What was happening in April? Here’s our Haratua update – all items collected in one handy page!
Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction
How we make babies and whānau
Auckland drag kings wanted
Auckland interviewees needed about 1980s lesbian social lives
From Gay Ski Week QT to Queenstown’s Winter Pride
Enthusiastic response to Dunedin Pride
Lesbians and queer women have until Tuesday June 5 to tell the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction what specific and different expectations and needs we have from these services.
Submissions can be made online or by mailing or emailing a PDF form. There are four main questions: What currently works well? What doesn’t work well? What could work better? What sort of society would be best for the mental health of all people? There is also an open “Is there anything else you want the Inquiry to know? question. You can choose to keep some or all of your submission confidential.
The six-member Inquiry panel is representative of health and mental health professionals, consumers, youth, and Māori and Pacific peoples. None identify as lesbian, or any other non-heterosexual orientation. The demographic information requested includes gender but not sexual identity.
If you are or have been a consumer of mental health or addiction services; a health professional; family, friend or whānau of someone with mental health and/or addiction challenges; or have a view on mental health and addiction matters from any other capacity, this is your opportunity to present your message.
Twenty-five people interested in forming families involving same-sex couples attended a Do It Yourself Babymaking session with Christchurch researcher and University of Canterbury lecturer Nicola Surtees, right, during Dunedin Pride last month.
They were interested in the practicalities and challenges of finding donors and mothers, conceiving and bringing up children, and what’s possible under the law, says Nicola. For example “only two people can be named on a child’s birth certificate”, the biological mother and either the non-birth mother or a known donor. Some families with young children also shared their experiences at the session.
Nicola also talked about her research two years year ago at the 30th anniversary of the Homosexual Law Reform Bill passage in Christchurch, and is open to other Rainbow community requests.
She interviewed 60 people “in 21 different family constellations”, 12 comprised of lesbians, known donors and their children and others where lesbians and (mostly) gay or straight known donors had begun or were planning insemination attempts.
Known donors were common to all of the family constellations: “all of the lesbians had chosen donors they already knew or got to know”. All the participants identified as lesbian and gay rather than queer, apart from heterosexual donors. Most were Pākehā, some were Māori and from migrant communities.
Nicola describes the families as “constantly inventive”, mixing conventional ideas about what families should be like with new ideas and family forms.
For example, “one couple was figuring out how to relate to the donor who was a cousin of the non-birth mother. They mixed familiar ideas about the importance of genetic relatedness and family resemblance with newer ideas about social parenting for non-birth mothers and the right for the parenting of non-birth mothers to be recognised on children’s birth certificates.”
Many families, Māori and tauiwi (non-Māori), used the concepts of whakapapa and whānau to help make sense of their relationships with donors. “Māori whānau were very clear that they would use only known donors because of whakapapa. They brought those men into their lives as involved fathers, and sometimes as parents, in a whānau where all the adults shared caring responsibilities for their children.”
“Pākehā and migrant families used whakapapa and whānau in a similar way, not always with as much depth and nuance.”
Donors were known to the children as fathers, parents, friends, uncles or special uncles. Anonymous donors have not been allowed in assisted conception since 2004, when “the right for children to know their genetic origins was written into law” says Nicola. Fertility clinics now only provide a pool of ‘knowable’ donors. Female couples don’t know the donor when they get the sperm, but they and their children can know who he is in the future, because of the provisions of the Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Act 2004.
“Donors are not considered fathers in law – their legal parenthood is extinguished,” says Nicola. However, the constellations negotiate their social relationships. “It’s not necessarily easy; sometimes the lesbians started out expecting the men to have little involvement with the children, and later let them in when they saw the benefit for the kids and themselves.”
“Some donors agreed to be less involved because they saw it as their only chance, but hoped to be more of a father than an uncle and were disappointed. Sometimes the adults realised that the children would dictate relationship with the donor as they got older.”
“It worked well when everyone took the time to get to know each other, to think about who everyone would be in relation to each other, and to discuss their fears. But it’s very hard to set it in concrete at the beginning – having a baby doesn’t always go according to plan.”
Nicola’s experience of known donor insemination was years ago, when she was one of four lesbian parents for her sister’s daughter. Nicola was also involved in early research about lesbian and gay families with the Families Commission, and is now receiving “very positive” responses about her research at conferences. Jenny R
Women who want to perform in drag are invited to a rehearsal on Sunday May 13 at Garnet Station’s Tiny Theatre in Westmere.
Cissy Rock, left, and Little Theatre co-ordinator Verity George are organising a troupe for a performance planned for August. Eight women and non-binary people with a range of ages and ethnicities have showed interest, but the pair are aiming for at least 10.
“Several have never performed in drag before,” says Verity. “Some are very shy; they’ve been singing in their bedroom and want the opportunity to take it further.”
Those interested are asked to bring a name, character and piece of music they could perform. The pair want to encourage “fun and subversion” and a range of drag; Drag kings are diversifying, including non-binary and androgynous kings. Verity has yet to decide between playing a drag king or a bioqueen, “a woman playing a man playing a woman”.
“Drag isn’t happening in Auckland among lesbians at the moment, and we’re keen to revive it,” she says. The meeting is at 4.30pm. Email Verity on email@example.com
Women who were active in lesbian social and sporting activities in the greater Auckland 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interview recordings will be deposited at the Alexander Turnbull Library, and embargoes can be set if required. JR
The country has gained another Pride festival with the renaming and expansion of the former Gay Ski Week QT, which this year will include Queenstown’s first Pride in the Park.
Winter Pride 2018 from September 1 to 8 will have three strands – the on-mountain events for skiers, the parties and evening events that GSWQT was known for, and adventurous off-mountain events.
This could triple the number of events in the week, enabling a wider range, a choice of activities every night, and more free and low-cost events.
The move comes after Martin King and his husband Mike bought the business from Queenstown locals Sally and Mandy Whitewoods, who founded GSWQT in 2012 and built it into a major event. Martin and Mike have attended every year, and two years ago they moved to Queenstown with their 11-year-old son.
The pair have set up a women’s group to discuss events that lesbians and queer women want. “There are 39 women discussing ideas in a closed Facebook group,” says Martin, including Queenstown, Wanaka and overseas members of women’s snow sports network Fanny Pack.
Martin says they’re “really open to women-only events”, and new activities can easily be added to the schedule. They encourage other organisations to bring events to the festival, and have had initial conversations with Lick about a women’s party.
The on-mountain events this year will focus on Cardrona and the Remarkables, and include free ski and boarding guides, a learners’ zone, Pride zones in bars and eateries, a charity drag race, and a daily bus to the field where skiers can leave their gear overnight.
Evening events will include a free apres ski every night with live music, Pride shared tables at different restaurants, five parties, as well as quiz, film, cards, karaoke and comedy nights.
Off-mountain events will include a Pride lake cruise, long lunches, frisbee golf, jet boating, white water rafting, mountain biking, hiking and the new Agayzing Race around the city, as well as other outdoor adventures.
Pride in the Park will include a live performance stage, food trucks and stalls, with “families and allies, a real community feel”, says Martin.
Martin describes the organising model as a “social enterprise” that doesn’t aim to make a profit, but to break even with enough left over to kick start the following year’s festival.
Previous participants have come from around the country (45%) and Australia (45%), with the rest coming from many other countries. GSWQT sold more than 4,500 to events, and thousands more came to their free and non-ticketed events.
Martin hopes that Winter Pride will attract a wider variety of participants, and involve more local people.
Dunedin Pride went “way beyond expectations” in attendance and enthusiasm for the varied events, generating “very positive feedback” according to Pride committee member Ann Charlotte.
One hundred Rainbow people attended the opening in the hub in the central city, pictured; “by Dunedin standards that’s very heartening”. Out lesbian Dunedin City Council CEO Sue Bidrose opened the event as the mayor was unavailable, talking about her own coming out and why Pride is important. “She finished up stroking her black t-shirt until it changed to show a rainbow and a unicorn – everyone was in stitches.”
The standard of the art exhibition organised by Sarah Baird on the walls of the hub for the week “really reached a new level”, Ann says. The hub is pictured at night.
She particularly enjoyed the coming out stories in a small gay-owned café that was decorated for Pride 10 days before the opening and squeezed in 46 people (below). The “really lovely atmosphere” began with Ann’s rendition of an old favourite from the 70s – Happy Homosexuals, sung to the tune of the Teddy Bears Picnic. “We had no problem getting 10 people to tell stories, and there was a great variety of experiences.”
The poetry and writers nights also went well. “Three lovely lesbian poets read their work, all very different. Robyn Maree Pickens and Emer Lyons wrote a series of short poems for the event, laid them out on a big table and alternated picking one up at random and reading it.” The third poet was the current Burns Fellow, Rhian Gallagher.
More than 40 people braved a rainy, freezing night to watch the Thin End of the Wedge, about the Homosexual Law Reform campaign, including those who had lived through those times and young people for whom it was history.
The positive reception to the events “fired the committee to build on it with one-off events” Ann says. JR
Subsequent to the interview and publication of this profile, Genevieve has come out as George Fowler, non-binary transboy. Follow the link to the Facebook post announcement.
Before Wellington-based Genevieve Fowler started performing as a drag king in 2015, she worked as a corporate event manager, studied “unsuccessfully” at university, and worked behind a bar.
Drag started “organically” for her rather than being planned, which turns out to be a recurring pattern in her work. “I started dressing as a dude, I was surrounded by showbiz folk and it seemed natural to explore that onstage.” She began with burlesque, but quickly found her niche in comedy.
“This hairy, excitable, teenage boy fell out of me, and we’ve been figuring each other out ever since. Hugo is a genuine alter ego, it feels quite pure self-expression. It’s still me, just a sparkly, fun version that lets me do ridiculous things onstage and make fun of gender. Hugo is more camp and fabulous than I am in real life, and much louder.” The early picture of Hugo is by Pip Clark.
Her move into full-time performing came “by luck and accident. It was inconveniencing the bosses at my full-time job for me to take so many nights off to perform, so I quit.” Fringe Bar needed a bartender, so she worked there and threw herself into performance.
Hugo’s first costume was a ringleader, which has been exaggerated over the time. Hugo also often dresses as a clown, and says his cabaret draws from Rachel Rouge’s monthly Wellington Menagerie shows. “The way I paint my face is youthful, I don’t do the furrows and lines. It’s also aggressively hairy, with a moustache and chest hair.”
In retrospect, she calls leaving her full-time job “the dumbest choice, but it worked out fine.”
Gen prefers to speak in Hugo’s voice about events after that, since “Hugo is my professional persona”. Hugo gradually started developing shows, and it was “a natural progression” for him to become an MC. “It was one less person to pay, and in my own shows using Hugo got the right tone much faster than prepping another MC.”
Hugo’s first show was a one-off poetry slam that he pulled together in a day for the Fringe Bar. His first big show was Tragic Mike in 2015, an all-male piss-take of porn-star strip clichés. Hugo credits the “generous venues” that allowed him to “experiment with different stuff”.
As well as comedy shows and one-off events, Hugo now organises and MCs two long-running shows that have toured to different centres. The first is the Kiwi franchise of Naked Girls Reading, to which he gave an original spin. “Ours are queer and aggressively feminist shows that have more political bite; the US shows are more burlesque and have a glamorous aesthetic.”
Each show has a theme, which have so far included pride, religion, feminist propaganda, Kiwiana, fantasy, crime and punishment, science fiction and smut.
“My dream is to tour it around the country and to smaller centres. They really crave these shows – we have the best time. The cast and the environment is gorgeous, it feels like we’re doing something special.”
Hugo says the women in Naked Girls Reading “teach me how to be a better feminist and queer every month”.
However, the show takes a lot of effort – researching and editing readings, rehearsing the casts, writing banter, and rehearsing with lighting and sound. “There’s still lots of spontaneity; it’s like a talk show, you know the direction the conversation is going to go.”
The show has a seven-person team of “cool queer women”, covering admin, photography and design, tour production, merchandise and front of house, sound and lighting. “I want to expand my team – working 50 hours a week on the laptop, I’ve been neglecting my creative practice”.
Hugo recently branched out with Naked Boys Reading in Wellington, which he describes as a feminist show exploring the way patriarchy affects men, the social expectation that men’s bodies are for “fighting and fucking”, and our discomfort with “vulnerable male bodies. People really want that back, and there’s still so much to talk about there.”
Hugo’s other long-running show is the Pun Battle, “an original concept show. I’ve been obsessed with the idea for 18 months. It’s a high-octane, competitive, round-robin show”, open to anyone as long as they’re punny. It’s the easiest show to tour, so after refining it in Wellington, Hugo is “dipping a toe into the water” with shows in Auckland, Palmerston North and Nelson.
As well as organising these tours, Hugo runs comedy shows in Wellington every couple of months. The Comedy show with good comedians in it! has an all-women line-up, but that isn’t advertised: “Shows with all men never mention it and we shouldn’t either.”
Hugo takes “a lot of pride in giving people their first stage spots and seeing comics doing well when I gave them their second ever paid performance.”
Hugo has also started Cool story bro, because “I don’t find stand-up comedy as funny when I know the stories aren’t true”. The show gathers Wellington comedians for storytelling about their close calls and stupid decisions.
Hugo isn’t worried about saturating the audience for all these shows – “they’re all different and they attract different audiences. But getting people out of the house is hard when there’s lots of others things they could be doing.”
Gen identifies as Pākehā and came out at 20; she has used a lot of labels – femme, camp, non-binary, lesbian – and now describes herself as a “bog-standard queer”. She says she’ll keep playing “an excitable, silly transvestite cabaret character” as long as she can. “Everyone should do drag – it’s good for your soul and makes you question who you are.”
Photos: Naked Girls Reading – NateMcQuade; Clown – JeffTollan; black and white – ParadoxPhotography
Laura O’Connell Rapira has links to Te Āti Awa in Taranki and Ngāpuhi in Tai Tokerau. She spoke with Jenny Rankine about her path from high school hip hop to RockEnrol and digital activist organisation ActionStation.
Laura was an only child but never felt like one, because she had 16 aunts and uncles. She spent her first three years in Māngere, and moved to New Plymouth where she shared a room with cousins until she was seven.
“Then mum and dad broke up and we moved to Laingholm in West Auckland. We bought the cheapest house in a mostly White middle-class area”. Laura went to Laingholm Primary and Green Bay High School.
“I started hanging out with kids linked with the Crips, but I chose to be Bloods and wore all red, to be different. I stopped putting much effort into academic success and started smoking weed and wagging. I was looking for music that better represented me and was heavily influenced by American hip hop. We all copied Black people in the US.”
Then two things happened that changed her direction. “I went to Phat06 in Takaka, my first ever music festival and saw Shapeshifter and the Black Seeds – that was the first time I heard New Zealand rappers and hip hop. I thought I wanted to be a hippie rather than a gangster.”
At 16, Laura also became a peer sexuality support person at her school. “That was the first time I met a trans person, and someone who identified as takatāpui; it opened up my world. I started putting a name to things I’d been feeling but not thinking too much about.”
She took her first step into organisational politics when she became the student rep on the school board of trustees for the year. Because she enjoyed the music festival so much, she did a one-year diploma in event management at the Music and Audio Institute of New Zealand in Auckland and took off overseas.
“I wanted to work on the best festivals so I moved to Bristol in the UK, because there were 10 festivals each summer in the south-west of England. I managed to get a job as volunteer co-ordinator at Glastonbury, and that grew into doing the same job at other festivals over the summers.”
“You try to build a tight-knit group out of the regular festival volunteers, plus the ones who are there only for that event. Glastonbury attracts 60,000 people – it’s the size of a small city and takes half an hour to walk from one side to the other.”
In winter she worked in a charity fundraising call centre that raised money for a group of advocacy and non-profit groups.
After three years, she moved to Canada, living in Vancouver and working at a retail shop, a handful of music festivals, as well as an unpaid internship in marine conservation education with the Vancouver Aquarium.
“One of my jobs was to travel in an educational van, with sea cucumbers, sea stars and other marine creatures, to the interior of British Columbia visiting 14 schools. Some were indigenous schools, and a lot of rural kids hadn’t seen the ocean. That was mind-blowing – the ocean was a big part of growing up for me.”
Laura returned to Aotearoa in 2013. “I was impatient to do something to make the world a better place.” She signed up to the first Live the Dream 10-week programme for young social entrepreneurs.
“My social enterprise proposal was Our Place events, creating interesting and unique parties in natural environments where all the profits go to an environmental charity.”
“I ran a few, but it’s very hard to make money from events; it takes lots of work to make $1,000. It felt like I was putting my energy into privileged people who were offsetting a bit of guilt.”
Laura found out about ActionStation while she was on the social enterprise programme. She decided the social entrepreneurship model was not the only answer and became interested in movement entrepreneurship.
“I heard someone was starting a New Zealand version of MoveOn, which had been going in the USA for 20 years, inspiring GetUp! in Australia, Campact in Germany, LeadNow in Canada and 38 Degrees in the UK.” Thirty-eight degrees is the tipping point for avalanches.
“Those were the five organisations following a model of political campaigning that is multi-issued, grassroots, digitally facilitated and responds rapidly. I sent ActionStation campaign ideas until they hired me.”
During elections in the UK and Canada, Laura had noticed that “none of the young artists and creatives believed that parliamentary politics would make a difference, so none of them voted.”
With an election looming in 2014, she co-founded non-partisan organisation RockEnrol to change this. She and a group of flatmates and friends, pictured in 2014, organised six events featuring Kiwi musicians, and volunteers around the country organised another 36. To attend, people had to be registered to vote.
“Young people provided their name, email and phone number, and we partnered with the Council of Trade Unions whose youth members called those 3,000 people before the election and encouraged them to vote. The prevailing media story was that young people don’t vote. The main thing RockEnrol did was put forward an alternative narrative – that young people do care and are voting.”
Independent polls found that the proportion of 18 to 30-year-olds who voted in 2014 increased by 3.4 percent.
“RockEnrol took off quickly and Marianne Elliott (then ActionStation director) saw it was important for me to see it through. She let me spend my 24 hours at ActionStation to work full-time on RockEnrol, which paid me and my best friend.”
“RockEnrol has never been registered as an entity; I didn’t intend it to go on. But in 2017, RockEnrol was approached by 20 volunteers and a crowd-funding campaign plus two donors rasied $10,000. We hired a campaign manager – India Logan-Riley, a young Māori woman – with that money.” Laura is “thinking of bringing RockEnrol under the ActionStation umbrella as a youth-focused arm.”
Laura became campaign manager then director of ActionStation, describing the organisation as “lean and agile with very low overheads, responding to the needs of the time and operating more like a start-up than an NGO.” It now employs six people who make up 4.5 full-time equivalents.
“In the beginning we didn’t have people to lead our direction, so we launched rapid petitions in response to issues that would attract people who valued our vision”; the website summarises this as “a society, economy and democracy that serves us – everyday people and the planet we love”.
“The moment it switched was the petition to save Campbell Live”. While the petition was unsuccessful it gained 75,000 signatures, and “we found that people loved the programme for different reasons, and they were mostly people who cared about a range of issues.”
AS now has 182,000 supporters. “We’re not prioritising growth now – we want people to take deeper and more impactful actions on more challenging issues.” Laura is the only Māori on the paid staff; however, “ten percent of the membership have whakapapa Māori, and our goal is an overrepresentation of Māori”.
Laura says she hasn’t pushed AS in any direction alone – “we have a tight-knit team and a flat way of operating with high input in campaign meetings. On an average week, we start with a 90-minute meeting discussing our campaigns, and on Friday we spend an hour discussing how it went day by day. We build consensus and work together.”
“The four issues we’re working on were voted for by members. We’re about to start campaigning to end sexual violence in New Zealand. The second is cleaning up rivers, which includes asserting Māori ownership of fresh water. The third is working on the impact of digital monopolies on our democracy; and the fourth is bold steps to make our tax system fairer.”
Laura is leading the anti-sexual violence and water campaigns, and a fifth area – “supporting Māori, Pasifika and other communities of colour to advocate on issues of racial justice, which is more community organising and less digital mobilisation.”
AS is working with local groups in five regions, which “thanks to Don Brash and Hobson’s Pledge, will vote in referenda about whether or not Māori wards should be abolished. We’ll be supporting local groups to keep them.”
AS is also supporting a campaign to stop the Waikeria Prison being built 30km north of Otorohanga, aimed at being the largest in the country. “New Zealand has locked up indigenous people at a rate higher than any other country in the world – we’re starting with Māori and taking it wider from there. A third example is supporting Renae Maihi’s petition to revoke Bob Jones’ knighthood for his racist comments about Māori.”
In 2017, Laura expressed her disappointment in an article for Spinoff with a Māori Party news release criticising Labour for legalising same-sex marriage. Before the election, AS created scorecards ranking party policies on 12 topics, including improving the lives of queer New Zealanders.
Laura says she doesn’t “hang out in queer or takatāpui spaces, and hasn’t followed queer politics”. In researching the scorecard, AS spoke with Rainbow Youth, InsideOUT and read reports by No Pride in Prisons (now People against Prisons Aotearoa). She sees a major issue as the need for schools “to be safe for young queer and trans kids”, and for training for teachers “on everything from pronouns to sexuality”, and having consent and healthy relationships in the curriculum. She sees a similar need in the health system.
She wants lesbians and other queer women to know that ActionStation “has a community campaign page where people can launch their own petition-based campaign, with a full-time staff member to help them take that from a petition to policy change. We want to support queer and trans people in efforts to make change.”
“From my limited perspective, never having provided LGBT services or campaigned specifically for LGBT rights, for those of us who grew up disconnected from hapū and marae our biggest battle is unlearning a lot of internalised ideas that aren’t true about the patriarchal nature of Māori society. I’m learning that those ideas came with colonisation.”
Laura came out to her friends at 17 – “I was sure by then. I was sexually experimental in the UK, mostly seeking boys and not girls. Four years ago, when I started the relationship I’m in now, I told my parents: ‘I’m in a relationship with a woman and I’d like you to meet her.’ They said ‘Cool that’s great’ – it was very uneventful.”
Laura tends to prefer queer to describe herself; “I find it more inclusive. I’ve also used takatāpui, mostly to make a point to the Māori Party. I also say lesbian, but I’m not sure it’s totally honest, because I have been attracted to men.”
Laura is learning te reo, “and trying to connect with my marae up north”. She dreams big, working for a world where “everyone has access to food, safe water, shelter, income, education and a life free from violence”. Many people share this vision, but not everyone works so intensely for it.
We welcome your suggestions of websites, books, films and any other media of interest to lesbians and queer women.
Play with extra lesbians
A new (old) book: Despised and Rejected
Lesbian writers, Auckland festival
We appreciate the original cartoons provided by Helen Courtney. This one, Flight of fancy, seems to fit particularly well with Media.
The Rose Theatre has a short season in May of Popcorn by English writer Ben Elton, who also wrote the novel on which the play is based.
Lesbian actor, opera singer and teacher Shona Harris plays lesbian Karla. This character is Karl in the original; Suzy Sampson, director, changed the gender by casting Shona in the role, and between them, Shona and Suzy developed Karla’s lesbian persona.
It made sense, says Shona, and in some ways was quite easy. “Karla is a strong character, colourful and successful in 1990s material terms (when the action is set); she walks with a swagger; she likes women and is indifferent to men,” she says.
The plot centres around two young killers, who may be influenced by the violent movies made by a Hollywood director. Karla is his producer. The play is comedic but also violent; there are warnings for sexual references and strong language, and a recommendation for the audience to be 16+.
Shona has nearly 15 years professional acting experience in Canada and the UK. This is her first performance in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Persephone Books are a publisher and bookshop in London, specialising in “neglected fiction and non-fiction by mid-twentieth century (mostly) women writers”.
Despised and Rejected is one of the new spring/summer publications. First published in 1918, before the end of WWI, it has “strong themes of opposition to war, acceptance of homosexuality, tolerance of others”.
The central character is Dennis, gay, who becomes a conscientious objector. He is close friends with Antoinette, “who has not realised she is lesbian but is unabashed when she does”. Dennis, in contrast, agonises. The novel “was much ahead of its time in its depiction of homosexual love and desire, in Antoinette’s ‘crushes’ and slow acceptance that she won’t be able to be in love with a man, in its honest attitude to the war, and in the radical way it links maleness with belligerence and being gay with the refusal to kill”.
The book is clearly worth reading. Also interesting is its legal fate: published late May 1918, it received a “polite review” in the Times Literary Supplement in June. In October there was a two-day trial of the publisher. The prosecution was explicitly in relation to the pacifism; the press reporting at the time (see above), noting that it was not an ‘obscenity’ trial, quoted a description of the work as ‘morally unhealthy and most pernicious’. Remaining copies of the work (800 had been sold) were seized and destroyed. Note, this was 10 years before The Well of Loneliness was banned, and just days before the armistice (11 November 1918).
Quotes are from the publisher.
Two lesbians – as far as we know – and both from the US, are included in the overseas guests in this year’s Auckland Writers Festival.
Eileen Myles has the persona of a beat poet, with both poetry, fiction and memoir (of their dog) in their repertoire. This is not their first visit to Aotearoa, but the first in this festival.
They are the judge of the Sarah Broom poetry prize, and there are two events you can attend: a 1-hour “in discussion with” (Saturday May 19, Afterglow) and a free panel event, Thursday May 17, “In the afterlife” with three other international writers, all men.
A. S. King, or Amy Sarig King, is a writer of short adult fiction and of YA fiction. She has two sessions in the schools programme, and a 1-hour “in discussion with” (Saturday May 19, Still Lives) event in the main programme. All her works make a good read for adults.
Look for their books in your library and local independent bookshops. Come to the festival if you can. AK
Love Me As I Am
The Music of Mahinaarangi Tocker, Auckland Arts Festival, March 2018
“Shona Laing is playing her guitar in the dressing room, while Annie Crummer is gasbagging to Hinewehi Mohi and I’m trying to remember these tongue-twisting rhymes Mahinaarangi Tocker wrote”. So tweeted another Name in NZ Music, Moana Maniapoto, from a rehearsal for the Auckland Arts Festival concert to honour self-declared “mongrel” Mahinārangi – Māori, Celtic, Hebrew, Lesbian.
Family, friends and some of the best-known musos of 1990s Aotearoa came together on March 16 and 17 to present a moving concert in memory of this talented singer–songwriter, who died a decade ago. There in the Auckland Town Hall they sang Mahinārangi’s songs, more than one of the professionals grumbling light-heartedly at how devilishly difficult these were to sing and to commit to memory.
The evening was a mixed experience. It felt wonderful / felt okay. It tingled the spine / fell a little flat. It was well attended / why was there not a full house? It got rave reviews and great coverage (especially from Radio New Zealand) / it didn’t get what it deserved.
Much symbolism comes with such a venue as the Town Hall – not least that the artist has “made it”. It’s a weird old space to fill, though. Was dry ice really needed, and did the cabaret-style tables and chairs work in place of the Stalls? Maybe. From the Circle, it was certainly fun looking down at them and their occupants.
A lot of soloists, a LOT – from ethereal Emma Paki to down-to-earth Don McGlashan – took their turns on stage. There was more than one group of outstanding backing musicians. Perhaps what avoided a sense of repeated entries and exits was producer Tama Waipara’s careful selection of recorded interviews with Mahinārangi, the otherwise absent star.
Some blink-and-miss-it moments occurred – I hope I caught them all. For instance GALS: the Gay and Lesbian Singers provided amazing backing vocals, but only at the very end of the penultimate (and title) song, ‘Love Me As I Am’. It seemed a shame. Good to know, though, that they were recorded for posterity – together with the rest of the concert (RadioNZ Concert).
Some voices had seen better days: hell, they’re the same age now as Mahina’s was when she died. We saw and heard singers who’d vanished after brief leaps to fame, and some of whom it might be said, “Nevertheless, she persisted.” Could any of this line-up do justice to Mahinārangi, who made music sound easy and whose notes were like quicksilver? What a bunch of diverse talent, though. And so many Live Famous People!
The performers were like a fifty-cent (or rather $50) mixture: some tried-and-true favourites, some disappointments, a few delicious surprises. At least one dragged out some truly annoying stand-up comedy to cover discomfort – that’s you, Anika Moa – but others seemed at ease with their material.
Shona Laing must, I thought, have really worked on her reo for this concert. Later, though, I learned that she and Mahinārangi had performed ‘My Love Be Still’, which has some Māori lyrics, for The Mongrel in Me show from 2004. Shona describes her as “a magnificent teacher. She just, you know, she was a tyrant with the accent.”
The most effective and affecting performances, I want to suggest, were by artists who, like Shona, were real “old hands” and had been able to make Mahina’s songs their own. Don McGlashan’s rendition of ‘When I Grow Up’ (first heard in the Like Minds, Like Mine campaign for mental health) sounded just like something he might have written. Moana Maniapoto offered a song that had been given to her by Mahinārangi: until she told us, I’d not noticed that ‘Papatūānuku’ was not Moana’s.
Annie Crummer chose work that, in Mahinārangi’s recording, had showcased seemingly effortless vocal acrobatics. Annie put her own spin on ‘Danger Kissing’, bringing a vocal richness and timbre very different from – but equally impressive to – the original. Lesbian muso Charlotte Yates’s performances in honour of Mahinarangi were both heartfelt and heart-wrenching: maybe Charlotte still holds a torch for this dear friend.
A relative newbie also showed she could produce goosebumps, however. Twenty-something Nadia Reid’s version of ‘Ending’ was perhaps the best and most effortless performance of the evening, the one that most evoked the original artist. Nadia reportedly asked to be part of the concert and, though they never met, has long admired Mahinārangi. In an interview before her national Ballads and Badlands tour of five years ago, she identified Mahina’s ‘Ending’ as one of the songs she would most love people to hear.
Mahinārangi’s family members book-ended the evening. Two Tocker sisters and – gasp – grown-up daughter Hinewairangi performed, largely a capella, bringing more goosebumps.
Don McGlashan was the only male soloist besides dancer Taiaroa Royal, whose mischievous demeanour with a pink fan was camp rather than blokey. What was Tai doing there, I wondered? Later I found out that he’d once shared a stage with Mahinārangi at New Zealand’s International Festival of the Arts, and that Taiaroa Royal – like other artists in different disciplines – had dedicated a work to her.
So another thing I’ve now learned about this much-missed muso is that she was a great collaborator. This is clearly one of the things that has prompted her peers and musical descendants to embrace her as they have. (Her ineffable talent is, of course, another.)
“I think she would have just loved all the versions of her songs,” Don McGlashan said at, and of, this tribute concert. “I think she would have just sat there and cracked up.” Yes, she would have laughed a lot: she was known for being full of humour. She’d have been in her element. But “sat there”? Never. As one of our art world’s best co-workers, she’d have joined in with gusto. How could she resist?
Photo by Ivan Karczewski and Kioui Pix.
Information is organised by region (national events first, then north to south, then overseas), then by date.
Takatāpui health survey: A national survey is gathering responses about takatāpui health with a target of 600 by August 31. The Honour Project Aotearoa is led by Associate Professor Leonie Pihama, Director of Te Kotahi Research Institute at the University of Waikato, and Alison Green, Chief Executive of national health promotion organisation Te Whāriki Takapou. Take the survey on Te Kotahi and Te Whāriki Takapou websites; email Leonie on email@example.com and Alison on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday 5 National day of action for pay equity – Mana Taurite Join with educators and other women workers calling on the Government to do the right thing by funding pay equity.
Events are planned in Wellington, Auckland, and at least 11 other centres: Whangarei, Hamilton, Tauranga, Rotorua, Hastings, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Taihape, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin. Visit the NZEI website for details and update.
Friday 18 Pink Shirt Day, a global day celebrating diversity and creating environments where all people can feel safe, valued and respected. It takes a stand against bullying and aiming to spread kindness. In Aotearoa, Pink Shirt Day is led by the Mental Health Foundation with support from the Peace Foundation, RainbowYOUTH, InsideOUT, New Zealand Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA), Auckland District Health Board Peer Sexuality Support Programme (PSSP), Youthline, Te Kaha O Te Rangatahi Trust, Emerge Aotearoa, the Human Rights Commission and Bullying-Free NZ Week. See the website.
To Sunday 13 Imogen Taylor exhibits modernist art with Vita Cochran and Isobel Thom in Pocket Histories. Imogen developed the exhibition with curator Ioana Gordon-Smith as part of Imogen’s McCahon House post-residency exhibition. Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, 420 Titirangi Rd.
To Saturday 26 Imogen Taylor and Diena Georgetti exhibition, Stolen Leopard, Michael Lett Gallery, 312 Karangahape Rd, corner of East St.
To Saturday 26, Wantok exhibition Melanesian artists living in Australia and Aotearoa (Dulcie Stewart, Jasmine Togo-Brisby, Luisa Tora, Salote Tawale, Torika Bolatagici and Tufala Meri) present de-colonialised views of beauty and mana, curated by Luisa Tora using the lenses of spirituality, symbolism and rites of passage associated with hair in Melanesian cultures. Mangere Arts Centre/Ngā Tohu o Uenuku, cnr Bader Dr and Orly Ave, Mangere. See the exhibition Facebook page. Photo: Jasmine Togo-Brisby, Post-Plantation, 2017.
Thursday 3 Annual Queer Quads at University of Auckland campuses, celebrating Rainbow communities across the university with free home baking. 12-2pm. Arts quad stall organised by Hidden Perspectives: Bringing the arts out of the closet.
Thursday 3 Princess Cyd, Hidden Perspectives and Gender Studies free movie night, about 16-year-old Cyd’s first relationship with Katie. 5pm, rm 209, Arts 1, University of Auckland building 206, behind the corner of Symonds St and Grafton Rd. See a campus map here. All welcome – popcorn and snacks, with a student-led discussion afterwards. See the trailer here.
Thursday 3 The Muse keyboard and guitar duo plays funk, rock, blues and original jazz instrumentals, 6.30-8pm, Ponsonby Cruising Clubrooms, Westhaven Marina. Also enjoy beautiful harbour views, free entry, reasonably priced drinks and bar snacks/meals.
Friday 4-Saturday 5 Urzila Carlson presents ‘Loser’ (International Comedy Fest). 8.30pm both nights, Skycity Theatre, tickets $30/$35. Visit website for details and to book.
Sunday 6 Dyke Hike 11am. Tanekaha Forest track, Brynderwyns. This is a newly developed walk through public and private land. The track goes through regenerating forest with kanuka and tanekaha as well as mixed broadleaf and podocarp forest in parts. There are great views from the top and a swing bridge to cross. Meet at the access point just off King Road. King Road is off Cove Road, on the right hand side coming from Langs Beach and just past the Mangawhai Heads turnoff. Meet at the access point which is from 3km up King Road via an unsealed road on the right just beyond the second bridge. 5-6 hours. Grade: Hard (boots required, tracks may be rough and difficult, steep hills possible. A reasonable level of fitness will help you to enjoy these hikes. If you are not an experienced hiker, we require you to complete two moderate hikes before you join us in a hike graded hard). Email email@example.com, visit www.lesbian.co.nz or the Facebook page.
Sunday 6 Finger painting workshop with a spiral theme on A3 paper, with Therry Weerts and Miriam Saphira as part of the Fringe of the Whau Arts festival. 10.30 -1pm at the Charlotte Museum, 8A Bentinck St, New Lynn, see charlottemuseum.lesbian.net.nz, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday 6 The Breaker Upperers – Feminist Film Night, fundraiser for Auckland Women’s Centre. 7.45-9.45pm, The Lido Cinema, 427 Manukau Rd, Epsom. Details on the Facebook event page; tickets $20 from Eventfinda.
Wednesday 9 aLBa Garnet Station, 85 Garnet Rd, Westmere. Natural health, understanding the health paradigm. Stacey Jarvis is a Naturopath with 23 years in practice. Hear her discuss how to take charge with your health, how the experts view health, and what they look for when they see patients. Arrive any time after 5.30pm for networking; we start in the Tiny Theatre at 6.30pm. Members free, non members $10.
Thursday 10 The Muse keyboard and guitar duo plays funk, rock, blues and original jazz instrumentals, 6.30-8pm, Ponsonby Cruising Clubrooms, Westhaven Marina. Also enjoy beautiful harbour views, free entry, reasonably priced drinks and bar snacks/meals.
Saturday 12-Saturday 26 Popcorn play by Ben Elton, directed by Suzy Sampson. Includes lesbian character Karla. The Rose Theatre, Rose Centre, School Rd, Belmont. Performances 8pm, Wednesday to Saturday, plus 4pm Sunday matinees. Go to theatre website for details and iTicket for tickets.
Sunday 13 Drag king rehearsal All new and experienced drag kings welcome, aiming for an August show. Bring a drag name, character and music. Garnet Station’s Tiny Theatre, 85 Garnet Rd, Westmere. Email Verity George, email@example.com
Thursday 17 The Muse keyboard and guitar duo plays funk, rock, blues and original jazz instrumentals, 6.30-8pm, Ponsonby Cruising Clubrooms, Westhaven Marina. Also enjoy beautiful harbour views, free entry, reasonably priced drinks and bar snacks/meals.
Sunday 20 Coffee & Stroll. 10am, meet at Clevedon Farmers Market, Monument Road (Gate 6, The Munro Entrance). There are many and varied food outlets; we’ll have a table, if possible, in the central green in front of the coffee stall, or picnic blanket if we are not quick enough. 10.30am, we’ll drive to Duder Regional Park, 889 North Rd, Whitford; approx. 10 minutes). This is a no dog area, as it’s a working farm. It’s also home to kauri, so we need to wash and brush footwear on the way in and the way out. There is a flat walk to and around the coast, and a steeper walk up the hill – your choice!
Sunday 20 Fifth Season Garden Group afternoon tea, reserved table, 2pm, Kings Plant Barn cafe, 224 Universal Dr, Henderson. All welcome. Phone Wendy Wilson, 027 548 3510 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday 24 The Muse keyboard and guitar duo plays funk, rock, blues and original jazz instrumentals, 6.30-8pm, Ponsonby Cruising Clubrooms, Westhaven Marina. Also enjoy beautiful harbour views, free entry, reasonably priced drinks and bar snacks/meals.
Tues 29 #MeToo Forum organised by the Auckland Women’s Centre, with Dr Huhana Hickey, Mengzhu Fu of Shakti Youth, Alison Mau and MP Jan Logie. All genders welcome. 7-9pm, Western Springs Garden Community Hall, 956 Gt North Rd, Western Springs, sliding scale $1-$20, pay at the door or in advance via internet banking. See the Facebook event page.
Thursday 31 opening, June 1-July 15 “Story telling as Koha: consolidating community memories”, Tuafale Tanoa’i – aka Linda T, part of the Auckland festival of photography. “The work draws from decades of artist Tuafale Tanoa’i’s career as an interdisciplinary artist, community documenter and independent archivist, ranges from the political to personal, pertaining to Pacific, Māori, and LGBTQI communities.” Corbans Estate Arts Centre, 2 Mt Lebanon Lane, Henderson. Opening: 6-8pm; exhibition hours: 10am-4.30pm, 7 days. Visit festival and CEAC websites for details.
Thursday 31 The Muse keyboard and guitar duo plays funk, rock, blues and original jazz instrumentals, 6.30-8pm, Ponsonby Cruising Clubrooms, Westhaven Marina. Also enjoy beautiful harbour views, free entry, reasonably priced drinks and bar snacks/meals.
Saturdays Rainbow Warriors women’s softball team play in the local league at Resthills Park in Glenview, either at 1pm or 3pm, depending on the draw. Check their Facebook page.
Thursdays Social dodgeball for takatāpui and LGBTIQ+ people Nau mai haere mai! Folks of all dodgeball abilities are welcome and a gold coin koha is appreciated. 6.30-7.30pm, University of Waikato Faculty of Education Gym just off Gate 4, 213 Hillcrest Rd. See the Facebook page.
Saturday 19 Pop-up Charlotte Museum display, two short films and the I am performance, 2pm, the hall at the Historic Village, 17th Ave West, Tauranga.
Anytime Self-guided LGBTTI walking tour of 24 historic rainbow locations around Wellington’s waterfront in one hour, free. Start at the former site of Carmen’s Balcony on the corner of Harris and Victoria Sts, now the City Library, walk through Civic Square, onto the waterfront, down to Bats Theatre and then back to the Michael Fowler Centre via Courtenay Place. Hear short eyewitness accounts at each location with your smart device using the interactive Google Map, or download the mp3 audio before you set off. See the website.
‘The Topp Twins – an exhibition for New Zealand 9am-5pm, Monday to Saturday, National Library, corner Molesworth & Aitken Sts, ground floor. Free. See website for more information.
Sunday 6 DANSS lessons in same-sex classical Ballroom, Latin American and New Vogue dances. No partner needed, upstairs at Thistle Hall, corner of Cuba and Arthur Sts. Beginners: Rhythm Foxtrot, Quickstep, 7-8pm; Intermediate: Swing Waltz, Gypsy Tap, 8-9pm. See the website, email DANSSNZ@outlook.com or join the Facebook group.
Tuesday 8-Sunday 13 (6 shows) Urzila Carlson presents ‘Loser’ (International Comedy Fest). 8.30pm each night, Te Auaha – Tapere Nui (Big Theatre), tickets $30/$35. Visit website for details and to book.
Thursday 10 ‘Feisty Feckin’ Fulltime Feminists’ performance Celebrating New Zealand Music Month and Suffrage 125 with the singing stars and protest songs of the 1970s and 1980s women’s movement.
12 midday-1pm, He Tohu, National Library of New Zealand, 70 Molesworth St, Thorndon. Visit Facebook event page for details of performers and updates.
Saturday 12 DANSS Wellington Same-Sex Dancesport Competition See the website for the event list, rules and an entry form. Spectators’ entry is $5, Wellington Girls College School Hall, entrance from Pipitea St. Doors open for competitors 1.30pm, grading rounds start at 2.30pm, and a powhiri from Tiwhanawhana Kapahaka starts the competition at 3pm. Refreshments are limited, so bring friends and a picnic. Email DANSS NZ, email@example.com.
Saturday May 12 Palmerston North Pun Battle Semi-final 1 See the city’s wordiest nerds and biggest pun-ks, punslingers and pun-dits battle it out in an intense and hilarious head-to-head pun-off. $1,300 cash prize. Hosted by Wellington-based drag king Hugo Grrrl. $18/$24, 8pm, Royal Hotel, 44 Rangitikei St, Palmerston North. See the Facebook event page.
Sunday 13 Lesbian Overlanders walk the Korokoro Stream track, assembling at the Cornish Str entrance to Belmont Regional Park at 10.30am. See the map on the Overlanders webpage Buses are replacing trains on the day – catch the 10.05 bus from Wellington station to Petone, or the 9.30 bus from Upper Hutt and txt a trip leader to be met at the Petone station and shown the way to Cornish St, or drive. Contact trip leaders Mary 027 626 1271 or Ellen 027 209 404.
Sunday 13 Rainbow Wellington and Wairarapa Waiguys Lunch RSVP by Friday 4. Non-drinking drivers willing to provide transport please email firstname.lastname@example.org 11am-5pm, The Vineyard Cafe, Martinborough.
Thursday 17 Wellington Lesbian Radio fundraising screening of The Breaker Upperers, by Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek. See a preview at https://youtu.be/-phMlkRiWIg. 6pm, The Lighthouse, Cuba St. Email email@example.com for tickets, $25 waged, $20 unwaged, includes a sweet treat on the night. Numbers are limited so get in quick.
Sunday 20 DANSS lessons in same-sex classical Ballroom, Latin American and New Vogue dances. No partner needed, upstairs at Thistle Hall, corner of Cuba and Arthur Sts. Beginners: Waltz, Cha Cha Cha, 7-8pm; Intermediate: Jive, La Bomba, 8-9pm. See the website, email DANSSNZ@outlook.com or join the Facebook group.
Thursday 24 Male Tears: A Poetry Show Poetry from badass and bitter female-identifying people and queers. Hosted by Hugo Grrrl and Poetry in Motion Wellington. 7.30pm, Fringe Bar, 28 Allen St, Te Aro, $5. See the Facebook event page.
Friday 25 Wellington Pun Battle, Heat 1. The start of the 2018 tournament “with worse word-play than ever before”. Organised and MC’d by drag king Hugo Grrrl, queer friendly. 8pm, the Fringe Bar. See the event page.
Sunday 27 DANSS lessons in same-sex classical Ballroom, Latin American and New Vogue dances. No partner needed, upstairs at Thistle Hall, corner of Cuba and Arthur Sts. Beginners: Tango, Rumba, 7-8pm; Intermediate: Cha cha cha, Lucille Waltz, 8-9pm. See the website, email DANSSNZ@outlook.com or join the Facebook group.
The Tasman Lesbian Connection (TLC) sends a monthly email of events in the area, Nelson and Motueka in particular. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to go on the mailing list or for more details of any events.
There’s currently no-one co-ordinating activities for Nelson potluck dinners or brunches. Do contact TLC if you can help with regular – or one-off – events.
Saturday 19 or Sunday 20 Great Taste Bike Trail – Nelson to Mapua (or vice versa). 35km, includes Rabbit Island and ferry crossing at Mapua. Carpool options. Contact email@example.com for details.
Sunday 27 Walk & brunch, Motueka from 10.30am if you’re walking, or 11am at the café. Meet at Community Gardens at 10.15am for a 30 min walk to TOAD Hall, Lower High St for brunch, then walk along the inlet the rest of the way round back to your car (about 1hr total walk). Or walk back the way you came if you’re short on time. Dogs allowed at TOAD Hall on a leash. A table will be reserved for us in the name of TLC. First come first served.
The Christchurch Women’s Centre keeps a diary of events in Christchurch and elsewhere on their Lesbian Support (now “Rainbow Support”) page. Check events on the Christchurch LGBT social events page. The Lambda Trampers and Lambda Lattes are mixed social tramping and walking groups for lesbians and gays living in and around Christchurch, and their friends.
Friday 25 FriGay Drinks 7pm, The Cuban, 236 St Asaph St, central Christchurch. Visit Facebook event page for details.
Saturday 26 Mondo Fetiche, Christchurch Fetish Ball, with interactive shows throughout the night – Mistress Abby Normal & subs, Arth the Bondage Bear and Lady Disgrace, Dodgyrope, Cydonia, Strawberry Fairy, Uncommon Bonds, aerial, fire, hoop and fire hoop performers. DJs Danice (aka Disco Danice) and Therobsta. Giveaways, and nibbles. R18; no effort no entry. $35 presale tickets available from Peaches and Cream Colombo St, all Cosmic Corner stores, also online at Risque Events and Cosmic Ticketing. Phone 0274 354 536 or email firstname.lastname@example.org 8pm, Halo Bar, 66B Wharenui Rd.
Sunday 27 “Queens of crime combine” Ngaio Marsh House event 2-6pm, Ngaio Marsh House and Rata Lounge, Cashmere Presbyterian Church. Celebrate the publication of Ngaio Marsh and Stella Duffy’s new novel The Money in the Morgue. Free, koha appreciated. See Facebook event page for details.
Saturday 5 Wild Women Walkers go to to the Pyramids and Victory Beach on the peninsula. Enjoy a variety of wildlife at close range and finish the walk at a cafe. Meet in Otaki St opposite Bunnings main entrance for a prompt 10.30am departure. Contact Ann about transport on email@example.com or text 022 133 9529.
May 20-25 25th Norf’k Ailen Kantri Myuusik Festiwl/Norfolk Island Country Music Festival includes Topp Twins, Wednesday 23. Ticket and travel information on website.
May 29 MeToo: An evening of radical feminist politics and lesbian fiction, Burley Fisher Books, 400 Kingsland Rd, London E8 4AA, featuring Spinifex publishers and authors Renate Klein and Susan Hawthorne. Details on the Facebook event page.