Paenga-whāwhā / April 2018

What was happening in March? Here’s our Poutūterangi update – all items collected in one handy page!

Dyke Diary

Ngā pitopito kōrero, news

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

More women in International Comedy Festival

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

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

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

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

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

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

See the festival website for other shows. JR

Pun Battle tour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stats NZ consultating about sexual identity

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

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

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

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

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

Lesbian social lives in the 1980s

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

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

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

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

Charlotte Museum funding reprieve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christchurch Women’s Centre diversifying services

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

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

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

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

Christchurch Pride – lots of events, lots of fun

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

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

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

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

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

Pride in the centre of Dunedin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nga wāhine, people

Digital activist
Art and body positivity

Digital activist

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 RapiraLaura 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.

English festivals

“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.”

LOR 2011 Glastonbury“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.”

Movement entrepreneurship

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.

LOR 38degrees“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.”

LOR Rockenrol 2014 Pic Humans for the Future
2014 photo of RockEnrol volunteers by Humans for the Future

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.

LOR rockenrol logo“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.

LOR with Judge Andrew Becroft for RE pic Rick Zwaan
Laura is pictured with Judge Andrew Becroft for RockEnrol; photo by Rick Zwaan

“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.”


LAR AS LogoLaura 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.”

LOE AS team 2017
The ActionStation team in 2017: Tech manager Vim, left, former director Marianne Elliott, campaigner Rick Zwaan, Laura, and community campaigns manager Eliot Pryor.

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.”

LOR homelessness petition - Photo by Rick Zwaan
ActionStation members pictured presenting a homelessness petition to MPs before the last election (photo: Rick Zwaan)

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.”

Being takatāpui

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.

LOR Hongi with Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage
Laura shares a hongi with Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage

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.”

LORLaura 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.

See the RockEnrol website and read about ActionStation.

Art and body positivity

Sculptor and visual artist Sarah Baird is currently organising the art exhibition for Dunedin Pride, and building an A2 book of 300 posters for a show in 2019. She spoke with Jenny Rankine.

davBody positivity has been an inspiration and stimulus for Sarah’s art during her Bachelor of Visual Arts and Master of Fine Arts at the Dunedin School of Art. She collected mannequins from her early 20s, “but I started hating them because they have really unrealistic body shapes, trying to sell clothes to the majority.”

“So I stopped collecting and started making my own versions in 2013. I added fat to the limbs of factory mannequins by gluing on chunks of polystyrene, carving into it and blending it in.” She left one unrealistic leg and made the other bigger.

In her honours year, she made four mannequins from scratch, cast from volunteers. For each limb I took a cast from a different person, a total of 24 people.”

“Up close you can tell they’re a little different. I installed them standing around a pile of women’s magazines; one’s holding a petrol can and one a lighter. That’s when my work started to get a lot more political.”

Sarah Baird Mannequin Project 14Sarah took the Bertha mannequin from that series, and made the Bertha Revolution work for her Masters project. It included 300 small ceramic Bertha figures with a 3m Bertha statue towering over them, surrounded on the walls by 300 multi-coloured misogynist, anti-lesbian, anti-trans and victim-blaming statements about women.

These are the posters she is making into a thick book, which she hopes to exhibit in a group show with other feminist sculpture artists.

Re-Configure, a feminist group exhibition she was part of in 2017, is going on tour and the book may be part of that. The original exhibition revisited Judy Chicago’s ground-breaking Woman House of 47 years ago, which tackled feminist issues and the lack of gallery representation for female artists.

“Gallery representation is heavily weighted towards men although women make up a large majority of art students. I tend to stay away from dealer galleries because they don’t show work I identify with.”

“I get the impression they don’t want to cause controversy with political art. Sculpture, especially life-size and larger work, is harder to shift than nice paintings for the wall.”

SB Tumblr Ana Vincenti 2015“The Gorilla Girls in the USA in the 80s found that artworks by men sell for higher prices than those by women, and that’s still the case.” She follows the US-based Gallery Tally on Tumblr, which represents the proportion of male and female artists shown by a range of public and dealer galleries in clever posters, including some social media stats. The 2015 poster on the left is by Ana Vincenti.

Despite the lack of women’s group shows, the Re-Configure artists are submitting proposals to galleries in other centres.

Sarah expects social attitudes to women’s bodies to continue to stimulate her artwork. “I used to follow the body positivity movement, where no matter what size you are you’re fine. The focus should be away from appearance, and it’s not anyone’s business what your health is. I do feel that women’s bodies should be left alone.”

She notes the correlation between how women’s bodies are represented and how they are controlled, “for example through the abortion laws – we get it from all angles. It’s hard not to internalise it.”

Like other emerging artists, Sarah struggles to make art while working fulltime. “Only a minority of artists I know are able to make a living. Most artists have a day job to pay the bills, because the income from art isn’t consistent.”


Sarah Baird Mannequin Project 14 2Sarah describes herself “as queer/lesbian; sometimes I think lesbian is quite a political term and I find the word queer a lot more open. But I want to keep hold of the word lesbian; some older lesbians feel the term is being erased by queer and gay.”

“I didn’t need to come out officially – in my early 20s I told a couple of friends and they already knew. I was bullied through high school for being gay despite not telling anyone, and that made me not want to come out. At a girls’ high school, lesbian was the worst thing you could be. Dunedin Pride has a support groups for Rainbow teenagers – that would have been great.”

“There were no role models of lesbians anywhere, although I have a gay uncle and in my family it was always accepted. I don’t remember seeing the Topp Twins then, there were no out lesbian teachers at my high school, and other students abused them behind their backs if they were rumoured to be gay.”

Sarah was out at art school and “had no trouble”. She is also out at her factory, which “has a homophobic culture but is not personally directed at me. Gay is common as a derogatory term. People at work really liked the Rainbow Youth ad, but older people there continued to use gay derogatorily.”

Sarah’s goal is “to make a living off my artwork. I shied away from drawing at art school, and used drawing machines to produce the posters. I want to get into drawing a lot more. A lot of the information from the US is a goldmine to make art about.”

Te ao pāpāho, media

We welcome your suggestions of websites, books, films and any other media of interest to lesbians and queer women.

Lesbian writers, Auckland festival
Immerse yourself in other lives
Peggy Seeger – First time ever

We appreciate the original cartoons provided by Helen Courtney. This one, Flight of fancy, seems to fit particularly well with Media.

Lesbian writers, Auckland festival

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.

Follow Myles on their website and Twitter.

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.

Follow King on her official website and blog site.

Look for their books in your library and local independent bookshops. Come to the festival if you can. AK

Immerse yourself in other lives

Two books launched last month, and while very different, give the reader great insights into, in one, a lesbian life well-lived, and in the other, a whole range of rainbow lives.

Heather McPherson’s posthumous poetry collection, This Joyous, Chaotic Place had a launch event with women reading a poem from the book plus another of their choosing.

Most of the poems were written while Heather was living in Aorewa and Fran’s garden flat, and the garden, and Ao and Fran, feature strongly.

The poems have a strong sense of place, as you’d expect with gardens. They are also thoughtful and meditative. They are local to Auckland, in particular: Fowlds Park, Western Springs Park, Parnell Rose Gardens.

But then the poem ‘Sniffing the roses’ moves at a fantastic pace through time and space.

And this title is a poem in itself:
‘A frosty morning with elated sun
and ice crystals prickling the
strawberry beds’

As with all Heather’s work, these are poems to savour and enjoy.

Spiral Collectives revived to publish this work, currently only available from Marian Evans, via her Facebook page.

The exhibition, also titled This Joyous, Chaotic Place, remains at Mokopōpaki, Ground floor, 454 Karangahape Rd, till 15 April.

Pride & Joy LGBTQ Artists, Icons and Everyday Heroes features over 30 queer lives. It’s a positive work, in some ways an adult version of the “It gets better” message that goes out to queer young people. It has a consistent voice, as US activist Kathleen Archambeau conducted and wrote up all the interviews.

Aotearoa New Zealand is represented by MP Louisa Wall, in relation to the Marriage Amendment Act. The Bill passed its Third Reading five years ago this month.

Other lesbians featured include Emma Donoghue and Laurie Rubin (artists); Kate Kendall, Esq., Bishop Dr Karen Oliveto, Leanne Pitsford and Claudia Brind-Woody (icons); Stacy Barneveld-Taylor & Petra Barneveld-Taylor, Katerina Blinova, Jacqueline Grandchamps, Peggy Moore, Gloria Soliz and Christina Yin (everyday heroes). They include community activists and business women, many ethnicities, ages and life stories.

Want to know more about any of them, or of the others included? Get the book from your favourite independent bookshop, or your library. AK

A review of Peggy Seeger’s First time ever – A memoir

Peggy memoir coverIt is not only because folk music is a great love of mine that I was excited to be lent a copy of Peggy Seeger’s memoir. Whether or not you know her music or have heard of her activism, this book is an engrossing read about an astounding woman who produced more than 20 folk albums.

Peggy is often written about in relationship to her music and her famous family – composer mother Ruth Porter Crawford and folklorist father Charles Seeger, brothers Mike and half-brother Pete Seeger and first life partner Ewan MacColl. Her life was shaped by this, but she is also a fierce individual. Even if folk music had not been an integral part of her life we may have still been reading about this woman.

Peggy Songs of love and politicsIn the book, she entwines folk music with travelling on her motor scooter, busking in Moscow, having three children, having four abortions, protesting at Greenham Common, going down a coal mine and more recently undergoing back and intestinal surgery and a mastectomy.

She often comments in the first parts of First Time Ever that “I wasn’t a feminist back then”, but well before the story finishes she can claim feminism, activism and being an eco-environmentalist. Many of her songs such as ‘Gonna be an engineer’ and ‘Carry Greenham home’ became anthems for the feminist movement.

Peggy first met Irene Pyper-Scott in 1964 and they sang together at demonstrations. Irene supported Peggy after the death of Peggy’s first partner Ewan MacColl and says “After Ewan’s death she picked me up, dusted me off and we became more than friends”.

Peggy Seeger nowPeggy wrote in the memoir: “I’m not bisexual, I just happen to love a woman. I loved a man.” She describes Irene as “my second life partner”. Irene has made her home in New Zealand in the Marlborough Sounds and Peggy in England.

Peggy has spent her life telling stories of injustice, love, politics and humanity through folk music. She tells the story of her life with soul and beautiful prose. First Time Ever shows that her life has been and is still lived with intensity.

Anne Stephens

Rātaka takatāpui, Dyke Diary

Information is organised by region (national events first, then north to south, then overseas), then by date.

Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau
Waikato/Central North Island
Wellington/Te Whanganui-a-Tara
Nelson area/Whakatū
Otago/Southland/Te taurapa o te waka

Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau

Sundays till June 24, Salsa for Lesbians, 6.30-8pm. Auckland Women’s Centre, Unit 6/4 Warnock St, Grey Lynn. You don’t have to attend every week, come casually and just try it out, you might LOVE it!
Koha will be appreciated. Contact Susanna for more info: 021 2609 145. Communication by WhatsApp preferred.

April 1 – May 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.

Heather McPherson

To Saturday 14 This Joyous Chaotic Place, an exhibition about former Auckland-based poet Heather McPherson, pictured as drawn by Allie Eagle, a co-founder of the feminist publishing imprint Spiral, and her peers, will open from 6-8pm at the kaupapa Māori gallery Mokopōpaki, 454 Karangahape Rd. There will be continuous screenings in the gallery window of archival footage by Auckland Women’s Community Video, including 1980 readings and interviews with Māori writers JC Sturm and Keri Hulme and with Heather herself; artist Joanna Paul’s short films; and 1990s film of Heather talking with writer Cathie Dunsford. The exhibition runs for six weeks and is a Women’s Suffrage 125th anniversary event. The gallery is open from 11am–5pm Wednesdays to Fridays, and 11am–3pm Saturdays or by appointment. Email or see the website or the Facebook page.

dykehikesprofileSunday 1 Dyke Hike 11am. Duder Regional Park. We’ll take the Farm Loop and Sustainable Trail out to Whakakaiwhara point where there is a Pa site, and come back along the north edge of the Farm Loop. This park has good views over mainly open farmland. Meet at the Duder regional Park carpark. 3 – 3.5 hours. Grade: Easy (okay in strong walking shoes, not many hills, good tracks) to moderate (boots recommended, expect a few hills and stream crossings are possible, moderate fitness needed). Email, visit or the Facebook page.

Lick Auckland AprilSaturday 7 Lick Auckland Glazed & Confused Five-year anniversary with free donuts (in a donut wall) and free cookies, hip hop and party jams, R&B, and disco remixes. 10pm-3am, Neck of the Woods, 155B Karangahape Rd, $10 before 11pm, $15 after. See the Lick Auckland Facebook page, join the Lick Auckland Facebook group for invitations.

MakeRockGreatAgainMonday 9 Make Rock Great Again tour Melissa Etheridge & Sheryl Crow. Trusts Arena.

Visit Facebook event page for information on tickets & time.

Wednesday 11 Guest speaker Cathie Powell – Sex Educator M Ed Social Activist – speaking on ‘Pleasure as a Human Right: Sensuality, sex and succulence’.

Sunday 15 Coffee & Stroll. 10am, meet at Sheinkin Café, 3 Lorne St, central Auckland. 10.30am, a ‘Big Hoot’ stroll: check out up to 10 large owl sculptures between Aotea Square, Albert Park, down to Fort St. Plus bonus 3 smaller owls (‘Little Hoot’) in the central library. If you download the app, you’ll be able to add these to your Found list. Not dog-unfriendly, but mostly on inner city streets, not grass.

Sunday 15 Fifth Season Garden Group visits Ray King’s eclectic and quirky garden at 25 Tauhinu Rd, Greenhithe. Meet there 2pm, bring something for afternoon tea. Phone Wendy Wilson, 027 548 3510 or

Katie SuttonTuesday 17 Katie Sutton talks on Trans photography in German sexology and Weimar sexual subcultures, a Hidden perspectives: Bringing the arts out of the closet and Gender Studies seminar. Katie, left, from the Australian National University in Canberra, compares the ethics of photographs of “transvestism” by early 20th-century German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld with photographs published in the interwar subcultural magazine Das 3 Geschlecht (the third sex). All welcome. 4pm, Room 201, Arts 1, University of Auckland building 206, behind the corner of Symonds St and Grafton Rd. See a campus map here.

Ak Pun BattleFriday 20 Auckland Pun Battle Championship semi-final #1 Punslingers and pun-dits battle it out in an intense and hilarious head-to-head pun-off. MC’d and organised by Wellington drag king Hugo Grrrl, 8-10pm, Encore, 258 Karangahape Rd, tickets $15 with the promo code LESBIANNEWS on Eventfinder, otherwise $25.

WantokSaturday 21 Wantok exhibition opening and panel discussion 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. Opening from 10.30am followed by a panel discussion with Luisa Tora and artists facilitated by Tarisi Sorovi-Vunidilo from 12-1.30pm. Exhibition runs from Saturday 21 to Saturday May 26, 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.

Saturday 21 Auckland Pun Battle Championship semi-final #2 Punslingers and pun-dits battle it out in an intense and hilarious head-to-head pun-off. MC’d and organised by Wellington drag king Hugo Grrrl, 8-10pm, Encore, 258 Karangahape Rd, tickets $15 with the promo code LESBIANNEWS on Eventfinder, otherwise $25.

Tof EklundThursday 26 Gender Games – Transgender and non-binary characters in videogames Tof Eklund of AUT talks about mass games and the growing queer games movement, where gender is never taken for granted, and the existence of the ‘normal’is called into question. Free seminar organised by Hidden Perspectives: Bringing the arts out of the closet at the University of Auckland. 12 noon-1pm, Pat Hana n Rm, Cultures, languages and linguistics (CLL) building 207, corner of Symonds St and Grafton Rd. Bring your lunch, coffee and tea provided. See the HP website and Facebook page.

Friday 27-Saturday May 26 Imogen Taylor and Diena Georgetti exhibition, Stolen Leopard, preview 6-8pm, Michael Lett Gallery, 312 Karangahape Rd, corner of East St.

Ak Pun BattleSaturday 28 Auckland Pun Battle Championship final Punslingers and pun-dits battle it out in an intense and hilarious head-to-head pun-off for a $1,300 prize. MC’d and organised by Wellington drag king Hugo Grrrl, 8-10pm, Encore, 258 Karangahape Rd, $20 earlybird or $25.

Waikato/Central North Island/Hawkes Bay

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.

First Saturday of the month: Pink Drinks hosted by Hamilton Pride Aotearoa. From 6.30pm, Cook Street Social, 7 Cook St. Go to Facebook event page for dates & details.

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 7 Pink Drinks at the Cook Street Social, 7 Cook St from 5.30. See the Facebook event page.

Saturday 7 Hide and Sleek (or Leather and Lace ) dance with live entertainment and singing by Lee Page. Wear your best leather/lace gear and boogie. 9pm at the Next Door bar in Frankton. $30 includes complimentary drinks.

Monday 9 Make Rock Great Again tour Melissa Etheridge & Sheryl Crow. Claudelands arena. Visit Facebook event page for information on tickets & time.

Saturday 14 Lesbian Social Group walk/run around the lake. Bring your fur baby and have some fun. Meet at the Yacht Club 9am, and finishe with coffee/breakfast/brunch/lunch at the Verandah Cafe.LSG dance

Saturday 28 Lesbian Social Group dance with singer Lee Page, DJ Rosie and quick-fire raffles. 7pm-midnight, Two Birds Eatery, Clyde St Shopping Centre, $10.

Wellington/Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Manawatu

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 8 Lesbian Overlanders walk Hemi Matenga, Waikanae A 1.5hr uphill climb to the lookout or a 45m loop walk, starting at the Relish Cafe, 12 Elizabeth St at 10.15am. Catch the 9.15am train from Wellington. Check the Hemi Matenga Memorial Park Scenic Reserve brochure. Phone Sylvia 027 295 4020 or Mary 027 626 1271 to confirm or for info.

Sunday 8 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: Samba/Waltz, 7-8pm; Intermediate: Gypsy Tap, 8-9pm. See the website, email or join the Facebook group.

Monday 9 Make Rock Great Again tour Melissa Etheridge & Sheryl Crow. TSB bank arena. Visit Facebook event page.

Sunday 15 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: Rumba/Cha Cha Cha, 7-8pm; Intermediate: Swing Waltz/Lucille Waltz, 8-9pm. See the website, email or join the Facebook group.

Tuesday 17 Rainbow Wellington AGM open to members only; to renew membership email Nominees for the board must be RW members and be nominated by two other members. Send nominations and indications of general business to the secretary at 6pm, Committee Rm 1, Wellington City Council, 101 Wakefield St, city.

Friday 20-Monday 23 Shift Youth Hui, Horouta Marae, Porirua. A workshop based hui for young people (15-20 years) of minority sexualities, genders, and sex characteristics run by InsideOUT; places for 50 attendees plus 50 volunteers. Applications open to March 9; visit website and application form for more information.

Sunday 22 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, 7-8pm; Intermediate: Tango Terrific/La Bomba, 8-9pm. See the website, email or join the Facebook group.

Thursday 26 Male Tears: A Poetry Show We are the hysterical feminists the internet warned you about. We drink male tears with our morning coffee. We don’t care about your feelings. A night of poetry from badass and bitter female-identifying people and queers. Prepare for hilarious and biting commentary on girlhood and LGBTQIA resistance. Hosted by Hugo Grrrl and Poetry in Motion Wellington. 7.30pm, Fringe Bar, 28 Allen St, Te Aro, $5. See the Facebook event page.

Cool Story Bro

Friday 27 Cool Story Bro! Stand-up comedy that’s funny ’cause it’s true, hosted by drag king Hugo Grrrl. Some of Wellington’s funniest people confess their most bafflingly stupid decisions, sexual misadventures and close calls. $16 presold, $20 at the door. 8pm, the Fringe Bar, 28 Allen St, Te Aro. Tickets from EventFinda. See the event Facebook page.

Sunday 29 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: Revision, 7-8pm; Intermediate: Revision, 8-9pm. See the website, email or join the Facebook group.

Nelson area/Whakatū

The Tasman Lesbian Connection (TLC) sends a monthly email of events in the area, Nelson and Motueka in particular. Contact 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.

Friday 13/Saturday 14 Tramp to Mt Arthur Hut (day trip & overnight options). Walk from Flora carpark. Overnight option: 1.5hr walk on a good track to the hut (4.2km). Stay overnight and share dinner. Next day 3hr walk above snow line towards summit (5km) and back to carpark. First part of summit track is relatively easy, last part more of a tramping track. No pressure to get to the top! Day trip option: Join the group at the hut on the Sat and carry on to the summit before returning to the carpark. RSVP ( for more details and to arrange car pooling, hut bookings, etc.

Saturday 21 Pot luck dinner, Motueka from 6.30pm. Bring food to share and whatever you want to drink. Contact for details.

Sunday 22 Brunch, Motueka from 11am. Elevation Cafe, High St.

Saturday 28 Chartered fishing trip, Marlborough Sounds, 8am-5pm. Leaving from Havelock. Contact for details.

Christchurch/Ōtautahi, Canterbury/Waitaha and West Coast/Te Tai Hauāuru

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.

Sunday 29 Lambda Trampers walk the Tirimoana Walkway through farmland, bush patches, limestone gorges and seacoast. Meet at the corner of Peacock and Durham Sts for a prompt 9am departure. 10 per person for sharing a car. Contact Alan on 03 383 9222.

Otago/Southland/Te taurapa o te waka

WWW Pride April2Saturday 7 Wild Women Walkers and interested Rainbow people and their children tramp the Pineapple Track. Meet near Ironic Cafe opposite the Farmers Market for 10am departure. If you need or can offer a ride, email Ann, or text 022 1339 529.WWW Pride April1

Saturday 7 – Saturday 14 Fāgogo Conversations around Pacific queer identity with Pati Solomona Tyrell’s extensive documentation of Fafswag Arts Collective. Blue Oyster Art Project Space, 16 Dowling St.

Sunday 8 – 15 Dunedin Pride, including an art exhibition, women’s and gender-diverse art panel, poetry competition and readings, readers and writers evening, a screening of the docco Thin end of the wedge, picnic and childrens activities, closing party. Download the programme here and see the Facebook event page Selected events follow.

Dunedin PrideSunday 8 Art Exhibition Opening Drinks, nibbles and entertainment provided. 6pm, 23 Princes St. Exhibition runs until Sunday 15, open 10am-4pm.

Monday 9 Coming Out Stories Share your experiences or just listen to others. Nibbles, coffee & rainbow desserts, $5. 6-8pm, Blacks Rd Greengrocer & Cafe, 178 North Rd, NEV. Text Ann on 022 1339 529 or email

Tuesday 10 Do It Yourself Babymaking What happens when lesbians ask gay men to donate sperm and be part of their children’s family networks? This talk by Dr Nicola Surtees of the University of Canterbury highlights some creative ways lesbians and gay men navigate conceiving and raising kids together. 5.45pm, Dunningham Suite, 4th floor Central Library.

Tuesday 10 The Queerest Quiz A free memorable night of fun, entertainment, questions and prizes. Register teams of 4-6 quizzers and your team name at 7pm, The Hub, Otago Polytechnic.

Wednesday 11 Pride Poetry Night Celebrating emerging and established queer poets, with guest poets Robyn Maree Pickens, Emer Lyons, and this year’s Robert Burns Fellow, Rhian Gallagher. Featuring the prize-giving ceremony for the inaugural Pride Poetry Competition. Winners will be invited to read their poems, with an open mike session for audience members. Spot prizes, free drinks and nibbles. Doors open 5.15pm for 5.30pm start, Dunningham Suite, 4th floor, Dunedin Central Library.

Thursday 12 Film screening: Thin end of the wedge: Homosexual Law Reform in Aotearoa New Zealand A collection of archival news and event footage, talkback, and comment from those involved at the time. Jackie Hay from Ngā Taonga will introduce the programme. 7pm, Burns 2 Theatre, University of Otago. $15/$10 concession, tickets from Door sales cash only.

Friday 13 Queer as…LGBTIAQ writers tell it how it is Mary Rillstone, Kyle Mewburn and Stevan Eldred-Grigg discuss their writing and read from recent works. MC is local poet and performer, Emer Lyons. 5.45pm, Dunningham Suite, 4th floor Central Library.

Saturday 14 Pride Picnic Family-friendly picnic with games, face painting, balloon twisting and more. BYO food. See the Dunedin Pride facebook page for weather advice. 11am – 2pm, Woodhaugh Gardens, near the BBQ and paddling pools.

Saturday 14 Pride Closing Party Good beats, saucy performance and craft beer. MC and performances by Sacrilege performers Jasper as Jake, Andrew Brinsley-Pirie as Andrew Woolf and Kat Kennedy as Maddie May. DJ’s Tyler Chokely, Jaimee Green and others. R18. 8.30pm-1am, New New New, 218 Crawford St, $15/$10 concession. Tickets from Limited cash only door sales.


April 3-7 Make Rock Great Again tour: Melissa Etheridge & Sheryl Crow, 4 locations (Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney).

Visit Facebook event page for details of locations, tickets, etc.

April 11-13 Health in Difference 2018: Australia’s LGBTI Health Conference Sydney, Australia. Details on Facebook event page.

April 20 Topp Twins A 60th birthday, one-night-only celebration in Hackney, London, with a special introduction by former NZ Prime Minister Helen Clark and free kiwi treats on arrival. Bookings on Hackney Empire website.

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

%d bloggers like this: