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Timeline: 1920s

15 May 1920

  • Charles Mackay shoots and wounds D'Arcy Cresswell (Whanganui). Mackay is the Mayor of Wanganui at the time. Links:, Te Ara

27 May 1920

  • Charles Mackay is sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for the attempted murder of D'Arcy Cresswell (Whanganui). Mackay had earlier pleaded guilty to the charge. In the hope of mitigating Mackay's sentence, his defense lawyer pointed to how Mackay had been suffering from homo-sexual monomania for a number of years. Link: Papers Past

24 June 1920

  • Albert Edward McGurk is released from New Plymouth Prison (New Plymouth). McGurk had been convicted in 1915 of committing an unnatural offence and had been jailed for 7-years with hard labour

5 July 1920

  • Eugenia Falleni (a.k.a Harry Crawford) is arrested over the death of wife Annie Birkett (Sydney, Australia). Links: Wikipedia, Papers Past

6 October 1920

  • Eugenia Falleni is found guilty of murdering Annie Birkett (Sydney, Australia). Falleni is condemned to death but the sentence is commuted to detainment at the Governor's Pleasure. Links: Wikipedia, Papers Past

3 May 1921

  • George Rocake (a.k.a Winifred Wilson) appears in court charged with offensive behaviour (Sydney, Australia). Police had earlier raided Rocake's room and removed "female clothing, paints and powders". Link: Papers Past

8 July 1921

  • Psychologist John Money is born (Stratford). Money was born in Stratford but lived much of his life in the United States. Link: GoodTherapy

25 September 1921

  • Prime Minister Robert Muldoon is born (Auckland). As Prime Minister, Muldoon accuses MP Colin Moyle of having been picked up for homosexual practices. Moyle resigned from Parliament in 1977. Link: Te Ara

9 January 1923

12 October 1923

  • Hector Froggatt is sentenced to 8 years imprisonment for indecent assault on boys (Christchurch). A medical man giving evidence at the trial said Froggatt suffered from "homo-sexual abnormality". Link: Papers Past

23 February 1924

  • A headline in NZ Truth reads "The growth of degeneracy and sex crime - sterilisation proposed" (New Zealand). Link: Papers Past

23 May 1924

  • A parliamentary inquiry begins into Mental Defectives and Sexual Offenders (Wellington). Link: Parliamentary Papers

August 1924

  • Effie Pollen and poet Ursula Bethell begin living together (Christchurch). Links:, Te Ara

1 December 1924

  • Music teacher John Leslie Lander dies in New Plymouth Prison (New Plymouth). Lander had been sentenced to life imprisonment in 1915 for committing an unnatural offence, plus 10-years hard labour for indecent assault. He was known to have epileptic fits. His death was recorded as heart failure following a fit. Link: Papers Past

10 December 1924

  • The Society for Human Rights is formed (Chicago, United States of America). The Society is the oldest documented homosexual organisation in the USA. Link: Wikipedia

7 February 1925

  • NZ Truth reports The Dazzling Dandies - a prisoners' extravaganza at New Plymouth Prison (New Plymouth). Since 1917, New Plymouth Prison had mainly housed sexual offenders - including homosexualists. Link: NZ Truth

28 March 1925

  • NZ Truth reports on homosexualists in high society and in the arts (New Zealand). Link: NZ Truth

16 July 1925

  • A report into Mental Defectives and Sexual Offenders is tabled in Parliament (New Zealand). Links: Hansard, Report

1 October 1925

  • Peter Stratford (a.k.a. Deresley Morton) marries Elizabeth Rowland (United States of America). Link: Papers Past

2 October 1925

  • Kenneth James Dell is arrested on Queen Street and charged with behaving in a disorderly manner (Auckland). Dell is seen walking on Queen Street wearing woman's shoes, a hat, veil and neck scarf. Link: Papers Past

3 October 1925

  • Kenneth James Dell is hospitalised on the morning of his court appearance (Auckland). Link: Papers Past

10 October 1925

  • NZ Truth reports on the court case involving Kenneth James Dell (Auckland). Dell had been arrested in women's clothing on Queen Street. Dell was hospitalised on the morning of the court appearance. Link: Papers Past


  • Henry Field conducts an investigation into homosexuality (New Plymouth). Field has an interest in the psychopathology of criminal behaviour and interviews 40 inmates at New Plymouth prison. The exact date of this investigation is unknown - circa 1926-1929. Link: Te Ara

20 April 1927

  • George Grace is convicted and sentenced to 3-months imprisonment for wearing female clothing (Napier). Grace had also gained admission to the local girls college. The Magistrate said "I will teach you to leave girls' clothing and girls' colleges alone in the future.". Link: Papers Past

27 June 1927


  • The Prisons Department report for 1927/28 is tabled in Parliament (New Zealand). The report notes (p.18) "Owing to the homo-sexual proclivities of of the prisoners detained here it is absolutely necessary that they be kept under constant observation during the periods of the day when they have to intermingle with one another, and, as the configuration of the quarry particularly lends itself to this end, the majority of the men have been kept employed there during the year.". Link: Prisons Department report

17 March 1928

  • Morals campaigner Patricia Bartlett is born (Napier). Bartlett would later form the Society for Promotion of Community Standards. Link: Wikipedia

27 July 1928

  • The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall is published (United Kingdom). The lesbian-themed novel is later judged obscene by a British court and banned. Links: Wikipedia, Papers Past

16 November 1928

  • A court decides the book The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall is obscene (United Kingdom). The judge orders the book to be destroyed. Link: Wikipedia

1 May 1929

  • Expatriate Peter Stratford (a.k.a. Deresley Morton) dies (California, United States of America). A headline in NZ Truth reads "Death of masquerader reveals incredible deception". Link: Papers Past

3 May 1929

  • Former Mayor of Whanganui Charles Mackay is shot dead (Berlin, Germany). Mackay is killed by a policeman while covering a street battle as a journalist. Links: Papers Past, Te Ara

9 May 1929

  • The NZ Truth reports on a "man with female mentality" (Auckland). The news report documents the court case against Nikora Hune Haora. The prosecuting sub-inspector said to the court that Haora is actually wanting "an order to allow him to continue wearing female apparel". Link: Papers Past

18 June 1929

  • Politician Colin Moyle is born (Thames). Moyle resigned from Parliament in 1977 after it was made public that he had been questioned by the police on suspicion of homosexual activities. Link: Wikipedia

22 July 1929

  • The Evening Post reports on a recent presentation entitled "The Adolescent Girl" (Christchurch). Speaking to members of the Christchurch branch of the Parents' National Education Union Dr Jessie Scott talks about how girls between 11 and 16 experience a homo-sexual period. They "showed great affection for members of their own sex, often for women much older than themselves". This is followed by the heterosexual stage. Link: Papers Past

1 October 1929

  • Leonard Hollobon is arrested and charged with indecently assaulting a male (Wellington). Norris Davey (a.k.a Frank Sargeson) is the other party. Both are charged, with Davey later testifying against Hollobon. Links: Papers Past, Te Ara

29 October 1929

  • Norris Davey is convicted of indecent assault on a male (Wellington). Soon after Davey begins using the name Frank Sargeson. Links: Papers Past, Wikipedia

31 October 1929

  • Leonard Hollobon is sentenced to five years reformative detention after pleading guilty to three charges of indecent assault on males (Wellington). Norris Davey had earlier testified against Hollobon. Hollobon was released from jail on 14 October 1933. Links: Papers Past, Police Gazette (1929), Police Gazette (1933)

2 November 1929

  • Harold Mather and Walter Robinson are found not guilty of indecent assault (Wellington). Both were charged with attempted buggery and indecent assault (on each other). The principal witness was Constable W Ritchie who the judge described as a "straightforward, capable witness". Links: Papers Past, Police Gazette