Rolling out the red carpet for the rainbow community

Rotorua Economic Development (RED) has partnered with InsideOUT to help Rotorua develop a reputation as a safe and informed space for visiting and resident rainbow and takatāpui communities.

Safe Space Alliance said that Rotorua is the only destination that’s asked them for support in creating a city-wide approach to inclusivity training. We see this as a natural extension of the manaakitanga that Rotorua is so well known for.

Over the past two days, more than 30 businesses from the hospitality and tourism sectors in Rotorua joined us for one of three workshops with InsideOUT, a national charity that provides resources, information, workshops, consulting and support for anything concerning rainbow or LGBTQIA+ issues and education for schools, workplaces and community organisations.
InsideOUT is Wellington based but has staff located throughout Aotearoa. Rosie Leadbitter and Ben Black (pictured above) travelled to Rotorua from Wellington and Whakatāne, respectively.
Education coordinator Rosie said, “This is our first time offering training in Rotorua, which is really exciting. It’s been great to work with RotoruaNZ and understand what they would like the tourism and hospitality sector in Rotorua to look like when it comes to displaying aroha and manaaki to these communities – both those who live in Rotorua and those who come as manuhiri,” she said.
“Sadly, due to discrimination, many rainbow and takatāpui people don’t always know if they can be open about their sexuality or gender, so the fact that these businesses are taking the time to learn about how to make people feel welcome and included is such a wonderful thing to be part of.”

Founded in 2012, the organisation’s main focus is on giving rainbow young people in New Zealand a sense of safety and belonging in their schools and communities. A big part of this work involves educating, training and advising businesses on how to make their environment more inclusive of the rainbow and takatāpui community.
“It’s important to help our rainbow community feel even more welcome in our fantastic destination,” said Haydn Marriner, marketing manager at RED.
“The three-hour workshops will help anyone working in a customer-facing role to understand what they can do to make their businesses safe and inclusive for rainbow and takatāpui communities.”
Karen Tasker, franchise director at Quest Rotorua Central, attended Tuesday’s workshop, saying she wanted to confirm that what they’re doing at the hotel is inclusive and supports the diversity within their staff and our guests.
“Inclusivity is important, everyone deserves to be treated well and with respect. I come from an education background where diversity and inclusion were front and centre. So this brought it back and reinforced it for me,” she said.
Participants earn a certified Safe Space Alliance membership and their business listings on will display a Safe Space Alliance Badge to indicate their suitability to host the rainbow and takatāpui community and their families.
“We’d really love to see Rotorua leading the pack regarding this kaupapa, not only within the Bay of Plenty, but nationwide, demonstrating that Rotorua truly reflects the manaakitanga it’s famous for,” Haydn said.
InsideOUT provides professional development training nationwide for schools, organisations, government agencies, workplaces and businesses wanting to upskill on rainbow inclusion.


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