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LGBTQIA+: Rotorua rainbow community celebrates first pride festival

Merewai Durutalo

Rotorua rainbow community celebrates first pride festival

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Rotorua’s rainbow community is celebrating its first pride festival.

The festival started yesterday , and events range from a panel discussion on LGBTQIA+ creativity to a dance party to close the three-day event on Saturday.

The festival is run by Rotorua Chamber of Pride, set up to support queer, trans and takatāpui people in the region, a service that wasn’t being provided by anyone else.

Executive member Lyssa Rogers-Rahurahu said the event meant much more than just socialising.

“It’s quite monumental to finally have both the community support and funding to get this off the ground, but the thing that surprised me the most is how much people desperately want these events and how much it means to them.

“It means a lot, it’s one of the things we have found in every social evening that we’ve had.”

She said the pride team comprised a diverse range of people, including parents, professionals, students, active community members, and people who were passionate and driven by community spirit for Rotorua.

“The majority of the team are parents, and one thing they have found is that there aren’t a lot of rainbow spaces for parents ... iconic features of Rotorua, like the hot pools, create a space for the rainbow community or anyone to come and celebrate how they are all different but all love their family the same.”

Rogers-Rahurahu said another real need was for parents of queer or trans children to have support, so the Chamber of Pride and the festival was not only for those who were part of the community — but for those who loved and supported them.

She said making sure their organisation and the festival were visible was important.

“We know that there are a lot more, and part of the reason why we’re trying to do more of these events is to try and get our name out there so we can get the community members who aren’t already engaging with us.”

Rogers-Rahurahu said they probably had about 100 active members but she knew there were more LGBTQIA+ people out there who wanted to come out and be part of the community.

Key Rotorua Pride Festival events:

August 25: The Rainbow Social Panel at the Matariki Room by Novotel Lakeside, 5.30pm to 8pm

August 26: Whānau Pride at the Pools at the Polynesian Spa, 10am to 1pm

August 26: LGBTQIA+ Short Film Fest and Director Q&A at Reading Cinema Rotorua, 5pm to 7.30pm

August 26: Closing Dance Party, Level 13 Club Night at Level 13 Theme Rooms and Bar, 9pm to 12.30am

Local Rotorua talent DJ Shane provides the beats.

Details about events are on the Rotorua Chamber of Prizde Facebook page.

Hero image: Rotorua Chamber of Pride executive member Maddie Palfrey at a Friday social. Photo / Supplied

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