Getting to Know Rainbow Haven

Wellington's 2021 Pride Festival is in full swing! And there's a packed programme of events happening across the capital from 13th to 27th March. This week, to celebrate Pride, we caught up with Yobanny and Cristian from Rainbow Haven, a student community organisation here on campus that supports LGBTQ+ communities from refugee, asylum seeker or immigrant backgrounds. Yobanny and Cristian will be hosting an event as part of the Pride programme on Sunday 21st March. Keep reading for more info...


What is your day job?

We are students at Victoria University. 

Yobanny Laurean: I am originally from Colombia, settled as a Refugee in New Zealand. During this journey, I have achieved incredible goals, for instance, complete my degree in Criminology and International Relations at Victoria University. It was a great experience. I got the opportunity to learn more about New Zealand cultures and traditions.

Cristian Chaparro: I'm originally from Colombia too and settled as a refugee in New Zealand. The short time that I am living in New Zealand has been incredible because New Zealand has given me incredible opportunities, for instance, I am currently studying my degree in Political Science and International Relations.

We are also from Rainbow Haven, a group of LGBTQ+ (Rainbow) people who have shared experiences of a refugee, asylum seeker or immigrant background.

What is your connection to Vic Books?

We are customers. Vic Books also gave us a bit of sponsorship for a stand we had at Orientation.

What are you working on at the moment?

We are working with rainbow identities who share refugee, asylum seeker and migrant backgrounds.

Tell us more about Rainbow Haven and its vision:

Rainbow Haven has been active since 2020. We are a group of New Zealanders of Rainbow identities who share a refugee, asylum seeker and migrant background. We provide peer support, networking opportunities, advocacy and referral services to enable communities to thrive here. We also work with NGOs, government agencies and community groups such as ChangeMakers Resettlement Forum, informing research, policy and practice discussions.

New Zealand has made great progress in embracing both its Rainbow and former refugee/asylum/migrant communities but there is still so much more to do. We believe that our lived experience is vital in the national conversation as we all move forward to a thriving and welcoming society for all the peoples of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Rainbow Haven is focusing on our community’s aspirations, needs and challenges to ensure people can participate fully in Aotearoa New Zealand life and society and feel supported in their settlement journey.

If Journal readers would like to volunteer, where can they find Rainbow Haven on campus?

We are part of the VUW student club association. We'd love to grab a coffee on campus with anyone keen to know more about Rainbow Haven.

What particular issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community are most important to you this Pride?

LGBTQ+ refugees accessing support is the number one issue. Many refugees come from a background where there isn't a culture of acceptance of the Rainbow community. We know there are many individuals who could benefit from integrating with our society but breaking the stigma is still a big issue. 

Wellington Pride Festival is 13th to 27th March. What does Pride mean to you?

Pride to us means the opportunity to be part of the community and mention that we are here and we are part of New Zealand.

What events are you most looking forward to attending at Wellington Pride Festival?

On Sunday 21st March, Rainbow Haven will host a social event with the Rainbow community for Rainbow refugees, asylum seekers and migrant communities. There'll be food, music and talks and everyone is welcome.

What are you reading at the moment?

An Apartment on Uranus: Chronicles of the Crossing by Paul B. Preciado.

What do you like about it?

I really love understanding more about the gender-sex binary system.

Hardback or paperback?


Favourite coffee?

Espresso macchiato.


You can contact Yobanny and Cristian via the Rainbow Haven Facebook Page.

For the full Festival Programme of over 80+ events this year, check out the Wellington Pride Festival website here.