Entries for Mr Gay New Zealand 2020 are now open. express talks to 2016 winner and event producer Bernard Lee about what inspired him to enter and represent our community to the world.  

Q | Tell us a bit about yourself?

A | I’m 33, Wellingtonian living with my fiancé in Auckland. Currently working as an Account Manager. Hobbies include gaming, cooking, photography and travelling.  


Q | Why do you think people should go for Mr Gay NZ? 

A | Well, It was a great experience for me. I met the most amazing and inspiring individuals from all walks of life. We want this experience to inspire our candidates to do great things.  

Q | Who should enter Mr Gay NZ? 

A | Any person who identifies as gay, queer or Takatāpui residing in New Zealand. 

Q | How does the New Zealand competition differ from Mr Gay World? 

A | One of the main differences in our NZ competition is that a person’s physical appearance is not assessed at any stage of the competition and does not form part of the judging criteria. In short, we are looking for role-models, not Instagram models. 

Q | What is the biggest misconception about the competition? 

A | People within and outside the community would assume the Mr Gay NZ comp is a beauty pageant. It is far from it. 

Q | What qualities are the judges looking for from entrants? 

A | I am looking forward to meeting individuals who are relatable, down-to-earth and passionate about the things they do within or outside LGBTI+ community. 


Q | How would you describe the friendships that are formed for taking part in the competition? 

A | The mates I met along the way, both from Aotearoa and the world, helped me be a better person and they remain great friends to this day. 

Q | What has it been like to go through the competition yourself and then watch others follow in your footsteps? 

A | Going through the comp myself allowed me to understand what my strengths and weaknesses are. Watching new friends go through the same allowed me to learn from them as well.  

We are proud of what the competition has become and what it offers. We believe it gives our candidates opportunities to share their stories, experiences and make new friendships along the way. 

Q | Why is Mr Gay NZ final at BGO? 

A | We want to give opportunities for our candidates to engage with the public. What could be more fabulous than the annual Big Gay Out which is New Zealand’s largest family-friendly Rainbow Community event. 

Candidates for the Mr Gay New Zealand competition are chosen for attributes that include: Leadership, Relatability, Communication, and their ability to engage with the wider LGBTI community. 

Mr Gay New Zealand is proudly sponsored by express, and Ending HIV – You can register for the 2020 competition at