Mr Gay NZ to wear Tino Rangatiratanga flag on international stage

By Jessica Tyson

Mr Gay New Zealand plans to showcase not only his Samoan heritage but the Māori culture as well when he competes at Mr Gay World next week.

Nick Francis, who is Samoan, has been gifted kākahu by popular Waka Huia performer Kani Collier to wear for his national costume at the competition.

“I'm definitely so blessed that he's lent me this to take his ancestors, his stories with me to Cape Town in South Africa, says Francis.

“I understand, with the Māori culture is it's something you carry with you with respect and so much high honour.”

As part of his costume, Francis will wear a taonga, maro, feathers and the Tino Rangatiratanga flag.

Collier says it was an honour to lend Francis the kākahu and taonga.

“Nick is a great leader and person who deserves nothing but the best so for him to represent Aotearoa in South Africa,” says Collier.

After Francis was born in New Zealand, he moved with his family to Samoa. At the age of six, he returned to Aotearoa.

“Being a New Zealand born Samoan and the privilege of being raised through schooling, being educated on our history about Māori culture, it’s definitely something I want to share with the world.”

He says he’ll be one of the first New Zealand contestants to embrace his indigenous Samoan culture at the competition as well.

Francis is an ambassador for the NZ Aids Foundation and recently started his own campaign, advocating for people within the transsexual community.

“They’re so underrepresented and there's a lot of injustices in the justice system and how they're treated amongst our community, he says.

“I also want to focus on mental health especially within our younger generation and the suicide rates that are so high at the moment.”

Nick Francis. Source: File

He says first coming out about his sexuality was a challenge.

“Especially for us having that stigma of the masculinity to having to be the provider and just settling down having kids...It was a challenge, but acknowledging that my family was so supportive and accepting it made it a lot easier.”

He hopes to be a role model who other rangatahi can look up to if they are thinking about coming out.

“Just be yourself. Just be your authentic self, there are people out there exactly like you.”

Francis will compete against 21 contestants from around the world at the competition. Contestants will be judged on intellect, confidence, awareness and self-esteem, in areas including interview, national costume, swimwear and more.