Ngā pitopito korero
Lesbians and welfare policy
Building lesbian medical connections
Matariki women’s events
Changes on Auckland Pride’s board
New job at OUTLine
Dancing for the Gay Games
Two lesbians were appointed to the Welfare Expert Advisory Group (WEAG) late last month – Dr Huhana Hickey (Tainui/Ngäti Tahinga, left), and Professor Innes Asher (Pākehā, below) – along with four other women and five men.
The group will consult about benefit sanctions and the culture of Work and Income, and make recommendations by early 2019.
Both women are Auckland-based, and have been strong advocates about welfare and social justice issues for decades. Both support the WEAG terms of reference, particularly the focus on poverty, housing need and homelessness, and an adequate welfare system that treats people with dignity.
Huhana has been active on the rights of people with disabilities, indigenous peoples and takatāpui. She has a PhD in Law and Tikanga Maori from the University of Waikato and was a solicitor at Auckland Disability Law. She was the indigenous peoples’ representative for the International Disability Association steering group caucus during the development of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and is still involved with IDA international networks.
Huhana is currently on the Human Rights Review Tribunal and holds several governance roles. She runs an advocacy and training company on human rights, indigenous, treaty and disability with her wife Sophie Tauhara. Huhana was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2015 for her services to Māori and disability community.
Innes has been a committee member and health spokesperson for the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) for 20 years. She is a paediatrician, chair of the Global Asthma Network and formerly the Head of the Department of Paediatrics: Child and Youth Health at the University of Auckland. Last year she was appointed as a World Health Organisation Expert on Chronic Respiratory Diseases. Recently she was recognised for work toward reducing child poverty by the New Zealand Medical Association, with their Chair Award.
For years CPAG has insisted all children must be adequately housed in healthy homes, and has emphasised the increased likelihood of mental and physical health problems when they are not.
Activist group Auckland Action Against Poverty has raised concerns about the WEAG process being used to justify delays to much-needed changes in benefit processes, arguing that people on benefits can’t wait another year with a punitive welfare system. They say that removing sanctions on sole parents would have needed only a quarter of the $100 million the budget allocated for the America’s Cup. JR
The first Australian and New Zealand Lesbian Medical Association (ALMA) conference to be held in New Zealand will be in Hanmer Springs from September 21 to 23.
Auckland GP Liz Harding, left, is organising the conference with Christchurch psychiatrist Val Pollard. Liz has been to eight ALMA conferences since they started in 1999, and says about 50 doctors, lesbian medical students and their partners are expected, about half the membership. “Although we may get more than usual because Australians may want to go somewhere different, and we’re very keen to get more New Zealanders to attend!”.
“The conferences are really great – it’s an amazing group of women,” she says. Participants are mostly doctors starting out or settled in their careers, and medical students who get free registration and subsidised accommodation and travel. “We think it’s really important for the students to have the opportunity to be around established lesbian doctors. A few resident doctors come, but they often have trouble getting time off because they work such long hours.”
The conference, this year called ‘Connections’, is preceded by a Thursday night pub quiz. A powhiri will open the event on Friday morning, followed by speakers, an interview with an ALMA legend, the AGM and a dinner. A walk, fun run or yoga session starts the Saturday, with plenary speakers followed by a conference dinner and party. The conference finishes on Sunday lunchtime after a morning of speakers.
Some of the confirmed New Zealand speakers include Auckland-based Dr Matire Harwood, about health inequities between Māori and non-Māori; Joy Liddicoat, Assistant Privacy Commissioner in Wellington, about privacy issues in digital health records; GP Lucy O’Hagan from Wanaka, who is also a playwright; Dr Sue Bagshaw, founder of Christchurch’s 198 Youth Health Centre; Auckland-based psychiatrist Jackie Liggins, about her PhD research on healing places to recover from mental illness, and psychologist Katherine Whitehead on mental health in lesbian families around the birth of babies.
Speakers from Australia include ALMA members Kimberley Ivory about her year working with LGBT people in Mongolia, Jess Zimmerman about living with chronic disease and Suzi Fox, about writing her thriller, Mine.
New Zealand GPs who attend can claim 10.25 hours of continuing education points through the RNZC GP. The 10 percent earlybird discount on registration ends on August 24; see the website.
ALMA provides local and student representatives for support around Australia, and members can join the Facebook page, receive the newsletter and keep in touch on Bitrix, a private social media site.
ALMA lobbies for lesbian and other Rainbow issues to be included in medical school and specialist training and has contributed to the LGBTQ policies of the Australian Medical Association and other health organisations. ALMA also has special consultative status at the United Nations, enabling representatives to attend some UN conferences and contribute information to UN processes and organisations. ALMA funds $10,000 towards original lesbian health research projects each year and participates in Pride marches and Mardi Gras.
ALMA membership is $25 for medical students and has a tax-deductible sliding scale for doctors from $150. See the ALMA website and past research projects:
Lesbian Zest: How to thrive and flourish;
Thriving as a Bisexual or Queer Woman;
A guide to sensitive care for lesbian, gay and bisexual people attending general practice
Talks by women about mauri (life force), harakeke (flax) weaving, and a women’s art exhibition are key events in the Tauranga Matariki festival from June 8 to July 1.
Aisha Te Kani, Puawai Cairns, Head of Mātauranga Māori at Te Papa Tongarewa, and rongoa practitioner Donna Kerridge will discuss the concept of mauri from different viewpoints on three consecutive Wednesday evenings in free talks.
A panel of women artists will discuss Mana Wāhine in a free event on Mon 25 as part of the exhibition Te Whare Tangata/ the female essence, curated by Parewhati Taikato which runs from June 15 to July 3.
Parewhati Taikato and Jannine Campbell lead two all-day harakeke workshops, covering flax harvesting, collection, preparation, dyeing and weaving. Workshops are $45 and booking is essential
Matariki festivals will be held at different times around the country as local iwi celebrate the new year with the rising of the Matariki (Pleiades) star cluster above the horizon.
In Rotorua, events run from June 6 to July 19; events at Te Papa run from Friday June 15 – Sun 24, with other events by the Wellington Council events website running into July; in Auckland the festival runs from June 30 – July 22, and the Dunedin festival from 6 – 22 July. JR
The Auckland Pride Festival board will be seeking new members at its AGM on July 30, following three resignations – former co-chair Lexie Matheson, treasurer Richy James and Letitia Taikato. Chair Cassie Roma says the organisation will also run a membership drive and that membership is now free, to enable greater diversity.
The board has been working with community facilitator and long-time lesbian event organiser Cissy Rock on its procedures, planning and strategies, including building “sustained relationships” with Māori and takatāpui, Cassie says.
“The institutional memory has been in people’s heads, and we’re recording it.” After gathering feedback in all kinds of ways besides official community consultations, the board now has a standard process for formal feedback which will be added to the Facebook page, she says.
The board is also negotiating contracts for paid staff, who Cassie expects to start work by mid-June. The board will hold its usual community consultation and feedback sessions later in the year, and the 2019 Auckland Pride Festival will run from Friday February 1 to Sunday 17, 2019. JR
National Rainbow phone support line OUTLine is again looking for someone to fill a new Auckland-based position as support line co-ordinator
The position is for 24 hours a week and applications close at midnight on Monday June 4. The job involves managing phone volunteers, co-ordinating their training and a regular volunteer forum. The person will also ensure the quality and safety of the service, increase the phone line hours, oversee the collection of statistics about service users, and identify populations not currently served.
OUTLine requires previous experience managing volunteers, and computerised systems, and a commitment to the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and tikanga Māori.
Wellingtonian Saskia Knibbeler, right, and her Auckland-based same-sex dancesport partner Peati Tuitama are among possibly 200 New Zealand competitors heading for the Gay Games in Paris in August.
The pair met through work a year ago and practicing their routines together have relied on Saskia’s regular work trips to Auckland and Peati’s trips to Wellington.
They will be dancing seven routines – cha cha, rumba, jive, samba, waltz, quick step and tango – at the beginner level from Tuesday 7 to Friday 10, in the Japy Gymnasium near the Bastille.
Routines are about 80 seconds long, but learning them is fitness training “without feeling like you’re working out”, says Saskia.
“I walked the Milford Track after regularly dancing eight hours a week of social ballroom, and I ran up that mountain! I hadn’t realised how fit ballroom would make me.”
She took up social ballroom dancing in her 30s and “it turned into an incredibly satisfying feeling of accomplishment. I really like my body as a result – I feel strong and capable.”
She says social ballroom seems more accepting of same-sex dancing than heterosexual dancesport. The only thing that irks her is the constant use of male pronouns for lead dancers in classes, despite many of them being female. “I’m not a placeholder for a man, I’m a good lead”.
Training for the games is time-consuming and expensive – as well as practicing together, both partners go regularly to dance classes, and there are costumes and makeup to pay for.
Saskia is keen to experience the environment of the games and seeing cultural events and other competitions. “I was lucky with my parents and my community; I’m looking forward to seeing other people experience the freedom I’ve had that they can’t get in their countries”. JR