Hamilton’s Rainbow Hub Waikato is the only permanent space in the country dedicated to all members of the rainbow community that’s not a bar or nightclub. Team Leader Slay Way tells us how a community created an inclusive space that’s the envy of Auckland and Wellington. 

Tell us about the Rainbow Hub Waikato (RHW).

RHW is a non-profit organisation that strives to empower people to celebrate who they are through positive, identity-affirming community building, fun, and friendships. We aim to foster safe, accepting, and inclusive spaces for people of diverse gender, sex, and sexuality.


How long has the Hub been established, and what did it take to get that project off the ground?

RHW began as Waikato Queer Youth” back in 2005. We started as a small group of people passionate about supporting young people to have a community that affirms their identities and creates safe spaces.

In May 2021, we restructured our organisation to recognise and grow the support we provide for rainbow folks of all ages, and RHW was created to support people who are part of the takataapui, rainbow, and LGBTTQIA+ community across the Waikato.

To get RHW off the ground, we relied on community support and collaboration with funders, which enabled us to grow as an organisation, including employing staff to meet the community capacity needs.

What has been the impact of the Rainbow Hub on Hamilton and the wider Waikato?

The Waikato is such a large area and has its own specific needs that differ from what you may see in larger cities. We have been able to create a community hub where people can come together to connect and know that they are around like-minded people, all on their own journeys.

We strive to connect with the community and find out what they want to see from RHW and what services we need to provide. From there, we are able to influence the mahi we are doing so that the Waikato rainbow communities’ voices are heard.

When did you first personally become involved in the RHW?

I first came along back in 2005 as a young person when the organisation was just starting out as Waikato Queer Youth. I was brought along by a teacher at my school who knew I was having a tough time navigating who I was and where I belonged in the world.

Later down the track, I came back as a volunteer and helped out as a youth mentor, facilitating social support groups, running social media, event organisation, and community education, which then led to me becoming an employee back in 2020.

During the election, you had a Rainbow Polling Booth – tell us how that came to be.

We were very privileged to host the first-ever rainbow polling booth on Saturday the 1st of October. The event ran from 10:00am – 4:00pm for advanced voting and was a safe space for the rainbow community to come along and place their vote for the 2023 election.

We worked closely with the electoral commission, having reached out to them earlier this year to see if this was possible. They were a great support to ensure that this went ahead and were able to use us as a pilot to hopefully see more rainbow voting spaces in the future.

Rainbow Hub Waikato.

What are the regular services RHW offers daily/weekly to the community?

Our main services are social support groups that we run every Monday night. We have a community drop-in from 3:30 – 5:30pm, Beyond Binary from 5:30pm – 7:30pm, and an adult transgender support group run in partnership with Gender Dynamix from 5:30pm – 7:30pm.

We also offer 1-1 support services where we connect people with services they need to access, such as gender-affirming care and counselling. We also have a massive focus on education in businesses, community organisations, tertiary education providers, and schools.

What are the next goals and projects that the RHW has in its sights?

Our plan moving forward is to start growing our private donations so individuals and businesses may contribute financially to RHW as part of their commitment to supporting the community and supporting us to diversify our funding as it is a tough climate.

We are also focusing on strengthening our agile responses to community needs and community-led development while continuing to grow as RHW, supporting our over-thirties community members, and increasing our engagement.

How is the RHW funded?

RHW is funded through philanthropic grants that focus on the Waikato and Hauraki communities. Funding is tough, but we are thankful for the support from our funders and are keen to grow our range of multiyear or capacity-building funding in the years to come, as our community need is such a huge scope.

We also get funding through contracts with government agencies that support initiatives related to human rights, mental health, and youth development.

We also get support from the local community through merch, community events, crowdfunding campaigns, and our education services delivering workshops. And lastly, partnerships and collaborations with other organisations or community groups in joint initiatives and shared funding.

Hamilton’s Rainbow Hub Waikato.

What is your advice to readers living in other cities who would also like to start a Rainbow Hub?

At the core of what we do, we are for community, by community. Its extremely important to start by identifying what the needs are of your local rainbow community through connection and consultation, so you can then design how you will respond to those needs.

Once you have a framework of what you want to achieve, you are then able to create a plan and timeline, which you can then take back to the community, to funders, and help to get your project off the ground. The key ingredient is coming from a place of passion.

What has been your proudest moment working at the RHW?

For me personally, my proudest moment has been seeing the growth. RHW has grown from a tiny organisation with one staff member to a multi-faceted organisation with a diverse group of incredible staff.

We are a team of people who are passionate, driven, and motivated to see our rainbow communities living their true authentic lives, and we continue to strive to be a guiding light and support for our Waikato rainbow community.

Find out more about Rainbow Hub Waikato at