People

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Flat Out Pride
Building community through photography, performance installations and passion – the work of Tuafale Tanoai’i

Flat Out Pride

Takatāpui woman Hamie Munroe has been one of the mainstays of Hamilton’s weekly Rainbow access radio show, the Flat Out Pride hour, broadcast on Fridays at 5pm on Free FM 89.0 Independent Community Media, and on demand. She spoke with Jenny Rankine.

FOP_Team_2018Hamie (front) and the other long-term volunteer, gay man Phoenix Adamson (back), have just welcomed two new members, Krysta (left) and Jaimie Veale, and look forward to the new approaches they’ll bring to the programme.

Hamie, of Ngati Maru and Te Aupōuri, Irish and Scots descent, has volunteered with Flat Out Pride for nine years.

“I was approached by Geoff Rua’ine who wanted to pass the mantle over, although I had no previous experience in radio. It was exciting to connect with a new learning and able to promote and empower the community in a new way.”

“I had to put myself out there in a way I hadn’t done before. People hear my voice but don’t see my face, and it’s taken me to lots of pride parties, parades, fundraisers and events supporting all the colours of our rainbow community; this part I love too!”

Flat Out Pride includes a mix of interviews, music shows, hot topics, comedy, Rainbow readings, all music, news and events, and coming out stories. Its tagline is ‘news, views and interviews for and about our community’.

They describe the community with the acronym “GLITTQFAB – Gay, Lesbian, Intersex, Takatāpui, Transgender, Queer, Fa’afafine (Samoan), Akava’ine (Cook Islands), Bisexual and all the fabulousness in between”.

“We like to rotate different topics – we don’t want it to be mundane or repetitive. We try to have interviews every month with people from the community, and Rainbow reading hours with queer and Rainbow writers.”

We run coming-out stories from across the globe, international and national news and events, and play clips from queer comics. At the end of every show we update ‘what’s hot and happening’ for the coming weekend”.

“I personally promote Te Reo Maori and Māori events and kaupapa relevant to Rainbow communities – the most recent was Matariki.” Hamie attends the biennial Hui Takatāpui run by the NZ AIDS Foundation, and promotes the Pacific Love Life Fono every intervening year.

“There’s youth summits, junior and senior Kapa Haka, and the Tainui annual Koroneihana (coronation) commemorations. We celebrate NZ Music Month with artists that interest our community. Sometimes we’ll interview people at the Big Gay Out during Auckland Pride. We try to get involved with community events as much as possible, not just in the Waikato.”

Flat Out Pride also deals with hot topics in the community, and Hamie believes it’s important to “talk about the hard stuff. For example, our transgender whānau who don’t have equal status, how is that for them in prison, at work, how is the government ensuring they’re included?”

“Relationship violence, which happens everywhere and has gone on for years – there’s no open dialogue and there’s minimal community support. We have to talk about it whether we like it or not.”

FOP 2014“Youth suicide is a big issue for all colours of the rainbow, especially transgender people and those estranged from their families. Housing, health and mental health services, support for our Rainbow immigrant communities, does it exist? Those issues are vital for the empowerment and growth of our Rainbow communities.

“When she’s asked about the best programmes, the ones she’s most proud of, she says “interviews, hands down. You hear people’s stories, real and true about who they are, and their journey. If people identify with it, great, if not, they learn something new.”

FreeFM 89.0 Independent community media can be heard from Bombay to south of Tokoroa, and from east of Te Aroha to west of Raglan. “It promotes and encourages all parts of our society, irrespective of how you identify culturally, ethnically, or ethically to ‘have your say’.”

Every Flat Out Pride show is available on the following Monday as a podcast from the website and remains available for about six months. Besides the number of Facebook followers, the team’s gauge of their audience is the management’s tracking system and the number of people who click on the podcast link.

FOP Phil_Mike_FreeFMThe team gets feedback from listeners commenting on their Facebook page, emails asking questions, or suggesting content, interviewees, and music to play. Hamie would love to share interviews with other Rainbow access programmes; “that’s definitely an aim of the FOP whānau as well as finding a sponsor for the show, learning how to plug to international audiences, and hopefully go live at some point.”

Hamie wanted to “give a big shout out to the FreeFM 89.0 management team (General Manager Phil Grey, left, and Programme Director Mike Williams). “They’ve been nothing but supportive of our show, helping us improve our delivery, reach a wider audience, training us to use the technical equipment and processes, and sponsoring gifts and equipment for Hamilton Pride events.”

Coming out

Hamie, who identifies as Takatāpui, came out at 18. “I spoke to my mother first – I told her while she was driving so she wouldn’t have to look at me, her response was ‘I know’, and I said ‘What?! How come you didn’t tell me!’”

“She said it was up to me to figure it out for myself. ‘All that matters is you’re happy, you’re healthy and you’re safe. You’re my daughter and I love you’.”

“I’m one of the lucky ones that got the best response, I had never heard the worst case scenarios. I wasn’t exposed to any Rainbow people, I lived in a very straight world, so I wondered what the hell was going to happen.”

“It took my mum seven years to be a part of my Rainbow life, be with me around the community and engage in the Rainbow scene. She came with me to the last ever Hero Party in Auckland.”

“She invited herself, arrived with two gay male work colleagues, left them found me among those thousands of people and stuck to me like glue. She wanted to talk to the people who knew me, ask people questions.” Hamie laughs. “It meant I wasn’t getting any ‘sessi’ time that night.”

Hamie is a trainee Sign Language Interpreter, and her day job is as a disability support worker with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. She’s also an apprentice teacher women’s self-defence teachers’ network.

Hear Flat Out Pride podcasts online, see the Facebook page, listen live online at 5pm on Fridays, repeats 12pm same night, or email the Flat Out Pride team.

Building community through photography, performance installations and passion – the work of Tuafale Tanoai’i (aka Linda T)

A personal tribute by Charmaine Pountney

Linda T & CharmaineBorn into a Samoan family in Kingsland, Tamaki Makaurau, and christened Tuafale Tanoai’i, she was also given the name Linda by an elder to link her to her Lufilufi aiga(family). Tuafale’s mother encouraged her to use Linda in her dealings with teachers and other Pākehā, as was common at the time in our schools. But now she is proudly Tuafale – tuafalethe3rd@gmail.com.

Known as Linda T, she was a student at Auckland Girls’ Grammar School from the mid-1970s to early 80s. She was in the band Elle Phyzeek, which competed in a talent quest, and one of a lively group of Samoan, Māori and Cook Island girls who ran a Friday disco club in the Cocoa House. Many of them went on to challenge racism, sexism, capitalism and all kinds of injustice in a variety of settings.

Linda also worked before and after school in a number of jobs, including paper runs and cleaning. When she was 14 she had a holiday job at the Foot and Mouth Painting Artists’ office, packing and posting artists’ cards, and became interested in the drawings and paintings. With her first pay she bought a Hanimex camera, which had tiny negatives.

Linda left school to work as a volunteer in the youth action movements of the early 1980s. She did odd jobs as a paid youth worker and as a DJ. Many older lesbians will have seen her at feminist and political events, with her wide smile and camera, and admired her energy and her commitment to documenting women’s activities.

In 1997 Linda answered an SOS from Hillary College, and after looking around and talking with students decided she should help a group set up a radio station within the school, to broadcast positive school and community news and music over lunchtime. With her combination of technology skills, love of music, and commitment to young people, she helped to energise student hope and pride during a hard time in the school’s story.

Tuafale exhibitionIn 2003 Tuafale began some undergraduate work in graphic design at AUT. She found academic requirements a challenge as an undergraduate, and dropped out when her partner, Edith Ridings, became terminally ill. Edith made her promise to return and complete a degree, which she did, earning a Master’s degree with first class honours in 2009, specialising in visual and performance installation art.

Taking pictures, putting up screens and linking with projectors may sound simple enough, but Tuafale has had many challenges. Often she had to sleep in her car to protect equipment overnight. She has been known to leap out and frighten off a group of youths intending to make off with her cables or gear.

Tuafale has also dealt with grief and loss, poverty and serious illness during her life so far. She says she has been blessed with enormous support from women throughout her life – her mother, her AGGS friends, mentors like Tui O’Sullivan and Vivien Bridgewater at AUT, Peggy Dunlop-Fairburn, other artists such as Janet Lilo and the D.A.N.C.E. art club women – too many to name. And, she says, she has always been surrounded by the love and awhi of our lesbian community.

Tuafale has always been close to her family, and cared for her mother during the last stages of her life with dementia. The enlargements of her photos of her mother during her last years made poignant and powerful exhibitions in China in 2016, at a Kelston Girls West Auckland Arts event, as well as at Studio One in Ponsonby in 2017.

Tuafale exhibition2Tuafale spent a couple of hours with Tanya and me in Grey Lynn in June sharing some of her story – she’s a neighbour now, renting a studio at Rachel House’s place. Tuafale is off to the USA for a month, to indulge her passion for music at the Essence Festival in New Orleans and other events, with her cell phone primed to film and record as much as she can. No doubt she will share these experiences as she has so many others.

From a 14-year-old with a camera, Tuafale Tanoai’i has become a leading Pasifika artist in Aotearoa. Pantograph Punch has a wonderful article about her work by Ioana Gordon-Smith: Building the Community (Archive): The Work of Linda T, which explores Tuafale’s commitment to her work as her gift to the people she films and photographs. The quotes from Tuafale show the depth of her commitment as an artist to supporting others.

See her exhibition, Storytelling as koha: consolidating community memories at the Homestead Galleries, Corban Estate Arts Centre, 2 Mt Lebanon Lane, Henderson, before it closes on Sunday July 15, if you can.

PS: The physical archive Tuafale has accumulated is costing her $500/month to store – it is a treasure trove which she funds from her limited and unpredictable income. If you are interested in helping, contact Charmaine for details.

* Photo of Tuafale with Charmaine by Tanya Cumberland

4 thoughts on “People”

  1. Kia ora Sophie, I just had to make comment on the scanning work you do with sheep… oh my gosh, so fascinating and a big cheer on the grey day outside the window on the 3rd floor of Whanau House in Henderson, Auckland. If you’re ever in the Hokianga, Mitimiti to be precise, head 2-km north, cross 3-creeks (the third one is Ngatuna) you’ll find horse heaven and one of the best rides in the world.
    Nga mihi
    Waiora

    Like

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News, pix and profiles about lesbians and queer women in Aotearoa/New Zealand

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