Over four hundred people attended services from Auckland to Invercargill. Candles were lit in remembrance of those who had died from AIDS, and messages were read from Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright, Prime Minister Helen Clark, Opposition Leader Don Brash, and Australian High Court Justice Michael Kirby.
In keeping with this year’s theme, a strong commitment was made in messages and speeches to keeping the safe sex message alive, in a time when HIV infections in New Zealand are the highest they have ever been.
Support for the work of NZAF was also expressed, but groups like Body Positive, Positive Women, Poz Plus, the CART team, Herne Bay House, NZPC, and Sexual Health Services all need to be acknowledged, says NZAF Acting Executive Director Te Herekiekie Herewini.
“We’re humbled by the recognition given to the work of NZAF in the Candlelight messages, but we’re not in this alone,” he says. “It’s important for us to embrace all the groups that have supported people living with HIV and AIDS, as well as the tireless individual volunteers and allies that have lent their support to HIV and AIDS causes around the country over the last twenty years, and will continue to do so in the future.”
NZAF would also like to extend a special thank-you to the local service co-ordinators: Wayne Otter (Auckland), Robyn Cresswell (Hamilton), Susan Kennedy (Tauranga), Debbie Langley (Wellington), Robin Furley (Christchurch), Lisa Te Pana (Dunedin), and Shona Fordyce (Invercargill).
“It’s through these Candlelight services that we help keep alive the memory of those who have died from AIDS, as well as strengthening our commitment to stop the spread of HIV for future generations,” says Te Herekiekie Herewini.