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"Get involved" urges Pride Fest Director

Sat 24 Jan 2015 In: Events View at Wayback View at NDHA

The Director of next month's Auckland Pride Festival hopes people from across a wide range of cultures will get involved, and own it. While the full event information is yet to make its way online, the printed Auckland Pride Festival programme is being circulated. "It’s ours. Let’s own it," says Ta'i Paitai. That’s left Festival Director Ta'i Paitai relieved and excited. He admits the past couple of months have been full on, but laughs he is “keeping a happy face on”. Paitai was hired in the role following the departure of inaugural Festival Director Julian Cook, and with many of the 2015 events already in the works. The Cook Island New Zealander, born and raised in Ponsonby, was clear from his late start that he wanted to widen the cultural representation. “I haven’t had much time, but I’ve been lucky, fortunate, to be able to seek more presence in the Festival from our African, Middle Eastern, Latino, Asian, Pasifika and Maori people, just in terms of being present and getting them to own the Festival, so that this is their Festival as well,” Paitai says. “Sitting on the sidelines is all cool, but it’s also fun to be participating in something like this.” Specific cultural events include 50 Shades of Black, which is a barbecue at Cornwall Park for people of African, Middle Eastern, South East Asian and Latin American descent who identify as lgbti. There will also be a Pasefika Pride Picnic at Okahu Bay, and an Equasian picnic at Mission Bay. While most of the events are concentrated in the central city, Mika’s Aroha Project is hosting a film night, burlesque academy and creative workshop in Mt Roskill, and Fine Fatale’s Freak Show will be at Mangere Arts Centre. West Auckland will continue to have a strong presence with the annual Heroes Out West and events at the Charlotte Museum in New Lynn, while Libraries throughout Auckland will also get in on the Pride spirit. Taane Mete will open the Pride Gala The Festival Director reels off a near endless list of events he is excited about - from the theatre, visual arts, youth leaders’ conference and the fun happenings at Garnet Station, to the Gods and Monsters closing party at Victoria Park. That’s being organised by Lyall Hakaraia, a New Zealander who runs queer venue Vogue Fabrics in London’s East End, who wants to bring the Festival to the attention of a worldwide audience, and is bringing in a number of international artists. Paitai is himself pulling together the opening Pride Gala, which offers a snapshot of the overall festival through short performances plucked from the programme. “It’s looking to be a very hot, very exciting night,” he says. “And if that’s just the Gala, then the Festival’s looking pretty good.” (The Gala will be opened by Taane Mete performing a re-choreographed piece from Michael Parmenter’s Jerusalem, to music by the late Mahinarangi Tocker. Read: Taane’s Pride) One sad absence this year is the Auckland Pride Debate, which Paitai hopes returns in 2016. “Looking forward to it coming back next year. It’s a big year next year with the AsiaPacific Outgames happening too.” Paitai says he is approachable and would love people to come up and talk to him during Auckland Pride. In the meantime, he hopes everyone is getting excited. “We’ve had a wonderful response regarding the programme. It’s still early days, people are still getting copies and going through them. And once it’s up on the website people will be able to jump online and check it out. There’s a lot to check out.” He has been surprised by the number of people he has spoken to who haven’t been to any Pride Festival events before. “My message is to grab one of those people. Bring a friend to an event. Bring someone who has never been to Pride. Get out there. Get involved. It’s ours. Let’s own it.” Jacqui Stanford - 24th January 2015    

Credit: Jacqui Stanford

First published: Saturday, 24th January 2015 - 9:40am

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