet days he searched and researched lists of medical publications, had them airmailed in from all around the world and helped sift out the scant information which was known... and to tell the truth it wasn't much. From his waterfront home he would gaze out over the Waitemata harbour, sometimes playing his prized grand piano, sometimes focusing inwards. Many years spent as a marketing consultant in Japan taught him the value of simple but complete nutrition and he complemented this with more off-the-wall treatments including an electrical crystal vibration machine with cylindrical hand-held electrodes. It sounds a tad desperate and, in those times before there was a single drug to ward off the ravages of HIV/AIDS, maybe it was a little. But diet and experimental treatments gave hope where there was otherwise bugger all to cling on to. Warwick gave of his time generously to the tiny self-help organisation which would one day become the NZ AIDS Foundation and was a founding publisher of the newspaper which would become Express. He kept active and alert and cultured right to his quiet death in his own bed, gently lit by sunlight reflected off the Waitemata. Above all Warwick approached his inevitable death from AIDS with dignity and quiet resolve. - Jay Bennie Michael Hay Originally from Rotorua, Michael Hay was a man on a mission. He was a bit of a go-getter, a high-achiever and a force of nature. Unlike many men suffering the ravages of HIV and AIDS in those early days of the epidemic Michael had comprehensive health insurance - something which was denied to any man who might be gay as soon as the virus was evident. With generous payouts he didn't have to work for a living so turned his focus to trying to stay well and to helping others. He was one of the small group who kicked off the Collective Thinking publication, and was a founder of the Bay Area AIDS Support Group, helping foster a sense of support and a common bond between scared, isolated, socially ostracised HIV-positive men. Michael was an early member of the NZ AIDS Foundation and was as comforable  pressuring medics as he was at cornering politicians and bureaucrats. Michael was outgoing and very intelligent and he didn't suffer fools lightly. He was a good negotiator. He helped force hospitals to treat their suffering HIV-positive patients with professionalism and humanity, something which even some of our most august medical institutions were short of in the early days of HIV AIDS. He was community-minded and I sometimes wonder what he would have been like as part of the Civil Unions and Marriage Equality campaigns. Actually, he would have been inspiring to those on our side of the debate and a bloody tough opponent for those who choose to denigrate gay, bi and HIV-positive men. When Michael Hay died we lost one of our most potent advocates, a man who rose up and responded magnificently to the needs of his time. - Mark Calder David Doole David was one of the most handsome, suave and refined chaps I have ever known. A hairdresser by trade he was always immaculately presented. Not prissy, just spot on. And he was as house-proud as they come. And yet he had his less elegant moments too, especially when he crossed the Tasman several times a year to indulge in what he called his 'indiscretions.' Always proud of his appearance he was shattered when the onset of AIDS saw him break out in clusters of disfiguring moles. In his final months he retreated from almost everyone and became reclusive. Such a change for a man who was extremely social and outgoing and just occasionally flamboyant. I remember the first Hero party when we were all encouraged to come as a hero. For the only time in his adult life David shaved off his beard and turned up as an immaculately coutured and pill-box hatted Jacquie Kennedy. David had a sly twinkle in his eye and could sum up people's less endearing traits in a single, arch, word. But mostly he was a wonderful friend. His prolonged illness took its toll on his spirit as well as his body and he was one of our hundreds to die before HIV treatments were discovered. For decades he and his partner Kay (short for McKay) lived together in a beautiful old Sandringham villa. They were wonderful hosts and a joy to know. Sadly Kay died some years before David. When David died, in 1992, I inherited his much-loved cat, Greystoke, who lived to 22, a ripe old age for a cat but a time of life David never knew. - Fergus Innes If you would like to add a tribute, email it to readers - 19th May 2013    

Credit: readers

First published: Sunday, 19th May 2013 - 11:29am

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