27 May 1962


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

27 Apr 1967


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

26 Jun 1967


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

8 Oct 1968


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

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."

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."

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.

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.

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 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 1980


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

5 Apr 1981


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

5 Jun 1981


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

28 Jun 1981


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

2 May 1983


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

9 Mar 1984


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

11 Mar 1984


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

6 Aug 1985


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

11 Jul 1986


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

17 Dec 1987


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

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.

May 1992


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

Sep 1992


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

5 Nov 1992


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

21 Oct 1995


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

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.

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

15 Oct 2003


Media report that Waikato policeman Bruce Lyon had been appointed as the first rainbow diversity liaison officer within the police. The announcement was met with criticism by some - including Radio Pacific talkback host Mark Bennett. Bennett questioned why there shouldn't also be a liaison officer appointed for necrophiliacs, sado-masochists and homophobes. The broadcast would later become the subject of a complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority. While the complaint was not upheld, the BSA said Bennett's comments were "close to the border of what amounts to 'hate' speech."

16 Nov 2005


Labour MP Maryan Street makes her inaugural speech in Parliament. Street is New Zealand's first openly out lesbian elected to Parliament (MP Marilyn Waring was publicly outed by the New Zealand Truth newspaper in August 1976 - a couple of months before the Colin Moyle incident). Street's speech reflected on her journey: "As a lesbian, I have often been the subject of other people's efforts to push me to the margins, to erode my legitimacy as a citizen, and to belittle my efforts and achievements. I have never accepted marginalisation; it is a construct of others who wish me to be marginalised. It is not where I see myself or the many others like me. But it has always required courage, and I have not come into this House to be less than brave about the human rights of those whom some would seek to marginalise."

1 Dec 2005


The first ILGA Pacific Conference is held in Auckland. The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association was formed in the United Kingdom by a group of international activists in 1978 with the intention of creating a network and platform to campaign against discrimination and persecution faced by LGBTI people around the world. In March 2019 the ILGA World Conference was held in Wellington - the first time the global conference had been held in this part of the world.

5 Dec 2014


Matthew Muir QC is sworn in as a High Court Judge - the first openly gay High Court Justice in New Zealand. Speaking to Express magazine, Muir said "As a gay man I would hope also to bring a sensitivity to difference and to minority interests which, were it not for the fact that I am part of such a minority myself, I may not have." At Muir's swearing in, Chief Justice Sian Elias said “This office is not a prize or a destination but a promise of vocation ... There has been a revolution in our lifetimes in the position of those who are different because of gender, or race, or sexual orientation. I do not suggest that all the barriers are down. But we have come a long way. And I think it would be wrong not to acknowledge that on this occasion. And to acknowledge that you personally played a significant role in bringing about change by advocacy in the 1980s and indeed by your own example."

11 Mar 2016


The first ever intersex workshop is held in New Zealand at an ILGA regional conference in Wellington. Co-facilitator Mani Bruce Mitchell described intersex as "the rainbow within the rainbow." In a recent interview with the Listener magazine, Mitchell recollected a story about how in some communities, elders would say that an intersex child was taonga (a treasure) and had been sent by the gods to teach us something. Mitchell reflected that if Europeans could learn from this, and hold this powerful concept, how transformative that would be.

5 Dec 2017


Trail-blazing athlete Laurel Hubbard makes history by winning two silver medals at the Weightlifting World Championships in California, USA. No New Zealand lifter had ever before won a world championship medal. But the firsts didn't stop there. In June 2021 Hubbard became the first openly transgender athlete to be selected to compete in weightlifting at the Olympic Games. NZ Olympic Committee chief executive Kereyn Smith told media "As the New Zealand team, we have a strong culture of manaaki and inclusion and respect for all." Speaking after the competition, Hubbard said “I think the world is changing and there are opportunities for people to be out in the world and do things just as any other person would do... Life is difficult, there are disappointments ... but if you just keep pressing on it does get better."

17 May 2018


A world first: the transgender, bisexual, intersex and rainbow flags were flown together for the very first time on the forecourt of Parliament. The flags flew to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT). They flew again at Parliament on 17 March 2019. Originally flown to mark the beginning of the ILGA World Conference in Wellington, the flags flew at half-mast to also mourn and pay respect to the victims of the Christchurch mosque massacres two days earlier.

1 Feb 2020


March saw a dramatic change in how people lived their lives, socialised and conducted business. The first case of the COVID-19 virus is confirmed in New Zealand in late February and by 11 March the World Health Organisation had declared a global pandemic. Remarkably just four days before that Wellington held its Pride parade. It was attended by tens-of-thousands of people who partied without social distancing or face masks. However the reality of the pandemic quickly set in, and within two weeks New Zealand’s borders were closed and the country was preparing to enter a nationwide lockdown. In Wellington the sex-on-site venue Checkmate closed indefinitely and the New Zealand AIDS Foundation began advocating consensual phone sex, webcam sex and masturbating as alternatives to casual sex.

27 Jun 2020


Over five hundred Pride organisations from around the world come together to create a 24-hour Global Pride online event. The virtual Pride was born after COVID-19 pandemic restrictions forced the cancellation of many physical gatherings. Global Pride featured a livestream of music, performances and messages of support. Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern represented New Zealand. Ardern told the international audience that Pride was about "recognizing and supporting inclusivity, unity and a sense of community. For me, Pride is recognition of all the work that has been achieved and all the work that is left to do. And Pride can also change people's lives. It's an opportunity for people to meet their role models and see people celebrating their pride."

1 Aug 2020


The first ever National Schools' Pride Week takes place throughout New Zealand. Over one hundred schools took part, including a number of primary and intermediate schools. The week-long celebrations were co-ordinated by the national youth charity InsideOut. They told schools "We hope that by celebrating and affirming rainbow identities through our pride campaign we can help reduce the experiences of bullying and distress for our rainbow rangatahi." Tabby Besley, managing director of InsideOUT, said "For many young people it could be the first time they've heard their identities talked about in a positive light... It sends a clear message to all students that diversity is normal, it's something to be proud of." Each day had a different theme: education, inclusion, accessibility, whakapapa and rainbow history and celebration/pride.

2 Nov 2020


Following the 2020 General Election, Minister of Finance Grant Robertson is appointed Deputy Prime Minister. Robertson became an MP in 2008, telling Parliament in his inaugural speech "I am proud and comfortable with who I am. Being gay is part of who I am, just as is being a former diplomat, a fan of the mighty Wellington Lions, and a fan of New Zealand music and New Zealand literature." Robertson quickly rose up the political ranks. On his appointment as Deputy Prime Minister, Robertson told media "It's important for young people in the rainbow community to know that their sexuality is no barrier to them progressing."