News

Ngā pitopito korero

National/multiple centres
PPTA presses Rainbow issues for schools
Regional
Kahukura Pounamu: more events for takatāpui in Ōtautahi
Wild Women Walk an ancient Otago waka site
Paekakariki Pride 2017
Auckland Lesbian Festival
Auckland Pride 2018
Mahinārangi Tocker tribute

PPTA presses Rainbow issues for schools

Recommendations from a paper by the PPTA’s Rainbow Taskforce at the secondary teacher union’s recent annual conference will spur further action on inclusion for lesbian, queer and gender diverse students in schools.

The conference agreed to five recommendations after discussion on the paper, called Affirming diversity: Inclusion for sexuality and gender minorities (10 pages, PDF). The decision required the PPTA –

  • To urge the Ministry of Education to issue clear guidelines to make schools safe for students, whanau and staff with minority genders and sexualities
  • To urge the Education Review Office (ERO) to report on whether schools were progressing towards or being inclusive for minority genders and sexualities
  • To meet the NZ Standard 8200:2015 on Rainbow-inclusive workplaces by December 2018.
  • To continue its free PPTA workshops for school staff about inclusion for sexual and gender minority students
  • To consider eliminating gender-biased language in the Secondary Teachers Collective Agreement on parental provisions in the 2018 negotiations.

PPTA members @ conf Photo RebeccaMcMillanKirsty Farrant, a PPTA advisory officer on professional issues who co-ordinates the Rainbow Taskforce, said “there was a lot of discussion before the conference on whether this was PPTA business as a teacher’s union.”

“But PPTA has a broad view across education, not just about issues for teachers, and some teachers are LGBTQI+ and our workplaces need to be safe for all members. Sometimes people forget how important it is to have queer teachers as role models for students trying to find out who they are.” Above are some of the lesbian and queer female teachers at the conference; photo by Rebecca McMillan.

Teachers responded positively to the paper, Kirsty says. “Some teachers told personal stories after the presentation; it was clear that if some of them had had more support at school they wouldn’t have struggled so much.”

Kirsty says clear best practice guidelines from the Ministry of Education are important, as the current guidance is very general, only about students not staff, and is optional. “It’s evolving and it’s far better than anything that’s existed before, but it doesn’t tell schools they have to do it.”

“There are still lots of teachers not able to be out because it isn’t safe in their workplaces, which is very concerning. And some out teachers are harassed and bullied in their schools.” Pictured are PPTA members at the Wellington Pride parade earlier this year.

PPTA-proud-2017The Rainbow Taskforce believes that some schools won’t change unless they’re compelled to by ERO checks, says Kirsty. “We have a very good relationship with ERO, so we’ll work with them to get inclusiveness checked consistently around the country.” In some areas, diversity for ERO doesn’t include minority sexual and gender identities, she says.

Kirsty says ERO is working on a “national evaluation of sexuality education curriculum in schools, including a focus on effective practice regarding LGBT students”, which may be published early in 2018.

It won’t be “a massive shift for PPTA to meet the NZ Standard on inclusive workplaces, but it shows our commitment.” As an example, the union will need to change gender choices on the membership form, she says.

“It’s also not about requiring schools to meet the Rainbow Standard. The standard is not written with schools in mind, and may not be the best way to get change. This is about our organisation reaching the standard.”

The recommendation about the Secondary Teachers Collective Agreement refers to maternity grants and a second year of unpaid parental leave, which are available only to female teachers.

“Our work’s not finished, we still have plenty to do,” says Kirsty. “We offer about 20 free workshops a year to schools about inclusive practice, open to all staff, not just union members. It’s focused on students but lots of Rainbow teachers really appreciate it; they pass us notes or tell us afterwards. A lot have never thought about it before.”

“The PPTA is leading the way in some respects; we’re the squeaky wheel that reminds people the issue needs to be dealt with. We work alongside Rainbow Youth and InsideOUT, but because we meet regularly with the Ministry of Education, the Education Council and ERO, we can keep on raising the issues.”

See the livestream of the conference session on the conference web page – discussion about Rainbow issues was on Day 2 (Wed 4) from about 11-11.30am and starts at about 3 hours into the video, as well as from 15m in on Day 3 (Thurs 5). See also the PPTA’s Rainbow Taskforce publication Affirming diversity of sexualities and gender identities in the school community (26 pages, PDF). Jenny R

Kahukura Pounamu: more events for takatāpui in Ōtautahi

An initial hui for takatāpui – Māori with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, or sex characteristics – was held in Ōtautahi Christchurch in late September.

With lots of energy to continue, it was agreed to run a second hui before the end of the year, to make decisions about a possible network. That event – Kahukura Pounamu: Te Rā Whakatinana (Day of completion) – will be held on Sunday December 3, 9.30-5pm. The day will include Whanaungatanga – getting to know each other, reporting back the analysis of the work done at Te Rā Tūhura, and considering proposals for an ongoing takatāpui network.

Before then (Sunday November 12) will be a whānau social event for takatāpui and their whanau. This alcohol-free event will help everyone to continue to get to know the group, have something to eat and drink, have an informal Sunday afternoon chill, and have a sing on the karaoke (not compulsory!).

Registration details for both events are on the Facebook pages:
venue details will be sent on registration – this is to help keep the venue safe and to give an idea of numbers.

Wild Women Walk an ancient Otago waka site

DunWildWomenOct2Dunedin’s Wild Women Walking Group were given a tour of the Papanui inlet foreshore in October, to increase their knowledge of what archaeological markers to look out for around our eroding coastline and what to do if they find anything.

In 2013, Shar Briden, second from left above, local members of Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou and a team of volunteers found a totara waka eroding from this foreshore on Otago Peninsula.

DunWildWomenOct3Plaited fibre ropes found in the waka hull were found to be 460 years old, dating from the mid-1500s, making it the second oldest waka to be found in New Zealand.

For a decade, volunteers have monitored and recovered significant taonga and koiwi (human remains) from the area. Hand-adzed wooden maul and wedges, as well as stone and bone tools and needles, moa bone awls and fish hooks, erode regularly on the foreshore. Shar and JR, photos by Audrey Heyzer.

Paekakariki Pride 2017

Labour weekend 2017 was full of pride in Paekakariki; a one-word summary from co-creator, Val Little was “amazing!”. “We’ll need a bigger village in 2018,” she said: there was support and participation from all sectors, not only Rainbow residents and friends.

But actually, “we need to keep it grassroots, its unique and authentic feel.” The starting point was to galvanise the village, and encourage people to think about rainbow issues.

Highlights included having the parade being led by kids from the local primary school, having a new group ‘Kapiti christians for gay marriage’ in the parade (a lesbian couple were recently refused permission to marry in Paekakariki’s St Peter’s, as it’s not permitted in the Anglican church), and Georgina Beyer cutting the ribbon to start the parade. Georgina was the recipient of proceeds from the first event, in 2016, to assist with medical expenses.

This year’s proceeds will go to OuterSpaces Te Kete o Te Kāhui, a registered charity which is the parent organisation for four LGBTIQ+ youth groups based in Wellington. This is to honour Virginia Burns (Virginia Parker-Bowles, or V), an event organiser, community mobiliser and glamour queen who died earlier this year, who was a strong supporter of OuterSpaces.

Val is hopeful that Guinness World Records will recognise the ‘shortest pride parade’; “we have to complete the formal application, but we’re talking about approximately 10 metres, the pedestrian crossing in Beach Road. And then we’ll be lobbying the Kapiti District Council, to paint the ‘zebra’ crossing as a rainbow, rather than white.”

A brief video of the parade posted to LNA’s Facebook page has attracted the most reactions and shares in recent weeks.

Val would love to hear from anyone who has ideas or would like to be involved in 2018; contact her via the Vinyl & Proud Facebook page. And in conclusion, “Wherever you are, plan to come to Paekakariki for Labour Weekend in 2018”.

Auckland Lesbian Festival

This landmark event in early November brought together a group of panellists with notable achievements in lesbian and wider communities, and an audience of around 60 current and former lesbian feminist activists.

Speakers included activist and iwi manager Sharon Hawke (Ngāti Whatua, Ngāti Mahuta); lawyer Prue Kapua (Ngāti Whakaue, Te Arawa, Ngāti Kahungunu), and Samoan anti-violence leader Betty Sio, as well as two panels on social justice and lesbian visibility. The event was organised by Cissy Rock, who facilitated, Violet Ryan and Betty Sio.

The day began with the tikanga of the mana whenua (people of Auckland); the sound of the conch shell and a mihi from Sharon. Sharon defined visibility as mana, “my mana as a person”, and she and Prue talked about the impact of colonisation on the mana of Māori women.

Sharon discussed mana wāhine in her iwi, giving the example of kuia telling the kaumatua what to say on the marae paepae (forecourt) and a fierce aunt who would tell kaumatua in front of manuhiri to shut up and sit down if they didn’t follow the line that had been agreed. [Sharon is pictured below, sitting, listening to Sarah Lambourne, left, with Louisa Wall and Betty Sio.]

LF SarahLouisaBettySharonShe also talked about the recovery of a precious carving of ancestress Whātua Kaimarie, from the swamp in which it had been hidden from missionaries after they forbade carvings with penises and vaginas. “Our visibility was rescued by her”. The carving sits above the door of the whare hui at Orakei, and resurrected the traditional Ngāti Whatua carving style.

Sharon talked about how the mana Ngāti Whatua was gradually destroyed by a series of legal and illegal thefts of their Auckland land, and her involvement in the occupation of Takaparawha (Bastion Point) as a teenager. She described how the iwi are recovering their mana following the settlement of their Treaty claim, which made them the third-largest landowner in the CBD.

She invited everyone to a hui at Orakei on May 25, 2018, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the eviction of Ngāti Whatua occupiers from Takaparawha by 700 police and armed forces. She also talked about becoming the mother, with her partner Mera, of a whangai child in midlife.

Prue Kapua, below, described falling in love with a woman for the first time in mid-life, and her very public coming out as “a bullet point on Louisa (Wall’s) CV in the Sunday Star Times”. She described herself as “lesbian, Māori and a woman – no one takes precedence, they’re all part of who I am”.

Prue KapuaAs national president of the Māori Women’s Welfare League, she is proud that the league was the only Māori organisation to oppose the Springbok Tour in 1956, and also supported the Homosexual Law Reform Bill in the mid-1980s, but described later difficulties other Māori lesbians had had standing for prominent roles in the league.

“For me to be president now for a second term, without any comment about me being a lesbian, shows change,” she said.

“Visibility is very important for Māori women, because of the losses we suffered in colonisation. We have hapū, iwi and wharenui named after women, and more than the 13 female signatories would have signed the treaty if the colonists hadn’t denied that women had the power to sign on behalf of hapū. Colonial women were the property of their fathers or husbands and that was imposed on Māori women.”

She described another of her roles as supporting Louisa’s work in parliament by drafting “things behind the scenes, which is how we got to marriage equality”. She paid tribute to the three lesbian couples who first challenged the Marriage Act, resulting in the Quilter v Attorney-General decision of the 1990s.

More recently, Prue and Louisa have worked on ensuring that children of lesbian mothers can have both their parents on their birth certificates, which is possible under the Status of Children Act and important for access if relationships break down.

Social justice

In this panel, Prue said that sometimes people are “too scared to call themselves political. As women, Māori and lesbians, everything we do is political – if we’re not political, we’re compliant”.

Betty Sio described her involvement with Bastion Point protest, the Black Women’s Movement and its lesbian caucus, and youth organisations. Both she and Sharon were part of Wāhine mo nga wāhine, set up by Māori and Pacific lesbians.

“We were really hard on ourselves,” Betty said. “We had lots of debates about things like mixed relationships – quite a few were in Māori–Pacific relationships and Black-White relationships. And talking about racism – they weren’t easy conversations.” [Betty, right, was snapped at the festival in a selfie with Sonya Te Mata.]

LF Sonya and BettyLater, Betty was a members of several women’s bands, including The Guile and a group with lesbian friends who called themselves  Silverbeets. She then helped set up the PI Women’s Project, which worked against domestic violence, alongside Te Kākano o te Whānau and Rape Crisis.  That led to her founding the Pacific Islands Safety and Prevention Project, a Black feminist  organisation that worked with Pacific women, holding men accountable for their violence against women, and built relationships with similar Black feminist organisations overseas.

Pākehā lawyer and QC, Frances Joychild, discussed her earlier activism for homosexual law reform, against the Springbok Tour, her experience as the mother of a baby with serious health problems, and her more recent work against child poverty.

“It’s disgraceful beyond belief that people can’t get homes, and can’t afford to live. Kids grow up moving three times a year. We’re accumulating a tragedy involving a whole generation that we’ve all let happen.” Prue Kapua agreed: “Inequality is ongoing and intensifying, and needs constant challenge.”

Huhana Hickey also described her experience with a lesbian community that “didn’t want to know disabled women. Nightclubs weren’t accessible so I never got to go.”

Lesbian Festival 1Organisers Cissy Rock, Violet Ryan and Betty Sio are pictured with panellists and participants on the second and third from the left at the front, and on the right, respectively.

Visibility

This panel stimulated the most discussion about visibility and lesbian identity. As well as Sharon, Betty and Louisa, the panel included Sarah Lambourne (Ngāti Kahungunu, Chinese and Pākehā), a long-time lesbian event organiser who identifies as femme; new Auckland Pride board member Cassie Roma, who hails from North America and brought out the gay ATMs when she worked for the ANZ bank; new Pride board member Letitia Taikato (Te Arawa, Ngai-te-rangi, Tainui, Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga) who identifies as takatāpui; Pākehā Waiheke musician Frankie Hill; Pride Board member Sonya Te Mata, who has Cook Islands, Māori and Tahitian ancestry and leads the Pacific contribution to the Oceania segment in the Parade.

Prue pointed out that a Google search for ‘famous lesbians’ brings up “every actor who has played one, and celebrity lesbians” but not those who have led significant social change for lesbians. Louisa mentioned the international Lesbian Visibility Day on April 26, which has rarely been commemorated in Aotearoa.

Audience and panel members discussed differences between women who came out in the 70s to 90s and since then. Sonya said “the intergenerational difference is very strong”. Frankie said she sees lesbians as assimilated rather than visible. “Young people today are coming up with their own terms to describe their lives. Lesbian was such a powerful word for us, but I think it’s quite natural for the word to go out of use.”

Betty expressed a view often heard in discussion between sessions, when she said “I hunger for lesbian space. I took for granted that lesbian space would always be there – I want that for younger women.”

Jenny Rankine

Auckland Pride 2018

The kaupapa/theme for Auckland Pride 2018 is ‘Rainbow Warriors: Pride and Peace’, recognising that human rights and LGBTIQ+ people are under attack all over the world: He pōkēkē uenuku i tu ai! Against a dark cloud, a rainbow stands out brightly!

Festival and Parade registrations are now open, and dates for major events are confirmed: Opening and Gala, February 2; Same Same But Different Writer’s Festival, February 9-10; Heroic Garden Festival, February 9-11; Big Gay Out, February 11; Pride Parade and Party, February 17.

Mahinārangi Tocker tribute: Auckland Arts Festival 2018

The programme for the 2018 Auckland Arts Festival is starting to be released, and includes two performances of “Love Me As I Am”, a multi-artist tribute to and celebration of the music and life of Mahinārangi Tocker.

She wrote over 1,000 songs, in a range of styles, exploring identity and aroha. Mahinārangi was a champion for Māori music, gay rights and mental illness rights, with an enormously energetic approach to creativity.

Artists include Anika Moa, Annie Crummer, Shona Laing and Charlotte Yates. 8pm, Great Hall, Auckland Town Hall. Tickets from $39-79 pp, $294-474 for table of 6. Visit Facebook event page and Auckland Arts Festival website.

5 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

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    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!

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  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.

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

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