This weekend, Jacinda Ardern became the first Prime Minister of New Zealand to walk in in Auckland Pride.
The festival, in its sixth year, saw 70 floats and between 25,000-30,000 participants and spectators.
Ardern, who was elected last year, marched with the crowd, posed for pictures, and cut the last rainbow ribbon. While previous prime ministers have attended Auckland Pride, she was the first to march in it.
“I’ve marched so many times, so I guess it’s surprising to me that it hasn’t happened already,” she told TVNZ of the momentous occasion. “Ultimately this is a parade about diversity and inclusiveness. And I’m really proud of the work the team has done to make that real over the years and in our laws.”
Ardern made it clear that didn’t mean New Zealand could be complacent. “As long as there are kids in New Zealand, if they are LGBTQI, if they have high levels of mental health issues or self harm, that tells us that we still have work to do.”
Parade producer Shaughan Woodcock told The New Zealand Herald that Arden’s decision to march was a huge step forward.
“I think the overall message is that we are being led by a progressive government, a government that stands for all groups not just some,” she said. “It also sends a very clear message that New Zealand is leading the way around basic human rights and human rights for our rainbow community, and that it is time for the other countries to step up.”