Written by John Williams
As anyone who lives in Greater Ponsonby will tell you, February is Pride Festival month in our community – Tāmaki Makaurau’s annual festival of events for rainbow communities that celebrates the diversity of the region’s queer communities.
As part of the festivities, and also to celebrate and recognise the diversity of its own people, Ray White Ponsonby has launched Fabulous February – a tongue-in-cheek, double-entendre-filled pastiche of the skilled art of home staging, performed by drag queens Kita and Anita, the hosts of TVNZ’s hilarious hit show House of Drag.
As well as making a video on ‘top tips for staging your home for sale’ , our two darling hostesses-with-the-mostess will be spending the month of February travelling around Greater Ponsonby, descending on participating open homes, bringing with them their unique sense of comedy.
Following the open homes, all the properties will be going to auction at a gala charity event, to be held at the Sapphire Rooms above Ponsonby Central on February 25th. Ray White Ponsonby are also donating $1,000 for each home sold to Rainbow Youth. Needless to say, it is going to be a lot of fun!
Ray White Ponsonby Salesperson, Cristina Casares says it is great to be involved, as part of the festivities.
“Ponsonby is such a diverse community, as is our office, so to be able to help young Rainbow people is something I think we can all be proud of.”
“Also, having Kita and Anita at the open homes will take things to the next level – they bring so much fun and colour with them, with their make-up and their fabulous wardrobes. I’d also like to thank out clients for agreeing to be a part of it and being so supportive.”
Paul Grace, another Ray White Ponsonby Salesperson with a home in the Fabulous February event is equally excited. “Kita and Anita add a really colourful dimension to what is normally a fairly quiet and reserved process. I have to say everyone has been so creative and positive so far; it’s been a great cause to be involved with.”
Joking aside, Fabulous February has a serious side and a genuine purpose – to recognise our Pride community within the Greater Ponsonby neighbourhood, and also to support and raise money and awareness for Rainbow Youth, an organisation that provides support, information, resources and advocacy for the country’s queer, gender diverse, takatāpui and intersex youth.
"Frances Arns, Executive Director at RainbowYOUTH describes the organisation as a support and advocacy service for Rainbow young people; providing advice and support in order to ensure that Aotearoa is a place where all young people can thrive… and to simply be there for them, she says. The funds raised by Fabulous February will be funnelled directly into expanding Rainbow Youth’s digital support network, which has become more relevant and more important, especially over the past year since Covid. “Our digital and online help lines allow us to meet young people where they are, especially in rural areas, or for those youth with disabilities,” says Frances.
RainbowYOUTH started in Auckland, but it has now expanded out into the regions – Taranaki and Bay of Plenty, and up to the Far North. Frances says that the awareness and attitudes towards Rainbow people in the regions can be quite different to those experienced in the towns and cities. Through these new digital networks, they are aiming not only to support young people, their friends and their whānau, but also to raise awareness the wider community in those rural areas and help embrace diversity.
“Encouraging a young Rainbow person to celebrate their diversity and telling them that their identity is their strength is so empowering,” she says. “Just one conversation can make all the difference.”
Gower Buchanan, Director of Ray White Ponsonby and the Damerell Group, says it is a natural fit for the whole company to get behind the Fabulous February initiative, as many of his team identify with the Rainbow community. “Their stories are of difficulties growing up and going through a period in life of change; of gaining an understanding of who they were and their identity.”
“The diversity of people in our teams actually reflects the area in which we live and work – Ponsonby – which has always attracted people from different backgrounds, ethnicities, and identities. And that’s one of the wonderful things about Ponsonby; that it’s an incredibly accepting place to live and the people who live here are incredibly proud.”
Our generous partner with Fabulous February is local home staging company, The Look – a second-generation, family business run by husband-and-wife team Dan and Kate O’Connor.
“As a Ponsonby-based business, we’re very passionate about the area, so when this opportunity came up to get involved Fabulous February, we were eager to get behind it and support the Pride community,” says Dan. “We’ve witnessed many Pride events and they are the life-blood of the area. It’s been a tough year for everyone, so it’s been nice to give something back to the community.”
The Look are an integral part of Fabulous February, generously donating a $3,500 home-staging package as a prize draw to be won by one lucky homeowner who signs up for an appraisal and lists their home for sale with a Ray White Ponsonby salesperson.
What does $3,500 worth of home staging look like? Generally speaking, Dan says it’s a package that would comfortably stage a three-bedroom home, including furniture, accessories, mirrors and art for the walls. Basically, everything you need to sell a home. Typically it will be for five weeks – so that allows plenty of time to get photography done for the marketing, plus three weeks for the auction campaign, he says.
Who is a Rainbow person?
‘Rainbow’ is used to refer to people who are diverse in sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics. Another commonly used term is LGBTQI, or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex. Other terms people may use to describe themselves include takatāpui, whakawahine, tangata ira tane, fa’afafine, genderqueer or more.