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.