Carmen lights up Cuba Street

Following the success, locally and internationally, of the Kate Sheppard pedestrian crossing lanterns installed in 2014, a series of other famous Wellington icons/figures are planned to be rolled out in similar fashion across the capital over the next couple of years.

Carmen portrait content

Carmen Rupe portrait by Te Mete


The latest icon to be lit up is Carmen Rupe, born Trevor Rupe in 1936, she was simply known as Carmen in Wellington, around the country, and across the ditch. She was a famous drag performer, brothel keeper, anti-discrimination activist, would-be politician, and HIV/AIDS activist, who was a colourful member of the Cuba Street and transgender community until she died in 2011.

The pedestrian crossing light was launched on 8 August 2016 to mark the 30 year anniversary of the Homosexual Law Reform coming into effect – celebrating diversity, and raising awareness and support for the LGBTQI community.

The concept involved replacing the green man on the ‘cross-now’ signal with a Carmen silhouette. The lanterns appear at four intersections along Cuba Street.