This Saturday the Pride Parade will sashay down the main street of Auckland’s central suburb Ponsonby. It will delight the crowds gathered, and for a cathartic moment we’ll all forget about the housing crisis, the credit card balance, the impossible traffic in Auckland. 

Unlike other parades which celebrate national sporting success or the peak of consumerism in December, this parade is about individuality, creativity and sex. The really good stuff. The stuff which is the molten core of existence for each and every one of us. 

The Pride Parade celebrates life.

Love you Condom – Pocket pack containing one condom, a sachet of lube and instructions. EPH-2015-1-8.


Origins of the parade

In the early nineties when AIDS was a new terror, and when fear was lashing out in the form of homophobia, the Hero Parade was born. It was a hot topic on the social media of it’s time: talk-back radio and television. Conservatives complained vocally about the wanton display of sexuality, and despite this, or maybe because of this, the public turned out in throngs (that’s throngs and some thongs) to cheer on the spectacle. The Parade was an event attended by more than one hundred thousand people annually, and at its height, reportedly by as many as two hundred thousand. 

WORLD shirt designed for the Hero Parade 1997.

The Hero parade was a catalyst for education and change, a provocateur, a mirror reflecting intolerance and bigotry. Between 2002 and 2012 the parade disappeared due to lack of financial support, but returned as the reinvented Pride parade in 2013; the new name celebrating the social changes the parade has spanned.

Known for its choreographed marching boys in hot pants, spectacular floats, Drag Queens, Drag Kings and Fa’afafene, it is also a parade for Rainbow families, Rainbow Youth, and the AIDS Foundation. This is also a parade about social equality: campaigning for health, wellbeing and employment rights.

Auckland Museum's Pride party

Rainbow museums

This weekend Rainbow Museums (a group of Auckland Museums with LQBTQI Staff who get together socially) will have a float in the Pride parade for the first time.

Personally, I am a long term fan of the parade and what it has peacefully accomplished for the betterment of New Zealand. As such I am thrilled that Auckland’s museums are working together to make themselves visable as allies for the LGBTQI+ community under the banner of Rainbow Museums.


I asked my colleagues who will be joining the Rainbow Museums float what participating in the parade means to them:

 “For me, professionally, it says our museum is relevant and reflective of the community we are here to represent (and serve).

Personally, it’s a way for me to demonstrate that I am an ally for my non-hetero friends and whanau.

And, it will be freakin’ fun!”

Victoria Travers: Head of Exhibitions, Auckland War Memorial Museum​


“…the Museum’s participation is evidence that Tamaki Paenga Hira is committed to delivering on our commitment to manaakitanga for our people.  It’s evidence of our ‘walking the talk’ on our commitment to diversity and inclusion – an expression of our aim to be an employer where everyone feels valued and respected because of their difference and can be themselves”.

Catherine Smith: Director of People and Organisation, Auckland War Memorial Museum

“… our Rainbow Museums group not only created a wider Rainbow community for us all to be a part of, it also helped us to established the first LGBTQIA+ group within Auckland Museum ... This whole thing is just another step towards an environment that is accessible and inclusive and conscious.” 

Alex Selkirk-Hanna: Resource Coordinator, Auckland War Memorial Museum

“I came to New Zealand last May from Russia, and … for the first time in my life I can be myself here, can be open and feel secure. No need to pretend, to hide, to act and to feel constantly apprehensive.

…It wouldn’t be an overestimation to say that for all my previous life when I saw the pictures and videos from the Pride Parades happening all over the world I have been imagining myself being a part of them. Needless to say, on the state media those rare reportages were being accompanied by the mocking and ridiculing remarks, but despite all that brainwashing even then I somehow realised that the Parades embodied self-expression, freedom and humanity itself.

… A lot of guys like me here and especially from other less inclusive and even hostile environments perceive the event is as a symbol of equality, tolerance and openness, an emblem of their victories over inner fears and insecurities, over deeply rooted biases and prejudices. The Pride Parade is like a lighthouse persistently guiding those who are different to the better life.”

Val Kosykh: Volunteer at the New Zealand Maritime Museum

“Having a workplace that is proud to support the PRIDE festival means the world to me. We often think we live in a progressive society in Aotearoa, but ever since my sister came out to my family when she was in her early 20s, I have seen that the world that we assume has open arms for the rainbow community often does not. This unaccepting side to our society was made obvious to my whanau last year, when my sister and her fiancée were denied access to the church they wanted to marry in. This renewed my sense that loud and clear support of the LGBT+ communities in Aotearoa is necessary from individuals and organisations alike, and I am glad that my workplace is showing its support to this issue”.

Kat Saunders: Publicist, Auckland War Memorial Museum

“I have always been a believer in working to create a more inclusive society through knowledge sharing, education and empathy. The idea that a person could or should be judged by who they love, is absurd to me. Love and acceptance enrich our communities in every way, so to put rules of what kind of love is acceptable and who is allowed to love freely, is ludicrous. I’m delighted to be a part of the Museum’s float for Pride because events like this show the whole world that love is a power for good, which we need so badly at the moment while our world is on fire. ”

Lucy Gable-Thom: Content, Research and Support Co-ordinator, Auckland War Memorial Museum

In my role as a museum Collection Manager I see our collective participation in the Pride parade as a statement of intent to collect objects which record and celebrate LGBTQI communities, individuals and milestones. At Auckland War Memorial Museum we have some gems in the collection already, such as the shirt, a range of banners and the iconic ’Love Your Condom’ branded pack (featured above), but there is vast room for growth in this collecting area. 
On Saturday as I participate in the parade, under the banner of Rainbow Museums, it is my way of saying I am working to improve the inclusivity of museum collections. I march in support of Queer Heritage and progressive museums.