Mangaweka artist Richard Aslett has attended his first Pride Parade in Wellington as an honorary member of the NZ Police contingent.
"It was an honour to be part of the group and see so many of them wearing my T-Shirt design."
Aslett, who owns the Yellow Church Gallery in Mangaweka, won a competition to design Rainbow T-Shirts for ancillary staff and police personnel family members to wear at public events.
The Wellington International Pride Parade was originally scheduled for March 16 but organisers postponed in response to the Christchurch mosque shootings on March 15 saying that while they didn't want "terrorists to dictate how we live our lives" they also did not want to divert emergency services away from where they were most needed.
The rescheduled parade held last Saturday, May 11 was "a wonderful experience" says Aslett.
"We were at the back of the parade so I couldn't see just how big it was but I'm told there were around 1800 people marching and there were thousands of spectators.
"I would say there were around 30 people wearing my T-Shirt designs and that was a real buzz."
Police frontline staff including Commissioner Mike Bush wore their uniforms in the parade after they were controversially banned from wearing them in the Auckland Pride Parade in February.
The marchers included a large representation of New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel including NZDF Chief Air Marshal Kevin Short.
It was the first time a Chief of the NZDF had marched in a Pride Parade and New Zealand defence forces are also celebrating 25 years of open acceptance of LGBT plus personnel.
Aslett's T-shirts, with a small motif on the front and a large image across the back, were revealed by NZ Police diversity liaison officer Inspector Tracy Phillips, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in attendance at Auckland's Big Gay Out festival in February.
Back in his Rangitikei home town, Aslett is busy running his gallery and serving constituents as a member of the Taihape Community Board.
Mangaweka is the home of the annual Fakes and Forgeries art competition which Aslett founded in memory of the town's famous forger Karl Sim who later changed his name to Carl Feoder Goldie.
"The competition will be in November but we will announce a firm date in July."
He urges artists to start planning their entries now so there will be plenty of good fakes and forgeries for judges to select from.