Paenga-whāwhā (April)

Our Paenga-whāwhā update – all items collected in one page!

Dyke Diary

Ngā pitopito kōrero, News

Wellington human rights conference a success
Lady Poets in Christchurch Pride
National youth hui and trans booklet for schools
Sappho’s poetry and more lesbian discussions over Auckland dinners
Classical, contemporary, Indian and queer in Auckland
Whanganui’s own ‘flock of lesbians’
Christchurch Women’s Centre needs support
An unconference for women: Women Who Get Shit Done

Wellington’s Proud conference a success

ILGA_oceania-143x137Re-stoke the fires/ Tāwhiritia ngā ahi, the two-day ILGA (International Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans and Intersex Association) Oceania Human Rights and Health Conference, was part of Wellington’s Proud festival in March. It attracted about 100 people, about 60 percent women, with a wide variety of experience and identities.

Two pre-conference hui helped shape content: one for secondary school-aged youth and one for women. A pre conference trans* event ran on the day the conference opened. The opening plenary included feedback from the women’s hui, and a workshop later that day, “How to build communities through activism”, was derived from the hui, with discussion planned around activism and theory.

ILGA organising groupThe small group of organisers included the two Aotearoa representatives to ILGA Oceania (Rāwā Karetai and Mani Bruce Mitchell), who were the conference co-convenors.

The organising group with Renato Sabbadini, ILGA Executive Director, crouched front and centre.

Themes common to the pre-conference women’s hui and women at the conference were: “We want community, we care about others”; and “Unity in diversity – how can LGBTIQ find common cause with all marginalised groups (including ethnic, cultural and religious) and women to work towards a society that recognises, values and protects diversity?”

There was discussion in both groups about the status of LGBTIQ refugees, concern that they are particularly vulnerable within an already vulnerable group, and ways to offer support. Suggestions included taking action to deliberately increase the number of queer refugees moving to Aotearoa New Zealand and providing gender issue awareness training to Red Cross workers and others.

Some disenchantment was expressed with marriage equality: has equality been gained at the expense of community and political activism?

There was a strong expression that the diversity in LGBTI* communities, while challenging, is a strength, not a weakness. The lesbians involved in organising the conference say it is important for lesbians to be visible and active in these mixed community actions and events.

The interactive “Climate change and the LGBTI* community” workshop was based on recognition that climate change is a growing issue in the Oceania region and its importance was affirmed by ILGA Oceania scholars attending. People from countries where being identified as LGBTI* means their lives are at risk said climate change was an even bigger issue for them.

ILGA organising group 2In spite of very limited funding and a short timeframe, the conference organisers agreed that the experience has been positive for them and for our communities.

ILGA is an international organisation, the largest and oldest democratic world federation of LGBTI* grass-root organisations. Re-stoke the fires/ Tāwhiritia ngā ahi was the second human rights conference for the Oceania section. The next ILGA world conference is in 2018, and there is talk about whether that might run in Wellington too. Watch this space.


Lady Poets in Christchurch Pride

CP lady poetsThe third Lady Poets Christchurch Pride show in March, an R18 event called ‘The struggle is real’, was presented to a packed out venue to an audience of about 50, some of whom had to stand. It was again organised by Kimberley Holmes, the Pākehā “lesbian and gender-fluid” founder of the shows in 2013.

This show was dedicated to “former Queer Lady Poet, the late fabulous Jayde Braxton” (below) who passed away in January, aged 29. Jayde performed in the first Lady Poets Pride show and helped with all the other Lady Poets events.

Chch P LP JaydeMCd by Wellington Drag King HuGo Grrrl, the night featured Sophie Rea, Amelia Hitchcock, Isla Reeves Martin and Genevieve Fowler, as well as Kimberley dressed as a rainbow fairy. They delivered a mix of their own and other’s poetry about lust, identity, isolation, bad breakups and abuse, with drama, ad libbing and lots of humour, all for only $5.

“The Pride show is always special”, Kimberley says. “The day after the show I was flooded with positive feedback and compliments. I always ask people to write a comment on a piece of paper and they say things like ‘I feel more comfortable being out and proud, or being bisexual’. The Pride shows can be very powerful and affirming for audiences, she says. “The feedback never ceases to amaze me.”

Chch pride Lady Poets KimHLady Poets advertising says the shows “specialise in bad ass performance poetry”. Kimberley (left) was inspired to start the events by “a gap in poetry and performance in Christchurch. A lot of poetry nights are run by guys and I got sick of being the token woman. I wanted to see more raucous, theatrical and comedic performances, in a safe space for women and non-binary minorities.” Her performance persona is assertive and can handle hecklers, she says.

The name “was a big, subversive joke. We want no part of being ladylike, we chew up and spit out whatever ‘lady’ means, we ignore the limits on what women should do, be or wear.”

Chch pride Lady Poets JillKimberley organizes up to seven shows a year, with a strong queer and feminist component, and they’re unpredictable – “you never know what’s going to happen, cos I never do! Some people sing, tell stories, act out skits, do performance art, comedy, burlesque – it’s a variety show focused on poetry and the spoken word.”

Kimberley also performs on her own or in other groups; she has produced her own poetry chapbooks and been published in literary journals and online. In her day job, she works for a party supply company and is the mother of one.

Watch Dyke Diary for the next Lady Poets show at the end of April, which will be a fundraiser for the Christchurch Women’s Centre.

Email or see the Facebook page.
For a sample, enjoy the Lady Poets mascot poem by Kimberley.

Breakfast of champions

The Breakfast of Champions!

Some people may prefer sausage and eggs
But I think the best way to start the day
Is between her legs!
Spread her like butter
Taste her.. English muffin
Would you rather have the sweetest French toast
Or French kiss her where it’s sweetest?

Now, I’m no nutritionist.
But I know what I want in my breakfast burrito
A bowl of Cheerios? I make her cherry go OH
For some, their favourite juice is apple, orange or guava
But my favourite juicy flavour will always be Vulva

Drink her deep like coffee
Until you’ve both got the caffeine shakes
Think about that
Next time you’re eating your cornflakes

National Shift youth hui

Shift HuiRegistrations for the annual national Shift hui for queer and gender diverse young people this month are filling up and those intending to come are encouraged to register before the venue limit is reached.

The hui will be held at Tapu Te Ranga Marae in Island Bay from Friday 22 to Monday 25 and is open to queer and gender diverse people aged 13-22 from around the country. The hui is free for those who cannot afford registration; otherwise a suggested koha for individuals is $25 or more, or $100 for those funded by a workplace or organisation.

Young people needing financial assistance to attend can contact InsideOUT for support and anyone in the community wanting to sponsor a place for a young person to attend can donate to InsideOUT via their givealittle page.

See the registration page, check out the FAQs, or see a short film on Shift 2015. Email InsideOUT, call or text 027 331 4507 or message them on the Facebook event page.

Trans booklet for schools

InsideOUT Trans ResourceWellington-based national rainbow youth organisation InsideOUT released a new booklet for schools on March 31, the International Day of Transgender Visibility.

Called Making schools safer for trans and gender diverse students, the 36-page publication is aimed at secondary school boards of trustees, principals, teachers, parents and guidance counsellors.

Tabby Besley, National Co-ordinator of InsideOUT, says that the Youth’12 study shows that “four out of every 100 young people in New Zealand identify as trans or questioning their gender, and over half of them are afraid of being hurt or bullied at school. Our resource aims to walk schools through the process of supporting their trans and gender diverse students, raising the issues they might need to think about to provide a safe and inclusive environment. From dealing with bullying to bathrooms and uniforms, school camps and roll calls, the resource provides best practice solutions.”

In 2015 the Ministry of Education recommended that all schools provide gender-neutral uniforms and toilets, ensure sports are inclusive, affirm sexual and gender diversity in their health programmes, and educate against and respond to bullying about sexual and gender diversity.

“These guidelines align with our suggestions in this resource, and we believe it’s vital to uphold them to create safer schools for trans and gender diverse youth.”

The booklet was a collaborative effort, started with the experiences of trans and gender diverse young people around the country.

InsideOUT will send two hard copies to every secondary school in the country; it can be downloaded free from the website. Contact Tabby on 027 331 4507 or email

Sappho’s poetry and lesbian panels over dinner

Charlotte White Night performanceThe Charlotte Museum hopes to hold a Sappho poetry reading on Sunday April 24. The museum will not be holding its usual Anzac Day event this year, but an Anzac Day-related exhibition is up on the walls. It features a display of Gil Hanly’s photos of the Pramazons, a lesbian and feminist peace group who walked from Whakatane to Gisborne in 1983, staying at marae along the way and performing concerts, plays and puppet shows about a nuclear-free and independent Pacific at local halls every night.

The armed forces are represented by images of former Airforce member Pat O’Brien, who co-founded the KG Club, the first Auckland lesbian social club, and Mary Geddes, commandant of the WAACs in WW2, as well as a New Zealand ski champion. The commemorative lesbian-knitted poppies and vulvas from last year’s Anzac exhibition are on the wall in a koru, with photos from Broadsheet magazine of feminists trying to lay wreaths for women raped in war.

Charlotte mosaicThe museum’s successful International Women’s Day shared meal and discussion on March 8 will be followed by three more, funded by the Rule Foundation. Three women from Chinese, Indian and Caribbean backgrounds discussed lesbian identities from their perspectives at the museum; not all the 25 women who attended could fit at the dinner table.

The next discussion will be about whether museums are a Pākehā concept, and will be catered for a small cost. Other topics may include lesbians and biculturalism, and cis-gender.

The museum’s second mosaic workshop was run over Easter by Tash Norton, who plans another weekend workshop. A badge-making workshop is also planned for May.

Pictured top are Museum founder Miriam Saphira and her wife Therry Weerts dressed for their mime performance on the museum’s White Night on March 12.


Classical, contemporary, Indian and queer

Karma promo FBAll-queer troupe Karma Dance are performing two shows of In plain Sanskrit in the Auckland Arts Festival on April 8 and 9.

The performance, by Raina Peterson and Govind Pillai and five traditional Carnatic musicians, pays homage to the essence of classical Indian dance while pushing the boundaries of the forms.

Karma photo2 by Haden GolderGovind (left top in a photo by Haden Golder) is trained in Bharatanatyam, a rhythmic classical Indian dance form of strong lines and angles from Tamil Nadu, and Raina in Mohiniyattam, which originates in Kerala and is much more circular and sinuous.

The performance blends those styles with Western contemporary AcroYoga, mixing classical pieces with interludes of abstract sequencing and dramatised stories. A central piece starts with the two dancers crafting a mound of rice flour into a lotus mandala on the stage, part of the Hindu worship tradition. This gradually becomes a dance battle and rice-flour fight, involving breaches of traditional conventions. The dancers kick the mandala, a taboo act in worship, and touch as they dust each other with flour, also a taboo contact in the dance traditions.

Kharma Dance is Melbourne-based a classical and contemporary company with a teaching academy and schools programme. The shows start at 7pm at Q Theatre, 305 Queen St, Auckland. Book at Q Theatre, see the YouTube trailer or the Facebook event page.

Whanganui’s own ‘flock of lesbians’

Jennifer, a 50-something lesbian who has lived in Whanganui for a decade, is setting up a social group for lesbians and queer women in the town. She wants to organise monthly coffee or brunch events, and a schedule of other activities.

In her 10 years there, she hasn’t heard of a Pink Drinks group or any organised LGBT activity, except for InsideOUT workshops for young queer and trans people and youth workers.

“The town has a population of 40,000, so there should be quite a few gay people,” Jennifer says. “It’s quite a religious town, so a lot of gay people aren’t so evident.”

Jennifer knows a couple of lesbians who go to activities in Palmerston North organised by the Manawatu Lesbian & Gay Rights Association (MALGRA), and other isolated lesbians having trouble connecting with other women.

“I saw that something was happening for young people, and thought it’s about time we organised something” for people over 25, she says. “If they all come out of the woodwork we should have a reasonable number – maybe we could organise a dance.”

“I’d like to establish a regular series of events, advertise them and people can come to what they’re interested in.” She got the idea of a ‘flock’ of lesbians from the movie Cloudburst. Email to join.


Christchurch Women’s Centre needs support

ChchWomensCentreLogoThe Christchurch Women’s Centre is facing a significant funding crisis. They are considering closing after 30 years of supporting women with free and low-cost services.

Funding is increasingly difficult to obtain, and need is escalating: currently they are responding to 5,000 contacts a year. Long-term post-earthquake stress is a significant factor, and women who have moved to the city as part of the rebuild are facing pressures with partners working long hours and being separated from established support systems. Other community organisations have closed in recent years, adding to the demand for those still functioning.

The Centre offers specialist resources and support to lesbians (Lesbian Support), including lesbian counsellors, resources, and lesbian fiction and non-fiction and DVDs in the Centre’s library. They list and promote lesbian and LGBTI groups and activities.

Services offered to all women include up to 20 free counselling sessions, a quiet women-only space, free legal service with a woman lawyer to determine if they need to instruct a lawyer, an Asian women drop-in service on Fridays, advocacy support with CYF and WINZ.

A professional fundraising company has made some initial funding applications for no charge, and will work with the Centre for six months on a paid basis, hopefully accessing funding not previously available.

In late March the Board committed to keeping the Centre open, but they have only four months funding. In addition to the professional fundraising approach, a Givealittle page had raised nearly $3,000 by the end of March.

Contact the Women’s Centre directly or via the Givealittle page to support lesbians in Christchurch.


An unconference for women: Women Who Get Shit Done

WWGSDThe first Women Who Get Shit Done (WWGSD) gathering is scheduled for the weekend of June 24-26, in the Wellington area.

The organisers want the unconference to be as diverse and inclusive as possible, and the website offers the opportunity to register interest yourself, and to nominate women.

Participation will be by selection to ensure diversity; numbers are planned to be 120, at a cost of around $300.

More information on the website, and via Twitter: @WWDGSNZ.

Ngā Tangata, People

Mariko Tamaki
Mallory Ortberg – online writer in person

Mariko Tamaki

Mariko Tamaki_Writers Week 2016_Sorrell ScruttonCanadian writer and performer Mariko Tamaki may not be widely known to New Zealand readers; she certainly deserves to be. She is fascinating to listen to, talk with, read, and read about.

Mariko was in Wellington in March for the Writers Week part of the New Zealand Festival.

She was one of the speakers at the opening night gala event, participated in a panel discussion, and had a great solo session in conversation with Kate De Goldi.

Mariko’s best known works are two graphic novels: Skim (2008) and This One Summer (2014), both illustrated by her cousin Jillian Tamaki. She has also written Emiko Superstar (2008) and non-graphic fiction; the most recent, Saving Montgomery Sole, is due for publication in May.

Her creative career started with performance poetry, queer open mic, and feminist and queer theatre work and cabaret shows in Montreal and Toronto. Collaborative and collective work, “making art outside the status quo”, where everyone pitches in, taking on all roles, can be harder, Mariko says, than a regular job, but it’s also more freeing. She was the first Asian Frank-N-Furter in a Montreal performance of Rocky Horror Picture Show while at university – possibly the first in Canada.

Writing is an extension of this work. Writers can solve a problem or an argument, she says, by writing it up, writing it out, and publishing it. Writers are also “incredibly nosy”. They are the kind of people who like to watch kids have temper tantrums: what do they do? What do the parents do? What do others do? It’s also important for artists to have jobs where they talk to people, Mariko says, even when they may not want to. And it makes  being on your own even more special.

The session with Kate De Goldi started with talking about artists drawing on their own experience. “There’s nothing better than a painful childhood for a writer”, said Mariko, who felt like an outsider from an early age. “I was a fat hairy lesbian” from age 11, she said, and mixed race. She says “all writers are also intensely nostalgic,” and she draws on her own memories and experiences for her work.

Comics weren’t a major feature as a child, though: Archie and Jughead stories were “disappointing” to a lesbian teenager who couldn’t relate to girls desperate for feeble male attention. But comics are particularly great for when someone says one thing and obviously really means something else.

“Being a kid is being an anthropologist of the adult world”, and all three graphic novels illustrate this. Mariko’s central characters tend to be adolescent girls, and themes include developing a sense of self and identity.

Mariko Tamaki_This One SummerRose and Windy in This One Summer are the youngest, not as grownup as they think they might be, just on the edge of developing an interest in boys. Mariko says it’s a book about a place (a summer holiday cottage, a small isolated but temporary community) rather than people, but the people and their stories are hugely important, looming as large as you allow them to. The parents and other adults have their own secrets and stories and problems, not all of which are evident to the girls. This graphic novel has fewer words than the other two, and that created a challenge for the cousins: paradoxically, but maybe not surprisingly, the development of the graphic pages to link between dialogue or commentary required more conversation and explanation between the author and illustrator.

Emiko (Emiko Superstar) is 16, babysitting for a perfect if over-exuberant family, and sneaking out to participate in an anarchic performance theatre group. Her performance work is hailed as innovative and creative, but it is literally stolen from the baby’s mother. As in TOS, you gradually become aware that there is a mother present but not participating in the same life and world as the others, nearly silent. Mariko is thinking of a history of silent women, who might be silenced by others but might silence themselves often. There is a generation of women, she says, who were not allowed to complain, to ask for anything. Their silence is often for intensely personal reasons, as we see in these two books (no spoiler, read them for the detail), heartbreakingly so, and with so little power to challenge or change their circumstances. (So there’s a definite political perspective, too.) Mariko’s mothers definitely have hope, though, and there is a strong suggestion of positive change to come.

Skim is the narrator’s nickname, as well as the book title. It is told in the form of a diary, so more wordy – a useful device for an author, of course. A brief description can give a quite misleading impression of what you are reading: it’s possible to list a whole catalogue of teenage angst problems from the less serious (to the outsider), like not having the right herbs for a Wiccan altar, to the clearly very serious, death of a female classmate’s ex-boyfriend, possibly by suicide, possibly because he was gay.

Montgomery, the central character in the forthcoming Saving Montgomery Sole, is the child of a lesbian couple, living in a small conservative town. Mariko is interested in unexplained phenomena, and she has given this trait to Montgomery, and taking the opportunity to explore the contemporary experience of being a kid in a queer family.

Mariko Tamaki’s writing style is easy to read, certainly accessible, definitely also challenging. Buy or borrow her books, follow her on Twitter and read her blog. Let her challenge your thinking about your role in the world, your relationships with other people, and your responsibilities to others and yourself.

See; connect to her on Twitter @marikotamaki; read Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian’s reviews; Publishers Weekly on Mariko and Jillian Tamaki; listen to her Radio New Zealand interview, with Kathryn Ryan; read a review of the Taking Form panel discussion at the NZ Festival; or the interview by Toby Morris, writer and cartoonist behind The Pencilsword.


Mallory Ortberg – online writer in person

MalloryOrtberg_NZFestival2016_Cred.2e16d0ba.fill-300x250Mallory Ortberg is mostly known as a web-based writer (although she has just signed a contract for a second book), and reasonably well-known in Aotearoa, judging by the enthusiastic audiences at her Wellington Writers Week events and book signings.

Proving that a degree in English literature, a feminist perspective, and a humourous, satirical writing style aren’t automatically barriers to a successful online business, Ortberg and her business partner Nicole Cliff established The Toast, which both pays its writers and pays its way. “If we didn’t start by building in payment to writers, it would have been hard to add in a few years down the track”, she said – they have seen other well-meaning sites be unable to do so.

Audience favourites included the occasional series ‘Women in Western Art‘ and ‘Children’s Stories Made Horrific‘.

Women in Western Art takes reproductions of works available through Wikimedia Commons (that is, without copyright restrictions) as a starting point. A breakthrough observation of Ortberg’s is that men painting women have reproduced the same frozen bored expression on women’s faces, over centuries, in all sorts of contexts. “They think it’s just the way women look,” she says – but it’s a specific, reasonable reaction to men’s behaviour. Check out ‘Don’t Stand So Close To Me: People Ignoring Personal Boundaries In Western Art History‘ for an example.

Ortberg became the latest ‘Dear Prudence’ advice columnist for Slate last year, responding to requests for advice and requests for endorsement for actions already taken. It’s an institution, and people write in about all sorts of personal situations. How to negotiate the minefield of who buys what toilet paper for the household, for example, or how a healthy woman tells the parents of her deceased first husband she wants to be buried, when the time comes, with her current husband (father of her children), not in the plot they have bought for her.

Texts from Jane Eyre (published 2014) started as posts on The Hairpin and became an occasional series on The Toast. About half the book’s content is a collection of material previously published online; about half was written for the book. It helps to have read the work you are reading about, but it’s not essential. It may well encourage you to re-read something you don’t fully remember, to better understand her references.

Ortberg is a major Twitter presence: @mallelis. There is a humour that is native to Twitter, she says and her personal style is evident here as well as in texts: boisterous, ‘over the top’, a lot of ALL CAPS.

Read her, follow her, and keep an eye out for the new book of stories, due in 2017.


Te ao pāpāho, Media

Fijian art from tradition and loss
Lesbian writers coming to Auckland: Jeannette Winterson and Susie Orbach
Documenting (a few) lesbians
Three Words: an Anthology of Aotearoa/NZ Women’s Comics

Art from tradition and loss

Veiqia LouisaThere was standing room only at the opening of the ground-breaking Veiqia exhibition about traditional Fijian women’s tattoos in Auckland in March. Many visitors attended from the coinciding Pacific Arts Association international conference, as well as many Fijian people.

The five Fijian women artists and the two curators, Tarisi Vunidilo and Ema Tavola, shared their experiences of researching their tattooed histories in Fijian and other museums, and navigating through what this meant for them now. Then everyone was fed and entertained by a Fijian sigidrigi band.

Veiqia was a sacred and sensitive practice; until the early 1900s, girls would be tattooed around their loins and sometimes around their mouths, depending on their region. The dauveiqia (tattooists) passed their skills and knowledge down through the women in their families, and were deeply respected.

Veiqia projectThey tapped the designs using iQia (wooden toothed tattooing combs) dipped in soot; veiqia was very painful and had to be carried out in sessions spread over weeks or months. However, the missionaries disapproved of the practice, women’s bodies were covered and the veiqia practice discontinued and often forgotten.

During the artists’ visit to Fiji, indigenous women at a panel discussion were surprised and upset that they had been told nothing about veiqia. The artists did find accounts, books and veiqia artefacts in museum collections.

The exhibition included Auckland-based lesbian Luisa Tora’s video of a life-size dance projection choreographed and performed by Mereula Buliruarua, Vorivori ni susugi tiko, (above). Senior Auckland-based artist Joana Monolagi’s made a large masi (tapa); Donita Hulme (Sydney) made a reaction documentary, and Waikato-based Margaret Aull a traditional tattooing wall motif made up of an arrangement of small ceramic body parts. Brisbane-based Dulcie Stewart’s O kemuni mai vei? | Where are you from? displayed family photographs in a clustered home group, including some images of the un-named and unidentified women she found in museums during their research.

The exhibition may tour to other centres. See a video from the opening or the AUT website.


Lesbian writers coming to Auckland: Jeannette Winterson and Susie Orbach

Following previous outstanding lesbian participants, the Auckland Festival this year has the two English authors and married couple Jeannette Winterson and Susie Orbach, scheduled together as well as in separate sessions.

Orbach’s first published work was Fat is a Feminist Issue, where the psychologist and psychotherapist addressed issues of dieting, disordered eating and women’s appearance and relationships with their bodies. Published in 1978, the issues are clearly still relevant. She has followed this work with other books and journalism.

Orbach has two general events in the festival: a solo session, in conversation with Carole Beu of the Women’s Bookshop (Friday May 13), and with Winterson (Saturday May 14).

Winterson also made a huge impression with her first novel: Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit (1985), a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story of a lesbian girl adopted by a Pentecostal couple. Her 2011 memoir, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, obviously covers similar ground. Winterson has published another 20 or so works, fiction and non-fiction.

In addition to the event with Orbach, Winterson has a solo general event Sunday May 15, and is one of the speakers at the festival’s opening Gala event (Thursday May 12): True Stories Told Live: Altered States.

General events are ticketed at $20 earlybird, $25 after May 10; concessions are available. The Gala opening night event is $35 earlybird, $40.

For more information about the writers, follow the links:

Documenting (a few) lesbians

Doc Edge 2016, the documentary film festival, will screen in Wellington (May 4-15) and Auckland (May 18-29).

There are not many films with lesbian content, but the programme does include the feature Inside the Chinese Closet: “Andy devotes his days and nights to looking for a lesbian wife of convenience who could possibly bear his child; Cherry has already married a gay man, but the quest for a baby proves to be a far more complex challenge.”

Other films that tell the story of one or more women will be of interest: Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise and Driving with Selvi.

Venues: Wellington films screen at the Roxy, 5 Park Rd, Miramar; Auckland films screen at Q Theatre, 305 Queen St.

General admission is $17; concessions are available.

Look for a more detailed preview in our Haratua/May update, and on our Facebook page.


Three Words: an Anthology of Aotearoa/NZ Women’s Comics

Edited by @RaeJFenton, @SarahELaing & @indiraneville, funded by Creative NZ & published by Beatnik. Reviewed by Helen Courtney, Hamilton-based cartoonist

3 wordsThe success of Alison Bechdel’s graphic novels and comic strips, among others, has encouraged more women to explore the fun of making comics. Some comic makers realised that women’s comics and their contributions to the maintenance of the comic scene in NZ were being ignored and lost. Three Words – An Anthology of Aotearoa/NZ Women’s Comics sets itself the task of putting a stake in the ground, of reclaiming some centre-ground and making a record of NZ women doing comics.

Aimed at a mass market and churned out through factory-like processes by the syndicates, comics were considered more an industrial than artistic product: ephemeral and lowbrow. Patricia Highsmith, the author of Carol, worked as a comic book scriptwriter in the ‘bullpen’ in the 1940s but was never keen to advertise the fact.

An alternative comic movement developed, the perfect counterculture medium: democratic, creative, subversive – wait, democratic? Not quite. For women the usual restrictions apply, along with covert hostility and marginalisation. The essays, which round out the end of the book, give some background to the difficulties facing the would-be comic maker. As Jem Yoshika writes in her essay ‘man’ is the default, ‘woman’ is deviant. Women are allowed in through the service entrance. Robyn Kenealy’s essay underlines the point that doing comics is a contested area – only a few will make a living and there is only a small number of (jealously guarded) outlets for creators.

3 words editorsAll that energy used before a person even picks up a pen in an activity where McLuhan’s tenet “the medium is the message” holds true. Comic drawing is hard; two disciplines rolled into one adding up to more than the sum of the parts. There is the narrative, as well as the construction of the image to consider. It must be a massive advantage to split the load and focus just on the drawing or the writing.

After editors’ introductions, 64 women are profiled in the book. The inclusiveness of the collection is one of its strengths and results in the display of a wide range of styles and points of view. The light editing hand, where even the bad is good, gives the book a feeling of authenticity and power. Some contributors are well known and regularly published in the mainstream, for others it’s their first time. Anywhere.

There is obscure work in places – not always helped by the shrinking some contributions to the point of being illegible to fit the format. No doubt the size of the book was a marketing decision to help it fit on the shelf. Sometimes the body text looks like its one step away from disappearing, (maybe that’s just me, being old) however the font does provide a contrast to the often heavy line of the graphic and the congealed effect of over-inking on some pages. While I like the weight of the book and silky feeling of the cover, materialism only goes so far with me these days and I hope there is an e-version on the way.

Still I am happy to squash it on the bookshelf. It’s not just for the aficionados, though one hope must be that this book will inspire more women to draw more comics and better comics. The three editors Rae Joyce, Sarah Laing and Indira Neville deserve special praise for devoting their time and talents to this impressive collection. The Three Words Anthology is a wonderful refutation of those who deny women’s ability and commitment to create comics.

Rātaka takatāpui, Dyke Diary for Paenga-whāwhā / April 2016

Northland/Te Tai Tokerau

Friday 8 6pm, Whangarei Lesbian Wāhine Takatāpui Bisexual Queer Womyn’s Circle AGM, 6pm, Careers NZ, 3rd fl, Spire House, 35 Robert St, Whangarei, email


Friday 9 Anika Moa Songs for Bubbas, The In Between Naps National Tour 10.30am Whangarei. Gold coin entry per human. See Facebook for details.

Auckland/ Tamaki Makaurau

Sunday 3 Dyke Hike Twin Peaks, Huia. Turn right immediately after the bridge at Huia and stop at the first carpark where we will meet. About 6.5 hours. Grade: Hard (boots required, tracks may be rough, steep hills, usually muddy. Reasonable fitness helps to enjoy these ones. If you are not an experienced hiker we require you to have completed two moderate hikes before you join us on a hike graded hard.) Email, visit or the Facebook page.

Wednesday 13 aLBa meeting: The challenges of Western women living and working in the Middle East with Helen Bernstone and Leane Carlson, teachers who have worked in  Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, chaired by Carole Beu of The Women’s Bookshop. 6pm, speakers from 6.30pm, Garnet Station, 85 Garnet Rd, Westmere. $10, members free. Email

Sunday 17 Coffee & Stroll: 10am, meet for coffee at Occam cafe, 135 Williamson Ave (corner of Selbourne St, opposite the Countdown), Grey Lynn; 10.30am, a pleasant 40-minute or so stroll in and around Grey Lynn Park, and/or to and around the Grey Lynn Farmers Market.

Sunday 17  Fifth Season Gardening Group visit Ellen and Ricky’s suburban organic garden, supplying fruit, honey, eggs and vegetables. 2pm, 1 Fergusson Ave, Sandringham, then afternoon tea at 56 Marsden Ave, Mt Eden, from 3pm. Bring an afternoon tea contribution, cash for a raffle and any garden goods to trade. Non-members welcome, contact Wendy Wilson, 027 548 3510 or

LaBelleSaisonSunday 17 Auckland Women’s Centre fundraiser, La Belle Saison 7-9.30pm, Rialto Cinemas 167-169 Broadway, Newmarket.Tickets $25 from Eventfinda. Visit Facebook event page for details.

Friday 22 – 27 May  Te Ihu O Mataoho An exhibition by Rebecca Ann Hobbs with lesbian Molly Rangiwai-McHale (Ngati Porou, Chinese, Scots and Irish descent) and a dozen other artists, about community relationships with the precious sites of ngā puia o Tāmaki Makaurau, the volcanic field of Auckland. St Paul St Gallery One, off Symonds St, city, see the exhibition website.

AnikaMoaNorth_April2016Thursday 28 Anika Moa Songs for Bubbas, The In Between Naps National Tour 10.30am & 3.30pm. Gold coin entry per human. See Facebook for details.


UrzilaCarlsonCreativeMorningsFriday 29 CreativeMornings with Urzila Carlson 8-9.30am, Studio One Toi Tū, 1 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby. Hear about risk, her journey from South Africa to New Zealand, day job to dream job. Registrations open Tuesday 26.

AnikaMoaNorth_April2016Saturday 30 Anika Moa Songs for Bubbas, The In Between Naps National Tour 10.30am Waiheke. Gold coin entry per human. See Facebook for details.

Rush16Saturday 30 Rush women’s dance with DJ Angi, 7.30-11.30pm, Ceramco Park Function Centre, 120 Glendale Rd, Glen Eden. $15 prebought (Women’s Bookshop); $20 on the door; or help out in return for a ticket. No BYO, small cash bar. See Facebook event page for details.

Waikato/Central North Island

LaBelleSaisonFriday 1, 1pm, La Belle Saison in Palmerston North in French Film Festival; see website for tickets and venue information. Want more information (warning, spoilers)?Read interview with life partners director Catherine Corsini and producer Elisabeth Perez, and Variety review.

Saturday 2 Pink Drinks 5.30pm, Good George Brewing and Dining Hall, 32A Somerset St, Frankton. A mixed community event organised by Hamilton Pride.

Sunday 3, 5.30pm (also Thursday 7, 10.30am), La Belle Saison in Havelock North in French Film Festival; see website for tickets and venue information. Want more information (warning, spoilers)? Read interview with life partners director Catherine Corsini and producer Elisabeth Perez, and Variety review.

LaBelleSaisonMonday 4, 11am, La Belle Saison in Hamilton in French Film Festival; see website for tickets and venue information. Want more information (warning, spoilers)? Read interview with life partners director Catherine Corsini and producer Elisabeth Perez, and Variety review.

Monday 11 Coming Out Group planning meeting 5.30pm, Waquy headquarters, 108 Alexandra St, Hamilton. Send ideas about important content in a facilitated group, and offers of skills, videos and books to

Friday 15 Daughters of Ally local lesbian duo at the Cook Bar, Hamilton East from 8pm. Join the Lesbian Social Group’s table from 6.30pm.

Sunday 17 Lesbian group brunch at Zepplins in Clive, Hawkes Bay. Ask for Dale’s group.

AnikaMoaNorth_April2016Monday 25 Anika Moa Songs for Bubbas, The In Between Naps National Tour 10.30am Levin, 3.30pm Palmerston North. Gold coin entry per human. See Facebook for details.

Tuesday 26 Anika Moa Songs for Bubbas, The In Between Naps National Tour 10.30am Napier, 3.30pm Hastings. Gold coin entry per human. See Facebook for details.

Wednesday 27 Anika Moa Songs for Bubbas, The In Between Naps National Tour 10.30am Rotorua, 3.30pm Tauranga. Gold coin entry per human. See Facebook for details.

Saturday 30 Friendly softball game organised by Lesbian Social Group. 2pm, Resthills Softball Park, end of John Webb Dr, Glenview. All welcome.

Wellington/ Te Whanganui-a-Tara

Saturday 9 Seventh annual DANSS Same-Sex Dancesport Competition 2016 3-7pm, Level 3, Whitireia Performing Arts Centre, 25-7 Vivian St, city.  See the website or email Ariane Grimm for a registration form.

Shift HuiSunday 10 Lesbian Overland and Cafe Club walk to Pencarrow Lighthouse, operated for many years by our only female lighthouse keeper, Jane Bennett; see the Heritage New Zealand site. Meet Darryl at Queens Wharf by 10am for the ferry to Days Bay; catch the 10.05am Hutt line train to Petone for car pooling; or gather at the Williams Park Café, Days Bay at 10.30am. Phone Darryl 021 384 410 or Ellen 027 209 4004 on the day re car pooling from Petone station.

Friday 15 Kapiti Lesbian drinks and dinner Finns from 5.30pm. Phone Finns, 04 292 8081, to add you name to Sally’s table if you intend staying for dinner.

Friday 22-Monday 25 National Shift hui for people of diverse sexualities and genders and friends, aged 13-22, from around Aotearoa. Tapu te Ranga Marae, from $0-$100 depending on income and sponsorship. See the registration page and Facebook event page.

Nelson area/Whakatū

The Lesbian Connection (TLC) sends a monthly email of events in the area, Nelson and Motueka in particular. Contact them at to go on the mailing list or for more details of any events.

Wednesday 6 Nelson Pool night, from 5.30pm, Shark Club, 132 Bridge St, Nelson.

Wednesday 13 Nelson Games night, from 5.30pm, Prince Albert Hotel, 113 Nile St, Nelson.

Saturday 16 Nelson brunch/lunch, 11am, Yaza cafe, 117 Hardy St (Montgomery Sq), Nelson.

AnikaMoaSouth_April2016Monday 18 Anika Moa Songs for Bubbas, The In Between Naps National Tour 10.30am Blenheim, 3.30pm Nelson. Gold coin entry per human. Visit Facebook page for details.

Wednesday 20 Nelson Pool night, from 5.30pm, Shark Club, 132 Bridge St, Nelson.

Sunday 24 Motueka brunch/lunch, 11am, Muses Cafe, 136 High St.

Wednesday 27 Nelson Games night, from 5.30pm, Prince Albert Hotel, 113 Nile St, Nelson.

Saturday 30 Nelson dinner, 6pm, Thai Tahuna, 14 Tahunanui Dr, Nelson. Contact TLC by Thursday 28 to reserve a seat.

Te Tai Poutini/West Coast


Tuesday 19 Anika Moa Songs for Bubbas, The In Between Naps National Tour 10.30am Westport, 3.30pm Hokitika. Gold coin entry per human. Visit Facebook page for details.



The Christchurch Women’s Centre keeps a diary of events in Christchurch and elsewhere on their Lesbian Support page.

Saturday 2 Lesbian & Gay Dance North New Brighton Community Centre, 93 Marine Parade. $20pp in advance, $25 on the door. BYO drinks, nibbles provided. Fundraiser for Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA). Contact


Friday 22 Anika Moa Songs for Bubbas, The In Between Naps National Tour 10.30am & 3.30pm. Gold coin entry per human. Visit Facebook page for details.

Saturday 23 Anika Moa Songs for Bubbas, The In Between Naps National Tour 10.30am. Gold coin entry per human. Visit Facebook page for details.

AnikaMoaSaturday 23 Anika Moa, Only The Lonely 7.30pm, New Brighton Working Men’s Club, 202 Marine Parade, New Brighton. Tickets $30 at Tikidub. See Facebook event page for details.

LadyPoetsAprilWednesday 27 Lady Poets presents A Helping Hand (fundraiser for Christchurch Women’s Centre) Space Academy, 371 St Asaph St, central Christchurch. Doors open at 7pm, show starts at 7.30pm. R18 event. $5 cash only on the door. Visit Facebook event page for details and see the News story in our April update.



Thursday 21 Anika Moa Songs for Bubbas, The In Between Naps National Tour 10.30am Oamaru, 3.30pm Ashburton. Gold coin entry per human. Visit Facebook page for details.



Monday 4, 6.15pm (also Sunday 10, 12.45pm), La Belle Saison in Dunedin/Ōtepoti in French Film Festival; see website for tickets and venue information. Want more information (warning, spoilers)? Read interview with life partners director Catherine Corsini and producer Elisabeth Perez, and Variety review.

Sunday 10 Beers and Boardgames evening with Otago University UniQ, 5pm, OUSA Recreation Centre. Includes pizza and non-alcoholic drinks; free for UniQ members and koha for everyone else.

Wednesday 27 New Rainbow Dunedin Social Group on the last Wednesday of the month open to all, Queer or Questioning, 5.30pm at Dog with Two Tails cafe & bar. Started by OUSA Queer Support with the aim that it will become community led. Email Hahna Briggs or phone 479 5445.


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

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