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Chosen Family Night panel

Audio from the Chosen Family Night panel discussion held on Saturday 17 June 2023 at City Gallery Wellington. Panellists Kerryn Pollock, Erin Ramsey and Gareth Watkins share their passion for unveiling and sharing rainbow history through local stories. The event is MC'ed by Will Hansen. A special thanks to the organisers and participants for allowing the event to be recorded and shared.

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  • 0:00:01 - Will Hansen, MC
  • 0:02:54 - Kerryn Pollock
  • 0:18:18 - Erin Ramsey
  • 0:29:00 - Gareth Watkins
  • 0:44:40 - Discussion
  • 1:01:20 - Caleb Gordon, Wellington City Gallery


The "Chosen Family Night panel" event held at Wellington City Gallery on June 17, 2023, was an enlightening discussion emphasizing the significance of preserving and sharing rainbow history through local stories. The panel featured historians and activists Kerryn Pollock, Erin Ramsey, and Gareth Watkins, who each presented their work in uncovering the queer history of Wellington—ranging from the 1980s to the 2020s—with Will Hansen serving as the MC. The event was organized by Caleb Gordon and recorded for future generations to access on

Kerryn Pollock, as a Heritage New Zealand advisor, emphasized the importance of integrating queer histories into the national list of historic places, advocating for a more inclusive heritage documentation through the Rainbow List Project. Pollock highlighted the historical significance of the Oaks Complex building, discussing its transformation from the Royal Oak Hotel—a pivotal site for queer gathering, camaraderie, and history—to the existing Oaks building. Noteworthy individuals like Georgina Beyer and Malcolm Kennedy-Vaughan were mentioned as vital characters in the life of the hotel.

Erin Ramsey's work focused on narrating the non-binary history of New Zealand. Ramsey conducted oral histories with non-binary adults, exploring their experiences that often defied the common narratives of family rejection and queer community acceptance. Many of Ramsey's interviewees recounted complex relationships with their families and the broader queer community, highlighting acceptance and hardship, resilience and exclusion. These conversations underlined the dynamic and evolving understanding of queer identities and community.

Gareth Watkins offered insights from their role in collecting over 800 audio recordings of queer events and interviews on Watkins shared personal motivations for their work, such as finding joy in queer community events, celebrating leadership within the rainbow community, learning from resilient figures like Dana de Milo, and recognizing the hope embodied by supportive faith institutions. Documenting these stories provides a legacy that enriches understanding of the queer community's diverse past, present, and future.

The event allowed the panelists to share their passions and the importance of acknowledging queer history as an integral part of the broader historical narrative. Audience members engaged in a Q&A session, pondering on the future use and dissemination of the rich content curated by the panelists.

This summary is created using Generative AI. Although it is based on the recording's transcription, it may contain errors or omissions. Click here to learn more about how this summary was created.


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Record date:17th June 2023
Location:Wellington City Gallery, Wellington
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Archive:The master recording is archived at the Alexander Turnbull Library (reference number to be confirmed).