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.