New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern has become the first prime minister to march in Auckland Pride’s annual parade.

Ardern cut a rainbow ribbon to mark the start of the event, known as “the largest and loudest carnival of equality and diversity in Aotearoa”, NZ Herald has reported.

She said she had participated in the parade countless times before becoming prime minister—enough “to know that I feel enormously proud that it’s an annual event”.

“The fact we live in a country where we shut down the streets to celebrate diversity, and that we can tell a generation of young people that they live in a place that is inclusive and supportive of who they are, is something I hope we keep doing. I know I will,” said Ardern.

Parade producer Shaughan Woodcock said the prime minister’s involvement demonstrated New Zealand leading the way in LGBTI rights.

“I think the overall message is that we are being led by a progressive government, a government that stands for all groups not just some,” he said.

“It also sends a very clear message outside of New Zealand that New Zealand is leading the way around basic human rights and human rights for our rainbow community, and that it is time for the other countries to step up.”

The pride march attracted a crowd of around 25,000 people decked out in colourful outfits and glitter.

The parade featured more than 70 floats, led by a giant peace bird made from hundreds of rainbow aluminium rods, representing this year’s theme of pride and peace.

Groups from New Zealand Rugby to the New Zealand Police had their own floats.

Celebrant group Glitter Squad hosted a wedding on their float, with couple Sinead O’Connell and Victoria Envy marrying during the parade.

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