Ngā pitopito korero

National/multiple centres
She Shears comes to a screen near you
Lesbian Summer Camps – our herstory
Fun and uplifting lesbian medical conference
Lesbians in long-term relationships
Pulse Art exhibition
What Auckland Rainbow people want from their council
Tauranga She Ball cancelled
Manawatu Pride Month
Paekakariki Pride – Labour Weekend
Rainbow research, Christchurch

She Shears coming to a screen near you

She Shears posterJills Angus Burnie, standing on the left, the only lesbian in the local She Shears documentary about five female shearers, will walk the green turf carpet with Emily Welch at the launch of the film’s general release on Wednesday 10 in Masterton.

The town is the home of the national Golden Shears competition around which the documentary is built, and the launch will attract a knowledgeable audience. Emily, also featured in the film, beat Jills’ long-standing world record for the number of lambs sheared by a woman in nine hours.

The other women are Hazel Wood Catherine Mullooly and Pagan Karauria, and the film is directed by Jack Nicol.

Jills says the screenings at the NZ International Film Festival and Rural Women NZ fundraisers have had “a fabulous response, people really love it; it resonates widely with rural and urban audiences. It’s encouraging young women to try shearing, and just to think ‘Yeah, girls can do it’”.

She Shears Jills2At the end of September, Jills attended a question and answer session at an Alexandra screening with Pagan, before Jills judged at the NZ Merino Shearing and Woolhandling Championships.

Jills saw lots of girls and young women taken to screenings by their parents. “The Film Commission are thrilled by it”, she says.

When Jills first went shearing in Australia in the 1980s, “there were only three women and now there’s hundreds.” She believes the film will contribute to the growth of women’s shearing in New Zealand.

Jills says that the movie has not dwelt on negative reactions from male shearers. “I got a hiding from a shearer because I was better than him, and talked about it when I was interviewed for the film.” The documentary focuses on the support provided to some of the women by male partners and family members.

Catch the movie at a Rialto Cinema near you. Rialto expects to release it in Australia in 2019, Jills says, and predicts that the beautiful camera work and New Zealand scenery is likely to put it on the film list for long-distance Air New Zealand flights.

See the film trailer, the website and the Rialto website for screening details. JR

Lesbian Summer Camps – our herstory

A group of young lesbian and queer identified women plan to create a documentary theatre/oral herstory project and are looking to interview women and their children who attended Lesbian Summer Camps in Wellington and Canterbury in the 1970s and 1980s.

They note that many young women are unaware of this part of our herstory, and so they want to hold space and foster a dialogue of sharing stories between generations of women. The goal is for this to be a community project where interviewees have an influence in the final work.

There is therefore an open invitation to join them and share your story. They are currently meeting with people with the intention of running an initial development season of the show in March 2019 (although the project may well extend beyond this time frame). They are open to meeting people in groups and are happy to travel when it is possible – they are primarily Wellington based. They have met with some of the women involved in Canterbury camps, including the reunion in January this year.

If you are interested in being involved and would like to know more, or have any questions or concerns, get in touch via

Fun and uplifting lesbian medical conference

GP Liz Harding, left in the group below, reports on the recent Australasian Lesbian Medical Association conference at Hanmer Springs.

ALMAbannerIt feels as if the first New Zealand ALMA has been the best one ever, but I think we always leave the ALMA conferences on a high having had such a good time catching up with old friends and meeting new people in such a supportive, inclusive, safe environment, where we can really be ourselves.

The venue at the Heritage Hotel at Hanmer Springs was fabulous. The powhiri that started the conference was attended by many of the staff, which made us feel very welcomed. Our theme was connectedness, and that came through very obviously. People shared their personal stories, and it was a conference where the talks were intellectually stimulating but also very moving. It was an emotionally uplifting experience.

We were delighted to discover that this conference broke the ALMA record with 73 women, aged from 19 to 75, as well as the largest number of medical students – 25. It was great to have their enthusiasm and fresh perspectives. Last year we only had three New Zealand participants, but at this conference we had 17 Kiwis. Pictured below are conference goers who also attended the second ALMA conference in Australia.

ALMA 2nd yr Coogee Bay.JPGGabrielle Moss was the first speaker and discussed the important topic of family violence, especially intimate partner violence, encouraging us to consider this as routine enquiry in our daily practice.

Sue Bagshaw introduced us to ACEs – Adverse Childhood Events – which have a significant impact and tend to be more common in LGBTI people. She discussed the importance of intervention.

Kimberley Ivory told us about her experiences as a volunteer worker in a LGBT organisation in Mongolia, highlighting the significant challenges for LGBT people in that country.

Two people discussed mental health; Kathryn Whitehead about perinatal mental health in lesbian families, with insightful thoughts about lack of social support. Jackie Liggins also discussed her PhD about healing from mental illness, in a moving presentation.

Lucy O’Hagan delighted us with her theatre and narrative skills with medical stories. She reminded us to not just take a medical history, but to see the whole person and to listen as a human being. Suzi Fox also described how her new thriller Mine came to be written, encouraging others to embrace their creativity.

ALMA audienceRuth Seeman took a workshop on self-massage, while Elizabeth Godleman guided us through a mindfulness session, that culminated in mindful chocolate/raisin eating.

Joy Liddicoat discussed whether new technologies such as universal health records mark the end of privacy, and gave us safety tips on internet privacy.

Jess Zimmerman talked about Spoon Theory – living with chronic disease – demonstrating the effort involved in daily living, reminding us that “spooners” may have very good reason for what some practitioners call their “laziness” or “lack of compliance”.

I was honoured to be the ALMA Legend this year and was interviewed by Brooke Daniels about my life.

We also had a delightful evening soaking at the thermal hot pools. a dinner/dance accompanied by a juke box with a great selection of music, an early morning walk and yoga session, and lots of wonderful conversations over mealtimes and breaks.

The new National Committee chosen at the AGM includes some of the new students, and I am also a member this year. The committee meets monthly via teleconference and will hold a planning weekend in February in New South Wales.

The next ALMA Conference will be in 2019 in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales – dates to be announced. I can’t wait.

Lesbians in long-term relationships

If you are or have been in a long-term relationship and are happy to talk about your experience of sexual intimacy in that relationship and how societal attitudes might affect your sexuality, Andrea Coles would like to talk with you.

The Massey University Honours student is lesbian and Auckland based, so interviews with respondents from outside Auckland will be by skype. Times can be arranged to suit, between now and the end of the year.

Your relationship should be current or recent. Andrea is happy to talk with one or both partners.

Contact Andrea Coles on 09 8324616 / 021 02945462 or

Pulse Art exhibition – till Wednesday 24 October

Potpourri – new works by lesbian art group Pulse – opened on 6 October at Depot Art Space in Devonport. Each of the artist’s intentions are outlined in the superbly produced and lavishly illustrated catalogue. Potpourri celebrates lesbian art and artists past and present, with 125 years of women’s suffrage in mind.

Fran Marno found inspiration in Heather McPherson’s poems. The poem on the wall is Heather’s birthday gift to Fran, in which she searches for her in the garden to no avail and misses her “…Are you hiding in your images are you hiding in your words…”. Fran decided to look at the shared garden from where Heather often sat outside her flat, to write and produced four graphite drawings. Each is a spectacular maze of myriad linear marks, aptly titled Running Riot 1-4. She found them liberating, and aided by blurry, indistinct photographs, took the same approach in her two large paintings Green Armfuls of Unseen Purring and A Plumply Sapphic Idyll.

In Sue Marshall’s experience at art school the male lecturers viewed the women students as playthings. Sue’s art now turns this oppressive attitude on its head, liberating the muse in her paintings who is now in full command of her rainbow life. Hence the title Who am I going to play with today? The smaller Missing, a painted collage of words that blatantly states Missing Lesbian Artists From NZ Art, sums up her concerns in this show. Her large painting I am a Lesbian takes the hugely painted I AM of Colin McCahon and infiltrates it with the collage-style letters A Les Bian below. Bill Hammond’s bird looks on. The words of a lesbian artist standing proud and loud alongside two ‘great’ NZ male painters.

Cath Head’s paper collages and carved stone pieces pay tribute to the achievements of her woodworking grandmother who built a sailing dingy, and her mother who sewed. They are about “memory, the human heart, love and the strength and depth of women”. In the collage Sleeve View a tissue sewing pattern is pasted over a seated, contemplative angel making it barely visible – a reference to Cath’s mother. There is a reference also to her mother in the treadle sewing machine; however the marble top it now supports is finely carved with the words ‘It’s such a curious wanting thing’ from Sarah Water’s lesbian novel Fingersmith.

Beth Hudson’s paintings teem with lesbian images. Faces from the past are presented in a modern light and juxtaposed with various objects, birds and animals to create new and ambiguous situations. In Resist, the cruel treatment of foxes by hunters with their dogs is put to rights. Foxes are portrayed as endearing and trusting companions. The suffragette hunters, three in long skirts and the other in red-coated male attire, value the foxes and magpie as the intelligent, sentient creatures they are – no longer despised and downtrodden. Each lesbian in Beth’s paintings stands strong and assertive as a contributing and valued member of society.

The celebratory ending of Potpourri is October 24, 5-7pm. With its accompanying talks, discussions and stone carving demonstration, this is a truly significant exhibition.
Maureen Jaggard

What Auckland Rainbow people want from their council

3Questions cover_Page_01Making housing, transport and council venues more Rainbow-supportive are on the work plan for the Auckland Council’s Rainbow Communities Advisory Panel. These priorities arose from the 3Questions report and a consultation with Rainbow community members at the panel’s meeting in September.

Rainbow community groups at the meeting were also keen for more governance skills, especially for groups that were not established charitable trusts, says co-chair Julie Radford-Poupard

Among four housing recommendations in the 3Questions report was to require all social housing and aged-care providers contracted to the council to have Rainbow cultural competency training; and to financially support housing partnerships with Rainbow organisations.

3Questions authorsOne of the two transport recommendations was a public transport campaign that challenges harassing behaviour.

Among the recommendations for council venues was the creation of a Rainbow Spaces Activator position, which would increase celebration of relevant Rainbow diversity in each local board area, as well as Rainbow cultural competency training and a checklist for all council facilities, along with signs saying “Rainbow communities are welcome here”.

The 3Questions report was compiled by Cissy Rock, Aych McArdle, Toni Duder and Sam Orchard (above). It summarised an online survey, community hui, and postcard feedback from around 200 Rainbow people. It asked three questions: What are your dreams for Auckland? How can council help achieve this? And if you could change one thing about Auckland tomorrow, what would it be?

See the full report online. JR

Tauranga She Ball cancelled

A fancy-dress masquerade She Ball in October at Fountain Gardens, 20m west of Tauranga has had to be cencelled due to poor ticket sales.

SheBall Marie & LizaMarie (left) organised “a lesbian ball years ago at MaLGRA in Palmerston North, which was filmed by Queer Nation and was a huge success.” Marie and Liza moved from Paekakariki and bought Fountain Gardens, at 170 Plummers Point Road near Te Puna, three years ago. For some time the couple had wanted to do something like the MaLGRA ball for the women’s community in Tauranga at the venue, and are disappointed that the the event could not go ahead.

The venue is most used for weddings; “there were 22 on the books when we bought it three years ago, and last year we hosted 47”, she says. “We’d love to have more lesbian weddings here.”SheBall Marie & Liza1

They have hosted two lesbian weddings and have two more same-sex weddings booked. “Some couples I’ve talked with haven’t had a good response from other venues and any gay people who contact us always ask if we’re comfortable with a same-sex wedding.”

Fountain Gardens also attracts birthday celebrations, garden groups, retirement village tours and are hoping the native gardens will attract tourists by bus from cruise ships docked at Tauranga.

“The two of us do most of the work on the gardens with a part-time guy and occasional working bees.”  JR

Manawatu Pride Month

Malgra logoFifteen events from Thursday 4 to Wednesday 31 in Manawatu’s Pride Month celebrate the Manawatu Lesbian and Gay Rights Association’s (MaLGRA) “41 years of fabulous” in the region.

Women’s events include an exhibition and discussion of local lesbian herstory from 2-5pm and a womyn’s dinner and dance from 6pm on Saturday 13, both at Te Manawa, and a Witches Party at the Women’s Centre, 53 Waldegrave St, on Wednesday 31. The party encourages children in fancy dress, includes a Peace Walk followed by a Potluck dinner and discussion.

MaLGRA dinner danceOther events include a Rainbow-themed makers’ market on Saturday 7, an LGBTQ+ comedy fringe festival at the Royale Hotel on Thursday 11, a quiz and dinner at Café Royale on Saturday 20, a Rainbow dog walk on Sunday 21, and a Teddy Bears’ picnic on Sunday 28.

Craft events include candle making, glass painting, glass fusing and making pet accessories.

MaLGRA was founded in 1977 and is one of the longest-running such organisations in the country.

See the MaLGRA Facebook page for details and for pop-up events. For the Womyn’s dinner and dance see the MaLGRA womyn’s Facebook page or email JR

Paekakariki Pride – Labour Weekend

Paekakariki Pride is back! You don’t have to live in Paekakariki or the Kapiti Coast to participate in Paekakariki Pride. Everyone is welcome, and there are events for everyone, physical, social, creative, laid-back, competitive, dress-up, quiet or LOUD & PROUD.

The weekend starts on Friday evening with a Meet and Mingle and concludes with a family picnic in the park on Monday afternoon.

The Lesbian Writing Group invites you to bring your short fiction and/or poetry to share, Saturday, 2.15pm.

Other events include the world’s (unofficially) shortest pride parade (Saturday evening) and the world’s smallest Queer Film Festival (Sunday afternoon).

Updates to the programme will be on Facebook and the Lesbian Wellington website.

Rainbow research, Christchurch

The All Right? Campaign is undertaking research into the well-being of the Rainbow community in Christchurch.

Lesbians are encouraged to participate in focus groups running in October. These involve a diverse range of community members to gather qualitative and quantitative evidence and feedback, including

  • Monday 8: 40+ women and those who identify as non-binary
  • Friday 12: 14 – 25 year olds
  • Wednesday 17: Takatāpui, Pacifica rainbow community
  • Friday 19: anyone who hasn’t been able to make previous dates or doesn’t identify with those groupings

Focus groups are 6-8pm, Community and Public Health, 310 Manchester St.

The research is designed to understand how the LGBT + community is faring in post disaster Christchurch and in particular to know what LGBT+ people identify as their strengths, what changes the community would still like to see, to hear about any emerging issues which impact on the wellbeing of the Community and to consider how the All Right? campaign could positively contribute.

For more information, contact or visit the website.

8 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

      1. The first openly lesbian book in NZ was based on the interviews of 70 lesbian mothers in 1982. AmazonMothers 1984. Not an acedemic study but a support book for lesbian mothers. Miriam Saphira PhD.

        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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