The word kaha (which means strong) was chosen to set the tone for the young people attending. “You don’t have to be running a queer group to attend the hui,” says organiser Nathan Brown. “One of the main aims of Kaha is for our young people to have fun and make new friends but we also want them to feel that they can make a difference.”
Brown is the National Co-ordinator of the Out There Youth Development Project, which aims to create communities that are safe and inclusive of sexuality and gender diversity. The project chooses to use the word “queer” as an umbrella term that it defines as encompassing (but not limited to) lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, fa'afafine, and takataapui identities.
“Kaha will bring together young people from across the country to talk about being queer, to just be queer, and hopefully take back some of the experiences and discussions and apply them in their home regions,” he says.
The first day of the hui is a special training day aimed at anyone who wants to set up or run groups for queer youth, or who may be running such groups already. Rod Baxter, Chairperson of the National Youth Workers Network will facilitate the training, which will feature workshops on transgender issues, Treaty of Waitangi issues, and working with boundaries.
The rest of the weekend will include a hands-on programme, with workshops in utilising the media, activism, kapa haka and forums, “to discuss some of the issues facing queer youth,” Brown says. “We are feeling the effects of the growing popularity of evangelical churches and other morally conservative groups, so we’ll make time to discuss ideas of working with these groups.”
Kaha is open to all young people who are under 25 and “fit somewhere under the queer umbrella”, Brown says. “We’re hoping to have a real mix of ages, genders, ethnicities and backgrounds.”
Registration is $25. Where possible, transport will be arranged to and from the hui. More information can be found on the Out There website: www.outthere.org.nz/kaha