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Sunday, May 19, 2024

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Read: The Auckland Pride AGM answered some questions but not others

Fifty people gave up just over two hours of their time on Sunday afternoon to attend Auckland Pride’s AGM. There were one or two tense moments, especially when questions were being asked by members, but mostly the general mood was harmonious and respectful. 

Five Board members attended the meeting – apologies were given for Board member Ta’i Paitai, but it wasn’t until the very end of the meeting that it was revealed he had actually resigned from the Board. 

The agenda went through the expected rituals of past minutes, matters arising etc and then to various reports. Among the spoken highlights from these reports were the following:

Membership numbers rode a rollercoaster over the past year. There were 30 paid members in 2017 which ballooned to 1200 after the removal of a membership fee (editors note: and leading up to the SGM) and then falling to 137 as at the date of the AGM. 

The Treasurer’s report brought some interesting revelations including a $44,000 loss as at the end of April 2019. This was, we were told, due to reduced income from the cancellation of a number of events in the 2019 Festival, extra expenses from the SGM and unpaid invoices and tax arrears of $7,000.  

This loss has been offset according to Board member Emma Henderson by some reduced costs, a GST refund and a grant from Foundation North of $70,000, resulting in an improvement of the society’s financial situation by $104,000. 

The Foundation North grant is to be used to fund the employment of a Director for Auckland Pride who will be tasked with fund-raising, and the recruitment process for that role is currently underway. 

Questions from the floor:

A number of questions were fielded by the membership and one concerned how Auckland Pride intends to interact with the newly constituted Rainbow Pride Auckland.

Cissy Rock explained that Auckland Pride would like to work with the RPA and while there have been some initial discussions with them, nothing has been formally undertaken. 

Another question/observation was raised about altering the code of conduct for Board members after controversial social media posts by some of them in 2018. Ms Rock said she was aware changes would be needed to cover this in the constitution 

Board membership:

Existing Board member Michale Lett and newcomer Kaan Hiini put their names forward to be elected to the Board. Since they were the only two people standing for the empty positions, they were automatically appointed to the Board as per the rules of the constitution. 

The membership were asked to vote to endorse this which they did.  

It was announced that Duncan Matthews was to be appointed to the Board. 

Phylesha Brown-Acton announced that Cissy Rock has been reappointed to the Board by her fellow board members but Cissy herself asked the membership to vote on her appointment. 

Ms Rock stated that this was her own personal choice and though not ‘necessary’ she said she wanted it because “people have been unimpressed by me.” She explained that if the membership didn’t endorse the appointment, she would step aside. 

A discussion followed with questions raised about whether or not this was democratic but the vote was held and she comfortably got the endorsement she sought.  After that, it was announced that the new Board will choose its officers after the AGM.  


Several motions came up for vote in the meeting and were passed – these included: 

  • All people standing for the Board need to state their identity in relation to the Rainbow community. Exploring the rewriting of the Auckland Pride constitution
  • That the membership be notified within 48 hours of any change in Board personnel
  • Acceptance of the Strategic Plan 2018/2022
  • The adoption of three focus areas based on community feedback. (working with corporates and the Police to support LGBTQIA+ communities, and getting to know our communities better) 


Communication still seems to be an issue. Ta’i Paitai resigned four days before the meeting, but this was mentioned as an aside at the end of the meeting. The Board stated that Mr Paitai had requested confidentiality about his resignation, but surely the Board has a responsibility to its membership to advise them of this and in particular to mention this at the top of the meeting not just give apologies and then make a quick mention of his resignation at the end. 

A motion concerning the adoption of three focus areas for the strategic plan was not included in the documentation supplied to the members but was presented on an overhead projection just before the vote on it. People had very little time to read it – It is astounding that an important matter such as this was not communicated to the membership before the meeting. 

There were a number of times where there was confusion about the rules of the constitution even by Board members and the Chair. While a constitution is always open to interpretation, basic knowledge of the constitution and rules of governance should required of Board members and be part of their induction into their positions. 

There is obviously a need to fix the constitution and have more clarity around Board accountability and the process for the election of Board members. The current Board has shown a commitment to this and a desire to engage with the community and their critics.

There are still two places vacant on the Board. The rules about when and how they should be filled seems confused and some clarification is required on how this will be done. It was surprising that this was not made clear at the meeting. Under the constitution, the Board has to have nine members. It can be reduced to seven if the membership votes on this at the AGM, but this did not come up.

Once again, this is an important part of governance. The Board did not tell its membership that this was the situation nor did it indicate any plan to overcome this shortfall in Board members. 

Lastly, I wonder if Auckland Pride has lost the confidence of the community. Only two people put their names forward for the vacant positions on the Board. While this has happened in previous years, I would have thought that given the intense interest over the past few months that more people would have shown up for the AGM and also show an interest in being on the Board. It is my understanding that at least one person applied for a position on the Board but was turned away because they had missed a deadline for applying. Perhaps if more notice was given about vacancies and application dates this could have been avoided. 

I cannot be sure, but perhaps the lack of interest is indicative of growing disenchantment in the politics surrounding Pride.

The Board has stated it is willing to re-engage with the community and try to heal the differences that still linger. By the next AGM we may know if that has worked. 

For the record, here is the current Auckland Pride Board – Chair yet to be announced.  

  1. Cissy Rock
  2. Michael Lett 
  3. Zakk d’Larté
  4. Phylesha Brown-Acton
  5. Emma Henderson
  6. Kaan Hiini
  7. Duncan Matthews
  8. Vacant
  9. Vacant

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