1 Feb 1817


Feminist and businesswoman Mary Taylor is born in Yorkshire, England. In her twenties she emigrated to New Zealand. Her life-long friend and possibly lover, Charlotte Bronte, wrote of Taylor's departure "To me it is something as if a great planet fell out of the sky." According to author Beryl Hughes, Taylor was more uncompromising than most feminists of her time with an "emphasis on the value of work for women and on the right of women to lead their own lives." Taylor spent most of her 14 years in New Zealand living and conducting business in Wellington. Remarkably during her time here, Taylor experienced three major earthquakes: the magnitude 6 Wellington earthquake in 1846, the Marlborough 7.4 earthquake in 1848 and the Wairarapa 8.2 earthquake in 1855.

2 Apr 1854


Photographer Robert Gant is born in the United Kingdom. At the age of 21 he immigrated to New Zealand. Gant had a notable career as a female impersonator, taking the stage name Cecil Riverton. In 1881 the Evening Post declared Cecil as achieving "a pronounced success in the part of Little Buttercup" in a production of HMS Pinafore. Nowadays Gant is probably more known for his homoerotic photography, produced in Wairarapa and Wellington from the late eighteen hundreds. His visual interests included young men, sailors, shoes, theatrical scenes and execution scenarios (beheadings) - which were popular at the time.

26 Sep 1860


Photographer Henry Winkelmann is born in the United Kingdom. At the age of eighteen he immigrated to New Zealand. He began his photographic career in 1892, focussing on maritime scenes. In 1997 Auckland Museum controversially refused to give permission for one of his images to be on the cover of Best Mates, an anthology of gay writing edited by Peter Wells and Rex Pilgrim. The image depicted Winkelmann in what was described as "a full passionate lingering kiss" with Charles Horton. Wells called it an act censorship and the cover image was published regardless.

12 Sep 1861


Artist and teacher Dorothy Richmond is born in Auckland. During her career, Richmond focused on botanical studies, still life and landscapes. Art historian Janet Paul described her work as having a "unique poetic quality" Richmond never married but had close relationships with several women, including fellow painter Frances Hodgkins. The pair met while in Europe in 1901. They travelled, worked, and at various times, lived together. Hodgkins wrote to a friend that Richmond was "the dearest woman, with the most beautiful face and expression I think I have ever seen." In 1903 the couple returned to New Zealand and for a time they ran a studio together in a building owned by Alexander Turnbull.

10 Jun 1868


"Harry" Holland is born in Australia. A printer by trade, Holland went on to lead the New Zealand Labour Party from 1919-1933. After his death, artist Richard Gross was commissioned to sculpt a public monument that would commemorate Holland's work for humanity. Gross created a striking nude male figure, which has been described in a variety of ways - from representing "emancipated youth looking upwards to higher things" to "an extremely buff, naked dude gazing out over his beloved Wellington." A local rainbow walking tour in the 1990s described the work as the capital's most homoerotic piece of outdoor art.

14 Sep 1868


Alexander Turnbull is born in Wellington. Turnbull was an avid collector - amassing over 55,000 books, manuscripts, photographs, paintings and sketches during his life. In 1915 Turnbull House (just opposite the Beehive) was built as his residence and as a place to store his impressive collection. In 1918 Turnbull died following complications from sinus surgery. He never married and bequeathed his collection to the nation, cared for now by the Alexander Turnbull Library.

6 Oct 1874


Poet Ursula Bethell is born in England. Her parents had earlier lived in New Zealand and within a few years the family returned and eventually settled in Rangiora, Canterbury. From her teenage years, Bethell regularly travelled and lived in Europe and the United Kingdom. It was in London that Bethell met her long-time companion Effie Pollen. The pair would later move back to New Zealand and live together in Canterbury where Bethell would write much of her poetry. In 2016, a newspaper article described their relationship as "deeply loving but platonic." In contrast, academic and poet Janet Charman wrote almost twenty years earlier "It was because of the misogyny and homophobia of her era that Bethell had reason to fear invasion of her privacy. It would have been catastrophic to have a lesbian attachment anywhere publicly admitted."

14 Oct 1888


Writer Katherine Mansfield is born in Wellington. Mansfield had well documented relationships with both men and women - one being Edith Kathleen Bendall. For a time, Mansfield wrote letters nightly in violet ink to Bendall inviting her to stay alone with her at the family bach in Days Bay. She wrote in her personal journal "Last night I spent in her arms - and tonight I hate her - which being interpreted, means that I adore her; that I cannot lie in my bed and not feel the magic of her body." On Mansfield's birthday in 1922, and only a few months before her death from tuberculosis, she famously wrote "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."

22 Jan 1896


Poet Walter D'Arcy Cresswell is born in Christchurch. After serving in WW1 he returned to New Zealand, turning to poetry as a vocation. Nowadays he is probably better known for his entrapment of the Mayor of Whanganui Charles Mackay. On 10 May 1920 Cresswell was introduced to the mayor. Five days later Mackay shot him in the chest. It would later be revealed that Cresswell (who had homosexual relationships himself) had plotted to lead the mayor on "to make sure of his dirty intentions." He then threatened to expose the mayor's homosexuality if he didn't resign. The incident resulted in Mackay being sentenced to fifteen years hard labour for attempted murder. He was released after six years on the condition that he immediately leave the country.

2 Dec 1897


Social reformer and activist Rewi Alley is born in Canterbury. Much of his life was spent in China, living there from 1927 until his death in December 1987. Academic Roderic Alley believes Alley's most significant legacy to China was "his faith in the co-operative capacities of the ordinary Chinese." Rewi Alley's views weren't always appreciated back in this country, with Alley saying "successive New Zealand governments have tried hard to discredit me as if I was some sort of communist threat to them or a traitor. Well I am a communist, but I am not a traitor." In 1985 Alley received a much warmer reception from Prime Minister David Lange, who during a ceremony honouring him said, "New Zealand has had many great sons, but you, Sir, are our greatest son."

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).

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."

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.

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.

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."

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."

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."

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.

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."

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."

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."

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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."

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.

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.

20 Jul 2003


Television personality David McNee is killed by Phillip Edwards in Auckland. McNee had paid Edwards $120 for a sexual encounter. However Edwards' lawyers would later tell the court that he was only there to masturbate in front of McNee on a "no-touch basis." Edwards told police that he was provoked into killing McNee because "he thought I was gay." He admitted to bashing him 30 to 40 times around the head. Edwards was charged with murder but was ultimately convicted of the lesser crime of manslaughter. Commenting on the case, and more generally on the defence of provocation (gay panic), author Peter Wells wrote, "It is impossible in New Zealand - and many other countries - to murder a homosexual. It is possible to be found guilty of manslaughter. The underlying message is that any homosexual’s life is of little value... It seems unjust that the person charged with the killing is the one who gets to tell the story."

2 May 2007


Broadcaster and kaumatua of the NZ AIDS Foundation Henare te Ua dies. Te Ua had a 40-year career in radio as well as being a champion for HIV education and prevention. Former NZAF Board Trustee and Chair Charles Chauvel, told media at the time that Te Ua played "an enormously significant role in helping frame our thinking about how the Foundation should work with Maori in a meaningful, not tokenistic, way." Te Ua was awarded the Queen's Commendation Medal in 1990, the Queen's Service Medal in 1992 for public services and in 2002, the Sir Kingi Ihaka lifetime contribution award.

15 Apr 2008


Singer-songwriter Mahinarangi Tocker dies in Auckland following a severe asthma attack. A few months earlier Tocker had been appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to music. Reflecting on Tocker's career, Tama Waipara told media "she was fearless [...] a real advocate for mental health, feminism, gay rights, Maori rights: she was a super-hero." On the 10th anniversary of her death, in 2018, a special tribute concert was held in Auckland featuring fellow singer-songwriters including Shona Laing, Charlotte Yates and Anika Moa.

15 Dec 2011


Carmen Rupe dies in Sydney. Rupe was a trailblazing activist, entertainer and entrepreneur - both in Australia and New Zealand. Her businesses included a cabaret club, a coffee shop, an Egyptian tearoom, a curio shop, a massage parlour and a brothel. Anecdotally, Carmen had a great line for male patrons who might prove troublesome. She would apparently say "Do you want a fuck or a fight? I can give you both." During Pride 2018, Georgina Beyer publicly talked about the ongoing lack of care available for rainbow elders, emotionally revealing that St. Vincent's Hospital in Sydney "didn't treat [Carmen] with the dignity she deserved." Loved and admired both in New Zealand and Australia, Rupe was known for her manaakitanga - offering love and compassion to many. Phil Rogers, a friend of Rupe's, recently spoke about how she "always had an interest in you; [Carmen] remembered your name." In 2021 Rupe's curio shop at 288 Cuba Street was added to an historic rainbow sites list maintained by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.

15 Sep 2013


Internationally recognised equestrian and icon Peter Taylor dies in Auckland after stopping all treatment for both HIV and the rare infection Leishmaniasis (caught from a sandfly bite at the Barcelona Olympics). Over a fifteen-year period Taylor underwent a massive 922 doses of chemotherapy resulting in additional health complications. His infectious diseases specialist, Professor Mark Thomas reflected "Pete taught me about determination, tolerating tough life, optimism and generosity." Taylor himself said "I think it is about positive thinking, taking responsibility, and reducing any bitterness and blame in your life. You can't have negatives in your body that will feed the illness." Taylor's businesses included Urge Bar (which he co-founded in 1995), and the much-loved Surrender Dorothy and Dot's Sister.

27 Dec 2013


Entrepreneur Tony Katavich dies. In the 1970s, well before homosexual law reform, Katavich along with his long-time partner John Kiddie and business partner Brett Sheppard established a variety of openly gay-focussed businesses. Saunas, bookshops, nightclubs, a magazine, travel agency and a mail order service all became part of the Out empire. In a time when people could lose their job, their accommodation or not receive service on the grounds of their sexual orientation, the Out empire was at the forefront of challenging the status quo. Remembering Katavich and co, publisher Jay Bennie said "Landmark morality cases were defended with tenacious vigour. Some cases hit the nation’s headlines, some were lost, but many were won and helped unpurse the nation’s lips regarding things erotic and gay."