Despite a bumpy journey, Auckland Pride Board's #ourmarch—which replaced the Pride Parade—was a raging success. Event organisers said Saturday's march, which followed the “graduation route” from Albert Park, attracted at least 3000 people and had a definite grassroots feel to it.
After uniformed police were controversially banned from walking in the annual parade, corporate sponsors—including BNZ, Vodafone and the Ponsonby Business Association—withdrew their funding and support. As a result, the Pride Board decided in December they would reinvent the parade as a more inclusive event that focused on the rainbow community and moved away from commercial influence. Express magazine said the only corporate sponsor they saw on the march was Spark sponsoring OUTline.
Pride Board member Michael Lett told Express the joyful diverse crowd brought him to tears. “To me, this is what people have been saying they wanted from us. I am so proud of the people in and around the board who have helped us and helped make this happen.”
Board member Emma Henderson was also impressed and believed it was important to appreciate this march on its own without pitting it against its Pride Parade precursor. “Something new was achieved you don’t have to put them in one or the other. Something amazing happened today and we should be proud of that,” she told Express.
Thousands of people also flooded yesterday’s Big Gay Out event in Coyle Park, including longtime supporter Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Ardern said being a part of the event’s 20th anniversary as Prime Minister was “very special”. "It is one of many events that shows the incredible diversity of New Zealand, and that is something to be celebrated."
Ardern also teased at an announcement regarding LGBTQI and mental health, but said she would save that for "a little further down the track" for the "mental health-focused budget". But one announcement that did get the crowd cheering was Labour MP Tāmati Coffey revealing he and his partner Tim Smith were expecting a baby in July.
Coffey said he applauded the diverse families under the “rainbow umbrella”. "What I love about this, is it is a day to all come together, all types of people under the rainbow umbrella, it is a beautiful thing, there are all kinds of modern families going on today, and I applaud that."