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Grant Robertson and co

As part of Out in the City 2024, MP Grant Robertson was invited to interview friends and colleagues in the main auditorium of the Michael Fowler Centre. Grant talked to Des Smith and John Jolliff, MP's Ayesha Verrall and Shanan Halbert. With Grants retirement as a Member of Parliament in late March 2024, this was the last Pride event he took part while an MP. Thanks to the organisers and and participants for allowing this to be recorded and shared.

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  • 00:01 - MP Grant Robertson
  • 02:25 - Des Smith and John Jolliff
  • 18:10 - MP Grant Robertson
  • 20:23 - MP Ayesha Verrall
  • 22:18 - MP Shanan Halbert
  • 29:30 - MP Grant Robertson


The audio recording presents a poignant reflection of the LGBTQ+ community's journey in New Zealand from the 1980s through the 2020s. The event, part of Out in the City 2024, is notably Grant Robertson's last Pride event as a Member of Parliament, marking the end of an era in his career. The recording features discussions with notable figures such as Ayesha Verrall, Des Smith, John Jolliff, and Shanan Halbert, offering a multifaceted insight into the struggles and triumphs of the LGBTQ+ community over the years.

The recording begins with Robertson acknowledging the significance of the event and the opportunity it provides to reflect on the community's history, its battles for rights, and the current challenges it faces. It vividly captures the inception of the Gay and Lesbian Fair, initiated in-part by Des Smith and John Jolliff 38 years prior, amidst the backdrop of homosexual law reform (1985/86).

Des Smith recounts the organization of the first fair, aimed at promoting the law reform, highlighting the challenges, including opposition from groups wearing intimidating slogans and attempting to disrupt the event. The recording reflects on the unity within the LGBTQ+ community and their allies, illustrating how collective action and support, such as that from the Amazon Softball Club, played a critical role in the fair's success and in combating homophobia.

John Jolliff's recollections add a personal touch to the narrative, sharing his and Smith's journey together and their continued activism, including their roles in the civil union and marriage equality campaigns. Their story underscores the importance of visibility, vigilance, and the ongoing fight for equality and rights within the LGBTQ+ community, emphasizing the need to support especially the trans community amid rising challenges.

The recording also touches on contemporary issues, with contributions from Ayesha Verrall and Shanan Halbert discussing health disparities, particularly around blood donation policies, and the importance of inclusive healthcare services. The dialogue further explores the impact of recent political changes on the LGBTQ+ community, stressing the importance of safeguarding gains made in rights and representation, and continuing to advocate for progress.

Robertson's final remarks serve as a call to action for the community and its allies, stressing the critical need for safe environments in schools for LGBTQ+ youth, inclusivity in sports, and the broader societal acceptance and support of the LGBTQ+ community. The event encapsulates a moment of reflection, celebration, and forward-looking determination, echoing the community's resilience and the imperative of unity in the face of adversity.

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.

Record date:17th March 2024
Interviewer:Grant Robertson
Location:Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington
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