The recipients of this year's awards are: Johnnie Croskery, Kate Leslie MNZOM, Phil Parkinson, Karen Ritchie, Miriam Saphira and Ray Taylor.
NZAF Life Memberships are awarded to exceptional individuals who have positively enhanced and substantially contributed, over a significant period of time, to the NZAF Mssion/Kromakinga which is to prevent the transmission of HIV and to support people affected by HIV and AIDS to maximise their health and wellbeing. The recipients are nominated by NZAF members and selected by the Trustees against the criteria.
2008 NZAF Life Memberships:
Johnnie Croskery: Johnnie has 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 has been 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.
Kate Leslie MNZOM, 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.
Phil Parkinson has archived, protected and housed the history of NZAF since, and even before its inception in 1985. His record of both the NZAF and wider gay community enhances, and fills in gaps, in the official documentation. He is an ongoing source of historical accuracy and information for current staff. Parkinson was an important figure in Homosexual Law reform, a Board member of NZAF from 1986 to 1990 and a founder and Board member of the Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand (LAGANZ).
Karen Ritchie has worked with the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective and was a driving force with 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 the NZAF Burnett Centre she is known as the 'Mother of K' Rd' by key members of the Karangahape Road community with whom she has sustained a close relationship.
Miriam Saphira 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.
Ray Taylor was one of the first advocates and community leaders in the early years of the HIV epidemic, raising consciousness about HIV and AIDS and ensuring the gay community was skilled to meet the emerging horror of AIDS. He continues to contribute enormously to the struggle against stigma around sexual orientation and positive status. He helped set up the AIDS Support Network in 1984 -1985 across NZ with Bruce Burnett, Miriam Saphira and others.
"NZAF Life Memberships recognise the tremendous contribution and service that these individuals have made in particularly challenging environments, from the earliest days of the AIDS panic up to the present. The six people honoured this year provided truly informed voices we could rely on to help with our prevention work, genuine support and compassion in our work with positive people, and they helped shatter myths and misconceptions in the wider community," says NZAF Trust Board Chair Mark Henrickson. "We are very grateful to these people who have made an invaluable and meaningful contribution to our community."