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Marilyn Waring

As part of Project Uplift (the refurbishment of the Rainbow Room) a documentary was produced by the Office of the Clerk/Parliamentary Service to tell the story of the room. The individual interviews were also published online under a Creative Commons licence CC-BY 4.0. A special thank you to the Office of the Clerk/Parliamentary Service for allowing Marilyn's interview to be reproduced. The mp3 files on this page contain just the audio element of the video interview.

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This abstract summarizes a recording titled "Marilyn Waring - Rainbow Voices of Aotearoa New Zealand," which captures the insights and recollections of the individual's experiences and contributions to LGBTQ+ rights and political developments in New Zealand during the 2010s and earlier. The presentation took place at the Rainbow Room, Parliament Buildings, Wellington on March 7, 2019.

The account begins with a reference to the year 1974 when an opposition member, Ven Young, proposed a homosexual law reform bill that was not supported by Prime Minister Norman Kirk due to their perception of normal behavior. This event provoked the speaker to join the National Party and get involved in politics. Within the party, the speaker worked alongside Robin Stewart, a gay man responsible for writing the National Party justice policy which included commitments to the Human Rights Act. However, during the duration of the speaker's parliamentary term from 1975 to 1984, it was not possible to extend the protections of the Act to include sexual orientation—a goal later achieved by the speaker's successor.

In 1976, the speaker faced a tumultuous personal challenge when outed by a newspaper, leading to extensive public scrutiny and media coverage. Contrary to expectations of condemnation, the reaction from New Zealanders was overwhelmingly supportive, reflecting a national sentiment that was against the public invasion into politicians' privacy. The then Prime Minister, Rob Muldoon, took a step of protective silence, advising that the lack of commentary by both the Prime Minister and the speaker would allow the scandal to subside.

Following a redistricting in 1977 which dissolved the speaker's constituency of Raglan, they successfully ran for office in the Waipa electorate, defeating challengers who positioned themselves as upright family men. The victory underscored the electorate's approval of the speaker's work and suggested a low level of prejudice against them. Throughout the speaker's career, they often stood out—for instance, from 1978 to 1981, they were the only female member of the National Party Caucus and the sole female MP from the North Island until 1981.

The speaker announced their resignation from Parliament in March 1984, shortly before an early election was called by the Prime Minister. Taking over from the speaker was Catherine O'Regan, the speaker's former electoral agent. O'Regan's significant political moves included, as Associate Minister of Health, carrying out amendments to expand discrimination grounds in the Human Rights Commission Act to include sexual orientation and protections for those with HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases.

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.

Record date:7th March 2019
Courtesy of:Office of the Clerk / Parliamentary Service
Location:Rainbow Room, Wellington
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Archive:The master recording is archived at the Alexander Turnbull Library (OHDL-004602).