One hundred and seventy Maori men who have sex with men are gathered at an Auckland marae this evening to empower themselves in the age of HIV, raise awareness of HIV/AIDS and to celebrate their identities.
Takataapui have traveled to the Te Mahurehure Marae in Point Chevalier from all over the country, from the southern South Island to Northland, to attend the weekend hui. A 5pm powhiri was followed by the display of quilts dedicated to takataapui lost to the HIV epidemic, including their photos and life stories. Currently the attendees are getting to know each other through introductions “which will take quite some time,” laughs Jordon Harris, Programme Manager Community Engagement for the NZ AIDS Foundation which has organised the hui.
Later this evening a bus will shuttle into the inner city those who want to sample some of Auckland’s glbt nightlife. Along the way a guide will introduce them to some of the historical glbt sites of the city, such as the locations of now-disappeared iconic venues. “Many of those here tonight are quite young,” says Harris. “It’s important for them to know about those who came before in our communities.”
The hui is all about “empowering and informing our community in particular our Rangatahi our younger generation, encouraging them to be proud and informed to make healthy choices for them and their partners,” says Harris.
Tomorrow will see seminars on “Takatāpui in the 21st Century,” “Te Tiriti O Waitangi and Legal Rights,” “HIV in relation to me,” Kapa Haka, traditional medicines and traditional healing. There will also be a chance to play netball and a formal dinner, with a fashion parade.
By GayNZ.com Daily News staff – 2nd October 2009