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Toa Takatâpui – fighting against HIV

24 FEBRUARY, 2006.

Toa Takatâpui – fighting against HIV
and discrimination

Whiti, whiti....Toa!
Whiti, whiti....Toa!
Ka eke te wiwi
Ka eke te wawa
Ka eke papa ara hu wae rangi timu huia!
I ka eke, i ka eke....

Pride, affirming their place in their communities and uniting as warriors in the fight against HIV are the key messages in a dramatic new resource for takatâpui tane to be launched by the New Zealand AIDS Foundation’s Hau Ora Takatâpui programme on February 24.

“Toa Takatâpui” is a poster featuring Maori men in traditional costume performing a haka. The striking image is made even more challenging by the fact that all of the participants are takatâpui tane (Maori men who identify as having same-sex attraction). The word “toa” is translated into English as a champion, warrior, or having valour, which fits with the theme of the poster: “Warriors for safe sex – united against HIV.”

NZAF Hau Ora Takatâpui Team Leader Eriata Peri says that Maori men who have sex with men (MSM) are part of the gay and bisexual male communities in New Zealand that continue to be over-represented in New Zealand’s HIV statistics.
“In the first half of 2005, there was one new HIV infection among MSM being diagnosed every four days. Takatâpui tane make up a proportional share of these worrying statistics. We suspect that the shocking rate of new infections has continued in the second half of 2005. If that proves to be the case (when the final figures are available in March) then last year could well set a record high for new HIV infections among MSM in New Zealand. It is vital, as takatâpui tane, that we take a leadership role in our own communities to try to turn these figures around.”

Peri says the practice of safe sex is supported by self-pride, accepting that a warrior looks after himself and the health of his lovers. The Toa Takatâpui poster aims to reinforce that message.

Self esteem and its association with the practice of safe sex is also reinforced by a sense of acceptance in, and belonging to, one’s community, says Eriata Peri, which is why the Toa Takatâpui campaign carries another message.

“It’s also about pride and combating homophobia. Often, as takatâpui tane, we can experience prejudice in the form of not having our maleness acknowledged. We sometimes find that our birthright, as men, to take male roles on the marae, in our whanau and communities, is challenged by people who don’t understand homosexuality and the traditional place it had in pre-European Maori society. The use of haka is a strong message to reinforce the fact that we have pride and unity as takatâpui tane and stand up to take our place as men.

“It is also as warriors, working together, that we can best fight against the spread of HIV in our communities.”

Toa Takatâpui will be launched on Friday 24 February at Queen Bar, 25 Cross, Street (off Mercury Lane off Karangahape Road), Auckland. Doors open 9pm. First show 10pm. Poster launch 11pm.


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