Leadership comes in many shapes, in many forms, and is influenced by many different voices. 

Being a leader is rewarding in so many ways, but the responsibility is often heavy, except when you have the chance to make a decision that protects people, this week, we did that. 

I don't want to draw more attention to the saga, the protest, or the vindictive and discriminatory narrative around this event and decision but some things need to be said. 

Te Tairawhiti is home to many different kinds of people, it is that diversity that colours our home we have respect for it, and, in fact, we will protect it. 

There are places in this world, and even in this country where it is not safe to question your sexuality or your identity. Many places where you may need to mask or hide. Te Tairawhiti is not one of those places, and now people know. 

We will stand up for your right to wave your rainbow flag, you have an ally in us, in the region, in the people. Our Mayor publicly said in a press release earlier this week, 'We accept that people hold different views however there is no place for hate or bigotry in Tairāwhiti' I agree whole heartedly. 

A stream of emails had been steadily flooding my inbox, all objecting to a 16+ drag show about inclusivity at the library. One by one, I saw my fellow councilors voice their disapproval, and vocalise their vote for diversity and acceptance. 

Councilor Aubrey Ria posted on her personal platform, " I am in full support of kaupapa which supports and promotes positive education and inclusive action. I fully support this wananga for members of the community and believe the decision to attend is up to each rangatahi and their whanau not those of small minded protesters, who force their beliefs on others. I don’t respond to threats, and will not back down in my support of this kaupapa. "

She, her mother and her daughter attended the event, along with a big showing of support for the rainbow community who held a safe space for attendees.

She walked away from that experience feeling uplifted. None of the allegations or objects were founded or just, at all.

Rainbow Crossing courtesy Aunty Harata Gibson 600x446

Gisborne city - Gladstone Road - Rainbow Crossing - photo courtesy Aunty Harata Gibson

So, here's what I have to say, just as I would stand up for your right to praise the god of your choice, I also will stand for people to be who they are. That we can respect each other and our differences. 

Today, I am grateful for the rainbow pedestrian crossing, it is a symbol of our solidarity as a region. 

. . . by Rawinia Parata - GDC Councillor