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November-December 2022, Issue 638

| Action Hubs | News | GenderEqual NZ |
Making gender equality, reality.

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An Update from the Board

The Board received notice from Lynley Hutton that she will be stepping down as Convenor of the Education Action Hub, and Co-convenor of the Economics Action Hub at the end of this year. Thank you, Lynley, for all the work you have done, and we wish you well with your planned activities for next year, especially those involved your whānau in different parts of the world.

We have also received notice from Carmen Fitzi-Gordon, who has been managing our operational accounts and audits for the last two years, that she will be stepping down as part of her gradual move towards retirement and doing more travel and other activities. Thank you very much, Carmen, for your contribution to NCWNZ.

-- excerpts from Board Meeting Oct 2022: Summary

Some of What's Happening at Local Branches


Four women
(l-r) Back: Emma Buckle, Dr Shalome Bassett.
Front: Margaret Sinclair-Jones (Chair),
Dr Audrey Jarvis. Image courtesy of Geraldine Anne McCarthy.

In October 2022, the NCWNZ Manawatu branch featured Dr Shalome Bassett, Principal Scientist at Fonterra’s Research and Development Centre in Palmerston North.

Dr Bassett introduced a recently developed genome sequencing device which was designed to reduce methane production by cattle. The device could lead to the reduction of burps and methane emissions in dairy herds. In discussing this, Dr Bassett thanked former Principal Scientist Dr Audrey Jarvis for her early research into lactic acid bacteria.

In talking about women working in science, she raised issues with work which were intensified by such matters such as leave for childbirth and timeout for childcare, but that these could be managed. She emphasised the need for women in science to foster positive relationships and ‘hold their ground’ when assessing their pay scales. She also highlighted the benefits of overseas experience on return to the New Zealand job market. She advised that women should keep evaluating the effect of work on themselves, their families, friends, and community.

Listeners appreciated Dr Bassett’s grace and willingness to share her experiences and related to the lived female experience that strengthened her voice.

The NCW Manawatu meeting in November 2022 featured Assistant Principal Barbara Pritchard of Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School. She spoke on the topic: ‘Truancy in schools and what is being done.’

Barbara Pritchard and her invitee, Audrey Jarvis.
Image supplied by NCW Manawatu.

Barbara outlined that students from 6-16 years were able to miss up to 20 days a year without untoward concern. However, New Zealand has a very high recent student absentee record, with Māori and Pasifika over-represented. She noted at in Term 2 of this year, 39.9% of students attended schools and kura regularly, and 10% attended 90% of the time. These low figures were partially caused by COVID and other illnesses over winter - see the most recent Attendance report (.pdf file) for Term 2 of 2022 at the Education Counts website available at the following URL: /0010/218845/Term-2-2022-Attendance-Indicator.pdf.

Barbara explained the complex reasons for absenteeism. Major issues were chronically dysfunctional family life, lack of family income, parent and student disengagement with schools and learning, mental health issues, bad sleep habits, anxiety over peer groups, uniforms, lunches, and schoolwork. Other disruptions caused by seasonal crop harvests, sports days and family trips or sibling sickness caused further absences. Special Needs students with ADHD were often highlighted on absentee lists. Barbara emphasised that by the time students reached secondary school, it was often too late to change ingrained habits of absenteeism. Low attendance equates strongly with lack of achievement.

Ministry of Education initiatives to reduce absenteeism were introduced in July 2022 with the ‘Attendance and Engagement Strategy.’ In Barbara’s own school, many efforts are made to ensure a safe happy school environment: there is an efficient network of early communication with parents once absentees are noted daily, which could culminate in using a ‘Rock-On’ truancy officer; resilience strategies are taught and the school curriculum has been refreshed to make it more relevant; uniforms, lunches and school trips are provided for as much as possible.

Most importantly, Barbara defined the need to engage and welcome parents and students to the school. She conceded, however, that moving out of the COVID environment has been a difficult task.




Panelists (l-r): Megan Gibbons (CEO Otago Polytech); Julia Imo (post-graduate studying bioengineering and founder of Wayfinder); Elisabeth Cunningham (Convenor of Breakfast); Emma Burke (Lawyer); Alison Lambert (Chef); Jay Phillips (Programme Manager of YES -Youth Employment Success); Abbey Brice (Auto Electrician). Image supplied by NCW Dunedin.

The Dunedin Branch of National Council of Women held its sixth annual “Inspiring Young Women Breakfast” recently, at which six women, successful in their chosen careers, spoke to Years 12 and 13 girls from 9 local secondary schools, about their journey to where they are, the obstacles they met and how they overcame them. Sixty-five students came at 6.45 am to hear the speakers, who were from a range of occupations and whose journeys were very different.

This year the speakers were - an auto-electrician who is qualifying to be a mechanic; a lawyer; a post - graduate bio-engineering student who is the founder of Wayfinder; a chef; the CEO of Otago Polytech, and the Programme Manager of YES (Youth Education Success), a branch of Firebrand.

The girls were able to question the speakers and talk to them at the conclusion of the talks, which finished at 8.30am.



Chart: Student Attendance Rates in 2022

Statistics on students' attendance from state and state integrated schools in Aotearoa New Zealand have become a discussion of importance to political elections. School attendance and truancy are much more than a politician's talking points. Educators and researchers know that students' attendance is linked to both student wellbeing and attainment. In other words, every day in school matters. And for some student groups, especially those students in low decile schools, attendance is particularly important.

In Term 2 of 2022, 39.9% of students attended schools and kura regularly. Regular attendance is the percentage of students attending more than 90 per cent of halfdays within a set period, usually a school term. For Term 2, 2022, this time-period consisted of 10 school weeks (96 half-days), consistent with most previous years. The attendance records of 757,776 students were reported and processed from 2,265 schools and kura (92.3% of all state and state-integrated schools and kura) for this period. This represents 96.8% of the student population in all state and state-integrated schools and kura on 1 July 2022.

This chart below, recently published by Education Counts, shows the dramatic changes in school attendance rates from 2019 to 2020. (See the full report at


According to the Ministry of Education's report, "Students and ākonga attending school and kura regularly - Term 2, 2022," Education Indicator: Student Engagement / Participation (found at the following URL:, there was a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in the community which remained high in Term 2 2022. (See the Ministry of Health website on COVID-19 cases at They also reported that there had been a substantial rise in absences due to short-term illness/medical reasons, which coincides with the rise of COVID-19 and typical winter illness in 2022. The report continued with a supposition that the increase in medical absences showed that students and their parents chose to follow Ministry of Health advice for students to stay home if unwell. This type of absence was recorded as justified and made up 8.6% of all term time in Term 2 2022 - compared to 5.3% in 2021.

The following chart from page 4 of the Term 2, 2022 report shows the percent of term time in Term 2 from 2019-2022 by attendance codes. (See the full report at

In a recent research paper by Andrew Webber (“He Whakaaro: What is the relationship between attendance and attainment?” Ministry of Education, February 2020), the data showed that each additional half-day of absence from school and kura is associated with a consistent reduction in the number of NCEA credits students subsequently attain. This trend shows up whether that is a student moving from 100% to 99% attendance or moving from 71% to 70% attendance. Even if students are absent only 5-10% of the time (which is still considered “regular” attendance), they obtain fewer NCEA credits than those with higher attendance rates. Webber insists that there is no “safe” level of non-attendance without impacting negatively on student and ākonga wellbeing and attainment.

The Ministry of Education also offered a "Frequently Asked Questions" document that accompanied the Term 2 2022 attendance data release. (See the FAQ document at In this document, they summarised the drop in attendance trends across population groups. Regular attendance decreased for all their usual reporting groups. However, some groups decreased more than others.

  • Ethnicity: Students of Māori or Pacific ethnicities continued to experience lower regular attendance rates. However, between 2021 and 2022, regular attendance rates for Asian and European/Pākehā students decreased more (20.1 and 21.0 percentage points decrease respectively) than for Māori and Pacific students (17.4 and 18.4 percentage points decrease respectively).
  • Decile: Students in lower decile schools continue to experience lower regular attendance rates than students in higher decile schools. However, rates for higher decile groups decreased more than lower deciles from Term 2 2021 to 2022: deciles 9-10 decreased 21.4 percentage points while deciles 1-2 decreased 18.5 percentage points.
  • Primary vs. Secondary: In Term 2 2022 primary students had a larger decrease in regular attendance rates compared to 2021 than secondary students. Year 6 students had the largest difference in rate, from 67.1% in 2021 to 43.2% in 2022, a difference of 23.9 percentage points. Year 13 students had the smallest difference in rate, from 42.1% in 2021 to 31.3% in 2022, a difference of 10.8 percentage points.

Read more about the details in the Ministry of Education's report (a .pdf file) at "Students and ākonga attending school and kura regularly - Term 2, 2022" Education Indicator: Student Engagement / Participation,

NCWNZ Action Hubs

Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability Action Hub

The NCWNZ Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability (CCES) Action Hub held an online meeting on 21 November 2022 at 7 p.m. with Christine Caughey serving as CCES Hub Convenor. Caughey welcomed Ayushi Kachhara (photo at right from her LinkedIn profile), air quality specialist working in the engineering consultancy, WSP. Her topic was “Reducing air pollution could result in lower climate impacts. So where is the hurdle?”

Kachhara outlined the origins of many of the air quality contaminants emitted every day from business, industrial, transport, domestic and other activities. She focused not only on the human health impacts including premature deaths, but also on the impacts on the natural and ecological environments.

Kachhara works to achieve a 50% reduction in CO2 by 2030 in all her projects. But there are roadblocks: Statutes do not consider CO2 emissions. Without this, greenhouse gas emissions are impossible to quantify. Short term pollutants such as black carbon are also ignored. The New Zealand Resource Management Act (RMA) does not seek a carbon assessment as part of a resource consent, nor in emission monitoring.

Inequality was identified, where in many towns older housing was cold and damp. Heating was often a significant pollutant. Wood and coal burners for heating and cooking polluted not only the air inside a home but also the external air quality from chimneys. Such pollution is known to directly affect human health.

Local councils are also challenged by the omission in legislation, by not providing a legal framework through which to improve air quality.

The roadblock to air quality improvement is very real.

The members of the CCES Hub recognized the importance of submissions to address the above in the three bills that are to replace the RMA (see more at the Ko Tātou LGNZ Local Government webpage at and in climate legislation.

Ayushi Kachhara was warmly thanked for her very informative talk that highlighted significant areas of concern, not only in the levels of air pollution, but also in the difficulties in addressing such a critical issue.

For more information on the CCES Action Hub's work on these bills, please contact them at [email protected].

International Action Hub

The International Action Hub hosted an international webinar "Women Changing the World, in the Past and Today," on Sunday, December 4th, 2:00 p.m. New Zealand Time. The panel of four women from around the world examined current and past roles of women's organisations in collaborative efforts at an international level to create lasting social change. The event was chaired by Carol Beaumont, NCWNZ Board member, and the live webinar included sign language interpreters.

The panelists included:

  • Forough Amin, PhD, founder of Iranian Women in NZ Charitable Trust (IWIN). Amin founded IWIN in 2020 as the first organization specifically working for Iranian women in New Zealand. Forough has a PhD in Language and Communication from Auckland University of Technology. Before coming to NZ, she was a university lecturer in Iran for 11 years. She has published several articles on critical analysis of media and political discourses. After completing her PhD, she decided to leave academia and dedicate herself to work for the betterment of the community and women. Forough’s research interests currently focus on women’s rights and movements in the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Anna Lee Fos-Tuvera, Director, Gender Equality Activities, International Trade Union Confederation-Asia Pacific (ITUC-AP) Singapore. Fos-Tuvera is responsible for coordinating the implementation of the Platform of Action for Gender Equality, the ITUC-AP’s framework towards the achievement of gender policy in the region. She provides technical support to the ITUC-AP Women’s Committee, a regional body composed of women leaders from 59 affiliated organizations in 34 countries in the region. Before joining ITUC-AP in 2013, she has been with the largest trade union movement in the Philippines for more than 10 years, in charge at various times, in organizing training and workers’
    education programs, managing development cooperation projects, and rendering research and evaluation services on industrial relations. Fos-Tuvera received her Bachelor in Political Science (major in International Relations) at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and a Masters’ degree in Applied Labour Economics for
    Development from Turin School of Development (ITC-ILO).
  • Catherine “Cate” Fosl, PhD, historian, professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Louisville in Kentucky USA. Cate Fosl is an anti-racist feminist historian, writer, and professor at the University of Louisville, where she also co-founded and for 15 years directed the Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research. She is the author of three books centred on social justice, as well as the first-ever public history report to document a U.S. state’s LGBTQ past. Her first book (1989) was Women for All Seasons, a history of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, inspired by two years she spent as a young woman on the WILPF legislative staff in Washington, DC.
  • Megan Hutching, PhD, historian.Megan Hutching is a freelance historian, specialising in oral history. Her research interests are women’s history and political activism. She is particularly interested in the history of women’s peace activism in New Zealand and has published articles on women’s opposition to the First World War and the establishment of the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom here in Aotearoa New Zealand.

You can view the webinar on the NCWNZ YouTube channel here: .

The following provides some background on the organisations represented in the panel:

  • The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) is a non-profit non-governmental organization working "to bring together women of different political views and philosophical and religious backgrounds determined to study and make known the causes of war and work for a permanent peace" and to unite women worldwide who oppose oppression and exploitation. WILPF has national sections in nearly fifty countries. WILPF is the oldest women's peace group in the world; headquartered in Geneva, WILPF holds observer status with the United Nations. WILPF developed out of the International Women's Congress against World War I that took place in The Hague, Netherlands, in 1915 and the formation of the International Women's Committee of Permanent Peace (the name WILPF was not chosen until 1919). New Zealanders were present at its founding which involved many European and U.S. women - Jane Addams, an American activist and the second woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, was elected the first president.
  • The International Trade Union Confederation-Asia Pacific (ITUC-AP) consists of 59 trade unions from 34 countries and territories in Asia and the Pacific region. The Confederation was founded on 4 September 2007 in Bangalore, India, originating from the merger of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions - Asia Pacific Regional Organisation and the Brotherhood of Asian Trade Unions. There are approximately 60 million members. ITUC-Asia Pacific’s Constitution expressly guarantees the full integration of women in trade unions and the promotion of full gender parity in leadership bodies and activities at all levels. The ITUC-Asia Pacific and its affiliates commit to advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment through the Platform of Action for Gender Equality (PAGE), renewed every four years. The ITUC-Asia Pacific Women’s Committee is chaired by Yoshiko Norimatsu, and Paola Simonetti is Director of the Equality Department at the ITUC. They provide leadership on how affiliates should build workers’ power with gender equality and inclusion at the core of trade union actions. Anna Tuvera, Director of ITUC-AP’s Gender Equality Activities, presented in May 2022 a high-level review of the proposed activities slated for this year, including the "WaY2GO 2.0," a joint project with the DGB Bildungswerk Bund (BW) to advance the engagement of women and young trade unionists in leadership representations and social dialogues. Another goal this year for the Women's Committee is to broaden support for the International Labour Organization Convention 190 (C190), the first international treaty focused on eliminating violence and harassment in the workplace.
  • The Iranian Women in New Zealand (IWIN) Charitable Trust started in November 2020. Their mission is to promote women’s empowerment and social empathy. The group works on “advocating gender equality, encouraging community support, promoting solidarity and collaboration among Iranian women and their families, and through our core values that are respecting religious and cultural diversity, accepting differences of opinion, respecting moral and humanitarian values as well as collaborating with other organizations working for women, and promoting charitable work and volunteering.” They have offered several different events for the public in Auckland, such as art shows and commemorative events. They also offered a workshop for Farsi speakers on building a safer community by responding to people with empathy and dignity. A recent event hosted by IWIN was a panel discussion on women's activism against discrimination, violence, misogyny and patriarchy in Iran, Afghanistan, and New Zealand.

Influence and Decision-making Action Hub

In November 2022 the Policy Group for Criminal Justice led by Corinne McIlwrath were in the process of preparing a document on sexual violence and family violence for Minister of Justice Kiritapu Allan. The Minister has responsibility for the formulation of justice policy and for the administration of law courts, and the Policy Group is working to craft new legislation that will update the Crimes Act 1961.

The Auckland Coalition for the Safety of Women and Children (ACSWC) together with the National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuges (NCIWR) reached out to McIlwrath to provide additional insights into issues specifically regarding stalking and harassment. They worked also with members of the National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ). Key authors for the paper submitted to McIlwrath were Alison Towns (ACSWC), Natalie Thorburn (NCIWR) and Bernice Williams, a member of the NCWNZ Influence and Decision-making Action Hub. The Policy Group's recommendations to the Minister included the joint paper as an appendix.

An excerpt from the paper's summary follows:

Stalking is unwanted repetitive and persistent intrusions into a person’s life: it is a form of abuse that is a risk factor for physical and sexual violence, including death. Even if a single action appears trivial, stalking is a pattern of behaviour, which a reasonable person would find distressing, or objectionable or frightening. Women are disproportionately affected by stalking, particularly young women, disabled women, rainbow women and likely wāhine Māori, while migrants and ethnic minorities may experience unique forms of stalking. The most dangerous, and persistent stalking is conducted by ex-partners of women, with child contact being a particular risk factor. The targeting of women participating in public discourse (politicians, journalists, celebrities) may dissuade others from speaking out, preventing women from contributing their expertise and thought leadership to public discourse. Protecting people from stalking is in line with Aotearoa New Zealand’s international human rights obligations but our piecemeal legislation is out of step with comparator countries’ laws to protect women and others from stalking. The options police currently have for responding to partner stalking (for example) do not hold stalkers accountable or make victims safer. Civil orders have been found to be ineffective with stalkers, some of whom use the Civil Court and restraining order processes as further opportunities for stalking. Stalking must be recognised as a crime rather than a civil dispute and be named as a crime in the Crimes Act 1961.

The full paper submitted to the Policy Group can be accessed here (.pdf file).

The Action Hub will continue to monitor the progress of this initiative and continue to provide additional insights as the Ministry crafts new legislation to more fully address our concerns deriving from the virulent and consistent misogyny evident today.


N.B. Any member can join one or more Action Hubs - sign in to your account on the NCWNZ website and fill out the sign-up form in the Action Hub section.


Readings to Consider

Impact of COVID-19: a multi-jurisdictional assessment, (October 2022). Chartered Governance Institute, UK.

   "This review paper summarises the practical and very real changes that have occurred in a number of the Institute’s nine Divisions. The paper is structured under 10 areas namely: a ban on public gatherings, virtual or hybrid meetings, flexible work, career development, gender balance, fairness, technology, culture, staff retention and attitudes towards risk. On a positive note, it was observed that the general responsiveness of governments, organisations and individuals to a large extent upheld the fundamentals of good governance. However, the impact of COVID-19 on gender balance was particularly concerning in settings characterised by an unequal gender sharing of domestic and family responsibilities, with women having to attend to household and family chores and office demands simultaneously. The dangers of digital exclusion and its negative impact on governance tenets, such as upholding fairness, were also evidenced in many jurisdictions particularly for those economically disadvantaged. (iv)"


Khan, Mahabub Ul Alam and Halder, Gita Debi. “Sexual Harassment in Bangladesh: A Note on Legal Perspective” (August 24, 2022). Society & Sustainability, 4(1), 107–113, 2022, available for free download at

   This paper offers a description of the increasing rate of sexual harassment in Bangladesh, the existing laws, and a comparative approach to molestation in countries such as India and Pakistan. The authors offer recommendations to mitigate such problems.


As we well know here in New Zealand, the forest is more than just a collection of trees. Canadian scientist, Suzanne Simard PhD, recently published Finding the Mother Tree: Uncovering the Wisdom and Intelligence of the Forest (Penguin, 2022). Her findings confirm that underground mycorrhizal networks function as a type of neural network which assists forests in functioning as a "pulsing, active, adaptive" community and that a "Mother" tree acts as a hub, stabilizing the entire forest community, even offering her last resources for the survival of others while dying. Dr Simard explains that these invisible neural networks serve as symbiotic mediators of information and resources.


Revolt She Said

"Revolt She Said" is a 2021 documentary film directed by Louise Lever that examines contemporary feminism and gender. The film features former Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark, journalist Alison Mau, Dr Jackie Huggins, Lizzie Marvelley, Courtney Sina Meredith, Quinn Eades, Ardy Tibby, Dr Pani Farvid, and Jess Holly Bates. Read the 2021 interview with Lever here. Celebrate International Women’s Day 2023 with a special screening on 12 March, 7:45pm, at The Lido Cinema, Epsom, Auckland. Reserve your ticket today at:


Milestones: Legal Status and Sexual Orientation/Identity

1837: William Yate, a Church Missionary Society worker who lived peaceably with his male companion for two years in the Māori village of Waimate, was removed from his duties upon evidence of his homosexual activities with an English sailor as well as several male Māori youths at the Bay of Islands.

1858: English Laws Act enforces in New Zealand all English laws as of 14 January 1840, including the law that acts of sodomy are "unnatural."

1867: The English Parliament replaced the death penalty for buggery with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment in 1861. New Zealand enacted similar legislation six years later. Consent was no defence.

1893: Any sexual activity between men of any age became unlawful in England in 1885, and New Zealand followed suit in 1893. Typically, sentences of one or two years’ hard labour were imposed for offences other than sodomy. Men found guilty of sodomy could still be flogged, and serve their term of imprisonment with hard labour, in the 1940s and 1950s.

1921: Macquisten Amendment attempted to add "acts of gross indecency by females" to 1885 Act. Defeated in the House of Lords.

1941: Crimes Amendment Act 1941 removed the punishment of flogging from New Zealand law, retaining life imprisonment for sodomy.

1959: Attorney-General Rex Mason tried unsuccessfully to reduce the criminal sanctions on some homosexual activities. Two years earlier a report by the Wolfenden Committee to the British Parliament recommended decriminalising private consenting homosexual behaviour.

1961: The Crimes Act 1961 removed the potential term of life imprisonment for sodomy, but all legal sanctions against homosexual activity remained. This was the first time lesbianism is introduced into New Zealand law, criminalising sexual relations between women over twenty-one and girls under sixteen. The Crimes Act also removed flogging and whipping as penalties.

1962: New Zealand's first social club for homosexual men, the Dorian Society, formed in Wellington. A year later a legal subcommittee of the Dorian Society formed to work on law reform.

1964: Charles Aberhart, a 37-year-old drapery store manager of Blenheim, was killed in Hagley Park, Christchurch, the victim of a gay hate crime. The six teenagers who admitted they were in search of someone to beat up were acquitted of his murder.

1967: The Sexual Offenses Act abolished total prohibition of homosexual acts in England. Age of consent was set at 20, as opposed to 16 years for heterosexual acts. The New Zealand Wolfenden Association was founded (soon changing its name to the NZ Homosexual Law Reform Society).

1971: First feminist magazine, Up From Under, was produced by Wellington Women's Liberation Front. and on 19 September 1971, Ngahuia Te Awekotuku led a women's liberation protest in a Suffrage Day of Mourning. In a Gallery TV interview, she described herself as "a sapphic woman" and says lesbians have been in the vanguard of women s struggles for centuries. From 1971-1972 Gay Liberation groups sprang up in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch, e.g., The KG [Kamp Girls] Club, a social club for lesbians, established in private homes in Auckland, then in premises in Karangahape Rd, Beach Rd, Hereford St Ponsonby, and Albert St. Other groups formed around the country over the next few years.

1972: In March the US refused a visa to Ngahuia Te Awekotuku who was described as a "known sexual deviant." Three years later the U.S. granted her a multiple entry visa to pursue her PhD. The first national Women's Liberation conference was held in April. Some women walk out of the first programme, delivered by a lesbian. In June, the first Gay Week was celebrated. The feminist magazine Broadsheet started up in Auckland in July and lasts until July 1997.

1973: SHE (Sisters for Homophile Equality) was the first national lesbian organisation. The first Gay Pride Week and march in New Zealand took place.

1974: Venn Young (National, Waitotara) introduced the Crimes Amendment Bill, with an age of consent of 21 in July. Defeated in July 1975.

1975: Robin Duff stood in General Election in November as an openly gay candidate, Christchurch Central. Not successful.

1976: Carmen (Carmen Tione Rupe, Te Arawa) stood in the Wellington mayoral election as the first transgendered candidate in the world. Not successful.

1977: Parliament refused to include sexual orientation as grounds for protection against discrimination in the new Human Rights Commission Act. On 1 July 1977 New Zealand celebrated the first nationally coordinated Gay Pride Week. A National Gay Rights Coalition was founded in the late 1970s but disbanded in 1983.

1979: Warren Freer (Labour, Mt Albert) introduced a Crimes Amendment Bill with an age of consent of 20. The Bill is conservative and not supported by many gay organisations. Lacking support, the Freer Bill is abandoned June 1980.

1985: Labour MP Fran Wilde consulted with gay groups to develop a private member’s bill, the Homosexual Law Reform Bill, which she introduced to the House of Representatives on 8 March. It included two parts: (1) decriminalisation of male-male sex and consensual heterosexual anal intercourse, and (2) making it illegal to discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation. It also tried to raise the age of consent to 18, but it remained at 16 in the final legislation – the same age as for heterosexuals. The Homosexual Law Reform Act, which was signed by the governor-general on 11 July 1986, came into effect on 8 August. This law decriminalised sexual relations between men aged 16 and over. The second part of the bill, which would have removed discrimination based on sexuality, was rejected.

1991: Immigration policy changed to include those identified as same-sex partners to gain residence in New Zealand.

1993: Not until the Human Rights Act was passed in 1993 did it became illegal in New Zealand to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation. Government exempted itself from the law until 31 December 1999. On 23 December 1993 Chris Carter (Labour, Te Atatu) came out soon after his election, the first openly gay MP.

1994: High Court ruled in December that post-operative transsexuals can marry in their adopted sex. Serving openly in NZ military became legal.

1995: Georgina Beyer, a transexual, was elected Mayor of Carterton on October 21.

1996: NZ Census forms were constructed to be able to count same-sex partners. First MMP General Election. Openly gay MP Chris Carter (Labour, Te Atatu) defeated, but Tim Barnett (Labour, Christchurch Central), first to campaign as openly gay, was elected.

1997: World's first Intersex Centre opened in Wellington. The Intersex Society of NZ (Aotearoa) was founded by Mani Bruce Mitchell.

1998: Transsexual Jacqui Grant (the "Tranny Granny") of Moana, West Coast, was made a Member of the NZ Order of Merit (MNZM) for her work with children.

2004: Takatāpui, first shown on Māori Television in 2004, was probably the first indigenous gay, lesbian and transgender television series in the world. That year, the Civil Unions Act allowed gay and lesbian couples to formalise their relationships with many of the provisions of marriage.

2005: Relationships (Statutory References) Act 2005 provided consistency for same-sex and de facto couples across a number of existing laws affecting married couples, including superannuation, benefits and inheritance.

2006: The Hon Georgina Beyer withdrew her Human Rights (Gender Identity) Amendment Bill 2004 which had not received a first reading despite being held over. This was to include in the Human Rights Act 1993 a new prohibited ground of discrimination: "gender identity, which refers to the identification by a person with a gender that is different from the birth gender of that person, or the gender assigned to that person at birth, and may include persons who call themselves transsexual, transvestite, transgender, cross-dresser, or other description."

2008: Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Amendment Act 2004 allowed lesbian mothers and partners to both be reflected on birth certificates.

2011: At the Asia-Pacific Outgames Human Rights Conference, Phylesha Brown-Acton MNZM introduced a Pacific-specific acronym (instead of using western LGBTQIA+ terms): MVPFAFF - Mahu, Vakasalewalewa, Palopa, Fa’afafine, Akava’ine, Fakafifine and Fakaleiti/leiti.

2013: The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Act saw New Zealand become the 13th country in the world – and the first in the Asia-Pacific region – to allow same-sex couples to marry. It clarified the meaning of marriage to "the union of 2 people, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity."

2018: Criminal Records (Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Act 2018 so "to reduce prejudice, stigma, and all other negative effects, arising from a conviction for a historical homosexual offence."

2021: Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 2021 (which comes into effect on 15 June 2023) will allow gender self-identification.

2022: Parliament passed the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Act, banning conversion therapy.

Bibliography and Additional Resources:

  • Bibliography on Homosexuality in New Zealand 1770-2012. Tony Millett, comp. Takapuna, Auckland: Microfilm Digital Print Ltd., 2013.
  • Clive Aspin, "Hōkakatanga – Māori sexualities - Sexual diversity in contemporary Māori society," URL: Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage, updated 22 January 2019.
  • Niko Besnier, "Polynesian Gender Liminality Through Time and Space." In Third Sex, Third Gender: Beyond Sexual Dimorphism in Culture and History. Ed. Gilbert Herdt. New York: Zone Books, 1994.
  • "A Chronicle of Homosexuality in New Zealand," compiled by Hugh Young. URL: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender New Zealand History, Rainbow Net Ltd., updated 11 July 2022.
  • "A History of LGBT Criminalisation," URL: Human Dignity Trust, updated 2022.
  • "Homosexual law reform in New Zealand," URL: New Zealand History, Ministry for Culture and Heritage, updated 3 June 2022.
  • "Key Events in the Homosexual Law Reform Campaign and Events Leading up to Reform," URL: Homosexual Law Reform Retrospective, Lesbian & Gay Archives of New Zealand (LAGANZ) | Te Pūranga Takatāpui o Aotearoa, updated 2/11/2002.
  • "LGBT Rights in New Zealand," URL: Equaldex.
  • "Queer History Research Guide," URL: National Library of New Zealand.
  • Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, "He Reka Ano – same-sex lust and loving in the ancient Māori world." In Outlines: lesbian & gay histories of Aotearoa, edited by Alison J. Laurie & Linda Evans. Wellington: Lesbian & Gay Archives of New Zealand, 2005.
  • Twenty Years On: Histories of Homosexual Law Reform in New Zealand, eds. Alison J. Laurie and Linda Evans. Wellington: Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand Te Pūranga Takatāpui o Aotearoa (LAGANZ), 2009.

N.B. Many thanks to the extensive work of Ruth Ringer, Auckland Libraries Research Centre, for her help in compiling the milestones and bibliography.


Stories to Celebrate

Stories of three female social justice leaders: understanding the origins of their leadership

This 2022 EdD dissertation by Tui Summers (University of Canterbury) is a qualitative investigation of three women’s social justice leadership across the decades from the 1920s to the 2000s, and across Māori and Pākehā worlds. It offers rich insights into the origins and orientations of women’s social justice leadership in New Zealand (Aotearoa). Summers provides examples of how social justice leadership can be fostered in the future. Read the dissertation here:


Men taking paid parental leave triples in five years

The number of men taking parental leave has tripled in five years. According to Inland Revenue figures obtained through an Official Information Act request by Newsroom, the number of those who identified as men rose from just 373 in the 2017/18 year to 1254 in 2021/22. This latest figure is still only 2.19 percent out of the 57,310 people who received paid parental leave this past financial year. Those who identified as gender-neutral or who didn't give a classification made up 0.56 percent. Read more about the growing shift in attitudes about parental leave in the article by Andrew Bevin, "Men taking paid parental leave triples in five years," (23 November 2022) pro/men-taking-paid-parental-leave-triples-in-five-years.


In Memoriam: Heather Marion Smith

Heather Marion Smith of Opunake, Taranaki, died on October 6, 2022. Her life was dedicated to economic as well as political sovereignty through decades of submissions both oral and written to councils, select committees, public fora, and newspapers. She served as convenor of the Economics Standing Committee for National Council of Women of New Zealand for two terms, delivering well researched information on issues relating to her brief.

A member of the Whanganui NCWNZ Branch, she attended many Whanganui District Council meetings and regularly presented submissions through the Council’s Annual Plan process. Heather raised many issues and challenged the thinking at branch meetings.  It was rewarding for the Branch during the period Heather was the Convenor of the Economic Standing Committee. 

Heather stood for Parliament many times, including when she lived in Whanganui.  She spoke at local election meetings for her party, Democrats for Social Credit.  The Leader of Social Credit, Chris Leitch, said that Heather was a walking encyclopaedia of all the current and past political leaders and their views on many issues. Having earned a degree and post-graduate diploma (both in economics) from Massey University, Heather taught Economics, English, History and Junior French in Taranaki and Whanganui high schools.

Originally of Opunake, Taranaki, Heather was a dearly loved mother and grandmother, and treasured sister who was inspirational to family, friends, and acquaintances. Heather died peacefully on October 6, 2022.


Dates to Note for January-February 2023

4 Jan. World Braille Day

24 Jan. International Day of Education

27 Jan. International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust

1-7 Feb. World Interfaith Harmony Week

2 Feb. World Wetlands Day

4 Feb. International Day of Human Fraternity for Peace and Cooperation

6 Feb. Waitangi Day; International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation

10 Feb. World Pulses [legumes] Day

11 Feb. International Day of Women and Girls in Science

12 Feb. International Day for the Prevention of Violent Extremism as and when Conducive to Terrorism (adopted on 20 December 2022)

13 Feb. World Radio Day

20 Feb. World Day of Social Justice

21 Feb. International Mother Language Day 


Quotation to Ponder

"Empathy is like oxygen: If you don't have it in your life, in your lungs, you die."

 - Elizabeth Taylor, actress




The Circular is the official organ of The National Council of Women of New Zealand. Archived copies are available at the National Library of New Zealand (ISSN 2815-8644).

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