Rainbow youth and allies find connection at Uenuku 2022

Published on August 31, 2022

Uenuku 2022

Horowhenua’s rainbow youth and allies had a ball at Uenuku 2022.

Supported by Council, the event for rainbow youth and their allies was created and organised by Youth Empowerment Project Horowhenua (ÿEP) in collaboration with local youth services.

The second time Uenuku has been held, the ball was the brainchild of ÿEP who were concerned for rangatahi in the LGBQT+ community who were feeling disengaged and struggling to find their place in society.

ÿEP is a remodel of the previous Youth Council. In 2019 ÿEP was co-designed with young people to improve youth engagement and information sharing.

Uenuku (which translates to ‘rainbow’) allows rainbow youth and their allies to come together, bond and find a sense of belonging. This connection empowers those who may have previously felt disconnected to meet with like-minded people, find support and use their voice for positive change and personal growth.

Chief Executive Monique Davidson says, “We were proud to support this special event. Horowhenua District Council is inclusive. We welcome diversity, and applaud the brave and courageous young people making positive change in Horowhenua. Uenuku is one way we can build strong communities, giving young people a sense of belonging and connectedness. When people feel connected, they feel empowered. They embrace their leadership qualities and their value in society and within themselves.”

More than 80 young people attended the event held in Council Chambers, which was funded from an Eastern & Central Community Trust grant, and supported by Council.

Community and Social Development Manager Michelle Rogerson says, “Uenuku has widespread positive effects. Connectedness is vital to having a strong and resilient community. Since attending last year, attendees have become more engaged with each other, Council, community groups and their education. Aotearoa has the highest rate of youth suicide in the developed world, with rates for LGBTQ+ people even higher.  Research suggests social rejection is a key driver in this. At Uenuku, if you’re part of the rainbow community or an ally of it, you’re welcomed and celebrated in a safe space. It’s an opportunity to network with others and build a support system and strong relationships to feel inspired, less alone and more understood.”


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