What a decade of ballroom means for LGBTTQIA+ Māori

Ballroom culture has just celebrated 10 years of providing space for LGBTTQIA+ expression in Aotearoa. 

Inspired by the scene founded by the African-American and Latino queer community in New York, New Zealand’s ballroom culture was born in Ōtara and has been an important space for LGBTTQIA+ Māori to embrace their identity.

“Back then it wasn’t finding space, it was making space for us,” FAFSWAG’s Kaos (Ngāpuhi) says.

For many young LGBTTQIA+ Māori ballroom was the first place they saw other young Māori outwardly expressing and celebrating their sexuality. 

“Brought up in a small town, you never got to see that representation. You never got to see any brown kid be loud and proud,” House of Marama Mother, Romé Marama (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Porou) says. 

This is part of our reo Māori series, Ohinga, created by Mahi Tahi Media, with funding from Te Māngai Pāho. Stay tuned for a new episode every week.


More stories:

‘It’s part of our culture’: Being fa’afafine in Hawke’s Bay

“I was scared to come here and be bullied."

Non-binary people on why their pronouns matter

“My pronouns are one of the ways I feel most myself, so it hurts [when people ignore them]”.

NZ’s first queer kids show: Why these characters need to be centre stage

This local show is making sure queer characters take centre stage as complex, relatable heroes.