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Working with takatāpui and rainbow communities

Working with takatāpui and rainbow communities

Rainbow and LGBTTQIA+ are umbrella terms that refer to a wide range of diverse sexualities and gender identities and expressions, and intersex variations. This includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, takatāpui, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual identities.1,2 In Aotearoa New Zealand, takatāpui and Pasifika rainbow (MVPFAFF+) identities are best understood within the cultural contexts (see terminology below).2 Each person’s identity, experience and needs are unique; it is important to ask the person what support they need and not make assumptions.1

Resources for the health workforce

In the Let’s get real framework, a key aspect of the first Real Skill: Working with people experiencing mental health and addiction needs, is to respect diversity and ensure services are responsive to the needs of diverse communities.

The resources listed below are intended to support the learning and development of health workers who work with people and whānau experiencing mental health and addiction issues. These resources are in a variety of different formats, such as videos, e-learnings, fact sheets, reports, and links to support services.

  • Essential level (for everyone working in health, regardless of role, profession or organisation).
  • Enhanced level (for everyone working in mental health and addiction roles).
  • Leadership level (for everyone who is leading, guiding, educating and resourcing the work of others in health).

Essential level

The resources listed here focus on understanding the diversity of rainbow communities, as well as the legal rights of rainbow people.

More than Four is a video series from InsideOUT that explores identities and experiences of rainbow people, including takatāpui, Pasifika rainbow (MVPFAFF+), and queer Asian people.

OutLine is an “all-ages rainbow mental health organisation providing support to the rainbow community, their friends, whānau, and those questioning.” More rainbow support services and information hubs can be found in the directory of community resources and support services.

Enhanced level

The resources listed below focuses on understanding rainbow communities’ experiences of health, wellbeing, and mental health and addiction services. We’ve included information about the prevention of violence against rainbow people and partner violence.

The Youth Wellbeing Study and RainbowYOUTH have developed a practical guide specifically for mental health professionals: Supporting Aotearoa’s rainbow people: A practical guide for mental health professionals.

Leadership level

The resources below focus on supporting your organisation and team to respond effectively with rainbow communities and to strengthen workplace inclusion.

Posters (for workplaces and clinics) are available for download from: InsideOUT,, and Rainbow Violence Prevention Network.

Terminology adapted from:

1. Kitchener, B.A., Jorm, A.F., Kelly, C.M., & Te Pou. (2021). Mental Health First Aid manual for Aotearoa New Zealand (4th ed). Te Pou.

2. InsideOUT Kōaro. (2020). Rainbow terminology: Sex, gender, sexuality & other key terms. InsideOUT Kōaro. Available from

From the InsideOUT glossary:

Takatāpui is “a traditional Māori word that traditionally means ‘intimate friend of the same sex’. It has since been embraced to encompass all tangata Māori who identify with diverse genders, sexualities or variations of sex characteristics. Takatāpui denotes a spiritual and cultural connection to the past. It is best understood within its cultural context and may mean something different to each person.”

MVPFAFF+ is “an acronym used to encompass the diverse gender and sexuality expressions and roles across Pacific cultures. The acronym stands for mahu, vakasalewa, palopa, fa‘afafine, akavai‘ne, fakaleiti (leiti), fakafifine, and more. Their meanings are best understood within their cultural context and may mean something different to each person.”


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