A gay pride parade is set to return to Auckland streets this summer for the first time in more than a decade after the Auckland Council agreed to fund the event.
The new Pride Street Parade, to be held on February 15, will be part of a 13-day festival taking place in the city from February 9. The event is expected to attract more than 200,000 spectators.
Speculation about the event has been heating up since Prime Minister John Key told the crowd at this year's Big Gay Out that Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye was in discussions with Auckland Council.
The proposal had the political backing of several members of parliament including Kaye, Green MPs Gareth Hughes and Kevin Hague, and Labour MPs Louisa Wall and Jacinda Ardern.
The last parade to be held in the city was the Hero Parade back in 2001.
It is the first time the first time the Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender community has received financial support from the council for a parade and the deal means it can secure broader sponsorship from business and corporate sectors.
"It gives us the foundation from which we can build a major festival that will become a long term part of an inclusive Auckland City,'' Pride Festival Steering Committee chair Gresham Bradley said.
It has not been revealed how much the council, through Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development, will contribute to the parade but earlier this year it was reported the Auckland Pride Festival Trust had requested $339,000.
The money was to make up a shortfall between what the trust believed it could generate in ticket sales and sponsorship - $439,000 - and what they believed the event would cost to host, $778,000.
ATEED Major Events Manager Jennah Wootten said the festival aligned with Auckland's Major Events Strategy, delivering both social and economic benefits to the city.
The Festival is expected to contribute an additional 7500 visitor nights to Auckland's visitor economy and $784,000 to Auckland's GDP.
In its application to ATEED, the trust suggested around 1500 to 2000 people would take part in the festival which they claimed would attract 220,000 spectators.
Visitors are expected to come from around the country and internationally with people targeted to stop over before heading to the annual Sydney Mardi Gras.
Bradley said the committee did not want to recreate Auckland's last gay pride parade in the new festival line up.
"Ten years have passed since the last one and it's incredibly important that we move with the times and create a solid foundation for the future," Bradley said.
"We're living in a new Auckland and this is a new festival."
The Hero Parade and Festival, ran for almost a decade from 1992 to 2001 and attracted around 100,000 spectators annually.
When it ended the parade left the Hero Charitable Trust creditors $142,398 in debt.
The parade was later replaced by the Big Gay Out.
Public feedback on the event had been "heart-warming".
"We are a diverse community and we are looking forward to the festival and parade providing a platform to celebrate who we are.''
Mayor Len Brown said Auckland's diversity made the city great.
''We love celebrating it, whether it's Matariki, Pasifika, Diwali, the Lantern Festival or now Pride. I am already a big fan of Big Gay Out. I look forward to being a part of the Pride Festival."
Auckland Pride Festival Trust will operate as a governance body and is now recruiting a Festival Board of seven Trustees with experience in business management, event management, public relations, marketing, sponsorship, legal, financial management, and community relationships.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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