Who are we

Whiria te Tāngata is a network of like minded people from across the organisation who aim to increase the visibility, inclusion and participation of people with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics in Fire and Emergency.

Our first meeting was in early 2020, and much of the last year has focused on planning and forming the inital stages of the network. Key discussions and workshops helped identify the purpose, vision, objectives, identity and values of the network.

Now, we are looking for people who are interested in taking an active role in moving the network forward by taking on a governance portfolio.

Who to contact

If you're interested in knowing more about Whiria te Tāngata - Rainbow Network, or joining our mailing list, please get in touch with us at: whiriatetangata@fireandemergency.nz 

Join us on social media

We also have a Facebook group, which you can join here(external link)

Whiria te Tāngata is led by a governance group comprising representatives across the organisation.

You can contact the governance group at: whiriatetangata@fireandemergency.nz 

We're keen to hear your feedback on this Portal area. Is there something that you think is missing? Is there anything you think we should expand on? We'd love to hear your ideas.

Just add 'Feedback' to the subject line and email: whiriatetangata@fireandemergency.nz 

We'll get back to you as soon as possible.  

Ngā Uara (Our Values)

Ngā Uara (Our Values) do not exist separately, but are woven together within each in every one of us.  They provide a guide to our identity, our aspirations and shape how we support each other, our allies and the wider community. Through living our values, we not only create a space for our people to thrive but a space that allows our organisation to grow.

Kia Tika – We do the right thing

It is not just about being right, it’s our state of being! It’s what we do every day whether you sit on a truck or at a desk, kotahitanga means WE are all in this together.  Whiria te Tāngata celebrates one another’s differences and champions a safe and inclusive workplace where you can bring your whole self to work. We will be up-standers against poor behaviour and inflexible systems that diminish the mana of others. Our people, our communities and our allies are at the centre of our decision-making and we will shine a light for others to follow.

Manaakitanga – We serve and support

This is about enhancing the mana of others, not just tolerating people but accepting our individual uniqueness and allowing our people to stand tall. The mana of Whiria te Tāngata shows our integrity, authenticity and desire to support others. Our manaaki will be carried through the weight of our words and through our leadership. We will build a whare that provides a space for our people and allies to thrive, but also benefits the wider organisation (the kerb cut effect).

Whanaungatanga – We are better together

This is us, banded together, coming together and better together. Like harakeke our strands are diverse and the bond that connects us to one other, to our allies and our wider community strengthens us all. We welcome you to this chosen whānau and we celebrate bringing your whole self to work – Wairua, Hinengaro, Tinana, Whānau, and recognise that we are all richer for it. It is okay to feel vulnerable within Whiria te Tāngata because harakeke is woven and our strength exists in each other.

Auahatanga – We strive to improve

This is celebrating our diversity which brings fresh ideas, innovation and creativity that improves the workplace environment for all of us. We strive to improve our ways of working through genuine and inclusive collaboration (whanaungatanga) whilst acknowledging the voices and stories of our past and present.  We look to understand the challenges ahead so that our creativity, our innovation has a purpose.  We strive to create comfortable and safe environments that allow people to be their best creative-self.

Upcoming events 

Auckland Rainbow Parade

The Auckland Rainbow Parade is coming up on 19 February 2022, and you’re invited to join your Fire and Emergency whānau in this celebration of our LGBTTIQ+ community.

Auckland Pride is Aotearoa’s largest Pride Festival and will be celebrating 50 years of Pride in Tāmaki Makaurau in February 2022. The parade highlights, promotes and celebrates everyone who is part of the Rainbow community and contributes to the rich cultural diversity of Aotearoa New Zealand. It acknowledges the struggles of the past while looking towards a future of greater acceptance and understanding.

Fire and Emergency is focused on creating a respectful, welcoming and inclusive workplace for all our people and we’re proud to be participating in the parade as a sign of our commitment to this mahi.

Everyone across the country is welcome to get involved, from members of the LGBTTIQ+ community, to allies who wish to show their support for their colleagues, friends and whānau.

Use this form(external link) to register your interest in attending.

Email the team on pride@fireandemergency.nz to find out more.

Please note that travel to the Parade will be at your own cost and vaccine passes will be required for participants.

Recent events 

Sweat with Pride 2021

In June, six Fire and Emergency people from National Headquarters, Northern Comcen and our National Training Centre (NTC) participated in the "Sweat for Pride" fundraising event. They were all sponsored to raise funds to help improve mental and physical health in Aotearoa's Rainbow community.

It’s outrageous that in 2021, Aotearoa’s LGBTIQ+ communities have worse health outcomes than their peers. They worked up a sweat because who you love, how you identify or the pronouns you use shouldn’t negatively impact your health.

Twenty-one minutes a day is the minimum amount of physical activity we need for happy and healthy bodies and minds. While this may sound easy, research shows that 50% of New Zealanders aren't meeting this goal, which inspired the team to make a difference.

Together, team members completed 6,151 minutes of exercise. Mark Richards from the Northern Comcen amassing an impressive total fitness time of 3,756 minutes of exercise, followed by Michelle Forrest from NTC with 1,103 minutes.

The Fire and Emergency team set a $1,500 goal and exceeded that by raising $2,591. The highest fundraiser was Niamh McNamara, from NHQ, who raised $940, followed by Cindy Thompson, also from NHQ, who raised $670.

See the details of the Team's efforts. (external link)

Cross Agency Rainbow Network (CARN) Conference 2021

The Cross Agency Rainbow Network (CARN) Conference 2021 was held in Parliament Buildings Thursday 25 – Friday 26 March. The 2021 conference was the second national CARN hui and the first that Fire and Emergency have attended. The aim of the conference, as per their website, was…to equip public service decision makers with a better understanding of the experiences of our rainbow communities, to help drive sustainable actions that meet the needs of our communities and enhance our safety and well-being. In keeping with this kaupapa, we have brought back the learnings of other government agencies who have been working more closely with their rainbow whānau in recent years and included in this report a list of actionable items that we believe can help Fire and Emergency better meet the needs of our internal communities, as well as the ones we serve.

Image L-R: Jacob Davies, Business Operations Manager, Te Ūpoko, Cindy Thompson, Business Analyst, NHQ, Allan Stoddart, Education Technologies Advisor, NHQ,  Mark Richards, Operations Manager, Northern Communications Centre, Michelle Forrest, Learning Development Advisor, NTC, AJ Burton, Volunteer Rural Firefighter, Waitaki, Daniel Colbeck, Career Firefighter Seaview, Niamh Mc Namara, Volunteer Learning Advisor / Volunteer Urban Firefighter, Featherston. 


Fire and Emergency strides with pride

Fire and Emergency was well represented at the Auckland Rainbow Pride Parade with 35 of our people and their whānau taking part in the Parade last weekend, some travelling from as far as Ruakaka, Rotorua, Taupō and Wellington.

National Commander Kerry Gregory said it was a fantastic afternoon walking in the parade with our people and their whānau and “co responding” alongside our colleagues from St John.

“Taking part in the Pride parades each year is an important celebration of our communities and the diverse communities we serve,” says Kerry.

“Diversity is an important part of who we are and it’s reflected in our organisational value of we are better together – whanaungatanga.

“Special thanks to those who helped organise our attendance at the event, in particular Northern Communication Centre Operations Manager, Mark Richards and National Training Centre Learning Development Advisor, Michelle Forrest.

“And to the Birkenhead Volunteer Fire Brigade whose appliance was parked along the parade, colourfully decorated and equipped with a bubble machine and toy waterguns to provide entertainment for the crowd.”

Mark Richards said it was great to see all the support from Fire and Emergency on the day.

“It’s important our people can be their true selves at work or while volunteering for Fire and Emergency and know they are supported – whether they are an ally or part of the rainbow community,” says Mark.

“It was a really fun event and everyone is looking forward to next year!”


Glossary and definitions

agender someone who does not identify with any gender.
another gender  used to encompass any genders that are not male or female. This term is used in the Stats NZ gender question format and classification.
asexual A person who does not experience sexual attraction to others.
assigned female at birth (AFAB) person whose sex at birth was recorded or assigned as female.
assigned male at birth (AMAB)   person whose sex at birth was recorded or assigned as male. 
Bisexual A person who experiences romantic and/or sexual attraction to their own and other genders.
cisgender A person whose gender aligns with their sex assigned at birth.
endosex  refers to a person whose innate physical sex characteristics match what is expected for female or male bodies within a Eurocentric model and construct. They are both born with these characteristics, including chromosomes, hormones, genitals, and other anatomy. Endosex is the opposite of intersex.
fa’afafine and other Pacific cultural terms  Pacific communities have their own culturally specific terms relating to sexual orientation and gender identities. These concepts are more or just as much
about familial, genealogical, social, and cultural selfhood. These include but are not limited to the following terms: fa’afafine (Samoa and American Samoa), Leiti/Fakaleiti (Tonga), Fakafifine (Niue), Akava’ine (Cook Islands), Pina (Tuvalu), Māhū (Tahiti & Hawaii), Vakasalewalewa (Fiji), and Palopa (Papua New Guinea).
gay A person who experiences romantic and/or sexual attraction to people of the same gender. More commonly used in relation to males.
gender  refers to a person’s social and personal identity as male, female, or another gender or genders that may be non-binary. Gender may include gender identity and/or gender expression. A person’s current gender may differ from the sex recorded at their birth and may differ from what is indicated on their current legal documents. A person’s gender may change over time. Some people
may not identify with any gender. 
gender expression refers to a person’s presentation of gender through physical appearance –
including dress, hairstyles, accessories, cosmetics, mannerisms, speech, behavioural patterns, names, and personal references. Gender expression may or may not conform to a person’s gender identity.
gender identity Refers to each person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth, including the personal sense of the body (which may involve, if freely chosen, modification of bodily appearance or function by medical, surgical or other means) and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech and mannerisms. 
gender diverse  umbrella term used by some people who identify outside of the male/female
gender binary. Being transgender can be one way of being gender diverse, but not all gender diverse people identify as transgender and vice versa. (New Zealand Human Rights Commission, 2020) 
gender identity  refers to a person’s internal and individual experience of gender.
genderqueer umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different to the binary male or female (from Outline NZ).
Heterosexual A person who experiences romantic attraction and/or sexual attraction to people of a different gender.
Homosexual A person who experiences romantic attraction and/or sexual attraction to people of the same gender.

An umbrella term used to describe a wide range of variations in sex characteristics. Many intersex variations are not visible or detected at birth and many people may not be aware they have an intersex variation until later in life (for example, when trying to conceive). Some people may identify as intersex, while others may see their intersex variation more as part of their medical history, rather than their identity.

A person whose sex characteristics are more diverse than typical definitions for male or female bodies, including sexual anatomy, reproductive organs, hormonal patterns, and/or chromosome patterns. 


A woman who experiences romantic attraction and/or sexual attraction to other women.


An acronym of different identities within Rainbow communities, including Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual. The plus denotes inclusion of other terms not listed. 


 An umbrella term for gender identities which are neither male nor female. Pacific communities have their own culturally specific terms relating to sexual orientation and gender identities. These concepts are more or just as much about familial, genealogical, social, and cultural selfhood. Fa’afafine (Samoa & American Samoa), Leiti/ Fakaleiti (Tonga), Fakafifine (Niue), Akava’ine (Cook Islands), Pina (Tuvalu), Māhū (Taihiti and Hawaii), Vakasalewalewa (Fiji) and Palopa (Papua New Guinea). 


A person who experiences romantic and/or sexual attraction to people regardless of their sex or gender. 


A reclaimed umbrella term that encompasses identities and expressions outside of heterosexual, monogamous, and normative gender expressions.

Rainbow communities

An umbrella term commonly used in Aotearoa to describe those who have a diverse sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and sex characteristics. 

sex is based on a person’s sex characteristics, such as their chromosomes, hormones, and reproductive organs. While typically based upon the sex characteristics observed and recorded at birth or infancy, a person’s sex can change over the course of their lifetime and may differ from their recorded at birth.
sex at birth

refers to the sex recorded at a person’s birth (that is, what was recorded on their birth certificate). Sex at birth may also be understood as sex assigned at birth.

All babies are assigned a sex at birth, usually determined by a visual observation of external genitalia. A person’s gender may or may not align with their sex assigned at birth. 

sex characteristics refer to each person’s physical features relating to sex, including genitalia and other sexual and reproductive anatomy, chromosomes, hormones, and secondary physical features emerging from puberty.
sexual orientation

covers three key aspects: sexual attraction, sexual behaviour, and sexual
identity. These are related – sexual orientation is generally based on sexual attraction; sexual attraction can result in different sexual behaviours and sexual identities (Pega et al, 2013)

refers to each person’s capacity for profound emotional, affectional and sexual attraction to, and intimate and sexual relations with, individuals of a different gender or the same gender, or more than one gender. 

sexual attraction refers to sexual interest in another person. Sexual attraction is having
sexual feelings towards someone. A person may be attracted to one specific gender or sex, to more than one gender or sex, or to no one.
sexual behaviour how a person behaves sexually. It is whether they have sexual partners of
another gender or sex, the same gender or sex, or refrain from sexual behaviour.
sexual identity refers to how a person thinks of their own sexuality and which terms they
identify with. Sexual identity terms include lesbian, gay, straight, asexual, takatāpui, bisexual, or pansexual, among others.
SOGIESC An acronym including sexual orientation, gender expression and identity, and sex characteristics. 
statistical classification  set of categories which may be assigned to one or more variables
registered in statistical surveys or administrative files and used in the production and dissemination of statistics. The categories are defined in terms of one or more characteristics of a particular population of units of observation. A statistical classification may have a flat, linear structure or may be hierarchically structured, such that all categories at lower levels are subcategories of a category at the next level up. The categories at each level of the classification structure must be mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive of all objects in the population of interest. 
synonym report list of probable responses and the classification categories to which they are
coded. The report contains descriptions obtained from a variety of sources, which include specific survey responses and misspellings. The inclusion of these in no way implies or represents the expression of any opinion by Stats NZ.
tāhine  also ira tāhūrua-kore, which are te reo Māori terms that refer to a person who identifies with mixed genders, non-binary, or transgender not-otherwise-specified (Gender Minorities Aotearoa, 2020). 
takatāpui  also spelt ‘takataapui’, is a traditional Māori term which means ‘intimate companion of the same sex’. It has been reclaimed by some Māori to describe their diverse sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and sex characteristics (New Zealand Human Rights Commission, 2020).
tangata ira tāne  te reo Māori term that roughly translates as ‘trans man’. 
tangata ira wahine  te reo Māori term that roughly translates as ‘trans woman’.
transgender An umbrella term for a person whose gender differs from their sex assigned at birth. Transgender people may be binary or non-binary, and some opt for some form of medical intervention (such as hormone therapy or surgery). Used as an adjective rather than a noun, and often shortened to ‘trans.’ 
transition Steps taken by trans people to live in their gender which may include social, legal, or medical aspects. A social transition may include changing clothes, hair, pronouns, or name; a legal transition may include changing name and/or gender marker on legal documents; and a medical transition may include medical treatments such laser hair removal, hormone therapy, or various surgeries. There are no wrong or right ways to transition; each person will have their own personal goals. 
trans man A man who was assigned female at birth.
trans woman refers to a woman assigned male at birth (New Zealand Human Rights Commission, 2020).
transsexual an older term considered to be outdated by some younger populations. Transsexual is not an umbrella term; those who prefer this term often see it as an important distinction from transgender. It may refer to a person who has had or is in the process of changing their body to affirm their gender (New Zealand Human Rights Commission, 2020).
variations of sex characteristics refers to people with innate genetic, hormonal, or physical sex characteristics that do not conform to medical norms for female or male bodies. It refers to a wide spectrum of variations to hormones, chromosomes, genitals and/or reproductive organs.
whakawahine  is a te reo Māori term that roughly translates as ‘trans woman’. More literally, it translates as being or becoming, in the manner of spirit of a woman (New Zealand Human Rights Commission, 2020).




Pride celebrates the rich cultural diversity of the communities we serve and offers a chance to bring our people together, have fun, and highlight issues relevant to rainbow communities on both a local and international level. 

Fire and Emergency have developed a strong presence at Pride. The event shows our support for rainbow communities and those who identify as LGBTQI+ within both our organisation and throughout New Zealand and beyond.

Every year our people love getting involved with Pride events and parades, and we encourage you to join us and march alongside your colleagues. You can also get involved with the organising committee, and we also need people to marshal and drive our fire appliances, as well as enthusiastic flag wavers and water gun sprayers, so there are plenty of options. 

To register interest and ask us any questions, email Pride@fireandemergency.nz

We’re proud to ‘stride with pride’ and represent Fire and Emergency!

Pride news on the Portal

Fire and Emergency strides with pride (published 1 April 2021)

Taking pride and in who we are and who we serve (published 11 March 2020)

Stepping up and stepping out at Pride (published 23 February 2018)





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