This November the New Zealand AIDS Foundation will award Life Memberships to six people – the highest number ever in one year – in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the organisation's mission. Johnnie Croskery, Kate Leslie MNZOM, Phil Parkinson, Karen Ritchie, Miriam Saphira and Ray Taylor will be presented their awards by the Governor-General and NZAF Patron, The Hon Anand Satyanand in a ceremony at Government House, Auckland on November 30 – the eve of World AIDS Day. Johnnie Croskery has worked tirelessly as a volunteer with the HIV/AIDS community in Wellington, and his been active in the LGBT community and campaign for law reform for over fifty years. Kate Leslie MNZOM was the founding chair of the NZAF from 1985 to 1988, and had a high profile in national media explaining facts about HIV and AIDS, and established the Burnett Centre in 1886. The founder of the Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand, Phil Parkinson was a board member of the NZAF in its early days, and has archived, protected and housed the history of the NZAF since – and even before – its inception. Karen Ritchie – fondly known as 'Mother Karen' – founded the Cartier Bereavement Trust and was a driving force behind Prostitution Law Reform. Until recently she worked at the NZAF's HIV testing centre near K' Road. Miriam Saphira was one of the initial trustees of the NZAF, and was a strong public advocate for Homosexual Law Reform, and is an influential feminist, activist, painter, sculptor, author and psychologist. An advocate and community leader in the early years of the HIV epidemic, Ray Taylor helped ensure the gay community was skilled to meet the emerging horror of AIDS in the 1980's, and continues to work battling sigma around HIV+ people. "NZAF Life Memberships recognise the tremendous contribution and service that these individuals have made in particularly challenging environments, from the earliest days of the AIDS panic up to the present," says NZAF Trust Board Chair Mark Henrickson. "The six people honoured this year provided truly informed voices we could rely on to help with our prevention work, genuine support and compassion in our work with positive people, and they helped shatter myths and misconceptions in the wider community. "We are very grateful to these people who have made an invaluable and meaningful contribution to our community."
Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News Staff
First published: Wednesday, 17th September 2008 - 2:59pm
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