18 Jan 2023

'It has been the privilege of a lifetime': Auckland Pride director to step down

5:59 pm on 18 January 2023
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This will be Max Tweedie's last festival as Auckland Pride director Photo: Becki Moss

Auckland Pride executive director Max Tweedie is stepping down from the role after this years' Pride Month festivities.

"It has been the privilege of a lifetime to have led Auckland Pride," Tweedie wrote on Twitter.

"I am immensely proud of my contributions, and believe the time is right with the organisation in a strong position for me to step down and pass the baton to a new ED [executive director] to lead Auckland Pride into its next era."

Tweedie has held the role since 2019, stepping into the position after a tumultuous few months of community debate which resulted in the festival solidifying its values as an organisation.

Part of this was a shift away from the commercialisation of a parade, instead hold a march of solidarity, "collectively standing together", as 2019 board chair Cissy Rock said.

In a nod to the growth of the festival since then, Tweedie said "Four years ago, our community supported a Pride that has progressive values, one that values liberation alongside celebration. One that values solidarity and diversity. One that values community first. I'm thrilled that it was not only possible, but successful."

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The 2020 Auckland Pride march Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

Auckland Pride co-chair Kaan Hiini said under Tweedie's direction, the 2020 Auckland Pride Festival saw a record attendance of over 60,000 participants across a record 154 events "and made a statement that we were back".

"Max joined Auckland Pride in 2019 at a challenging moment and wasted no time bringing his energy and stabilising the organisation. He has helped Auckland Pride revitalise our vision as we shifted our focus to acknowledge the diverse needs of takatāpui and rainbow communities in Tāmaki Makaurau.

"Key to this has been growing and developing pathways into Pride for communities historically not served or seen"

Tweedie was proud of what had been achieved by Auckland Pride over the few years of the pandemic.

The festival was expanding in its reach and the diversity of participants, including the increasing representation of Māori, Pacific and Asian communities, he said.

"From the ban on conversion therapy, equity in the Covid-19 response and vaccine rollout, the proposed hate-speech laws, the rise in hate crimes and more brazen attacks, the rise in anti-trans rhetoric from the political right, and against homophobia and transphobia broadly - Max has ensured that Auckland Pride remains a relevant and important voice advocating for rainbow communities on important issues," board co-chair Christian Rika said.

"We cannot thank Max enough for his outstanding commitment and contribution to Auckland Pride".