Right in time for Pink Shirt Day on Friday, and the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia today, three Waikato District Council libraries hosted two colourful guests for a special storytime event.
New Plymouth drag queens CoCo and Erika Flash sang, danced and read to kids in Raglan yesterday and in Tuakau and Huntly today as part of their annual tour of New Zealand.
"It's all about teaching folks of all ages about tolerance, acceptance, anti-bullying, inclusion and having confidence in yourself," according to a Facebook announcement of the event.
About 10 children with their mothers attended the free event in Raglan where CoCo and Erika read books such as Red: A Crayon's Story, and Perfectly Norman.
One of the kids in the audience was three-year-old Mickayla Turnbull, who came with her mum Natalie Hopkins.
Natalie says they both had a great time and she loved the event. "I came along today because the topics of tolerance and anti-bullying are something I am passionate about.
"I have some friends whose kids are currently going through transition ... [and] bullying has been a thing with my kids. [My partner and I] want our children to see things from all perspectives and an event like this makes it fun and is a good way to learn."
Speaking to Daniel Lockett, the man behind Erika, and Sunita Torrance, the woman behind CoCo, after the event, they say Rainbow Storytime was not just about rainbow kids.
Says Lockett: "It's about everybody. We show everybody how to be nice to each other and that it's okay to be different ... The world is changing and we are trying to help people shift along with it."
Torrance adds: "We encourage people to think outside the box."
The Raglan event also attracted three protesters who stood outside the library with signs
that suggested the event was grooming children and promoting perversions.
At the Rainbow Storytime event in Whangarei at the beginning of May, a group of 20 people protested outside the library and hid three noise-emitting devices inside the shelves that went off during the event.
Lockett and Torrance say they have been doing the storytime tour for five years and never had any protesters, except this year in Raglan and Whangarei.
"Having protesters at our events is a sign we move boundaries, it means there is a need for events like this," Lockett says.
He says he doesn't understand why people protest against their events. "We don't do anything provocative ... [The protesters] come on their days off to protest about us dancing to Baby Shark with the kids."
Waikato District Council's customer delivery team leader at the Raglan Service Centre Amy Rodger says the library received an anonymous complaint a week ago, but Rainbow Storytime was an amazing initiative.
"It was a really happy and bright event after a couple of difficult years [due to Covid]. The event brought some colour and life - and people - back into our library.
"We all need to be more inclusive."
CoCo and Erika will come to the Hamilton Zoo and Waikato Museum in October.
To find out more go to their facebook page click here.