The award of Honorary Life Member is recognition by the NZAF of an outstanding contribution to the NZAF's mission and is the highest award that the NZAF bestows. This honour may be bestowed on a person by the NZAF Trust Board at any appropriate time and is not linked necessarily with that person's retirement from a position either as a carer, Board member, paid staff member, volunteer or community member.
An outstanding contribution to the NZAF's mission is one that:
New Zealand AIDS Foundation Chief Executive Dr Jason Myers and New Zealand AIDS Foundation Board Chair Anthony Fallon presented the New Zealand AIDS Foundation’s highest award of Honorary Life Membership to four people who had an incredible impact on the lives of people living with and affected by HIV in Aotearoa at a ceremony in Auckland on 16 November 2019.
At the forefront of HIV general practice in Auckland, Dr Copland was one of the first GPs to have a significant caseload of people living with HIV. She has continued to provide care and support to patients living with HIV for over 30 years.
Alison’s journey with the HIV response has been one of humility and dedication – shunning the very deserved spotlight in favour of quietly doing her part. The individual who nominated Dr Copland for a Life Member award sums this up perfectly, stating, “It is the nature of a GP’s work that much of it is unobserved; a private and quiet relationship between doctor and patient, but the humanity, kindness and warmth Dr Copland has brought to this work over decades has been outstanding.”
A dedicated champion for the rights, wellbeing and dignity of people living with HIV and for Māori, Charlie Peters’ legacy is one of manukura, mātauranga, kotahitanga, tika and aroha – all of the values of NZAF. Known for his humility and as someone who has unswervingly given so much time and support to the community
Charlie is the Kaumātua of Body Positive and has a long history of dedicated and passionate work with the community through other HIV organisations including Positive Women, Cartier Trust and NZAF. Charlie has also provided compassionate support for the whānau of many Māori living with HIV and AIDS, including at tangi for those who have passed away.
Dr Thomas is Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases at the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences at the University of Auckland. He is also a physician in the Department of Infectious Diseases at Auckland City Hospital. By having his feet firmly planted in both the academic realm and at the forefront of the HIV response in Aotearoa, Dr Thomas has been an essential part of treating and supporting people living with HIV over the decades. He has also been a voice of reason, challenge and encouragement for NZAF throughout the years, always as an ally.
Beginning his journey with HIV at a time when there was very little hope, and many doctors would not even touch patients diagnosed with HIV, Dr Thomas stood out by showing compassion and dedication to all. Mark’s reputation is one of kindness, knowledge, humanity and of treating people with the utmost dignity. Routinely going above and beyond what is expected.
Vern is a huge part of the NZAF history and remains one of our longest-serving staff, having spent 24 valiant years as the NZAF librarian. Vern collected, curated and communicated much of the knowledge that helped guide NZAF’s work as an evidence-based organization. Our work would not have been the same without his diligence, passion, care and his excellent library. Vern passed away suddenly in April 2015 and left a significant void, both for NZAF as an organization and in the hearts of those who worked with and loved him.
NZAF Research Fellow and long-time colleague of Vern, Dr Peter Saxton, summed things up perfectly when asked to reflect on Vern’s contribution. He said that “all 509 references in his doctoral thesis came via Vern’s library. If NZAF was the Starship Enterprise, then Vern was our Data”.
Public Health Association Chief Executive, Warren Lindberg presented the New Zealand AIDS Foundation’s highest award of Honorary Life Membership to five exceptional individuals at a poignant ceremony in Auckland on 05 November 2016.
Jane Bruning has supported people living with HIV for over two decades, both in England in the early 1990s and at home in New Zealand where she has been the National Coordinator of Positive Women Inc. for the past 12 years. Jane also served on the Boards of Body Positive and Positive Women Inc. prior to her current role. She has unflinchingly dedicated her energy to raising awareness of HIV and addressing the stigma that people living with HIV experience. Jane brings a perspective to HIV prevention in New Zealand that is tempered by life experience. Her personal story of living with HIV since 1988 has inspired her work but she has not let HIV define her life, making her a powerful role model for others living with the virus. 450 women in New Zealand currently live with HIV. Only six of them are actively public about their condition. Jane’s efforts have successfully ensured that the voices of women living with HIV are heard in all matters affecting their lives. She has initiated and participated in research and fronted campaigns to raise awareness of HIV and reduce the stigma and social isolation of people living with HIV. Jane was the Asia-Pacific delegate to the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) from 2011-14. She is also at the helm of the Positive Speakers’ Bureau helping others share their stories to educate audiences across all sectors.
For 25 years, Associate Professor Nigel Dickson’s work at the University of Otago’s AIDS Epidemiology Group (AEG), initially as Senior Research Fellow and then as Director, has been invaluable for HIV prevention in New Zealand. The AEG was established at the University of Otago in the late 1980s to monitor the HIV epidemic. Since 1990, when Nigel joined the Group and subsequently under his leadership the AEG has evolved its activities as the epidemic has matured. His expertise has been utilised in service roles by the former AIDS Medical and Technical Advisory Committee (AMTAC), the National Antenatal HIV Screening Implementation Advisory Group, the NZ Blood Service donor advisory group, and a number of ad hoc groups advising the Ministry of Health on HIV, sexual health, and gay and lesbian health. Nigel is a persistent advocate of evidence-driven decision-making in the control of HIV. His breadth of research and well over 100 publications has made an immense contribution to NZAF’s understanding of the HIV epidemic. He recently retired from leading the AEG but continues his invaluable work as an advisor to the Group.
Bruce Kilmister served as the CEO of HIV peer support organisation Body Positive for over two decades, since the very early days of the HIV epidemic. On his recent retirement, tributes from the many people Bruce worked with during this time are testament to his tireless commitment to people living with HIV and to HIV prevention in New Zealand. He persistently advocated for the rights and wellbeing of people living with HIV on issues such as access to medication. In addition to his many achievements at the helm of Body Positive, Bruce has established strong connections throughout the community and played an integral role in Homosexual Law Reform campaign fundraising. He was also a member of the NZAF Trust Board in the 1980s, has served as a local body representative in Auckland, a JP, a celebrant, a member of the Ponsonby Business Association board and as part of the Community Organisation Grants Scheme Auckland Committee. The community owes a debt of gratitude to Bruce as he continues to serve in his post-retirement governance role at Body Positive.
Anna recently retired as Regional Co‐ordinator of the NZ Prostitutes’ Collective in Christchurch after nearly three decades. In this role she promoted safe sex in the sex industry and advocated for the human rights of sex workers as well as the particular needs of women living with HIV. She was passionately involved in the process of decriminalising sex work in New Zealand. Her work in victim support and unstinting support to people living with HIV, notably providing a safe place in her home for Rodger Wright in the period before he moved to a hospice, are examples of the generosity and kindness for which she became known. Anna volunteered at NZAF for many years. She helped organise World AIDS Day events, AIDS Candlelight Memorials and visits of the AIDS Memorial Quilt to Christchurch, having been a member of the team working on the quilts. Anna was also a very active member of the Mainland Women and HIV Network and a long-term member of the local HIV/AIDS and Blood Borne Viruses Co‐ordinating Committee since the mid-1980s, continuing her advocacy work with this group when it became the Sexual Health and BBV Network. Through this award, NZAF honours Anna’s spirit and long community service furthering our mission.
For 20 years, Geoff Rua’ine’s contribution to HIV prevention has been significant through his many efforts in the community. As one of the few Māori and Pacific Islanders willing to openly speak about living with HIV, Geoff quickly became an advocate for this community in New Zealand and in the Pacific Islands. He has attended, organised and led numerous meetings and gatherings of Takatāpui from Whangarei to Wellington, always emphasising the need for safe sex. Geoff was an important part of the Hau Ora Takatāpui team at NZAF as Māori Health Promoter in South Auckland, the Waikato and midland region for 10 years. He was instrumental in setting up Hamilton Pride, ensuring it had a strong commitment to HIV awareness and facilitated the Candlelight Memorial in the Waikato. Geoff continues his strong support of our mission through his work as a registered nurse in the Waikato and running HIV workshops for colleagues in collaboration with NZAF.
The Governor-General, who is also the patron of NZAF, presented the prestigious Life Member Awards in a ceremony at Government House, Auckland on 28 November 2013, coinciding with World AIDS Day on 1 December. The recipients were Michael Bancroft JP, Kevin Hague MP, Anthony Hughes QSM and Faith Christine Takuwai Makiri Mason.
Michael Bancroft has been a tirelessly strong and consistent advocate for people and communities affected by HIV since the late 1980s. A member of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation since 1990, Michael was a founding member and later chairperson of Auckland Community AIDS Services in 1991. In 1992 he founded Catholic AIDS Ministry to assist priests and people in the care and support of those who specifically identified as Catholic. Michael was responsible for the NZ AIDS Memorial Quilts and negotiated with the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa for the handing over and gifting of them as a national taonga in 2012. Michael is presently the Community Care Manager for St John overseeing over 900 community volunteers, and he continues his voluntary work in the GLBTI community.
Kevin Hague was approached in 1988 to work for the NZAF alongside Tony Hughes with the objective of having sexual orientation and HIV status added to the grounds on which discrimination was illegal. This was achieved in 1993 and along the way, Kevin became involved in many community events, such as the organising committee for the first Hero Party, the national gay and lesbian conference, and much of NZAF’s other work. Kevin returned to NZAF in 1998 as Executive Director and, in his five years in the role, overhauled the governance structure, increased the profile and resourcing of the Hauora Takatāpui programme, and achieved a very substantial increase in resources for the Foundation. In his current role as a Member of Parliament, Kevin continues to work through multiple initiatives aimed at the empowerment of the LGBT community to increase the resilience of the communities most at risk of HIV infection.
Tony Hughes has dedicated a career spanning 28 years at the NZAF, leading New Zealand’s fight against HIV, and advocating the equal rights of men who have sex with men. He was instrumental in advocating for the 1986 Homosexual Law Reform Act and the 1993 amendment to the Human Rights Act, which made discrimination against people on the grounds of their of sexuality or HIV-status unlawful. The passage of both laws has had a profound effect on the lives of MSM, the ability of the NZAF to run HIV awareness and prevention campaigns as well as providing healthcare services for people living with and affected by HIV. Tony’s work is as crucial today as it was when he started with NZAF in 1984. He received the Queen’s Service Medal in the 2006 New Year’s Honours List for community service. His passion and tireless dedication to his work makes Tony an outstanding recipient of this award.
The late Takuwai Makiri-Mason (Aunty Wai) was in the forefront of championing NZAF's vision for Māori communities, working with many Kaumatua, whānau and rainbow communities. Throughout her time with NZAF, Aunty Wai promoted HIV and AIDS awareness, anti-discrimination and anti-prejudice messages, and condom use to communities that often found these topics challenging. She was the face of this cause on many marae, in Māori media and on Māori Television. Aunty Wai was an active Māori advisor, Kuia and supporter to NZAF for more than 20 years and a Māori Advisory Board member from 2010 until her passing. Aunty Wai worked not only to support Takatāpui, but was committed to supporting all of our communities. Despite her health struggles, she remained determined and dedicated to uphold her support to NZAF and the kaupapa. We would like to acknowledge her whānau, some of whom collected this award on her behalf.
The Governor-General, who is also the patron of NZAF, presented the prestigious Life Member Awards in a ceremony at Government House, Auckland on 27 November 2010, coinciding with World AIDS Day on 1 December. The recipients were Graeme Carpenter, Charles Chauvel, Shona Fordyce, Michael Stevens and Mama Tere Strickland.
Dr. Graeme Carpenter practised as a GP in Christchurch where, for many years, he had the highest caseload of patients living with HIV and became notable for seeing them free of charge. Dr Carpenter’s medical practice in the centre of the city played a key role in promoting sexual health, HIV testing and safe sex. He became a reference point for many gay men further afield in the South Island. Dr Carpenter served as Chair of NZAF's Board from 1998 to 2000 and continues to practice in Northland.
Originally from Gisborne, Charles Chauvel began lobbying for Homosexual Law Reform in 1985 and joined NZAF as a volunteer in 1988 in what was known as the Human Rights Programme. He has been a member and supporter, then a Board from 1990 to 1996, as a member and then as Chair. In 1994, he was appointed to the Public Health Commission and seconded to the team that worked successfully to see the Bill of Rights and Human Rights Act amended to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and disability. Mr Chauvel also worked tirelessly to secure the passage of the Civil Union Bill. In more recent times, his work has been integral to the abolition of the ‘homosexual advance’ or gay panic defence and he was appointed to the UN Global Commission on HIV and the Law.
Shona Fordyce has been very prominent in the fight against HIV in Southland. As the sexual health nurse in Invercargill, Ms Fordyce has served a geographically isolated and widespread area and community with deep-seated negative attitudes towards HIV and diverse sexual orientation. Each year she has single-handedly organised the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial – the most Southern of the memorials run by 1,200 community organisations in 115 countries.
Diane Shannon has been involved in HIV prevention and AIDS awareness work since the 1980s as a volunteer, NZAF staff member and community activist. She first provided training to volunteers at the New Zealand AIDS Foundation in 1987 and her work expanded in scope to wider community education. Ms Shannon worked alongside Ian Smith, Alistair Hall and Rodger Wright and was a strong advocate for the highly successful ante-natal screening for HIV for pregnant women. Additionally, she helped the AIDS Coordination Committee develop a community-based prevention model. The Mainland Women and HIV Network was a group founded by Ms Shannon along with Anna Reed and Nicky Woolley. Ms Shannon has been a long-term leading volunteer within the memorial quilt project in Christchurch and AIDS Candlelight services.
Michael Stevens returned to Auckland in the mid 1990s after many years living in Turkey. He publicly acknowledged his HIV positive status and shortly after became involved with the NZAF as a volunteer. He was elected to NZAF's Board in August 1998. He served as Deputy Chair and then Chair from 2000 to 2004. He has supported and attended many HIV related events since 1998 and is an active gay community member. Throughout this time, he has been a leading and articulate advocate for NZAF as a regular letter writer and Op Ed contributor to the NZ Herald on issues of HIV and safe sex. Mr Stevens was the first recipient of the NZAF Matt Whyte Research Grant in 2005 and then again in 2006 and 2007, for his studies on the Social and Cultural Context of Recent HIV Infection among Men have Sex with Men in Aotearoa New Zealand. He regularly speaks to the media on issues related to HIV, both as a person living with HIV and as a sociologist. He has taken an articulate stance in New Zealand’s gay media against bare-backing, the low profile of HIV and the need for more gay community advocacy for safe sex. He now leads the New Zealand Rainbow Tick, a programme aimed at supporting organisations to be the best they can for their Rainbow personnel.
Mama Tere Strickland (Ngāpuhi me Aitutaki) was involved with NZAF since 1996 and was a strong advocate for our mission and safe sex messages for more than 15 years. She was an active participant at NZAF's Hui Takatāpui since 1997 and represented the takatāpui communities on the Board from 1999 to 2001. She provided guidance and support for NZAF Kaimahi in the Hau Ora Takatāpui programme (1999 to 2008) and Māori staff. She was one of the advisors to the Board on issues for Māori. At the time of the Life Membership Award nominations she was the Co-ordinator of Te Aronga Hou Inaianei where she offered support for takatāpui a iwi and their whānau. She was a community worker and an outspoken campaigner for transgender rights, tane takatāpui and vulnerable rangatahi in South Auckland, one of New Zealand’s most challenging urban areas.
Dr Richard Meech is an Infectious Diseases Specialist, who led the first clinical response to AIDS and then HIV in New Zealand along with Dr. Rod Ellis-Pegler from as early as 1983. Early reports about AIDS to the New Zealand government in 1985 were highly influential in ensuring the establishment and funding of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF) in the same year. Dr Meech has been a vocal supporter of the NZAF and a lead advocate in calling for funding for advanced treatments for people living with HIV in New Zealand. Dr Meech retires from clinical work on 27 November 2009. Dr Meech has continued to work with treating people living with HIV throughout his medical career. He is the preferred clinician for many people living with HIV across New Zealand, and many travel considerable distances to travel to see him. His work has contributed tremendously to the mission of the NZAF by supporting people affected by HIV and AIDS to maximise their health and wellbeing. Dr Meech was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2005, for services to Public Health.
Richard Tankersley has been a long-term active supporter for the New Zealand AIDS Foundation / Te Tūāpapa Mate Āraikore o Aotearoa. When Richard joined the Christchurch Support Network In the mid 1980’s, he was one of the first people in Aotearoa to volunteer to help stop HIV. Richard was employed part-time by the NZAF as a Prevention Projects Coordinator in 1991 and 1992. After funding cuts disestablished the position, Richard continued to support the NZAF in a voluntary capacity. He was a valued supporter of the Ettie Rout Clinic (now NZAF regional office Te Toka/NZAF South) and of many HIV-specific public events such as the New Zealand AIDS Memorial Quilt project and the annual International AIDS Candlelight Memorial. In many of these events he offered guidance on the Tikanga and led with the appropriate respect and recognition needed. Richard has been one of the primary leaders for Takatāpui tane as NZAF has sought to develop its relationship with the Treaty and with biculturalism. He played a pivotal role in setting up the NZAF national Hui for Takatāpui Tane in 1995. He was nominated by national Takatāpui Hui-a-Tau to take one of the positions on the NZAF Trust Board where he served as a Trustee from December 1998 to 2001. Richard’s commitment to Takatāpui Tane, human rights and the mission of the NZAF has contributed tremendously to the ongoing development of an HIV-resilient Aotearoa.
Miriam was one of the initial trustees of the NZAF. She was one of the original signatories of the Trust Deed in March 1985 and one of the two out lesbian and gay people on the Board of Trustees at that time. She was a strong public advocate for Homosexual Law Reform and is an influential feminist, activist, painter, sculptor, author, and psychologist.
Kate was the founding chair of the NZAF from 1985 to 1988. During this time she had a high profile in the national media, explaining the facts around HIV and AIDS with grace and confidence. She represented the NZAF as the only non-medical member of the AIDS Advisory Committee to the Minister of Health and negotiated with the Auckland Hospital Board to secure a discreet place for HIV counselling and testing, establishing the Burnett Centre in 1986.
Karen worked with the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective and was a driving force behind Prostitution Law reform, which empowered sex workers to make safer decisions while working and encouraged them to get tested. She founded the Cartier Bereavement Trust, a charity offering direct financial assistance towards funeral costs for people who have died from AIDS. In addition to her work with NZAF's Burnett Centre, she was known as the 'Mother of K Rd' by key members of the Karangahape Road community with whom she sustained a close relationship.
Phil Parkinson was one of the small group of people who worked directly with Bruce Burnett to form the AIDS Support Network in 1984, before the NZAF came into being. As a writer for the paper Pink Triangle he had followed the emergence of the epidemic and helped Bruce to get the news out. From 1981 as the administrator of the Lesbian and Gay Rights Resource Centre (later LAGANZ, the Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand) he had preserved the early records of the movement to help ensure that internationally significant health information was made available and maintained that collection to 2011. These interests naturally came to the fore when law reform became practicable in 1985 when he was in the leadership group of the Gay Task Force. He was a prominent member of the Wellington ASN from 1984 and later a member of the NZAF Board 1988-1993, serving as deputy chair and having an ongoing interest in the library and archives of NZAF and its former branches. He also supported community health research, policy development, strategic planning and served on the National Council on AIDS in the same period. He gained a PhD for historical and bibliographical research in 2003.
John worked quietly and tirelessly as a volunteer with the HIV & AIDS community in Wellington. In addition to supporting people living and dying from HIV-related illness, he was an active member of the GLBITQ community in Wellington for over 50 years and was one of the earliest campaigners for Homosexual Law reform and human rights.
Dr Ellis-Pegler spent 22 years at the coal face of HIV/AIDS management in New Zealand, and was one of the first infectious disease specialists in the country to begin caring for gay men infected with what was at the time an unknown disease. His work saw him witness the dark days of the early epidemic caring for patients dying of AIDS, when little could be done other than palliative care, through to the advent of medications in the late 90s and helping people living with HIV deal with difficult treatment regimes. Rod championed the needs of the increasing number of gay and bisexual men who became infected with HIV throughout the 80s and 90s, often needing to educate health professionals, the police and the general public about their own stigma around the disease. When Rod chose infectious diseases as his career specialty back in 1967, many of his colleagues at the time considered it to be a dead-end as it was believed that mankind had finally conquered the disease. We’ll be forever grateful that Rod didn’t take their advice to utilise his talents elsewhere. His contribution in New Zealand to managing the most threatening epidemic of the modern age was invaluable.
Kevin Jensen was a powerhouse for HIV and AIDS support in the Nelson region for many years. He was the founder and main active member of the Nelson AIDS Support Network, which provided support for people living with or affected by HIV in the Nelson region for many years. In addition Kevin led the NASN HIV education and prevention drive. They prepared and distributed kits for doctors to try to improve their knowledge of HIV and their ability to support patients and reduce medical prejudice. They compiled a list of safe and appropriate doctors, service providers and alternative care providers to whom they could safely refer people living with HIV. They also regularly conducted HIV/AIDS information workshops (often in cooperation with NZAF) for NASN members and members of allied health groups and health professionals. They ran Red Ribbon Day and World AIDS Day events and collections in Nelson for many years, the funds going back to their work. And they assisted the NZAF GMH health promoters with workshops including arranging and publicising venues, arranging local contacts etc. One of Kevin’s most amazing contributions was to regularly tour the Nelson and West Coast region schools with AIDS Quilts, talking to school kids about HIV and telling the stories of the quilts as an illustration of why young people need to take precautions against becoming infected. To do this, Kevin used his own annual leave. In 2004 the Nelson AIDS Support Network’s contribution to the health and well-being of the Nelson community was recognised with a community award presented by the Nelson City Council. In addition Kevin was a founding member and past secretary of the Nelson gay men’s group, “Spectrum”, giving many hours of voluntary time. Kevin also acted as a distribution point for GMH resources, helping ensure our HIV education brochures and safe sex kits got out into the Nelson MSM community. He was on the board of the Nelson needle exchange programme.
Bill was a gay community supporter as well as a settlor trustee and founding member of NZAF. He was also a founder of the National Association of Loss and Grief, and of the Celebrants Association of New Zealand. He has served on the national bodies of all these organisations and was Chair of the Steering Committee that established the Celebrants Association. He was also a founding member of the Wellington Gay Welfare Group and served on its Gay Switchboard since 1982.
Neville was the driving force behind Gayline/Lesbianline, which provided an important phone service offering counselling, advice and information to people needing help in dealing with gay or lesbian matters. From 1985 he was a co-founder of the AIDS Support Network with Bruce Burnett, Rex Halliday and Ray Taylor, then became Director of NZAF for a year before returning to teaching at Glenfield College, where he established a revolutionary new programme in social education, including sexuality. Neville also served on the interim Health Committee (North Shore), which set up new Health Boards. He served a term on the Auckland Regional Authority as an elected member from Glenfield and stood as the Labour candidate for Parliament in 1984 for East Coast Bays against Gary Napp of Social Credit. In a previous life Neville was a minister of the Presbyterian Church for 15 years, leaving, he said, “because I ceased to believe, my sexual orientation was not welcome in the Church and because I fell in love with my first gay partner.” The skills he learned as a minister continued to serve Neville well in his ongoing roles within the community. Neville also participated in many TV and radio interviews, often being called on to make comment on issues in the media spotlight.
Sister Paula Brettkelly was involved with the NZAF since 1987. Although the staff were a bit suspicious when a nun walked in, wanting to help in the fight against HIV and AIDS, she soon gained their love and respect. Sister Paula served in a variety of roles in her 18 years of committed service to NZAF. Those roles included caregiver, advocate, board member, committee member, educator, public speaker and mediator. In addition to her direct service to NZAF, she remained supportive through her involvement with other organisations such as the Human Rights Commission. One particular example of her involvement was her work at the hospital to ensure that patients living with HIV/AIDS were provided with proper cutlery rather than plastic cutlery. Sister Paula was a steady voice of reason and compassion in and for NZAF and people in NZ living with HIV/AIDS for many years.
Henare was Kaumatua to NZAF for many years. His leadership and guidance in this role was valued immensely. As well as this, Henare made an outstanding contribution to our work in his continued efforts to raise the profile of HIV/AIDS in Aotearoa/New Zealand. He was a voice of understanding, tolerance and a source of accurate information in an area often marred by ignorance, bigotry and fear.
Dan acted as a mentor to many in the gay community in Hamilton and the Waikato region for over ten years. He was known and valued for his trust, discretion and compassion in dealing with the intricate, intimate and difficult issues that many in the gay community faced. His contribution to furthering NZAF's work was outstanding.
Warren was appointed Director of NZAF in 1986. NZAF was just a year old, with three staff, a dedicated cohort of volunteers, a very small number of (known) people living with AIDS and a profoundly anxious gay community.
In a chapter about the gay community response to AIDS in Intimate Details and Vital Statistics (1996), Warren explained that the hardest part was the unpredictability of the epidemic and the lack of any precedent for gay community organising around a health crisis. We knew how to organize a street protest, run a bar and plan a party. But HIV/AIDS was totally outside our experience – and that of the health system. What was familiar to the health system was curable infections such as STIs and tuberculosis. What was familiar to our community was stigma, discrimination, avoidance of mainstream health services and suspicion of government authority.
When Warren left NZAF twelve years later, the HIV infection rate in New Zealand had peaked, drug therapy had begun to turn HIV from a death sentence to a chronic condition and NZAF had become recognised as an integral part of the New Zealand health system. Warren attributes this to being “part of an organisation of ordinary people trying to achieve extraordinary things”.
The extraordinary things that NZAF had to confront in those years included: establishing the four special AIDS clinics against skepticism from some in the health system and open hostility from others; winning support from the health sector and, ultimately, bipartisan political support, for decriminalization of homosexual acts, possession of needles and syringes for injecting drug use, and prostitution; and persuading the New Zealand media to take AIDS and the NZ AIDS Foundation seriously. Perhaps most challenging of all was the professionalisation of NZAF to become the leading authority on the prevention of HIV/AIDS in New Zealand, provision of expert counselling and testing services, and leadership of the public debates about HIV/AIDS policy.
Warren concluded in Intimate Details and Vital Statistics, “The key to reducing the spread of HIV remains elusive. Since there are no easy answers to the issues raised by the AIDS epidemic, the major challenge confronting the organization is how to sustain the long march.”
Before AIDS, Warren had been a teacher in Otara, South Auckland, where he had been part of a team re-thinking secondary education for young people marginalised by their ethnicity and socio-economic status. After AIDS, he led the Government’s project to counter stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness (Like Minds, Like Mine), followed by six years as a human rights commissioner and work in other parts of the public health sector.
Two thousand people in New Zealand are living with HIV; they face discrimination and stigma as well as the many health challenges that come with their disease. Jonathan was one of the first people to publically declare their positive HIV status and he has been a role model for many others as he demonstrated courage and responsibility as a person living with the virus.
Since the early 1990s Jonathan has been an advocate for improved clinical care and psychosocial support for people living with HIV. He has engaged in public speaking through the Positive Speakers Bureau, engaging with a wide range of audiences about his own story and the issues of HIV.
Jonathan has maintained a high public profile through his event management and stage performances in the Queen of the Whole Universe pageant. He has always used these opportunities to advocate for LGBT rights, as well as HIV awareness prevention and support.
Jonathan is well-known as a fundraiser and has donated many thousands of hours to organising events that raised donations for organisations supporting people living with HIV, the prevention of the spread of HIV and for neonatal care.
Jonathan has provided formal leadership as a member of our Board from February 1996 to July 1998 and was Chair from February 1997. He was recognised as a Life Member of the organisation in 2002.
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