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 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.