Ngā pitopito korero

National/multiple centres
More women in International Comedy Festival
Pun Battle tour
Stats NZ consultation on sexual orientation and sexual identity
Interviewees needed about 1980s lesbian social lives
Charlotte Museum funding reprieve
Christchurch Women’s Centre diversifying services
Christchurch Pride – lots of events, lots of fun
Pride in the centre of Dunedin

More women in International Comedy Festival

CF Urzila CarlsonjpgUnlike the first several comedy festivals, where a few women (including the Topp Twins) were surrounded by a sea of white men, this year’s festival from April 26 to May 20 has 21 shows with just women comics, plus a few more male/female shows, out of a total of over 120 shows. And the ethnicity of performers is also slowly becoming more diverse.

Kiwi/White South African lesbian Urzila Carlson is a regular at the festival, performing this year in Auckland and Wellington. Her show Loser invites the audience to get ready to tackle their failures. See her website and her Facebook page and check out her take on lesbian couple arguments.

CF Fan Brigade2Watch out also for the Fan Brigade in Feminazi Bitches, with their special brand of satirical, deadpan musical comedy, also performing in Wellington and Auckland. The brigade is Livi Reihana, left, and Amanda Kennedy and their solo shows are very popular, so book early. See their website and check out their song about being a woman.

Rose Matafeo and Melanie Bracewell have both performed in feminist comedy events, and you can catch them in Auckland and Wellington.

CF KolopaJesmineWe also liked the sound of Kolopa Simei-Barton, left, and Jess’mine Palaaia who describe themselves as angry brown feminazis; their Auckland show Memoirs of a statistic covers beneficiaries, identity politics, drop-outs, alkies, gangstas, cultural appropriation, league boys, and the boring brown people with degrees who appear Police 10-7.

Others Auckland performers to check out include Sieni Leo’o olo (Bubbah) in The family disappointment, and the “delightfully bogan” Savanna Calton in Resting B*tch Face.

See the festival website for other shows. JR

Pun Battle tour

Drag king persona Hugo Grrrl, the director and MC of the Naked Girls Reading shows, is taking quite a different queer-friendly comedy show series on its first national tour.

PB Hugo GrrrlHugo, pictured, describes Pun Battle as “a garbage comedy, high octane, improv-based, competitive dad-joking show – there’s nothing quite like it and I’ve spent two years honing it to a slick, hilarious machine”. State fairs in the USA have a version of it, but this open-access comedy show is an original format.

“It’s one of my favourite shows to do – it’s so silly and joyful, it brings out people’s inner child,” says Hugo, who also hosts the shows billed as “everyone’s favourite friendly neighbourhood transvestite”.

Would-be punsters have to sign up in advance and do some prep; they face at least three rounds until 12 finalists compete for around $1,500 in cash prizes.

“It’s a free-for-all; if we have too many competitors I pick the ones with more experience. And if you’re crap you’re knocked out in the first round.” Hugo won’t go into detail about how this happens – “they get voted out entertainingly and spectacularly”.

PB PNthThe shows attract a good mix of queer and straight performers, Hugo says. “We get more men than women; I try to encourage more women by making the shows inclusive and accepting, enabling them to hone their skill. Hopefully it’s an exponential curve of support and progress.”

Watch out for three shows in Auckland in April, and three rounds of competition in Palmerston North, Wellington and Christchurch in May, July and September.

See the Palmerston North Pun Battle Facebook page, the Wellington page, and the Christchurch page. JR

Stats NZ consultating about sexual identity

What do you think would be useful and appropriate information to collect on sexual identity? Have your say by May 1, and pressure Statistics NZ to finally gather information about sexuality in the Census.

USA census RainbowSexual identity remains the only prohibited area of discrimination not measured in our Census. Statistics NZ recognised the need for such data as early as 2007, released its first discussion paper in 2008, and has held many meetings and been lobbied by Rainbow organisations many times since then. The data would enable us to create a picture like this, taken from the US Census.

Statistics NZ opened consultation about the issue (again) in early April, with three documents available on their consultation page: an introductory paper (22 pages), describing current New Zealand practice and some international comparisons (Australia, Canada, UK, Scotland, USA); a consultation paper (15 pages), outlining why a statistical standard is important, and defining and measuring sexual identity, proposed definitions and question design; and a shorter (7 pages) summary for developing a statistical standard for sexual identity.

The proposal considers sexuality orientation through sexual attraction, behaviour and identity. Submissions close at 9am, Tuesday May 1. They can be made online, or by downloading the submission form and emailing.

Stats NZ intend to release the statistical standard for sexual identity later this year, and include a sexual identity question in a major household survey in 2018.

Lesbian social lives in the 1980s

nadiaWomen who were active in lesbian social and sporting activities in the greater Auckland/Waikato area during the 1980s are wanted for interviews for an oral history project about lesbian social life in New Zealand.

Any social experiences from this decade are relevant, including women who went to or helped organise the Auckland Lesbian Ball in the 1980s and sporty women.

Dr Nadia Gush from the University of Waikato, pictured at the Charlotte Museum where she worked for a while, will conduct the interviews. If you’d like to talk about the things you did for fun in the upper North Island in the 1980s for up to two hours, contact her to arrange an interview at

Interview recordings will be deposited at the Alexander Turnbull Library, and embargoes can be set if required. JR

Charlotte Museum funding reprieve

Auckland’s Charlotte Museum of lesbian culture has gained grant funding for up to a year to cover its rent of $1800 a month, and is concentrating its efforts on getting subsidised accommodation from the Auckland Council.

CM Statue“We can’t fulfil our strategic objectives when we spend all our money on rent,” says board member Jo Crowley.

The Waitemata Local Board (WLB) instructed “their Community Lease Advisor to ‘find us a venue’” in October last year, but Jo says no premises have become available.

The former Albert Park caretaker’s cottage on Princes St near Wellesley St, and the Myers Park cottage off Queen St, are potentially suitable, although board members haven’t been able to look inside them, says Jo.

“They’re not habitable at the moment and need refurbishment”, and the original deadline for this has already passed.

CM magsThe museum has asked the WLB to find out when they will be available, but Jo says “there may be a lot of competition” for these heritage venues when they are finally ready for use.

Jo is resigning from the museum board after its meeting in early June, and the two remaining board members – founder Miriam Saphira and treasurer Catherine Taylor – invite women with energy and drive to join the board, get the museum rehoused and able to host more regular events and build its collections.

Supporters can become Friends of the Museum for a donation of $5 a month or $50 annually, which are tax deductible. The museum’s account at the ASB is 12 3020 0469766 00. JR

Christchurch Women’s Centre diversifying services

The Christchurch Women’s Centre was established over 30 years ago, initially as a community link for women’s refuge, somewhere for women leaving Refuge to obtain ongoing support and resources.

Needs and resourcing have changed over the decades. The centre has had significant funding challenges, reaching crisis point in 2017, and although pressure has eased, they are financially constrained. There have been location moves as a direct result of earthquakes.

They conducted an online survey of needs for the Rainbow community in Christchurch (not just from the Women’s Centre); the report is now available online (google docs). Ninety-four responses were received; two thirds from women and one fifth from men. Half the respondents identify as lesbian. Respondents were overwhelmingly Pākehā, in direct proportion to Christchurch’s ethnic profile.

The Centre are diversifying their services, to be more inclusive of “women not identifying in traditional binary terms”, and their online Lesbian support and diary page has been renamed Rainbow services. AK

Christchurch Pride – lots of events, lots of fun

Christchurch Pride, over 11 days in March, had events ranging from the low-key to the fabulous and over-the-top.

In a first, the Christchurch City Council flew a rainbow flag during Pride.

A pre-Pride issue arose over a sex-on-site, men-only event that was not open to transmen. A temporary solution was reached, with further discussion planned later in the year. For more information, read the Facebook post.

Congratulations to Jill Stevens, the only lesbian on the Pride Committee, which she chairs, one of four people awarded a Community Recognition Awards at the Bingo Fundraiser event.

For a sense of the fun and excitement, and to see photos from most of the events, visit the Facebook page.

Pride in the centre of Dunedin

Lesbian, queer women and other Rainbow people will be visible in the centre of Dunedin with the Pride hub at 33 Princes St hosting a raft of events from April 8 to 15.

The festival is the first we’ve heard of in Aotearoa to be opened by a Rainbow council manager. Sue Bidrose, CEO of Dunedin City Council, who identifies as queer, will also launch Pride’s art exhibition on Sunday 8 at 6pm in the hub, followed by performances and music from Sacrilege Productions, Maria Colombo, Aliana Gray and Tyler Neumann.

DP drawing machineThe hub “is a place where people can hang out, enjoy events, family and art activities,” says Hahna Briggs, a member of the Pride sub-committee and the Q2 Trust board.

“Sarah Baird has made a drawing machine and programmed it to draw a Pride logo (pictured). People can colour it in and write what Pride means to them and put it up on our Pride wall”. Another artwork made of the logo will gradually be covered with coloured string added by visitors over the week.

The hub will also host a panel discussion about Rainbow people engaging with Christian denominations; Queer stitch and bitch, a chance to try knitting and crochet with other crafty queer people; children’s stories about diversity read by drag performers Sadie Salome, Andrea Woolf and Chicago Capricciosa; and screenings of More than four, a video about more marginalised Rainbow identities, and Through Rainbow coloured glasses, a documentary about the queer history of Christchurch. See the hub Facebook page for details.

The hub was made possible by Urban Dream Brokerage, which brings owners of unused property, in this case a large empty shop, together with artists for short-term leases, on condition that the art is interactive and engages with local people.

DP thin-end-of-the-wedgeOther Pride events include coming out stories; a talk called DIY Baby-making, about some of the creative ways lesbians and gay men conceive and raise kids; the Otago University Student Association’s Queer Tea Party; a Queer Quiz; poetry night; pre-school storytime at Dunedin City Library about different kinds of families; a writers’ panel; a tramp for all Rainbow people with Wild Women Walking (WWW); a screening of The think end of the wedge documentary about the Homosexual Law Reform campaign (pictured); a picnic; and a closing party.

hdrPride is organised by a queer female sub-committee of Q2, a trust that aims to create an inclusive and affirming environment for Rainbow communities in Dunedin and Otago. Q2 board members are Tanya Findlater, left, Hahna Briggs, Rachel Shaw, Gareth Treharne, and Ann Charlotte in the front. Hahna and Ann, WWW co-ordinator, are members of both groups.

This year’s Pride, with 17 events, is bigger than the last one in 2015, which ran over a weekend. “We’ve given it a different flavour and emphasis, taking note of what works in Dunedin – poetry and literary events are very popular”, says Ann.

Sarah Baird says the event has gained “a lot of support from local businesses, and the university bookshop and Dunedin Public Libraries are planning displays of queer books”.

Ann and Hahna acknowledge the need to build relationships with takatāpui and Pasifika communities, “not just for Pride. It is something we really have to work on,” says Ann. See the events on the Pride Facebook page. JR

6 thoughts on “News”

  1. Lisa Melville’s PhD thesis is not the first study of Lesbian mothers in Aotearoa. My Masters thesis ‘Lesbian Mothers, Queer Families’ AUT 2004, followed a cohort of lesbian mothers through planning pregnancy, birth, experience of midwifery/obstetric care and the evolution of their relationship/family in the first two years of their child’s life. Caroline Bree


    1. Hi Caroline. Sorry this is months later – but yes you are correct mine is not the first study of lesbian mothers in Aotearoa. There has been a lot of work done by yourself and others to pave the way and support my research. So thanks!


  2. Anne Ruck Masters thesis, in Women’s Studies, VUW, is probably the first NZ thesis to address lesbian mothers. She interviewed lesbian mothers to find out if they were satisfied with the arrangements made with donors, and later connections to the children. I was her supervisor. I think the date was about 1992 – will check.

    Liked by 1 person

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News, pix and profiles about lesbians and queer women in Aotearoa/New Zealand

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