Paekākāriki Pride Festival: gone to the dogs

When it comes to Pride — Paekākāriki is off the leash! The fourth year of the feel-good festival lets the canines shine with the new addition of a dog show this Labour Weekend.

Robbie the Cor-gay, resident of Paekākāriki and regular Pride Parade goer. Photo: Val Little

Shortly after 2020 kicked off – the world was plunged into bubbles and lockdowns. Social distancing and mask-wearing became the norm.  Here we’ve come out the other side of this strange and sombre time knowing how much a worldwide pandemic has affected us, how we connect with each other and what, and who, is really important to us.  And we’ve come out wanting to celebrate and, most of all, PARTY!  

The fourth year of the Paekākāriki Pride Festival goes to the dogs this year with a combined Sunday picnic and Scruffs Dog Show. Prizes will be offered for best-dressed, most butch, best handbag dog, lookey-likey, worst behaved, and a range of other surprise categories. 

“Last year we catered for the kids of the village with a disco and this year we thought we’d open it up for the fur kids!”, says Pat McIntosh, dog show co-ordinator and Paekākāriki Pride Inc committee member. 

Inspired by the number of dogs who join their people in the parade each year, Pat ran with the idea of a village dog show to be held in conjunction with a picnic.  “It’s caused a bit of controversy”, says Pat, “some people felt quite strongly that they couldn’t possibly dress their dogs in the same outfit twice in one weekend, so we’re encouraging them to either find new outfits or chuck on the same one and teach their dog a new trick or two.”

There’ll be the usual staples: the World’s (unofficial) Shortest Pride Parade, the dance party, and the quiz. In addition to the dog show this year there’s also the new Village Rainbow Beautification Project — an invitation for people in Paekākāriki (and beyond) to decorate their properties, fences, letterboxes, gardens and businesses with rainbow creations for the month of October. The purpose is for Paekākāriki to visually show its support for Rainbow community members and to highlight the importance of a society that is diverse and inclusive. Village-dwellers have already painted birdbaths, hung rainbow bunting and chalked creative designs on their driveways. 

Paekākāriki Pride Parade, 2017. Photo: Mark Coote.

“The rainbow is a powerful symbol of hope, inclusion and pride for those of us from the LGBTQIA+ communities”, says Val Little, one of the festival organisers, “we seek out these images and symbols and when we see them we know we’re welcome and safe. 

“We love the way Paekakariki gets behind this festival – everyone from kids and grandparents, schools, businesses and households show their love and support for the Rainbow communities.”  One of the major goals of the festival is to showcase the intersection between the Rainbow communities and the village to show the rest of the country, and the world, how inclusion looks.

In keeping with the 2020 theme of mask-wearing, the dance this year is aptly named a ‘Mask-erade Party’. Party-goers can either wear mouth masks or fancy eye masks. Festival organisers don’t want to make light of the devastating effects COVID-19 has had on many families and lives but rather, wish to celebrate. With good health practices and by working together, Aotearoa/New Zealand has managed to keep its team of five million largely unified and now able to enjoy connecting with one another.

Proceeds from this year’s festival are being donated to queer youth support groups in the Kapiti area.

For further information and updates check out the Facebook page –  or check out our calendar for the programme of events.

Paekākā is a community-built, funded and run website. All funds go to weekly running costs, with huge amounts of professional work donated behind the scenes.  If you can help financially, at a time when many supporting local businesses are hurting, we have launched a donation gateway.