Auckland's Karangahape Rd has finally been adorned with a rainbow road crossing of its own, celebrating LGBTQI+ right in its heart.
And the move, scheduled to happen before Auckland Pride Festival ends on February 28, might have come as a surprise to some with contractors pulling the job off quickly late night on Wednesday, just before the city moved out of Covid-19 level 3 restrictions.
North Shore ward councillor Richard Hills, an active voice for LGBTQIA+ rights, said it had been a long time coming, with over a decade of advocacy, but it was "awesome" to see it come to fruition.
"It's just something I could never imagine happening when I was young, when being gay, and the rainbow community as a whole was just not something visually celebrated, and was even seen as controversial.
"We even had a former mayor in John Banks saying awful things about the rainbow community, so to have it there now with the full council and Auckland Transport support, and also to not have any negative comments, is really awesome."
The crossing design includes the colours of the Progress Pride Flag, a more recent design created by international artist Daniel Quasar.
Along with the traditional rainbow colours, designed in the 1970s, it includes a five-coloured chevron to place greater emphasis on inclusion and progression.
The black and brown stripes represent our often-marginalised LGBTQIA+ communities of colour, along with the colours pink, light blue and white, which are used to acknowledge our transgender community.
Hills said it was significant to be launched during Pride Festival on Karangahape Rd, or K Road as it is affectionately known, which had for many been seen as the heart of the city's LGBTQIA+.
"But for many, other parts of the city are significant, and with Auckland Council during Pride Festival we are running events right across Auckland.
"I just think though to have this have public art is a great way of showing Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) is a welcoming and inclusive environment.
"It might seem small but really is huge, especially for our young and queer, who are able to see something celebrating them in our city, just something I couldn't imagine even 20 years ago."
Paul Patton, Auckland Transport communications manager and co-chair of its Rainbow Network, said it was not meant to be a "sneaky" install, rather it was delayed from Sunday due to a downpour, and contractors decided to finish the job while traffic was quiet before the city moved out of level 3.
"But we always wanted to do it during Pride."
Patton said the idea had originally come from the community many years ago, but had run into issues with the New Zealand Transport Agency due to safety concerns.
These had been addressed however, and Patton said it was a "really important milestone".
"I'm also really pleased we have gone with the progressive design that celebrates diversity and inclusion. As a gay man and co-chair of the Rainbow Network I am really proud.
"It has taken a long time to happen but will give us a lasting legacy."
Karangahape Road Business Association manager Michael Richardson said they were proud to support the project.
"This street and surrounding area has a very special relationship with diversity, from the origins of Hape through to 2021.
"Using the Progress Pride Flag will represent the special history of this area to visitors and locals."
The crossing is part of Auckland Transport's wider enhancement project for the road, which has included new cycle lanes and streetscape, and lowering the speed limit to 30km/h.
The install comes amid a controversial week at Auckland Transport, after Head of Community Engagement Stephen Rainbow came under fire on Tuesday for online comments slammed by many as "transphobic".
Rainbow had replied to a petition calling for so-called conversion therapy to be banned, telling people to "be careful (name redacted), there's some elements of the trans agenda being sneakily promoted through this campaign".
He was widely criticised online, including by his own colleagues, and Auckland Transport has said it is looking into the matter.