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Rainbow Games providing safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ community

Natasha Hill, Te Rito Cadet

Aotearoa’s first sports and recreational games dedicated to the rainbow community have kicked off today with participants from around the world.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

The Rainbow Games are taking place at Tāmaki Makaurau’s Trust Arena with a lineup of 12 sports.

Rainbow Games ambassador and former rugby player Honey Hireme-Smiler (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Haua) said it was important to have events like the games to create a safe space for the rainbow community after the negative pushback of recent weeks.

“This Rainbow Games is going to be really important to be celebrating now with what’s been happening around Aotearoa with certain communities I suppose that don’t agree and have their own whakaaro on things.

“But that’s why it’s more important now to come forward and show our rangatahi and show our rainbow communities that we are valued and that we are not going away. We’re not going anywhere. We’re not going to be scared by those kind of tactics.”

She said it was a great opportunity for the community to be able to participate, have fun and be themselves.

“I really want to ensure that this is continued. When our participants go back to their own communities, they can continue to participate in those sports, and feel they have a sense of belonging within the sports that they’re playing within their communities and being able to express themselves and who they are.”

The event is for people 18 and over but a youth category was created to cater for rangatahi who wished to partake.

She said it was great to see rangatahi join in, so they could feel supported in a safe place and environment.

Hireme-Smiler has represented Aotearoa across a number of rugby positions and since her retirement she continues to advocate for sport working as a disability sport advisor for the Halberg Foundation.

Tomorrow she plans to come out of retirement to hit up the field for a social game of touch.

“I’m super excited and it’s about time to dust off the boots and have a bit of a run around in touch tomorrow. I’m going to try and pull back a bit of my competitive streak cause I’m just in the social grade.”

The events end on Monday.

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