Home /  News /  New Zealand

Gisborne Mayor Condemns Rainbow Crossing 'Vandalism'

The rainbow crossing has been completely painted over. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Destiny Church members who painted over a rainbow crossing on Gisborne's main street will be held accountable for the damage, the mayor says.

The group blocked off Gladstone Road on Monday night and painted a layer of white over the crossing.

Videos and photos on social media linked the action to opposition to a drag story-time event at the public library hosted by performers Erika and CoCo Flash.

The event on Tuesday afternoon is described as a "storytelling, lip syncing and singing interactive performance".

Protesters planned to gather outside the library with placards condemning what they called the "sexualisation of children".

Gisborne District Council said the story time event would go ahead and police would attend in anticipation of protest action.

Mayor Rehette Stoltz said they stood in solidarity with the rainbow community.

"We recognise that not every programme will align with the personal values of every community member, but we strive to maintain a balanced and inclusive calendar of events that serve the varied interests of our community as a whole."

"We accept that people hold different views however there is no place for hate or bigotry in Tairāwhiti," she said. "Gisborne District Council strongly condemns the vandalism done last night."

Holding up traffic while it was painted had "created a safety issue".

"We will be reinstating the rainbow crossing as quickly as we can," she said.

Gisborne's rainbow crossing

How the rainbow crossing looked before it was painted over. Photo: RNZ / Kate Green

She said the council would be working with the police to make those involved accountable and seek reparations for the cost of the work.

Church leader Brian Tamaki said he was opposed to councils running these sessions.

A similar event in Rotorua was shut down last week, following protests by members of the public and Destiny Church, and Tamaki said there were plans to take similar action in Hastings tomorrow.

The performers posted a statement on the Facebook page Rainbow Storytime NZ on Monday night: "We will not be bullied."

Tamaki said there were plans to oppose similar events around the country.

The public library events are advertised as being for ages 16 and over.

Tamaki questioned the legality of rainbow crossings. NZTA has been approached for comment.

The rainbow crossing was painted on 20 December 2021. Student Henarata Kohere-Pishief, 17, was a rangatahi representative in the group which campaigned for its installation, the Tairāwhiti Rainbow Collective.

At the time of its installation, it received very little backlash, she said.

It had been vandalised once before with spray paint, but the culprit wasn't found and there was no public protest surrounding it.

This latest damage was "pretty disheartening", she said.

"This sort of reaction can make it quite easy to forget how much progress we have made in our communities, not just in Gisborne but across the country."

The crossing were "a constant sign of visibility", she said. "I think it's easy for people who maybe don't always need that reassurance to just see it as a painted piece of road. But it does hold more significance than that."

"It is a representation that the rainbow community are welcome in Gisborne."

Police and performers Erika and CoCo Flash have also been approached for comment.

Related Posts