1 Feb 1901


Painter Frances Hodgkins leaves New Zealand for Europe. There she met another New Zealand expatriate - artist Dorothy Richmond. Hodgkins described her as "the dearest woman with the most beautiful face and expression. [Her] letters are poems. She is the dearest piece of perfection I have ever met, and unlike most perfection, not in the least tiring to live up to." The pair returned to New Zealand in 1903 and established a studio on Lambton Quay.

27 Aug 1901


"She is the dearest woman with the most beautiful face and expression I think I have ever seen." - Frances Hodgkins describing fellow artist Dorothy Richmond

9 Feb 1903


Writer James Courage is born on this day in Christchurch. He is credited with writing the first ever published gay novel by a New Zealander (A Way of Love in 1959). Courage grew up on the family farm near Amberley before attending boarding school - first at Mr Wiggins’s preparatory school and then Christ's College. It was here that he began writing an intimate diary - a journal that would span the rest of his life. After his death in 1963, the diaries were deposited with the Hocken Collections at the University of Otago and placed under an embargo. Access restrictions ended in 2005 and, as historian Chris Brickell puts it, "I rushed into Dunedin's Hocken Library to prise open the small leather notebooks and the loose-leaf pages tied up with ribbon." The diaries are full of entries on sexuality, relationships, literature, travel and the psychotherapeutic treatment Courage received later in life. Brickell subsequently published parts of the diaries and wrote about this significant New Zealander, "He was fearlessly brave, and paved the way for people like me to write about gay things."

23 Mar 1903


Writer Norris Frank Davey is born in Hamilton. He later changed his name to Frank Sargeson - in part to conceal a 1929 indecent assault conviction. Although he was able to conceal the conviction from many, biographer Michael King thought the event scarred Sargeson for life. Reflecting on the writer's legacy, King said his major achievement as an author was to "introduce the rhythms and idiom of everyday New Zealand speech to literature." Sargeson died on 1 March 1982.

28 Mar 1903


Playwright and medical practitioner Merton Hodge is born in Taruheru, Poverty Bay. Hodge studied at King's College in Auckland and then Otago Medical School. He moved to England in 1931 where he gained international success with his play The Wind and the Rain. An Australian newspaper wrote, "By day he works as an anaesthetist in a big hospital at Hyde Park Corner: at night he has been writing plays which are the success of the season." The Wind and the Rain ran for three years (1,001 performances) in London's West End, played for 6-months on Broadway in New York and was translated into nine languages. Hodge mingled in bohemian and theatrical circles while in the UK - partying with Ivor Novello, Tallulah Bankhead and Noel Coward. He also spent a lot of time with Geoffrey Wardwell, another actor, who researchers think was probably his lover. In 1952 Hodge returned to New Zealand, married and settled in Dunedin. Sadly, he took his own life 6-years later in 1958.

29 Nov 1906


Senior public servant and diplomat Alister McIntosh is born in Picton. In 1925 McIntosh entered the public service and went on to serve New Zealand in various roles for the next five decades. He founded this country's diplomatic service and headed the Prime Minister's Department for more than twenty-years. According to author Ian McGibbon "McIntosh never sought a high public profile... His sensitivity to others' problems and needs, his lack of bigotry and self-righteousness and his non-judgemental approach were endearing qualities." McIntosh lived in an era when careers (and lives) could be destroyed by an accusation of homosexuality. In 2003, historian Michael King suggested that McIntosh may have missed out on becoming Commonwealth Secretary-General because of his sexuality (British security officials warned that his homosexuality made him susceptible to blackmail and therefore a security risk).

17 Jun 1909


Anges Ottaway applies to get her marriage to Percival Redwood annulled. Redwood, a.k.a Amy Bock, had moved to New Zealand from Australia in the mid-1880s. Described by author Fiona Farrell as "New Zealand's most celebrated and energetic confidence trickster", Bock amassed a string of convictions over the next four decades. The most prominent was a "heartless trick" which took place in 1909. While holidaying in South Otago, Bock posing as wealthy farmer Percival Redwood, met Agnes Ottaway. Within a few weeks the couple were engaged and an elaborate wedding followed. However four days later Bock was arrested and charged with forgery and two counts of false pretences. The widely reported scandal saw Bock jailed and inspired the production of commercial postcards featuring Bock and the wedding cake.

20 Aug 1909


Artist and drama producer Rodney Kennedy is born in Dunedin. In 1926 he enrolled as a student at the Dunedin School of Art, and in 1932 he met artist Toss Woollaston. They became "lovers" or "lifelong friend[s]" or "close friend[s]" depending on the information source. After Woollaston moved to Nelson, Kennedy visited and spent his summers picking fruit and painting. Woollaston painted both his soon-to-be wife and Kennedy together in a 1936 portrait entitled Figures from Life. During World War II Kennedy refused military service and was imprisoned.

27 Mar 1910


Dancer Freda Stark is born in Kaeo, Northland. From an early age she learnt dance - beginning with high kicks, tumbles and the hula. By the time of WW2 she was performing exotic dance for the US troops based in Auckland. She earned the title "Fever of the Fleet" and was famed for dancing at the Civic Theatre in just a G-string and feather headdress - her body glistening under a coating of gold paint. In the early 1930s she began a relationship with fellow dancer Thelma Trott. This was cut short in 1935 when Trott was murdered by her husband Eric Mareo. 2019 marks the 20th anniversary of Stark's death on 19 March 1999. She's buried at the foot of Trott's grave with the loving words "Waiting till we meet again - Freda."

11 Apr 1910


Artist Toss Woollaston is born in Stratford. He would become one of New Zealand's most widely known contemporary painters. In 1980 Woollaston published Sage Tea, a lyrical account of his early life. Writer Hugh Young says that he was notably honest about his sexuality "He saw himself as 'a sexually fluid being' who had been more homosexual than heterosexual in his youth." In the book, Woollaston described in vivid detail an anal sex "daisy chain" involving six youths. But he was also cautious. Reflecting on a friend's relationship he wrote "In those days homosexuality wasn't mentioned, and I am sure there was none in a physical sense between these two men. Brought up as we were on the story of David and Jonathan, whose love 'exceeded the love of women', the relationship between them was perfectly natural and even admirable."

3 Dec 1910


Mountaineer Freda Du Faur becomes the first woman to ascended Aoraki Mt Cook. Born in Sydney, Du Faur taught herself rock-climbing and spent her summer holidays in New Zealand. In December 1910 she reached Cook's summit "feeling very little, very lonely, and much inclined to cry." Du Faur's partner was Muriel Cadogan who taught at the Institute of Physical Education. Du Faur named peaks in the Southern Alps for both Cadogan and herself. Writer Julie McCrossin suggests that this was perhaps a way of "declaring their bond when more conventional options were unavailable."

1 May 1912


Artist Leo Bensemann is born in Takaka, Golden Bay. At the age of nineteen he moved to Christchurch with his schoolfriend and lover Lawrence Baigent. Bensemann became a member of The Group - a collection of influential artists including Colin McCahon, Rita Angus and Toss Woollaston. Bensemann married in 1943 and had four children. It was only in the early 2000s, after both Baigent and Bensemman had died, that their homosexual relationship became widely known when Baigent's partner outed them on National Radio. Writer Peter Simpson recalls "it caused a great kerfuffle among [Bensemann's] family because the notion that their father or husband was gay had never occurred to them, ever." The fallout from the broadcast saw Baigent's dairies, which are rumoured to be "full and frank", embargoed for thirty years.

17 Dec 1913


English poet Rupert Brooke arrived in Auckland aboard the ship RMS Niagara. He was only in New Zealand for a couple of weeks before departing for Tahiti. Surviving letters from the time point to Brooke struggling with his bisexuality. Writer Patrick Kelleher noted Brooke “operated in social circles that were gay or straight - but he knew nobody else who inhabited an in-between space as he did. His struggle was exacerbated by living in a society in which harsh, puritanical views around sexuality were common.” Shortly after the outbreak of the First World War Brooke enlisted. He died in April 1915 aboard a French hospital ship in the Mediterranean. Lines from Brooke’s poem The Dead are inscribed on Wellington Cenotaph “These laid the world away; poured out the red sweet wine of youth.”

7 Jan 1914


English poet Rupert Brooke departs by boat from Wellington on his way to Tahiti. Fellow poet W. B. Yeats once described him as "the handsomest young man in England." Brooke would die just a year later during WW1. The shipping route from New Zealand to Tahiti also brought the famous writer Somerset Maugham and his secretary and companion Gerald Haxton briefly to New Zealand in January 1917. At the time Maugham was also in a relationship with Syrie Wellcome whom he later married. Years later he told his nephew "I tried to persuade myself that I was three-quarters normal and that only a quarter of me was queer - whereas really it was the other way around."

31 Jul 1915


Artist Theo Schoon is born in Java, Indonesia, and moved to New Zealand in 1939. Schoon was a notable figure in New Zealand art in the mid 20th century. He refused to separate art and craft and created in a range of media. He was interested in the integration of Maori and European art to produce a local modernism.

1 Nov 1915


"One last favour I would like to ask and if you love me please grant me this, a picture of yourself." - Katherine Early writing to Dr Hjelmar Dannevill

2 Nov 1915


Composer Douglas Lilburn is born in Whanganui. Described as "the elder statesman of New Zealand music", Lilburn championed the composition and performance of New Zealand music. In 1966 he founded the Electronic Music Studio at Victoria University of Wellington, and in the 1980s helped establish the Archive of New Zealand Music at the Alexander Turnbull Library. Today, the Lilburn Trust continues to support a wide range of projects related to New Zealand music.

13 Dec 1915


Bea Arthur, founder of the Armstrong and Arthur Charitable Trust for Lesbians, is born. The Trust was named to recognise and remember Arthur and Bette Armstrong's 57-year relationship. In an interview with Alison Laurie, Arthur said that right from when the pair met in 1943 they slept in the same bed - but at that time, they didn't label their relationship as lesbian "It didn't have a name [...] we didn't seem to feel the need to be called anything, we just were."

26 May 1917


Dr Hjelmar von Dannevill is imprisoned for suspicious activity on Matiu Somes Island in Wellington habour. Dannevill had arrived in New Zealand in 1911 with little documentation. With the onset of World War I, Dannevill came to the attention of the authorities. The Solicitor-General of New Zealand reported that "there is grave ground for suspicion that this person is a mischievous and dangerous imposter... There is much reason to suspect that she may be a man masquerading as a woman." Dannevill was subjected to a physical examination that revealed that this was not the case. However she was kept on the island for over seven weeks before suffering a severe nervous breakdown.

28 Sep 1921


Bruce Mason, one of New Zealand's most significant playwrights, is born. Mason wrote over thirty plays, with The Pohutukawa Tree and End of the Golden Weather being two of his most well-known. Although Mason married in 1945, it wasn't until a book by John Smythe in 2015, that Mason's homosexuality became widely known. Smythe reflected on this more private side, "we can only wonder what else he might have written in a parallel universe or a more accepting era." Reviewer Dean Parker noted that Mason and his wife had an open relationship, "he was happily married with three children, but seemed to have had many male lovers." These are documented in surviving letters. One of his "pick-ups" in Christchurch later vindictively wrote to Mason's wife, "Do you know that your husband is an old lecherous pansy, well known all over NZ for it? The whole of Christchurch is laughing about you."

14 Oct 1922


"Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth." - Katherine Mansfield

9 Jan 1923


One of New Zealand's most famous writers, Katherine Mansfield, dies in France from tuberculosis. After her death, husband John Middleton Murry edited and published a journal of her writings - intentionally omitting material dealing with Mansfield's sexuality. This included information relating to Edith Kathleen Bendall and Maata Mahupuku - both of whom had relationships with Mansfield while she was in New Zealand. At the time Mansfield wrote in her journal "I want Maata - I want her as I have had her." Later she would begin work on Maata, a semi-autobiographical novel. She wrote "There was not very much light in the room and Maata's skin flamed like yellow roses. The scent of her, like musk and spice, was on the air."

23 Feb 1924


The NZ Truth newspaper published a story about the growth of degeneracy and sex crime. Under the headline "Sterilisation Proposed" the newspaper reported the increase of sex crimes from 1919 to 1922. Included in the figures was an increase in convictions for indecent assaults on a male (from 14 to 43). This involved, but was not necessarily limited to, consensual sexual activity between consenting male adults. The newspaper article noted "recent utterances from the Supreme Court bench have called attention to the desirability of some more or less drastic method, such as sterilisation, and the time may not be far distant when such a course will be justified."

1 Aug 1924


Poet Ursula Bethell sets up home with Effie Pollen in Christchurch. Much of Bethell's poetry described their home, garden and life together. Bethell called Pollen her "little raven" and mourned deeply when Effie died suddenly in 1934. Pollen was memorialised in a set of six poems, written each year by Bethell on the anniversary of her death.

7 Feb 1925


New Zealand Truth reports on "The Dazzling Dandies" - a prisoners' extravaganza at New Plymouth Prison. Since 1917, the prison had been used for the segregation of sexual offenders - including what was termed homosexualists. At the time, men could be imprisoned for up to ten-years for consensual "indecent assault on a male", and life imprisonment for sodomy. In a report from that same year, Mr Hawkins, Inspector of Prisons said "The worst pervert of all is the one who flagrantly offers himself for the purposes of sodomy. Strange as it may seem, there are quite a number of such degenerates in our prisons today; middle-aged and elderly men being the chief offenders of this class. In my opinion segregation for life is the only course [as] no cure is possible in such cases."

28 Mar 1925


The New Zealand Truth newspaper reports that nearly 20 per cent of New Zealand's prison population consisted of sexual offenders. The paper said that the convictions probably only represented a small proportion of the offences that were actually taking place. It singled out "homosexualists" in high society and in the ranks of Bohemia "where it is claimed a great deal of deliberate perversion is practiced under the cloak of art." The report said "lengthy terms of hard labour and even severe floggings have failed to curb the sexual license of the unfortunate pervert." It went on to talk about eugenics and suggested various remedies - from segregation for life to surgical operation.

16 Jul 1925


A report titled Mental Defectives and Sexual Offenders was tabled in Parliament. According to Mr Hawkins, Inspector of Prisons, the "worst pervert of all", ahead of those who abuse women or children, "is the one who flagrantly offers himself for the purposes of sodomy." The committee considered castration, segregation and indefinite prison terms. They concluded, "New Zealand is a young country already exhibiting some of the weaknesses of much older nations...We ought to make every effort to keep the stock sturdy and strong, as well as racially pure... Surely our aim should be to prevent, as far as possible, the multiplication of [weaklings]."

1 Oct 1925


New Zealander Peter Stratford marries Elizabeth Rowland in Missouri, USA. In 1929 the couple would make international news headlines when Stratford's death bed confession to a doctor was reported as "I am not a man. I am a woman." Stratford emigrated from Oamaru to the United States in 1905 and worked as a journalist and literary agent. It was only a few months before Stratford's death that he confided to his wife. Rowland would later tell media "I left her when I learned the truth." The news coverage was ruthless and cruel towards Stratford, while Rowland was portrayed as a victim (but not always). Newspapers reported Stratford’s life as a "nonentity", highlighting his burial in a pauper's grave with no mourners in attendance at the funeral.

1 Apr 1927


The Evening Post newspaper prints a number of stories about "masqueraders." One article reported that an unnamed person had been “going about as a girl” with the voice and appearance "typical of a Maori female." A second article reported that 18-year-old George Grace was charged in Napier with "being disguised." Grace had attended a local girl's college. At the sentencing, the Magistrate said "I will teach you to leave girls' clothing and girls' colleges alone in the future." Grace was sentenced to 3-months imprisonment. Newspapers from the early part of last century are peppered with reports of masquerading. It wasn't until 1966 when Carmen Rupe successfully challenged a similar charge and Justice McCarthy found that he was "quite unable to find anything in our law which says that it is unlawful for a male to attire himself in female clothing."

17 Mar 1928


Morals campaigner Patricia Bartlett is born in Napier. In 1950 she entered the convent of the Sisters of Mercy in Wellington. She left in 1969, with author Barbara Brookes noting that other Sisters "were shocked at her interest in pornography and disapproved of her passion to stem the moral decline of society." Bartlett's campaigning was not limited to pornography. She fought against abortion, sex education in schools and homosexual law reform. In 1970 she founded the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards. At its peak, it had over 22,000 members. In 1993 the Evening Post photographed Bartlett and Internal Affairs Minister Graeme Lee uncomfortably surveying banned pornographic videos. The image shows Lee looking at a video case for Every Inch a Lady while Bartlett inspects All Anal Cumshot Revue.

3 May 1929


Charles Mackay is shot dead by police in Berlin, Germany. It ended a remarkable decade in the life of Mackay. In May 1920, while still Mayor of Whanganui, Mackay was arrested for attempting to kill poet Walter D'Arcy Cresswell. Cresswell had tried to use Mackay's homosexuality to blackmail him out of public office. Mackay pleaded guilty to attempted murder and was imprisoned for fifteen years with hard labour. Mackay was reportedly released in 1926 on the condition that he would leave New Zealand immediately. He went to England and then to Berlin where he worked as a journalist. In May 1929, while covering a riot between communists and police, Mackay was shot and killed by the authorities.

22 Jul 1929


The Evening Post reports on a talk given by Dr Jessie Scott entitled The Adolescent Girl. Presenting to the Christchurch branch of the Parents' National Education Union, Dr Scott talked about how girls between the ages of 11 and 16 could experience a "homosexual stage" where they showed great affection for members of their own sex - often for women much older than themselves. This developmental stage was then closely followed by the heterosexual stage. Dr Scott warned that if these developmental stages were delayed it could cause abnormality, ill-health, weakness or instability of character in adult life.

1 Oct 1929


Artist Leonard Hollobon is arrested in Wellington and charged with indecently assaulting a male - Norris Davey (later to take the name Frank Sargeson). Davey applied for name suppression but this was refused. He then testified against Hollobon who received 5 years imprisonment. Davey received a suspended sentence, with the judge noting his offending was an isolated incident. In April 2018 Parliament unanimously passed a law that would allow this type of historic homosexual conviction to be expunged.

17 Feb 1930


Dr Hjelmar von Dannevill dies in San Francisco, USA. During the First World War, von Dannevill had been imprisoned on Matiu Somes Island in Wellington harbour on suspicion that she was an enemy alien. An official report noted that "there is much reason to suspect that she may be a man masquerading as a woman." After six week's imprisonment on the island, von Dannevill had a severe nervous breakdown and was taken ashore. After the war she left New Zealand with her companion Mary Bond and her children. They eventually settled in San Francisco where von Dannevill worked as a physician. At the time of her death, a newspaper reported "After her arrest in 1925 [in San Francisco] for masquerading as a man she was given a permit to wear masculine clothing."

6 May 1933


Members of the nationalist German Student Union ransack the library of Magnus Hirschfeld's Institute for Sexual Research in Berlin. The library contained thousands of books, documents and images on sexuality and gender. The contents were publicly burnt a few days later during nationwide Nazi book burning events. Exactly 52 years later, on 6 May 1985, members of New Zealand's rainbow communities gathered together on the steps of the National War Memorial Carillon to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust. They stood under a large cloth pink triangle - a symbol that homosexuals had to wear in the concentration camps. During the Nazi era, hundreds-of-thousands of rainbow community members (not just homosexuals) were persecuted, imprisoned and murdered.

26 Feb 1936


Eric Mareo is found guilty of murdering his wife Thelma Trott in Auckland. The couple are described on the NZ Drug Foundation's website as "two artists living a flamboyant lifestyle in Auckland's Mt Eden." According to the site, they were both addicted to Veronal - the first commercially available barbiturate. The pair regularly visited the Dixieland cabaret, described by NZ Truth as "an orgy of jazz and fizz." A couple of years before Trott's death, she met fellow dancer Freda Stark and they began a relationship. This was discovered by Mareo who, on 15 April 1935, murdered Trott with an overdose of Veronal. During his trial, Mareo testified that "his wife's desires were met by association with women." He said that he had caught his wife in bed with Stark a number of times. Mareo was ultimately found guilty of murder and sentenced to death - later commuted to life imprisonment.

5 Jul 1936


Photographer Robert Gant dies. Born in England Gant moved to New Zealand at the age of 21, living in Wairarapa and Wellington. Gant's visual interests include young men, sailors, shoes, theatrical scenes and execution scenarios (beheadings) – which were popular at the time. He had a long-term relationship with Charlie Haigh and lived with him for over 20-years in Seatoun, Wellington. Gant's photographs and life have been documented in Chris Brickell's 2012 book Manly Affections.

21 Jan 1942


Author and activist Pat Rosier is born in Wairarapa. In the mid-1980s Rosier discovered Simone de Beauvoir and the new wave of the feminist movement. She co-founded the journal of the Women's Studies Association, and became the editor of Broadsheet, a nationally distributed feminist magazine. Broadsheet was published by a collective from 1972 to 1997 and played a significant part in documenting and contributing to women’s activism in New Zealand. Rosier also wrote ten books. After her death in 2014, her partner Prue Hyman wrote "Her becoming a novelist after many years writing non-fiction and poetry was essentially a 'show, not tell' way of describing the complexity and yet simplicity of living life as a lesbian as just one facet of one’s total life."

26 Jan 1942


Timaru businessman William Preen pleads guilty after being arrested while wearing women's clothing. The court heard that Preen had been thinking about it for some time and had recently purchased clothing in Christchurch. Preen's lawyer told the court "his act was foolish in the extreme, and, while it is difficult to understand, it was probably the result of a craving to see what it was like to go about like a female." Newspapers from the early part of last century are sprinkled with stories of similar prosecutions, often using words like "masquerade". Things changed for the better in January 1966, when Carmen Rupe bravely stood up to this type of persecution. Through her court case, it was established that there was nothing in New Zealand law that prevented anyone from dressing in male or female clothing.

27 Aug 1943


US First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visits New Zealand with her aide Norah Walton during World War II to inspect US troops and study the contribution New Zealand women were making to the war effort. Roosevelt had well documented relationships with both men and women - particularly with journalist Lorena Hickok. Starting in the early 1930s and continuing for over three decades, the pair would write to each other - sometimes twice daily. At least 3,000 letters survive which document their relationship. In one, Hickok tells Roosevelt, "I want to put my arms around you and kiss you at the corner of your mouth." In another, "I can't kiss you, so I kiss your 'picture' good night and good morning!" One of Roosevelt's most famous public statements was "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

3 Feb 1944


Human rights campaigner Sister Paula Brettkelly is born in the United Kingdom. As a child she emigrated with her family to New Zealand, entering the Sisters of St Joseph in 1961. In the mid-1980s Brettkelly read about the emergence of HIV/AIDS and began volunteering with the New Zealand AIDS Foundation. The Sisters of St Joseph website highlighted that this, along with other human rights advocacy, became her love and passion for the next twenty years "fighting discrimination and stigma faced by those with HIV and AIDS, standing alongside them as they lived - and as they died." On becoming a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2007 she told a group of young people "respect yourselves and look after your mates. Insist on fair play for everyone."

7 Feb 1944


Writer Witi Ihimaera is born in Waituhi, near Gisborne. In 1972 his first short-story collection was published, followed a year later by Tangi - the first novel in English by a Maori author. A number of Ihimaera's best-known novels have been adapted for film including The Whale Rider and Nights in the Gardens of Spain. He's also received numerous literary awards including the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement. In 2009, when receiving the Te Tohu Tiketike a Te Waka Toi arts award, Ihimaera said "this award is for all those ancestors who have made us all the people we are. It is also for the generations to come, to show them that even when you aren’t looking, destiny has a job for you to do."

29 Jun 1944


Author and media personality David Hartnell is born in Auckland. In the 1960s he moved to Sydney, becoming Australia's first male in-store makeup artist. He then moved to the United States where he interviewed the celebrities he met. Hartnell began writing a weekly Hollywood gossip column, using the now famous catchphrases "I'm not one to gossip but..." and "...my lips are sealed." He also presented television and radio shows in New Zealand. In a 2011 interview with the Sunday Star Times he remarked "I've always thought, when the red [broadcast] light is on, you perform. When it's off, why waste your time?" Reflecting on his career Hartnell said "When I started gossip 40-odd years ago, they said, 'Oh, you'll never last.' And here I am. I don't know where the people are who rubbished me."

11 Sep 1944


Cafe owner Chrissy Witoko is born in Hastings. In 1984 she opened the Evergreen Coffee Lounge in central Wellington. Witoko's priority was to ensure a friendly social environment in a time when there was a still open discrimination towards rainbow communities. The coffee lounge quickly became a home-away-from-home for many, and from 1988 was the location of the Gay and Lesbian Community Centre. Lining the interior walls of the establishment were large photographic collages of community members from the 1960s to the early 2000s. They can now be seen online in high-resolution courtesy of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

7 Oct 1944


Composer Jack Body is born in Te Aroha, Waikato. His love of music was evident from an early age, developing into a life-long career in composition, teaching and music promotion. He was heavily influenced by non-Western cultures as well as by individuals who challenged societal norms - particularly political activist and teacher Rewi Alley who lived and taught in China from the late 1920s, and entrepreneur and activist Carmen Rupe. In 2013 Songs and Dances of Desire, which celebrated Carmen's life, premiered at the Auckland Festival. Interviewed at the time, Body reflected on how fearless and inspirational Carmen was "The lesson we learn from her, [is] that we have one life, and the worst thing we can do is to have fears and anxieties. We have to embrace life and be who we are."

22 Nov 1945


Two women appear in court charged with offences under the Marriage Act. The two had lived together as husband and wife for over a decade. The magistrate ordered that they submit to psychiatric treatment, saying "you will need it." He also ordered that they should remain apart to give them every chance to return to "normality". The couple's relationship is explored in Julie Glamuzina's book Perfectly Natural: The audacious story of Iris Florence Peter Williams. Almost seventy years later, in November 2013, New Zealand's first ever gay wedding expo took place in Auckland.

6 Feb 1946


Miles Radcliffe's body is found in a chocolate/ice cream factory in central Wellington. Radcliffe was the factory's manager and a "known homosexual." He had a reputation for hosting parties for very appreciative service-people during the Second World War. Radcliffe's body was found in a doorway in the factory. He had been strangled and beaten to death the night before. Staff told police that he was a homosexual and would, according to the caretaker, take men back to his office in the evenings where he had a couch. Radcliffe had not been robbed but a pathologist determined that he was sexually aroused at the time of his death. No one was ever charged with his death but evidence pointed to the killer(s) possibly being crew on a ship which was in port at the time.

29 Aug 1946


Trail-blazer Dana de Milo is born in Auckland. Soon after running away from home at the age of thirteen, de Milo had a chance meeting with Carmen Rupe in a local coffee lounge. She recalled in a 2016 interview that "[Carmen] was the person I wanted to be." De Milo went on to describe how transgender people in the 1960s and 1970s were "the face of gayness - because gay men could run and hide... behind their male clothes. We were the ones who got picked on." Shortly after de Milo's death in 2018, MP Jan Logie paid tribute to her in Parliament: "She was one of our torch holders who created space for so many of us to walk into... My ability to stand here open and proud of my lesbian identity comes from the bravery and political advocacy of my elders, like Dana."

9 Mar 1947


Internationally acclaimed author Keri Hulme is on born in Christchurch. As a teenager, Hulme began writing short stories and poetry - some of which were published in her high school's magazine. In the 1970s, she received a number of literary grants and was awarded the Robert Burns Fellowship in 1977. During this period, Hulme continued working on The Bone People - the book that would skyrocket her to international fame in the mid 1980s. Over a period of twelve years, Hulme had submitted the work to a number of publishers who had wanted to make significant changes. The Bone People was ultimately picked up by the Spiral Collective – a feminist literary and arts collective founded in Christchurch. The book was an immediate success, with its first edition selling out in weeks. It went on to win the 1984 New Zealand Book Award for Fiction and the Booker Prize in 1985. Not only did Hulme become the first New Zealander to win the Booker Prize, she was also the first writer to win the Booker for their debut novel.

1 Jun 1949


Journalist and author Tom McLean is born in Greenock, Scotland. He worked for a number of Scottish newspapers before moving to New Zealand in 1973. In the mid-1980s, after a year of general unwellness he took an HIV test that returned a positive result. A year later he was diagnosed with AIDS. Without medication, McLean was told that he might only have a year to live. With the newly available (but toxic) AZT drug, it may give him up to two years. He began writing If I Should Die, the first book to give a personal account of living with AIDS in New Zealand. McLean told media that in his remaining time he would continue fighting against the ignorance and prejudice that surrounded AIDS: "In this country, it is still entirely legal to sack someone with the virus, to throw them out of their flats, to refuse them service in shops." It wouldn't be until the Human Rights Act 1993 that discrimination on the grounds of having organisms capable of causing illness in the body was outlawed.

15 Jan 1952


Maata Mahupuku dies. As a teenager Mahupuku had a relationship with writer Katherine Mansfield. They both attended Miss Swainson's Fitzherbert Terrace School in Wellington. After which, Mahupuku left for Paris where she learnt to speak fluent French and developed her talent for singing. Mansfield's friend Ida Baker described Mahupuku as "petite, with a pale touch of gold in her skin and sparks flashing from her eyes." Later Mansfield wrote in her journal "I want Maata - I want her as I have had her - terribly. This is unclean I know but true." After Mansfield’s death in 1923 it emerged that she had begun a novel entitled Maata. Mahupuku went on to marry several times and have a number of children.

4 May 1952


Chris Carter, New Zealand's first openly gay male Member of Parliament, is born in Auckland. He first stood for the Labour Party in 1987, but it wasn't until 1993 that he became an MP. In his maiden speech Carter said "I stand here tonight as the first sitting Member of this House to publicly acknowledge that my personal sexuality is different from the majority of New Zealanders. I believe my sexuality has played a very positive role in my life." He went on to say "My own situation rapidly led me to a real empathy for those in society who, because of their race, their sex, or their economic circumstances are judged less than equal." In 1997 the Waipareira Rainbow branch was established in Carter's electorate - marking the birth of Rainbow Labour. And in 2007 Carter became the first Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister to have a civil union. He said at the time "It will be a special moment for [Peter and I], and a chance for our family and friends to give public witness to our 33-year relationship."

7 Oct 1952


Academic, feminist, activist and politician Marilyn Waring was born. Waring made headlines in August 1976 when, as a current Member of Parliament, she was outed by the tabloid New Zealand Truth newspaper. In 1984 Waring threatened to vote for the opposition-sponsored nuclear-free New Zealand legislation, leading Prime Minister Robert Muldoon to call a snap election (which the National Party lost). After leaving parliament, Waring went on to a distinguished academic career and in 2012 was included on the Wired Magazine Smart List of "50 people who will change the world."

10 Mar 1953


Activist and counsellor Mani Bruce Mitchell is born in Mount Eden, Auckland. Identified (inaccurately) as hermaphrodite at birth, Mitchell was subjected to non-consensual normalizing genital surgeries as a child, and sexual abuse - which carried through into adulthood. Mitchell has spent the last three decades transforming this narrative of trauma into their activism and work in the mental health field. In 1996 Mitchell became the first person in New Zealand to come-out publicly as Intersex, and in 1997 founded the Intersex Society of New Zealand. In 2016 they were a finalist in the New Zealander of the Year awards and were integral in bringing the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association world conference to New Zealand in 2019.

22 Apr 1953


Dr Charles Farthing is born in Christchurch. He studied medicine at the University of Otago before moving overseas. Farthing was at the forefront of care for people with HIV/AIDS - helping establish one of the United Kingdom's first AIDS wards in the mid 1980s, before becoming the Director of the AIDS treatment programme at Bellevue Hospital in New York. In 1997, frustrated at the slow progress of developing a vaccine, he volunteered to become a human guinea pig. On the news of his death in April 2014, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Michael Weinstein, told media "the fact that he was willing to take a chance with his own life - when we were still in the era of certain death - showed his commitment, his courage, his willingness to do anything for a breakthrough."

28 Aug 1954


Teenagers Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme are found guilty of murdering Parker's mother with a brick in Victoria Park, Christchurch. The trial highlighted the girls' fantasies and absorption with each other. Defence lawyers contended that the pair had a shared psychotic disorder (folie a deux), with one of the symptoms being homosexuality. However psychiatrist Kenneth Stallworthy told the court that even though they had "engaged in some form of physical homosexuality... homosexuality [was not] any indication of insanity." The pair were too young to be sentenced to death and so were jailed. After 5 years they were released and both relocated separately to the United Kingdom. Reflecting on the case, academic Alison Laurie noted that the attention given to lesbian relationships in the "very negative context of murder and of young girls out of control, [had] a big impact on how that generation of lesbians and their parents began to think about relationships between girls and women."

15 Sep 1954


In the United Kingdom, a committee chaired by Lord Wolfenden began to consider homosexual offences and prostitution. At the time there were over 1,000 men in prison in England and Wales for homosexual activity. In September 1957 the committee’s report was published with a recommendation that "homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offence." However, it took another decade before homosexual acts were decriminalised - and then only in England and Wales with an age of consent of 21.

Oct 1957


Activist and politician Georgina Beyer is born in Wellington. Beyer's rich life has been the subject of books and films documenting her journey from, as she puts it, "cracking it as a prostitute" to becoming the world's first openly transgender Mayor and Member of Parliament. While in Parliament, Beyer fought for, among other things, prostitution law reform, civil unions and gender identity legislation. Author Andrew Reynolds recently described her as the "iconic Ghandi of the movement ... Being the first in the world is a remarkable achievement. Her courage, her tenacity, her authenticity, transforms hearts and minds."

21 Nov 1957


Historian Gavin McLean is born in Oamaru. As a youngster McLean found sanctuary around the local harbour, fishing and contemplating the history of the waterfront. It developed into a life-long passion for maritime history. After graduating from Otago University he moved to Wellington in the 1980s and fought for homosexual law reform. He was deeply involved with the Wellington Gay Community Centre and Pink Triangle magazine. For many years McLean was also a key figure in the Professional Historians Association of New Zealand/Aotearoa, and held significant positions at Historic Places Trust and Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage. He would write or edit more than fifty publications before his death in 2019.

4 Aug 1958


Labour politician Tim Barnett is born. Originally from the United Kingdom, Barnett moved to New Zealand in 1991. While in government, Barnett introduced the Prostitution Reform Bill, which became law in 2003 - making New Zealand the first country in the world to decriminalise sex work. He was also a champion for the Civil Union Bill, which became law in 2004.

1 Jan 1959


The Attorney-General H.G.R. Mason tries unsuccessfully to have the penalties for homosexual acts reduced. (approximate date)

22 Aug 1960


Activist Neil Costelloe is born on the West Coast. In the 1980s Costelloe fearlessly campaigned for homosexual law reform - taking part in many protests and rallies. He used his graphic design skills to create protest posters and appeared on television talking about homophobic bashings which were on the increase. Costelloe also planned and took part in smaller (but still powerful) actions prior to homosexual activity becoming legal. Costelloe's sister, Jayne, recalls how she saw him standing on a main street in Wellington openly kissing his boyfriend, "They were very out and very proud." After law reform passed in 1986, Costelloe moved to the United Kingdom where he lived until his death in 1990 from AIDS-related complications.

10 Sep 1960


Pioneering surgeon Harold Gillies dies. Gillies is widely considered the father of modern plastic surgery. Born in Dunedin in 1882 Gillies left New Zealand to study medicine in England. During WW1 he developed techniques that used grafted flaps of skin and transplanted rib bones. After the war he focussed his attention on gender affirming surgery. In 1946, he carried out one of the world’s first gender reassignment surgeries. The procedures he developed became the standard for the next 40 years.

31 Oct 1960


Darren Horn is born. Horn was one of the early organisers of the New Zealand AIDS Memorial Quilt. In 1992 he wrote "All the quilts speak of love, compassion and memories. Each is composed of recollection, sadness, acceptance and letting go. The quilts help us to learn and accept." In the early days of the global epidemic, Horn along with Peggy Dawson, provided light touch massage for people living with HIV and AIDS in Auckland. They created a quilt panel featuring large daisies, with each petal containing the name of someone they had worked with who had subsequently died. Poignantly, the last two petals were left blank and only completed after Horn's death in 1993. They commemorate his partner Stephen Maxted who died in May 1993, and Horn himself who died four months later.

1 Jan 1962


The newly amended Crimes Act 1961 comes into force, replacing the Crimes Act 1908. Penalties for male homosexual acts were reduced from whipping, flogging and life imprisonment with hard labour to prison terms of up to 7 years. Attorney-General Rex Mason had earlier proposed that homosexual acts be dealt with as indecent assaults (which would attract lesser penalties), but this was not adopted. Debate around homosexual law reform had been growing since the Wolfenden Report had been published in the United Kingdom five years earlier. In 1959, the Upper Hutt Leader newspaper ran a story saying "It would appear that New Zealand law is moving in the direction of the recommendations of the Wolfenden Committee." Readers were invited to attend an upcoming public debate with the topic "That homosexuality between consenting males should remain a crime."

27 May 1962


The Dorian Society, the oldest documented homosexual organisation in New Zealand, is formed in Wellington. The Dorian was primarily (but not exclusively) a social group that allowed members to meet collectively in private and be themselves. This was a liberation, in a time when homosexual activity was an imprisonable offence and homosexuals could be legally discriminated against. On 27 May a group of sixteen men met to elect officers of the still unnamed group. Just over a week later on 6 June, the name was formalised and a draft constitution was written. Understandably there was no mention of homosexuality, but the aims were clear. Included in them: "To promote amongst its members an honest desire to serve the development of friendship, mutual respect, and tolerance in all its aspects" and to "provide entertainment for its members and activities of a cultural and social nature." The Dorian was a significant organisation and is still fondly remembered today. As Graham Wills, a former member, recently recalled "I met my second boyfriend at the Dorian. He was serving more than drinks."

1 Jan 1963


The Dorian Society forms a legal subcommittee to work towards homosexual law reform [date approximate].

5 Oct 1963


Writer James Courage dies in England. Born in Canterbury, New Zealand, he only made one trip back here in the mid 1930s. According to his niece Virginia Clegg, he came out to his mother and father during that visit, at which point "all hell broke loose and he never set foot in this country again." Author Christopher Burke credits Courage with writing New Zealand's first gay short story (Guest at the Wedding), and this country’s first gay novel (A Way of Love). The novel tells the story of a young man's relationship with an older man. It was banned in New Zealand in the early 1960s on the "grounds of indecency and because it lacked redeeming literary merit."

23 Jan 1964


Charles Aberhart was killed in Hagley Park. A group of six teenage boys had gone to the park that night "to belt up a queer." Using the youngest as bait they targeted a number of men before they approached Aberhart. He was found dead later that night by a passer-by. The following day the group were all charged with his manslaughter. They claimed that Aberhart had propositioned them. The jury subsequently acquitted all six teenagers. At the time there wasn't a lot of media coverage of the case or people standing up in defence of homosexuals. However some saw the judicial outcome as a gross injustice. It became one of the motivations for the establishment of the New Zealand Homosexual Law Reform Society in 1967.

22 Mar 1964


Norman "Old Sunshine" Gibson dies in New Plymouth. In the 1990s Gibson's daughter, Miriam Saphira, wrote about her father and his relationship with Roy Ayling. Both were soldiers in the First World War, sharing a trench together during the Battle of the Somme in France. Ayling later remarked to the renowned artist Toss Woollaston that "he had seen the younger [Gibson] while at the war, poised for a dive when they were swimming, and loved his beautiful body." In September 1916 Gibson was shot in the neck and evacuated to a field hospital. Ayling was distraught, a feeling captured in his poem titled Old Sunshine. It reads in part "Now that we are far apart, / Longing makes the hot tears start, / Who can ease my aching heart? / Old Sunshine." The love poem stands out proudly in the 1917 wartime publication New Zealand at the Front, written and illustrated in France by members of the New Zealand Division.

12 Aug 1965


Prolific Ngati Porou songwriter, composer and teacher Tuini Ngawai dies. Ngawai wrote over 200 waiata. One of her most famous, Arohaina mai, became the unofficial hymn of the 28th Maori Battalion.

9 Jan 1966


Carmen Rupe is arrested in Auckland for behaving in an offensive manner in a public place. The "offensive manner" was Rupe wearing female clothing in public. On the 24 January she appeared in court to challenge the charge. Justice McCarthy dismissed the case saying that he was "quite unable to find anything in our law which says that it is unlawful for a male to attire himself in female clothing." This was a watershed moment, as for many years people had been prosecuted for just that: back in 1925, Kenneth Dell faced a week of imprisonment for "behaving in a disorderly manner" in Queen Street. Dell, was hospitalised on the morning of his court appearance and was fined instead. And in 1929 George Grace, aged 18, was convicted and sentenced to 3-months imprisonment for "being disguised."

Feb 1967


Doreen Davis stands trial accused of murdering Raewyn Petley. Both had been serving with the Royal New Zealand Nursing Corps, when Petley was found dead in her bed with a deep wound to her neck. Davis was in turn taken to Auckland Hospital after a drug overdose. Davis' defence lawyer argued that she had been "befriended by a woman outwardly kind and sympathetic but inwardly a hunting lesbian." Davis testified that Petley "...wanted me. She tried to kiss me and did. She... looked like a man, not a woman... I finally gave in." The defence contended Petley had cut her own throat. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty.

17 Apr 1967


Around 150 people meet in Wellington to endorse the formation of the Wolfenden Association and campaign for homosexual law reform. The group's name references Lord Wolfenden who, a decade earlier, had chaired a committee in the United Kingdom that recommended "homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offence." The Association soon changes its name to the New Zealand Homosexual Law Reform Society. They publish a pamphlet that claims that there are at least 40,000 homosexual men in New Zealand who need "understanding rather than persecution."

27 Apr 1967


Possibly the first ever New Zealand television programme to examine homosexuality is broadcast as part of the Compass series. Television was still in its infancy in this country, having only begun in 1960, with Compass being the first locally produced current affairs show. In a recent interview, programme producer Ian Johnstone recalled the secrecy the crew had to adopt while filming the episode (as homosexual activity was still illegal until 1986). The production crew travelled in unmarked vehicles and only filmed at night. But Johnstone came away from the experience pleasantly surprised. Rather than participants who were "shamed" or seeking ways out, Johnstone found that the men had a "self-confidence within them... that strength came through and it was wonderful."

26 Jun 1967


Rev. Godfrey Wilson delivers a sermon at St Peter's Anglican church in Wellington highlighting the negative treatment of homosexuals in our society. It is a radical call for acceptance and inclusion. The groundbreaking sermon is broadcast live on National Radio and is probably the first of its kind to be heard throughout New Zealand.

19 Feb 1968


The Sunday Times newspaper reports on an ongoing study by two prison chaplains into the treatment of homosexuals in prison. The newspaper quoted the late Rev. Ernest Hoddinott, a Methodist minister and Senior Chaplain to the Justice Department: "Homosexuality is a tragedy. It is no respecter of persons - it's found in all sections of the community." He believed that there were at least 25,000 homosexuals in New Zealand. Since 1960, the Methodist church had been considering the implications to a "legal toleration of homosexual practices." In 1961, a church committee reported that reforming the law would remove injustices and open the way for a "more constructive treatment of a hidden problem." However, “The Church has always distinguished between sin and crime... to say that in certain circumstances homosexual behaviour should not be a criminal offence is not to condone or encourage private immorality.”

29 Feb 1968


Composer Gareth Farr is born in Wellington. While studying music in New York in the mid-1990s, Farr developed the drag persona Lilith LaCroix and the percussion extravaganza Drumdrag, which toured New Zealand extensively and had performances in Australia and Canada. In 1997 Lilith performed a drumming midnight mass at the Devotion dance party that was labelled stupendous. But according to Farr, his first "politically gay" composition was During These Days - a choral piece commissioned to mark the 30th anniversary of homosexual law reform in 2016. Farr told media at the time "I know how lucky I am that I have had this law all my adult life." In 2019 Farr wrote an orchestral fanfare that launched the Wellington International Pride Parade.

8 Oct 1968


A petition calling for the decriminalisation of homosexual acts between consenting males aged 21 and over was presented in Parliament. The petition, organised by the New Zealand Homosexual Law Reform Society, was signed by 75 courageous New Zealanders (keeping in mind law reform didn't occur for another 18 years). Member of Parliament John Rae said "one cannot but be impressed with the status of the people who were prepared to put their names on the petition. They start from the highest office in the Churches and go through the professional groups, the lawyers, professors, school masters, scientists, and others." MP Robert Talbot, an opponent, told the House "The petitioners have stated that homosexuals live in fear of being caught because of the present law... It is no doubt correct, but I believe this fear is necessary if this unnatural activity is to be controlled in our society." Interestingly, MP Martin Finlay noted "I think it is generally accepted, at least in medical and scientific circles if not publicly, that every one of us has some latent element of homosexuality in him, even those who are loudest and most vehement in their protestations of revulsion."

8 Nov 1968


The Parliamentary Petitions Committee blocks a petition seeking the removal of criminal penalties for homosexual acts between consenting male adults. Prof J.H. Robb, President of the New Zealand Homosexual Law Reform Society, tells the committee that if Members of Parliament were a statistical representation of the community as a whole, it would be reasonable to assume that at least four members would be homosexual. This is reported in the Evening Post and draws a swift response from the Leader of the Opposition, Norman Kirk who describes the headline as "despicable, objectionable, sensational and quite misleading."



"Only men so draw me that I want to be part of them, to lose myself in them, to become them." - Journal entry by writer Charles Brasch [exact date unknown]

28 Jun 1969


The Stonewall Uprising takes place in New York City. Although the push for homosexual law reform has already begun years earlier in New Zealand, the Stonewall uprising still resonated here strongly.

28 Jul 1970


The National Party's annual conference decides to seek liberalisation on the law relating to homosexuality (New Zealand). The decision was applauded by the Homosexual Law Reform Society - as noted in an Evening Post article on 28 July

25 May 1971


The Labour Party annual conference votes in favour of homosexual law reform. The conference votes in favour of homosexual acts between consenting males in private be legalised. The vote is so close that a count had to be taken.

19 Sep 1971


Ngahuia Volkerling leads women's liberation in a Suffrage Day of Mourning in Auckland.

25 Sep 1971


The New Zealand Homosexual Law Reform Society holds a national conference to discuss law reform. In attendance was the Bishop of Wellington, H.W Baines. He calls for Christians to adopt an understanding attitude, to show homosexuals that they were not excluded from society. The Law Reform Society had been courageously lobbying for law change since its formation in early 1967. Treasurer of the Society, Barry Neels, tells reporters in August that year, "The average New Zealander has been brain-washed into an intolerant state of disgust for his brother homosexual; he is not able to show compassion because even sympathisers and reformers come under suspicion… Unless legislation is changed, New Zealand will always have homosexual suicides, ostracism of often brilliant men and an increasing number of homosexual patients and prisoners in mental hospitals and gaols."

15 Mar 1972


Auckland University student Ngahuia Te Awekotuku is refused entry into the United States because she is a known lesbian. Te Awekotuku had been awarded a student scholarship to study in the US but came up against the State's policy of actively prohibiting "sexual deviants" from entering the country. Te Awekotuku recalls "It was open-mic day in the university quad and I grabbed the microphone and yelled out what had happened. I said, 'Let's start a revolution!'" This call to action became one of the catalysts for Gay Liberation in New Zealand.

1 Apr 1972


The national conference is held in Wellington, with speakers including Ngahuia Te Awekotuku

11 Apr 1972


Gay Day takes place in Albert Park - the first public action of Gay Liberation Front Auckland. The action is followed by doing radio and television interviews (for the Gallery programme).

29 May 1972


New Zealand's first Gay [Pride] Week takes place in Auckland. The week begins with a Guerrilla Theatre performance on University of Auckland's campus. The term 'guerrilla theatre' was coined in the US in the mid-1960s to describe surprise performances highlighting social/political issues through the use of protest and carnivalesque techniques. Activist Ngahui Te Awekotuku wrote in the student magazine Craccum how the performance "met with grand success - despite a noisy quasi regal entourage descending upon a ritualistic karate demonstration in the quad." The week also saw Gay Liberation Front supporters protest with placards "I support G.L.F. – Ask me WHY." Te Awekotuku noted some of the responses: "How interesting - my hairdresser's one you know", "Oooh! Dirty pervert!" and "A good root will put you right, love!" There was also a Gay Liberation teach-in and "the greatest highlight - a very Gay dance and lush up." Te Awekotuku ended her review of the week with a challenge, "And now - what?"

29 Aug 1972


New Zealand's first national Gay Liberation conference is held in Auckland. Activist anger had been growing over the previous decade: in 1967 there had been public meetings followed by a petition calling for homosexual law reform, in 1969 the Stonewall riots in New York City had resonated with many, and in March 1972, after being refused entry into the United States for "sexual deviance", activist Ngahuia Te Awekotuku passionately called for gay liberation. Groups quickly spring up around the country. The Auckland Gay Liberation Front wrote in the student newspaper Craccum, "Liberation for gay people is defining for ourselves how and with whom we live, instead of measuring our relationships against heterosexual 'norms.' We must be free to live our own lives in our own way."

1 Nov 1972


Gay Lib News - the newsletter of the Gay Liberation Front notes that Gay Liberation is far more than just fighting for homosexual law reform - it is about sexual self-determination, "G.L.F. was formed to fight for liberation so that people are not only permitted to explore their sexual identities but are actually expected to."

20 May 1973


Editor and poet Charles Brasch dies in Dunedin. In 1947 he founded and became editor of New Zealand's foremost literary journal Landfall. During his life he kept detailed personal diaries. In 2009 writer Margaret Scott was interviewed about transcribing the diaries, and her relationship with Brasch: "I was 19 when I met Charles... He hadn't a hope of being a happy man. He was just too sensitive... He turned out to be homosexual and he couldn't face that." She recounted in her 2001 memoir, "Charles and I slept together off and on for some years. He thought if he found the right woman then he could settle down and have a family." Seemingly conflicted for a lot of his life, he wrote just four years before his death, "Only men so draw me that I want to be part of them, to lose myself in them, to become them."

1 Feb 1974


The Gay Liberator newsletter publishes a hard-hitting editorial by Ben van Prehn. The column reflected a growing frustration that, two years after the formation of the first Gay Liberation groups in New Zealand, it was increasingly difficult to get people involved. "You must realise it takes sacrifices trying to get the changes we want. You must accept and shoulder some of the responsibilities of being gay... All of you people reading this newsletter must realise there is a lot at stake - our whole gay future, and our younger brothers and sisters future is at stake… Stop thinking in terms of what is beneficial for you... If you are convinced you are quite liberated fair enough, but wouldn’t you think it is your responsibility, your duty, to help others liberate themselves?"

2-3 Mar 1974


SHE Wellington holds New Zealand's first national lesbian conference. SHE (Sisters for Homophile Equality) was established in Christchurch in 1973 with a manifesto that reflected both women's liberation and gay politics. Writing in Women Together: a History of Women’s Organisations in New Zealand, activist Linda Evans said, "For some, informal meetings and relaxed socialising were sufficient; others felt 'a growing awareness of and anger at the constant prejudice we face'." Within two months, SHE had around 200 members in Christchurch and Wellington. As reported in the Dominion and Evening Post newspapers, the first national conference was attended by approximately 40 people who resolved that homosexual couples should be able to adopt children and that lesbian couples should be accorded the same legal status as de facto marriages in relation to social recognition, inheritance rights and tax benefits. Another outcome of the conference was the formation of a SHE group in Palmerston North.

9 Jul 1974


Media report that Labour Prime Minister Norman Kirk will oppose any legislation that treated homosexuality as a normal behaviour. His comments preceded the introduction, by National MP Venn Young, of legislation to decriminalise homosexual activity. This was the first major parliamentary attempt at homosexual law reform in New Zealand. Although it was voted down the next year (34 - 29 with 23 abstentions), the issues and activists weren't going away.

9 Jul 1974


Soon-to-be politician Marilyn Waring signs up as a member of the Young Nationals. The action was in response to reading the front page of that morning's newspaper which reported Labour Prime Minister Norman Kirk as saying that he would oppose any legislation that treated homosexuality as a "normal behaviour." Kirk's comment followed the news that National Party MP Venn Young was planning to introduce a bill to decriminalise homosexuality activity. Young's bill was the first political attempt at homosexual law reform in New Zealand. However it wouldn't be until 9 July 1986 that law reform would be achieved - this time championed by Labour MP Fran Wilde.

24 Jul 1974


National MP Venn Young introduces the Crimes Amendment Bill 1974 (New Zealand). The Bill is the first parliamentary attempt at homosexual law reform in New Zealand. The age of consent is set at 21.

21 May 1975


Parliament votes to have the Privileges Committee investigate Carmen Rupe's claim in a television interview that she knew of Members of Parliament who were bisexual and at least one who was gay (homosexual activity was still illegal at the time). After the interview was broadcast, the Leader of the Opposition Robert Muldoon called for the matter to be referred to the powerful Privileges Committee. Carmen remembers: "At 9.30am sharp I had a black, chauffeur-driven limousine pick me up from Carmen's International Coffee lounge and convey me to Parliament... I've always thought that black made a woman of my complexion and stature look so dignified. If I say it myself, my overall appearance that day was stunning." The Committee found that, "this baseless and unsavoury incident... tended to lessen the esteem in which Parliament is held." Carmen unreservedly apologised for the statements and told the Committee that she regretted making them.

Oct 1975


Activist and educator Robin Duff stands in the General Election as New Zealand's first openly gay parliamentary candidate. It was a courageous move because at the time homosexual activity was still illegal. But Duff was no stranger to leading from the front. He helped establish the University of Canterbury Gay Activists Society and Gay Liberation Christchurch in 1972 and, according to fellow teacher Jude Rankin, was the first openly gay secondary school teacher in New Zealand, "he was quite out and proud and basically unstoppable really." Duff didn't get elected but continued to advocate for rainbow teachers and students through his work with the Post Primary Teachers' Association up until his death in 2015.

1 Sep 1976


Writing in Salient magazine in September 1976, activist Alan Seymour stated, "We will not just go away, back into our closets to lead an oppressed existence. We refuse to put up with the humiliation of the pallid tokens of liberal tolerance any longer. We demand acceptance, to be allowed to live our lives the way we choose, to be allowed to fulfil ourselves as human beings."

23 Oct 1976


The fifth National Gay Liberation Conference is held in Wellington. The first conference occurred in 1972 following the formation of Gay Liberation Front groups in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington. The 1976 conference was promoted with the message: repeal all anti-homosexual laws, ban discrimination against gays! Writer Tim Birks commented at the time "the political climate has never been better for a strong gay movement in New Zealand." One of the most significant aspects of the conference was that it set the scene for the formation of the National Gay Rights Coalition the following year. By 1979 the coalition had 32 member groups and over 70,000 affiliated members.

4 Nov 1976


After being baited in parliament by Labour MP Colin Moyle, Prime Minister Robert Muldoon retaliated by accusing Moyle of being picked up by the police for homosexual activity (which was still illegal at the time). Members on both sides of the House were shocked and Moyle later resigned over the incident. But Muldoon was a complex character. While he viciously used homosexuality as a political weapon against Moyle, he had also spoken two years earlier in support of homosexual law reform, saying that even though he felt it was "abnormal" it should not be treated as a criminal offence. He would later vote against law reform in the mid-1980s. Muldoon died in 1992, and at least one rainbow community member has admitted to dancing on his grave.

1 Jan 1977


The first Vinegar Hill camp took place over the New Year period in Manawatu. Beginning with only six campers the event has grown into an annual rainbow camping experience open to all. The first Queen of Vinegar Hill - Wellamiena (Bill) Armstrong - was crowned in 1985. Initially drag names were used and the contest was comedic. But the honour soon expanded into acknowledging people who had provided service to the camp. By the late 2000s, Fashion in the Field, Pick a Purse and other competitions were run leading up to the main festivities on New Year’s Eve when drag shows were held and awards presented to recognise the most camp campsites. Awards included best lighting, best decorations and best use of technology.

8-9 Jan 1977


The first meeting of the National Gay Rights Coalition of New Zealand is held in Wellington on the 8th and 9th January. The diversity of activist and social rainbow groups had been growing since the early 1970s. The coalition offered these groups and individuals an opportunity to speak and organise with a collective voice while at the same time keeping their autonomy. Writing in the Wellington Gay Liberation newsletter before the meeting, activist and member of the Steering Committee, Judith Emms wrote, "This is probably the most important progressive step for gays in New Zealand since the formation of the first Gay Liberation group back in 1972." The coalition had three aims, including "to liberate Gays by promoting a social environment free from repressive laws, discrimination, sexism, sexual stereotyping and social attitudes causing fear, guilt, shame and loneliness." Within two years the Coalition had 32 member groups and an affiliated membership of 70,000+ supporters.

1 Aug 1977


The Manawatu Gay Rights Association (MaGRA) was formed in Palmerston North. The Association was later renamed the Manawatu Lesbian and Gay Rights Association (MaLGRA) and is New Zealand's longest running LGBTI rainbow rights and social organisation.

24 Jun 1978


The second nationally co-ordinated Gay Pride Week takes place around the country. Events are held in Auckland, Whangarei, Hawke’s Bay, Whanganui, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. As part of the week a National Blue Jeans Day is held where "everyone wearing Blue Jeans supports Gay Rights." The event draws national media attention. OUT! Magazine reports afterwards that in Wellington, "those handing out leaflets at the Railway Station noticed far fewer people wearing blue jeans than normal and those who were seemed to realise the implications." People are also asked to wear the Pink Triangle as a badge of Gay Pride. As noted in a Gay Liberation Wellington newsletter, "The Pink Triangle makes no statement about the wearer’s sexual orientation." Instead, it highlights those "written out of history" - the hundreds-of-thousands of gay men persecuted by Nazi Germany.

14 Sep 1978


The LGBT Bay Area Reporter newspaper in San Francisco reported that the Broadcasting Corporation of New Zealand had banned the airing of Tom Robinson's political song Glad to be Gay by its radio stations. The song, written for a London Pride parade in 1976, contained strong commentary on the oppression of homosexuals in the United Kingdom. A BCNZ official insisted that the radio ban was not an attempt to discriminate against homosexuals, citing the broadcaster's earlier attempts to expand "understanding of the views of Gay people." Wellington Gay Liberation disagreed, labelling the action as "blatant and unjustifiable discrimination." The song was however heard in Auckland, broadcast on the independent Radio Hauraki.

25 Nov 1978


Robin Duff and Sandy Gauntlett stand in the General Election. They are both openly rainbow candidates for the Values Party.

25 Jun 1979


Media report that a newly enacted Defence Council regulation simply formalised a long held policy in the New Zealand Defence Force to discharge practising homosexuals. The Secretary of Defence, Mr D.B. McLean said that homosexuality was something that "the services considered detrimental to good order and discipline." The persecution of individuals was highlighted in a case from 1985 where a serviceman was outed to his parents by the Defence Force sending them a letter saying that their son had been discharged because he was "a practising homosexual." It wasn't until after the passing of the Human Rights Act 1993 that the NZDF allowed openly homosexual people to join and serve.

1 Feb 1980


Police raid the Westside sauna in Auckland. They questioned the men at the sex-on-site venue and arrested some. The raid prompted large protest marches. One demonstrator outside the High Court in Auckland carried a sign that read "A cop in a gay sauna is a screw!" In 2017 the NZ Police Association's magazine Police News carried a letter from [name withheld] which talked about historic actions by the police that harmed the gay community, and that were "not purely in the spirit of enforcing the law [...] These are the types of things I would like to see the [Police] Commissioner make a comment or apology for."

20 Jun 1980


MP Warren Freer tells Parliament that he would no longer proceed with a private member's Bill that would have decriminalised homosexual activity between consenting adults. This was the second time Freer had suggested homosexual law reform. While both attempts drew support from some groups, there was also opposition. The Gay Rights Coalition felt strongly that the age of consent should be set at 16 (the same age of consent for heterosexual acts) rather than the proposed 18 or 20. Activist Judith Emms told media "Any bill which is not an equality bill simply reaffirms the idea that homosexuals are unequal." It would be another six years before homosexual law reform occurred - this time with an age of consent set at 16.

1 Aug 1980


The Labour Party nominates Ian Scott as its candidate for Eden (Auckland). Out magazine reports in its August issue that "this is the first time an openly avowed homosexual has been selected by a major political party as its candidate for a a national election, anywhere in the Western world."

5 Apr 1981


The inaugural broadcast takes place from New Zealand's first permanent community radio station - Wellington Access Radio. Communities now had the ability to create radio by themselves, for themselves and about themselves without the interference of an external editor. The first broadcast featured the feminist programme Leave Your Dishes In The Sink which was insightful, provocative and comedic: "Mommy what's an orgasm? I don't know dear, ask your father." It was followed in June with audio from the local Pride Week. An unidentified man told listeners "A lot of straight people, particularly men, have this paranoia that they think it’s actually possible to be converted [to being homosexual] ... There's no way a person's sexuality can be changed."

5 Jun 1981


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a report highlighting five young, previously healthy gay men in the United States who had developed pneumocystis pneumonia - later linked to what we now know as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). James Curran, formerly of the CDC, recalls "patients were having severe shortness of breath and pneumonia, weight loss, diarrheal disease [and] Kaposi's sarcoma." Even though the report came out in 1981, AIDS and the HIV virus had been quietly active in communities - not just gay communities - for decades earlier. In New Zealand, the first death from AIDS-related complications was in 1984. The next year blood testing for HIV was introduced. Nowadays, with significant advances in medical care, HIV is no longer a death sentence and now people who are diagnosed and tested early can have a normal life expectancy.

28 Jun 1981


Possibly the first community-initiated gay radio broadcast occurs in New Zealand. The show was produced as part of Gay Pride Week and aired on the newly established Wellington Access Radio. There are earlier examples of rainbow voices on mainstream radio, for example "Gary" talked to host Ian Fraser on the National Programme in 1970 about having to leave his teaching job because he was gay. And in June 1979, Radio New Zealand's 2ZN station interviewed members of the Nelson Gay Welfare Group.

10 Jul 1981


Wellington Mayor Michael Fowler is picketed by members of the Solidarity group during a visit to San Francisco. The picketers chanted "Fowler go home" and held signs saying "No sister city, no deals with homophobes." At the time, Fowler was trying to establish a sister-city relationship with San Francisco that would have increased trade and business opportunities. However word had come from New Zealand that the Mayor had earlier backed a Wellington City Council ban on the Lesbian Centre advertising on local buses. When asked why the council's transport committee had banned the adverts, Fowler said that it was "to not encourage deviations from the norm."

2 May 1983


The first AIDS Candlelight Memorials takes place in San Francisco and New York. Within a few years the annual observances were taking place around the world. In 1987 Dr. Bill Paul told memorial-goers in San Francisco that events were happening "in four cities in New Zealand and in major cities all over the world." In Wellington the memorial grew in scale, peaking in May 1993 with the Beacons of Hope commemoration. The night-time memorial at Frank Kitts Park, featured the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and members of the New Zealand Youth Choir. It began with people carrying flaming torches representing those that had passed away.

24 Nov 1983


A conference in Dunedin of Australasian physicians is told that AIDS was coming to the Pacific. In May the media had reported the first cases in Australia, but no cases had yet been reported in New Zealand. A couple of years later in 1986, three-year-old Eve van Grafhorst moved with her family to Hastings from Australia due to ongoing discrimination around HIV/AIDS. Van Grafhorst had been born prematurely and had required eleven blood transfusions – one of which had contained HIV. Her story was widely reported throughout the world and on her 10th birthday she received a letter from Diana, Princess of Wales. Van Grafhorst died from AIDS-related complications on 20 November 1993.

9 Mar 1984


TV One screens an interview with Denny, a 29-year-old who would shortly become the first person in New Zealand to die from AIDS-related complications. He had been brought home from a hospital in Sydney to New Plymouth to be cared for by his sister Pat. She was interviewed after his death and talked about the stigma surrounding AIDS: "We had him buried before the papers were told about it [...] His full name wasn't even put in the paper." In contrast to the small number of deaths in New Zealand by the end of 1984, the United States had already experienced over five thousand deaths from AIDS-related complications.

11 Mar 1984


The first appearance of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in New Zealand takes place during Gay Pride Week in Wellington. The Sisters told Pink Triangle magazine that although they had international links, the local order would be known as the Sisters of Sodomy. Sister Trev told the magazine that dressing as a nun was "a parody of the Catholic Church which is a major institution of oppression of lesbian and gay men." Sister Angel Thighs said "What we are talking about is genderfuck. We are getting back to androgyny, the blurring of the margins between masculine and feminine." The Sisters were originally formed in Iowa, USA in 1979 but soon blossomed into an international order. In 1981, Sydney's house was established. Its website notes, "Our common aim is to make the world a better place in which to live - one possessed of equality, respect, patience and tolerance. Sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures, and so The Sisters' actions are quite overt and confronting."



"I've been in the army, I've been prison, I've stood for the Mayor of Wellington and I have no regrets. What I like about myself is that I have always been honest." - Carmen Rupe [exact date unknown]

12-21 Jan 1985


A ten-day Womyn's Summer Camp is held at Waipara in north Canterbury (12-21 January). The lesbian summer camps had earlier taken place between 1976-1978, before returning in 1985 and running until 1991. The camp in 1985 attracted around 130 women and children from around the country. It was open to both lesbians and "lesbian-oriented" women. The camps offered a wide range of activities - from concerts to workshops, sports to simply relaxing and having fun. Torfrida Wainwright, writing in Women together: a history of women's organisations in New Zealand, said "these camps represented more than a network of friends going on holiday together; they were a deliberate attempt by lesbians to intensify their experience of lesbian community and create an alternative to the heterosexual world." Another camper reflected "At camp we created our own reality."

8 Mar 1985


Labour MP Fran Wilde introduces the Homosexual Law Reform Bill in Parliament. The private members' bill sets out to decriminalise consensual sexual activity between males over the age of 16 and make it illegal to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation. Within a week, a group of MPs including Graeme Lee, Norman Jones, and Geoff Braybrooke promote an anti-reform petition. Braybrooke said that this would be the "thin edge of the wedge... It could well lead to gay bars, gay massage parlours, gay churches, gay marriages... and gay people adopting children." Norman Jones was more rabid. Speaking at a public meeting he tells both anti-reformers and a smaller group of pro-reformers "We do not want homosexuality legalised. We do not want our children to be contaminated by this. Turn around and look at them... gaze upon them, you're looking into hades. Don't look too long or you might catch AIDS."

1 Jun 1985


AIDS activist and educator Bruce Burnett dies aged 30. Originally from Auckland, Burnett had been living in Europe before moving to California in 1982 (just a year after AIDS was first identified). He became a volunteer for the Shanti Project, a community based organisation that provided emotional and practical support to people living with life-threatening illnesses. Feeling unwell himself, he returned to New Zealand in late 1983 where he launched himself into AIDS prevention and support work. Burnett undertook a one-man tour of the country, a "road show" attempting to educate at-risk communities about AIDS. He was also instrumental in establishing the national AIDS Support Network - a community led initiative that would later become the New Zealand AIDS Foundation. In memory of Burnett's tireless work, the first HIV/AIDS clinic in New Zealand was named after him, opening in Auckland in July 1986.

6 Aug 1985


Television news reports that for the first time, blood test kits were available in New Zealand to test for HIV. A $500,000 government funded AIDS awareness campaign was also launched in the same week. The announcements came during the heated debate over homosexual law reform, with both pro and anti-reformers using AIDS as a key argument. Pro-reformers maintained that decriminalisation of homosexual activity would allow for better health care and education, while anti-reformers claimed that it would simply legalise the spread of AIDS. According to anti-reformer MP Norman Jones, it would be better for people with AIDS to die "sooner rather than later" to help prevent law reform.

24 Sep 1985


A large anti-homosexual law reform petition is presented to politicians on the steps of Parliament. The Salvation Army had agreed to co-ordinate the petition, with Colonel Campbell telling Salvationists that the moral decay of civilisation was proceeding unchecked and that it was in many ways a greater threat than that of nuclear destruction. The petitioners claim that there were over 800,000 signatures (almost 1 in 4 New Zealanders). However it was later found that the petition contained multiple signatures in the same hand and other forgeries. Critics of the petition likened the presentation to a Nazi Nuremberg Rally, with a platoon of young uniformed people carrying flags and wearing sashes that read "For God, For Country, For Family."

25 Mar 1986


Parliament continues to debate whether the age of consent for male homosexual acts should be set at sixteen - the same age as for heterosexual activity. MP John Banks asserts passionately in Parliament that "legalising sodomy is the thin edge of the wedge and it's going to destabilise the family unit, destroy this nation and democracy... This Bill is evil and while Rome burns we are back here in the House tonight trying to decide whether boys should be able to sodomise each other." Equality is a primary argument put forward by pro law reformers. Earlier in March 1986, members of Wellington's Gay Task Force organise an event under the banner "A fair for a fair law." The fair, which still occurs annually (but under a different name), has become one of New Zealand's longest running rainbow events.

9 Jul 1986


Part 1 of the Homosexual Law Reform Act narrowly passes in Parliament, 49 votes to 44. Part 2 of the Bill dealing with anti-discrimination measures is lost, and it isn't until 1993 that it becomes illegal to discriminate against homosexuals in the areas of accommodation, employment and services.

9 Jul 1986


Part One of the Homosexual Law Reform Bill narrowly passes in Parliament, 49 votes to 44. Part One decriminalised homosexual activity between consenting people aged sixteen years and older. Part Two of the Bill dealing with anti-discrimination measures was lost on 16 April 1986.

11 Jul 1986


The Burnett Centre is opened by Health Minister Dr Michael Bassett in Auckland. The Centre was the first HIV/AIDS clinic in New Zealand and was named after Bruce Burnett, an early AIDS educator and activist who among other notable achievements co-founded the AIDS Support Network (later to become the New Zealand AIDS Foundation).

21 Aug 1986


The LGBT Bay Area Reporter newspaper in San Francisco publishes a profile interview with Terry and Marge. Both were born in the 1920s and had immigrated to the US as war brides - Terry from Germany and Marge from Auckland, New Zealand. At the time of the interview, they had been living together for 3 years in a straight "sister-like relationship." Asked about her opinion of gay people in earlier times, Marge replied "I looked upon them as fairies. I thought they were crazy." But now both women happily volunteered together in local Freedom Day [Pride] Parades. Remembering her first parade, Marge recalled "When we turned the corner... I took my deep breath and was thrilled to death - and danced all the way up Market Street."

11 Sep 1986


Just two months after the passing of the Homosexual Law Reform Act, the community-run Lesbian and Gay Rights Resource Centre in Wellington is torched. The centre had been collecting archives of rainbow groups and providing resources since the late 1970s. On that night, a local resident had noticed two "very straight" looking young men inside the building. The intruders defecated in the resource centre, twinked "FAG" on the floorboards and set half-a-dozen fires. Trustees Chris Parkin and Phil Parkinson reflected "The [centre] provided a focus for and an expression of the identity of gay and lesbian communities, locally and nationally, and so the fire evidenced a destructive desire to violate that identity itself." The arsonists were never caught but the attack prompted a lasting partnership with the Alexander Turnbull Library who now securely house the archives while ownership is held by rainbow communities through the LAGANZ charitable trust.

6 Nov 1987


Peter Wells' acclaimed film A Death in the Family screens for a week at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. It had earlier screened on primetime television in this country. The film depicted the last sixteen days of the lead character Andrew Boyd who had AIDS. Film reviewer Steve Warren noted in the Bay Area Reporter that although for many in San Francisco the "emphasis has shifted from preparing for death to prolonging and enhancing life" the film still "makes an impact you'll feel many hours later." The film carried the dedication "To all who stay and lend a hand in times of fear and panic." Wells himself died earlier this year. In an obituary, author David Herkt said that Wells "reshaped the way New Zealanders saw sexuality. From a country with an unconsidered heterosexuality as a social norm, Wells exposed the true variety of our desires."

17 Dec 1987


New Zealand became the first country in the world to provide a national state-sponsored needle exchange programme. The programme gave people who injected drugs access to equipment and education that supported safe injecting practices. The initiative, much like the early safer sex programmes in rainbow communities, was a peer-led community response to HIV/AIDS. It was based on personal empowerment and harm reduction. Canterbury University Associate Professor Rosemary Du Plessis recalls "The AIDS Foundation was an incredibly good model for how community networks could work with government to achieve a goal, such as minimising the spread of HIV." Now, over thirty years later, the needle exchange programme consists of 20 outlets and 180 pharmacies and alternative outlets.

4 Aug 1988


Photographer Brian Brake dies. Brake is still one of New Zealand's most acclaimed photojournalists. He worked extensively in over forty countries for the international photographic cooperative Magnum Photos, and is probably best known for his Monsoon series and for his coverage of China in the 1950s. During his career he was careful to retain his film negatives and transparencies. The majority of his collection - around 118,000 images - is now cared for by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Mar 1990


Singer and rugby administrator Lew Pryme and his long-time partner Jeff Fowler both die from AIDS-related complications. In 1964 Pryme gained national attention with his first single Pride and Joy. Writer Graham Reid described him as "every inch a teen heartthrob." But Pryme was also a semi-closeted "gay man in a ruthless heterosexual culture." Following his music career he led the powerful Auckland Rugby Union. In the late 1980s both he and his partner were diagnosed with AIDS. Fowler died on 16 April 1990, followed a week later by Pryme. Writing in the Sunday Star Times much later, broadcaster and friend Phil Gifford recalled "A sizeable section of the Auckland [rugby] team, all of whom had benefited from Lew's administrative innovations, made a conscious decision to stay away from his funeral. One player's wife was concerned the public would think the players were gay if they turned up."

Aug 1990


Pink Triangle magazine ends publication after eleven years. It started out as the newspaper of the National Gay Rights Coalition and turned into a national magazine produced by the Pink Triangle Publishing Collective. In a time before smart phones and social media the publication was an important source of news, opinion and coverage of community events. It spanned the period of homosexual law reform and the emergence of AIDS in New Zealand.

5 Oct 1991


The first public unfolding ceremony of the New Zealand AIDS Memorial Quilt takes place at the Auckland City Art Gallery in the presence of the Governor General, Dame Catherine Tizard. The quilt was based on the international NAMES Project founded in San Francisco. The New Zealand quilt was established by the People With AIDS Collective. It began on 1 December 1988 with the presentation of a quilt panel for Peter Cuthbert who had died in October. The majority of the quilt is now cared for by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. At the ceremony in Auckland, thirty-two New Zealand quilt panels were displayed alongside panels brought from Australia.

7 Jan 1992


Internationally celebrated playwright Robert Lord dies. Lord was born in Rotorua in 1945 and studied Arts at Victoria University of Wellington. In 1973 he co-founded Playmarket to encourage the professional production of New Zealand plays. He moved to New York a year later, and was based there for much of the 1980s. Shane Bosher, writing in Playmarket Annual, highlighted that most of Lord's work was written prior to homosexual law reform in New Zealand, "his articulation of gay experience shows extraordinary courage and defiance." In 1987 Lord returned to New Zealand to take up the Robert Burns Fellowship at the University of Otago. He purchased a cottage which, after his death, was transformed into a rent-free writer's residence. Since 2003, Lord's home has hosted a wide range of playwrights, biographers and novelists including Renée and Kip Chapman. Lord dies in January 1992, just weeks before the premiere of one of his best-known plays Joyful and Triumphant.

May 1992


The first issue of the underground newsletter Bog Spy was produced in Auckland. It rated and profiled public toilets and parodied police activities. According to academic Welby Ings the concept of reviewing bogs in New Zealand wasn't new but "traditionally messages naming 'active' bogs were written on toilet walls." The newsletter was left in public toilets and gay venues. However the publication only lasted a couple of months after it received negative media attention. In a 2010 PrideNZ.com interview, a community member highlighted how active the bogs were in the 1970s because "there weren't many other places to go." This in turn led to attention from the police. They made use of entrapment, usually sending in "hunky men" to obtain a prosecution. But often "they just didn't know how to behave ... you know, they'd play a little bit but they wouldn’t get a hard on."

Sep 1992


Nicki Eddy, convenor of the New Zealand AIDS Memorial Quilt, travels with three quilt blocks (each around 3.5 metres wide) to Washington D.C. in the United States for the first ever International AIDS Memorial Quilt display. The quilt spanned a massive 15 acres. Eddy later recalled that it was “soul-wrenching” to see so many new panels being presented during the event. Over three days all of the names of those represented were read over a loud speaker – including all of those on the New Zealand quilt. The quilt’s newsletter reported that on the final night of the display, an estimated 200,000 people took part in a candlelight memorial march “creating a flowing sea of candlelight that expressed a sense of hope and unity in confronting the enormity of the AIDS pandemic."

5 Nov 1992


The first Freedom dance party is held in Christchurch. It was organised by the New Zealand AIDS Foundation and raised $8,000 for HIV/AIDS awareness. A year earlier NZAF had organised the Devotion dance party in Wellington and HERO party in Auckland. The name HERO was chosen because, as organiser Rex Halliday remembers "we're facing this incredibly disgusting [HIV] epidemic and we're doing it with great heroism... And by acknowledging our heroism we can start to acknowledge our own self esteem." Poignantly, during Wellington's Devotion party in November 1993 , well-known performer and hairdresser Arthur Tauhore passed away at his home from AIDS-related complications. Anne Hogan later wrote "As usual, his timing was impeccable. It was the night of the gay dance party Devotion. His funeral was held on December 1st - World AIDS Day." Andre, another friend wrote "with a laugh as wicked and wild as the stories you told. Never be afraid to be yourself."



"I seek to be judged for who I am, for my work and for my successes and my failures, not on the basis of prejudice." - an unnamed gay man writing to MP Katherine O'Regan in the early 1990s [exact date unknown]

28 Jul 1993


The Act outlaws discrimination on the grounds of disability, sexual orientation, and having organisms in the body that might cause disease (for example HIV). In 2012 the champion of the legislation, former MP Katherine O'Regan, apologised for not including transgender people in the anti-discrimination measures.

20 Nov 1993


Eve van Grafhorst dies in Hastings from AIDS-related complications. Originally from Australia, van Grafhorst had been born prematurely and had needed numerous life-saving blood transfusions - one of which contained HIV. Her mother recalled how people in their hometown of Kincumber would cross the road to avoid Eve and how neighbours built high fences around their properties to protect themselves. In stark contrast, the family was received warmly when they moved to Hastings, New Zealand. Van Grafhorst's life journey was reported widely in the media and over 600 people attended her funeral. The Dominion newspaper reported "her small white casket lay covered in flowers, candles and one simple smiling photograph of the child whose short life became a symbol to New Zealanders of the fight against AIDS."

24 Nov 1993


Chef and entertainer David Halls is found dead in his apartment. Halls along with life-partner Peter Hudson were the on-screen cooking duo Hudson and Halls. Their camp humour and same-sex couple partnership aired regularly on television during the decade prior to homosexual law reform. Not altogether openly gay, they told the New Zealand Listener magazine in 1977 "Are we gay? Well, we're certainly merry." After Hudson's death from cancer in 1992, Halls changed his name by deed poll to David Hudson-Halls. A year later he took his own life. In 2015 the couple were celebrated in the multi-award winning theatre production Hudson and Halls Live! starring Todd Emerson and Chris Parker.

Nov 1993


Man to Man, the fore-runner to Express Magazine, published a profile piece on Chris Carter - New Zealand's first openly gay Member of Parliament who had just been elected. Carter would go on to serve five parliamentary terms. In 2007 Carter also became the first MP and Cabinet Minister to have a civil union. That same year he met a young Maori woman in Australia who told him that as a teenager she had contemplated suicide because of her sexuality. In his final speech in Parliament in 2011, Carter reflected on that meeting "I had come to her school prize-giving, and my presence, she said, convinced her that being gay was not a barrier to personal success. She told me tearfully that I had saved her life. That story alone made it all worthwhile."

24 Apr 1995


Jim Curtis is attacked by Tai Tahi Marsters after they met on a public gay beat in Napier. Marsters was charged with both attempted murder and assault. At his trial he successfully used the provocation/gay panic defence, claiming Curtis had made a homosexual advance. Curtis was left with brain damage and could not attend the trial. The jury acquitted Marsters on both charges. In 2006 law academic Elisabeth McDonald wrote in general about the gay panic defence "The operation of the defence reinforces the vulnerability of gay men as 'dangerous outlaws'. When men who kill in response to homosexual advances are not convicted of murder, 'courts and juries [further] reinforce the notion... that gay men do not deserve the respect and protection of the criminal justice system.'"

Sep 1995


The internet newsgroup nz.soc.queer is established on Usenet. The newsgroup allowed for public posts, threaded conversations and the sharing of files. A few weeks earlier, Queer News Aotearoa, one of the earliest LGBTI rainbow websites originating in New Zealand was launched (the first website in the world launched in 1991). The QNA website, run by Mark Proffitt, provided an online resource focusing on national and international news of interest to rainbow communities.

11 Oct 1995


The National Library of New Zealand hosts an event to celebrate National Coming Out Day. The day was initiated in the United States in 1988 as a way to support "coming out" and raise awareness of the rainbow community. However the Day has also been criticised. In 2013, writer Preston Mitchum wrote in The Atlantic, "It's vital to appreciate the ways in which race, class, gender, disability, age, and lack of support can complicate the popular narrative of what it means to come out... Focusing so intensely on coming out places the burden on the individual to brave society rather than on society to secure the safety of the individual. In the name of 'visibility', the victims of repeated discrimination are forced to ensure they are seen."

21 Oct 1995


Georgina Beyer is elected Mayor of Carterton District. Beyer becomes the world's first openly transgender mayor.

3 Jan 1996


Same-sex couple Jools Joslin and Jenny Rowan held a wedding ceremony despite being earlier refused a marriage licence. The Acting Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages had told them "Although the Marriage Act 1955 does not state that a female may not marry another female, such a marriage is not permissible under Common Law." Later in 1996 the pair joined with two other lesbian couples to fight for marriage equality in the High Court and then in the Court of Appeal. Though their case was lost twice, one of the judges, Justice Thomas, noted "In a real sense, gays and lesbians are effectively excluded from full membership of society." It took another 17 years before same-sex marriage became legal in New Zealand.

19 Jan 1996


Lorae Parry's play Eugenia premieres at Taki Rua theatre in Wellington. The work was inspired in part by the life of Eugene Falleni. The Falleni family immigrated to New Zealand in the 1870s. Falleni was the eldest of 22 children. While still in his teens he was charged with impersonating a man. A couple of years later he ran away to sea, was raped multiple times by the ship's captain and had a baby in Sydney in 1898. Staying in Australia he married twice. In 1920 Falleni was convicted of murdering one of his wives - Annie Birkett. At the time of writing the play, Lorae Parry noted that the work had been inspired by people who had "crossed the lines of gender and who have lived and loved as men [...] it was a way of entering, undercover, a world of privilege, and yet the price of discovery was extremely high."

27 Jan 1996


Spectrum, one of New Zealand's earliest rainbow websites, is launched (the world's first internet site appeared in 1991). The Spectrum site was established by the social and support group of the same name in greater Nelson. It consisted of just 14 files and featured event notices, newsletters and support information. In its first year of operation, it was accessed from approximately 50 countries, and even Antarctica. Being out in Nelson in the mid-1990s was still a challenge for some. A report by the group noted that "despite every reassurance and encouragement, some still find the prospect of coming along [to our drop-in centre] far too daunting and regard this as a sort of coming out." The Spectrum website, and more broadly the Internet, offered people a new and powerful way of seeking support and community.

Jan 1996


GAP, the Gay Association of Professionals is formed in Wellington. An early adopter of the internet, their website in 1996 stated "We want to create an environment where thinking, feeling, men and women can share their thoughts, energy and desire for professional companionship with like-minded individuals. GAP is not about promoting fashionable, radical, extremism. Nor do we encourage continued apathy of free thinkers. We are not dominated by a crippling sense of oppression, nor are we 'queer' - we are proud professional men and women." GAP became Rainbow Wellington in the late 2000s.

5 Feb 1996


The first broadcast of the weekly Express Report occurs. The programme began as a broadcast segment on regional television hosted by Andrew Whiteside and Nettie Kinmont, with a weekly gossip segment by David Hartnell. It soon became a stand-alone half-hour show on TVNZ called Queer Nation. The show (the first of its kind in New Zealand) featured rainbow news, events and profiles from around the country. Writing for the NZ On Screen website, Annie Murray noted "In the years before the internet became widespread, Queer Nation was widely believed to provide a lifeline to LGBT viewers in smaller rural towns where they had little or no other support." Despite this, it was relegated by TVNZ - like other "special interest" programmes - to an off-peak viewing time (a weekday at 11pm). Queer Nation went on to become the world’s longest-running free-to-air factual television series for rainbow communities.

5 Mar 1996


The Census takes place, and for the first time ever, the number of adult same-sex couples living together can be determined. Instead of a specific question, a person's individual information was cross-referenced with who they were living with. The Census showed that 6,500 adults were recorded as living with a partner of the same-sex. This equated to 0.4 per cent of all adult couples. However it is likely that the actual number was higher as people may have been reluctant to self-identify their same-sex relationship (it was only 10-years since the heated homosexual law reform debate, and just 2-years since anti-discrimination legislation had come into force). By 2006, just over 12,300 adults said they lived with a partner of the same-sex, 0.7 per cent of all adults living as a couple.

26 Oct 1996


The first public demonstration by intersex people in the United States and the birth of the international Intersex Awareness Day occurs on 26 October 1996. In 2016, to coincide with the anniversary, the United Nations launched its first ever intersex awareness campaign. It called on governments to ban medically unnecessary surgery and procedures, provide health care personnel with training and ban discrimination on the basis of innate variations of sex characteristics, intersex traits or status. That same year, New Zealand officials were questioned at the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in regards to the rights and care of intersex children. This resulted in the committee issuing four landmark recommendations to the Government. Human Rights Commissioner Richard Tankersley said "protection of the rights of intersex children in New Zealand is long overdue." Recently activist Mani Mitchell told Express "It should be the right of every human being on Earth, to be themselves, whatever that is."

12 Feb 1997


The land mark anthology Best Mates: Gay Writing in Aotearoa New Zealand, edited by Peter Wells and Rex Pilgram was launched in Auckland. Along with a diverse range of writers, the book featured three near-blank pages with the names of authors whose works could not be included: Charles Brasch, E.H. McCormick and James Courage. Author Steve Braunias later wrote that Courage was "cancelled by his own family… Wells and Pilgrim were refused permission by Patricia Fanshaw, Courage's sister and literary executor. She told the editors that her brother had not publicly identified himself as gay." This fear-of-association didn't stop at literary executors. Peter Wells recalled "Auckland Museum refused to give us permission to use a beautiful archival photo of two men affectionately kissing on a boat." Regardless, they went ahead and published the image on the front cover.

7 May 1997


Minister of Health Hon. Annette King launches the Intersex Society of New Zealand. Soon after its launch it changed its structure and became a charitable trust. The trust was founded by Mani Bruce Mitchell. In 1996 they became the first person in New Zealand to come out publicly as intersex. Mitchell travelled to the USA in August that year to participate in the world's first international intersex retreat. During the gathering, the documentary Hermaphrodites Speak was filmed which documented the experiences of seven people - including Mitchell's.

Mar 1998


Paula Boock's book Dare, Truth or Promise wins the New Zealand Post Children's Book Award. The book followed the lives of two schoolgirls - Willa and Louie - who fell in love. It had a mixed reception, with some school libraries refusing to hold it. In the United States it was short-listed for a Lambda Literary Award for LGBT-themed fiction. Reflecting on the book's impact 20 years later, reader (and now author) Gem Wilder said "reading Dare, Truth or Promise as a queer-teen-in-denial felt like the universe holding my hand for a little minute [...] Paula Boock, and Willa and Louie, showed me who I was, and also who I wanted to be, who I could be."

27 Nov 1999


Georgina Beyer makes world headlines when she becomes the first openly transgender Member of Parliament in the world. Beyer is elected, by a significant majority, in the Wairarapa electorate

3 Dec 1999


After deliberating for nine hours, a High Court jury finds Jason Meads and Stephen Smith guilty of murdering teenager Jeff Whittington. Media reported it as a gay hate-crime. The pair had picked him up in central Wellington in the early hours of 8 May. They drove a short distance before severely beating him in Aro Valley. He sustained severe head injuries and a perforated bowel. Later, Meads allegedly told an acquaintance "the faggot was bleeding out of places I have never seen before." A passer-by found Whittington alone, lying in a puddle at 4.40am - he later died in hospital. Both Meads and Smith were sentenced to life imprisonment. Meads was released in 2013 and Smith was released in 2017.