Make Visible Te Whanganui-a-Tara

A community-led project designed to grow support, create positive change and increase awareness for rainbow communities of Wellington. Supported by Wellington City Council.

Pride Festival art projects

As part of Pride Festival, we have bus and digital signage running in the city to support our rainbow whānau.

Read about Make Visible Te Whanganui-a-Tara below.

If you need someone to talk to please see our Rainbow Support contact details.

Righting a wrong

‘LESBIANS ARE EVERYWHERE’ is the bold statement on a city bus this month, supporting Pride Festival and Make Visible Te Whanganui-a-Tara. 

Artwork with text
Artwork displayed on the back of a city bus in March.

In 1980, the Wellington City Council Transport Committee refused to allow The Lesbian Centre to advertise the group’s contact details on local buses. When lesbian communities protested this decision with slogans such as “it’s our city too” and “lesbians are everywhere”, Mayor Michael Fowler would not budge stating it would “encourage deviations from the norm”.

Black and white photograph of pro-lesbian rights protestors holding placards.
"Lesbians are everywhere" was a statement on one of the placards the lesbian communities held during the protest against being banned from advertising on the buses. The advertisement that was banned stated “Lesbians contact your local community” and provided a PO box to do so.
A wide banner showing stylised illustrations of Wellington and San Francisco, linked by a rainbow. Figures in the centre stand in a purple and pink heart.

Sister cities we are not

The above artwork displayed on the Embassy Theatre digital billboard may have you thinking Wellington and San Francisco are sister cities. We are not, as the result of anti-gay actions by Wellington City Council at the time, and resulting protests here and in San Francisco. 

The protests extended to San Francisco, where the Chamber of Commerce dinner to honour the visit of Mayor Michael Fowler to further the establishment of a sister-city relationship, was picketed. Protest spokesperson Donald Montwill stated, “We vehemently oppose any sister-city relationship with Wellington as long as blatant anti-gay discrimination continues there.”

Today, Wellington has the highest rainbow population concentration in Aotearoa New Zealand, with 6.3% of the region’s population estimated to be LGBT+ (Stats NZ 2020 Household Economic Survey), and Wellington City Council has a strong focus, and works with rainbow communities, on making our city a safe, vibrant and inclusive place for all. 

Stained glass artwork displayed at Wellington Zoo, by artist Shannon Novak.

Beacon at the Zoo

As part of Pride Festival month, a stunning permanent artwork has been installed at Wellington Zoo. If you are lucky the sun will shine through the work, casting a rainbow walkway onto the floor as you enter for your Zoo visit.

The artwork is a collaboration led by Wellington Zoo's Rainbow Zoo group with artist Shannon Novak. The group titled the work 'Beacon' with reference to the Zoo being a beacon for the diversity of the living world. It is based on the feather patterns of Kea and features the colours of the flags of many identities found in rainbow communities, as well as the unique colours of the moko kākāriki Wellington Green Gecko.

Daniel Warsaw, COO Wellington Zoo says:

Precinct Properties celebrate Pride

Precinct Properties acknowledge, celebrate, and show support for our city’s rainbow communities during Pride 2023 and beyond – check out their current artworks: Precinct Properties Pride artworks.

Make Visible Te Whanganui-a-Tara

‘Make Visible Te Whanganui-a-Tara’ is the third chapter of the global Make Visible project developed by artist, curator, and activist, Shannon Novak.

With rainbow communities experiencing disproportionally higher rates of anxiety, suicide, and depression than the general population in New Zealand, we are supporting our city’s rainbow communities through this community-led project.

The project aims to grow support for rainbow communities in our city, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, by making visible challenges and triumphs for these communities.

This chapter of Make Visible manifests as work developed with rainbow communities across multiple sites supported by Council, development of city-wide rainbow safe spaces, an online platform for rainbow and BIPOC communities to share experiences, and a permanent archive of Te Whanganui-a-Tara’s rainbow history, experiences, and content.

Check out the latest artwork and exhibitions and read more at Shannon Novak's website.

Rainbow communities – definition

Why we are supporting this project

Who is involved

Who can participate


Rainbow support

    • If you need to talk, free call or text 1737 to talk to a trained Counsellor. They’re available day and night.
    • OUTLine: Free call 0800 688 5463 (OUTLINE) – confidential telephone support for people in the rainbow community, available evenings from 6pm–9pm.
    • Depression helpline: Free call 0800 111 757 or text 8681.
    • Anxiety Helpline: free call 0800 269 4389 (0800 ANXIETY).
    • InsideOUT: is a national charity providing education, resources, consultation, and support for anything concerning rainbow and takatāpui communities.
    • RainbowYOUTH: provide support, information, resources, and advocacy for queer, gender diverse, takatāpui and intersex young people across Aotearoa.

Contact us

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please contact us at