This guide will provide a starting place for those interested in researching queer/LGBTQIA+ history in Aotearoa New Zealand, including such topics as Homosexual Law Reform and takatāpui history (the history of Māori queer folk), iconic figures like Carmen and Katherine Mansfield, and groups such as Hedesthia and the New Zealand AIDS Foundation.
The resources in this guide stretch back from the photographs and newspapers of the mid-nineteenth century all the way to the wealth of queer media available today. Much of it can be found in the Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand (LAGANZ), held in the Alexander Turnbull Library.
The Queer History guide aims to be inclusive of all queer New Zealanders, including but not limited to, people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, intersex, takatāpui, tangata ira tane and whakawahine, queer, and asexual, as well as those of Pasifika queer identities, such as fa’afafine and fa’afatama (Samoan), fakaleiti and leiti (Tongan), ‘akava’ine (Cook Islands) vaka sa lewa lewa (Fijian), rae rae (Tahitian), palopa (Papa New Guinea), fiafifine and fakafifine (Niuean), and mahu (Hawaiian).
Unfortunately, the histories of some queer communities are not as readily available as others; the bisexual, asexual, queer Pasifika and intersex communities are particularly underrepresented. This guide however should not be seen as complete, but rather as a work in progress open to additions and criticisms.
Scenes from the International Day of Solidarity for Global Queer Equality, Wellington, 2013. Ref: PADL-000942
How to use this guide
The majority of the material in this guide comes from the The National Library of New Zealand, which has great collections relating to New Zealanders across the queer spectrum. Much of the National Library’s queer resources in turn are comprised of material from the Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand, referred to as LAGANZ, which is housed by the Alexander Turnbull Library. LAGANZ has a wealth of information on not just lesbian and gay New Zealanders, but all queer New Zealanders, from intersex to bisexual.
The Queer History guide has been divided into sections according to the type of source material, with instruction on how to access various types of materials from various different sources. When searching using the National Library website, you can filter your search according to type of source. Click on the ‘search’ button, select underneath it “more search options…,” which will take you to the Advanced Search page. Where it says “Collection,” click the drop-down box underneath “From this collection” and choose which collection you wish to refine your search to - the National Library has collections of everything from cartoons to manuscripts.
Although archived websites, some images and other digitised materials can be accessed online, much of the National Library’s collection requires you to request the item and either have it interloaned to your local library, or to visit the National Library in person. Visiting the National Library and Alexander Turnbull Library is accessible to all public; you can come into the building on the corner of Molesworth & Aitkin Street to use the reading rooms between 10am and 5pm, Monday to Saturday. For information on how to request an item, see Registering and Requesting.
Why “queer” history?
The terminology of the queer/LGBTQIA+ community has always been a notoriously tricky subject, the ‘alphabet soup’ of the acronym growing longer as the community aims to be inclusive of various genders, sexes and sexualities. Debates rage over who each letter should and should not represent, whether there are too many letters or too few, or whether we should be rid of the acronym altogether and opt for a single, more inclusive word; ‘queer’ is often used here, as a reclaimed slur. These debates are a testament to the diversity and complexity of the community. For this guide, the word ‘queer’ has been chosen following from uses of the term in academic contexts such as ‘queer theory,’ in the hopes that it will not alienate those who do not have a letter in the acronym and, most importantly, will consequently be more inclusive of takatāpui and queer Pasifika history.
Searching using the terminology
Throughout this guide “trans” or “transpeople”/“transperson” will be used in place of “transsexual,” “transgender,” or “transvestite,” except for where a primary source may otherwise specify. However, when conducting your own search on transpeople, using the term “transsexual,” which has been in use far longer than “transgender,” “non-binary” and other such words, or using either of the following two search strings, will yield the best results.
(transsex* OR transgend* OR transphob* OR transvest*) AND zealand
As with using the term “transsexual,” searching using the term “homosexual” will yield more results than “gay” or “queer,” as the term has been in use for much longer. Particularly if you are hoping to find official sources, from government or from academic journals, or older sources like books and newspapers, the term “homosexual” will probably be better suited to your research.
If you’re wanting to do a broad search of databases, try either of the following search strings:
(homosex* OR lesbian* OR queer* OR gay) AND zealand (bisex* OR transsex* OR transgend* OR transphob* OR transvest*) AND zealand
How to make your own search strings:
- The asterix (*) functions as a wildcard search, allowing you to search for items that contain words with the same beginning, but different endings. For example, searching bisex* will yield results about both bisexuality and bisexual, and so on.
- Using OR in between search terms allows you to find sources that contain either one word or another, or both. For example, searching homosex* OR lesbian* will bring up resources that contain either homosex* or lesbian*.
- Using an AND in between search terms allows you to find sources that contain both words. For example, searching bisex* AND lesbian* will bring up sources that contain both the words bisex* and lesbian*.
- Using quotations around a group of words allows you to find phrases, resources where the words are used in the exact order that you typed them in, instead of scattered randomly throughout. For example, searching for Fran Wilde will bring up any source with the words Fran and/or Wilde in them, but searching for “Fran Wilde” will retrieve only sources where the two words are grouped together.
Gay rights march, Wellington, 1985. Ref: EP/1985/2384/13-F
What have others written about my topic
Although you might begin your research with primary source material, such as photographs, newsletters and articles, reading what other people have written about your topic first will make it easier to get a broader understanding of the topic and put your primary sources into context.
Good starting places might be:
- Regularly updated and available both online and in print, Tony Millet’s Bibliography on Homosexuality in New Zealand: 1770 - 2012 (Auckland: Tony Millet, 2013), is an incredible resource including books, theses, reports, chapters or sections in books, serials, periodical articles, conference papers, audio recordings, films and videos, radio broadcasts, websites, and ephemera on the LGBT community. Entries are filed under subject headings such as “Prison,” “Bisexual” and “The Elderly.”
- For a brief overview of what it means to be Takatāpui, see Elizabeth Kerekere’s recent Takatāpui: Part of the Whānau , provided by the Mental Health Foundation.
- Focusing on the history of gay cisgender men is Chris Brickell’s Mates and Lovers: A History of Gay New Zealand (Auckland: Godwit, 2008)
- For an overview of the Homosexual Law Reform, see Alison J. Laurie and Linda Evans (eds.), Twenty Years On: Histories of Homosexual Law Reform in New Zealand (Wellington: Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand, 2009).
- Alison J. Laurie and Linda Evans (eds.) have also published Outlines, Lesbian and Gay Histories of Aotearoa (Wellington: Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand, 2005), which is a collection of papers of a mix of historical approaches from the first Lesbian and Gay History Conference held in Wellington. This source however focuses solely on lesbian and gay histories.
- For a timeline of key events leading up to the 1986 Homosexual Law Reform, see Phil Parkinson’s timeline on LAGANZ’s website.
For an even more general understanding of queer history, check out the following online encyclopedias:
Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand includes a variety of audio and visual sources alongside the text. See especially their collections Gay Men’s Lives, Gender Diversity, Lesbian Lives, Hōkakatanga - Māori Sexualities, and Sexualities.
Similarly, NZHistory includes easy to read information, accompanied by visual media, on key topics in queer history, such as on Homosexual Law Reform and protest more generally, and key figures like Katherine Mansfield, Fran Wilde and Frank Sargeson. It is a good place to start for a broad overview of these topics.
Men embracing and kissing, ca. 1887-1889. Ref: PA1-q-962-61
Restrictions and permissions
Some of the material in the collection has particular restrictions on who is allowed to view it, as at the time it was made, it was intended for a specific audience - for example, lesbian magazine Circle was declared as being “for women only.” The Librarians will alert you to any issues and can work through problems with you.
Books are often a great way of gaining an in depth understanding on subject matter, such as understanding in detail the lives of various significant figures or the unfolding of key events. Alongside this, literature can provide a more personal, subjective insight through the stories that the authors choose to tell.
LAGANZ is home to the Jack Goodwin Collection, a gift of books from the estate of Jack Goodwin who was for many years the Secretary of the NZ Homosexual Law Reform Society. It includes almost 5000 books and pamphlets and over 1200 magazines, periodicals and community newspapers, both of international and kiwi origin.
For information specifically on lesbians, Wellington is home to LILAC - Wellington’s Lesbian Library, which houses an array of both fiction and nonfiction books, and hosts a monthly book club.
Members of Gay Liberation with Crimes Amendment Bill, 1974. Ref: EP/1974/7314/15A-F
Several key individuals involved in the queer community have had published biographies.
Change for the Better: The Story of Georgina Beyer is one such resource found at the National Library, detailing the life of New Zealand’s - and the world’s - first transsexual mayor and Member of Parliament, Georgina Beyer. A life lived twice , by Allyson Hamblett, tells the story not just of living as a transwoman in NZ, but living with disability too. Other notable biographies about New Zealand’s transpeople include Carmen: My Life and Perfectly Natural: The Audacious Story of Iris Florence Peter Williams .
Walter D’Arcy Cresswell’s autobiography Present without leave , penned in 1939, contains references to homosexuality, providing a pre-war perspective. See also Frank Sargeson’s Once is enough: a memoir , which is a great insight into the life of the iconic writer.
Published in 1996, James Allan’s wonderful anthology Growing Up Gay: New Zealand men tell their stories is a great resource not only for the stories written by famous names Mika (queer performance artist) and Chris Carter (New Zealand’s first openly gay man ever appointed Cabinet minister), but also for the stories written from the perspectives of “everyday blokes.”
Children’s & Young Adult Fiction
In order to access the National Children’s Collection material, go to the online catalogue, PRIMO, and where it says “All Published Collections” next to the search bar, select “National Library Children’s Collections.” The following keyword groupings are some you can try:
- Gay fathers fiction
- Gay parents fiction
- Gender identity fiction
- Homosexuality fiction
- Homosexuality in animals fiction
- Homophobia fiction
- Gay teenagers fiction
- Gays fiction
- Lesbians fiction
- Lesbian mothers fiction
- Transgender people fiction
Crossing the Line: A question of identity by kiwi author Ngaire Vakaruru, set in New Zealand, tells the story of a queer teenager named Rory and his budding feelings for Fijian immigrant Jo.
And tango makes three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell is a sweet children’s book about two gay penguin fathers.
Literature and Poetry
Some of New Zealand’s most prolific writers are or were considered part of the queer community, such as Katherine Mansfield and Frank Sargeson. Works by specific authors can be found easily through an ‘Advanced Search’ on the National Library website, entering their names in the search bar and under ‘Search Field’ select ‘Look for my search terms in: Author/Creator.’
Samuel Butler’s Butleriana includes references to his much studied relationship with Charles Paine Pauli, academic studies of which include Ross Stuart’s article ‘Samuel Butler and Charles Paine Pauli: A friendship reconsidered.’
For Takatāpui literature, see for example Elizabeth Kerekere et al.’s work Preparing the art world for Māori dykes , a collection of lesbian art and writing from a Māori perspective.
As part of the Minorities Trust research papers Leone Neil compiled Poetique , an anthology of poetry and prose about by and/or about transpeople, mostly originating overseas but containing a few from Aotearoa as well.
THHRRPP! Marriage, Civil Union Partners, 2004. Ref: DCDL-0003811
There are various books and articles written about queer people and history of the queer community which would be worthwhile starting points for any research; see the above listed in ‘getting started,’ as well as those listed here.
For example, Clive Aspin and Jessica Hutching’s fantastic collection of stories Sexuality and the Stories of Indigenous People provides an in-depth and personalised understanding of takatāpui history and identity, with chapters written by a variety of key queer figures such as Mika, Elizabeth Kerekere, Georgina Beyer, Carmen and Louisa Wall.
Also detailing a variety of queer topics is the anthology The Life of Brian: masculinities, sexualities and health in New Zealand , edited by Heather Worth, Anna Paris and Louisa Allen. See in particular the chapters ‘Managing the Margins: Gay-Disabled Masculinity’ by Terry O’Neill for an understanding of the intersection of being both gay and disabled; ‘I didn’t have to go to a finishing school to learn how to be gay: Maori Gay Men’s Understandings of Cultural and Sexual Identity’ by Clive Aspin for a takatāpui perspective; and ‘‘Tits is Just an Accessory’: Masculinity and Femininity in the Lives of Maori and Pacific Queens’ by Heather Worth for a look at both takatāpui, Pasifika and drag history.
An overview of the Gay Liberation movement in New Zealand is provided by Laurie Guy’s Worlds in collision: the gay debate in New Zealand, 1960-1986 .
For those interested in lesbian history, Julie Glamuzina and Alison J. Laurie’s work Parker and Hulme: A Lesbian View provides a discussion of the controversial case from a feminist, lesbian viewpoint.
A look at the discrimination faced by the queer community is detailed in the New Zealand AIDS Foundation’s book Straight Talking: gay men, lesbian women, understanding discrimination, promoting acceptance .
Representing Trans , edited by Evan Hazenberg and Miriam Meyerhoff, is an invaluable collection of essays that offers broad perspectives on contemporary trans community written by some of the community’s most important figures, like Jack Byrne, Fiona Clark and Adeline Greig, covering everything from how individuals navigated being trans in the past, to discussions of what it means to be trans/what gender is itself.
Ephemera & objects
Ephemera are those everyday items which were intended only to be useful for a specific purpose and for a limited period of time, such as posters, tickets, or placards. They’re a wonderful way of getting a sense of ‘what was going on’ in people’s daily lives during whichever time period you are concerned about. The National Library has a large collection of ephemera which can be accessed through the Advanced Search, and under “From this collection” select “Ephemera.”
Check out the library’s collection of posters relating to gay and homosexual people, issues, events, and organisations in New Zealand from the 1970s, or posters relating to lesbian and homosexual women, issues, events and organisations in New Zealand, from the 2000s.
The National Library is also home to a great collection of zines. Zines are typically handmade, noncommercial publications about niche or unconventional subjects; often an ideal platform of expression for queer artists and writers. While there is no way to filter your search specifically for zines, searching for your topic in the National Library Catalogue followed by “zine,” “fanzine” or “underground comic” should yield results.
Also home to a collection of zines is the Wellington City Library; see for example Not Straight Not White Not Male, Genderfailz and The Lesbian Lexicon Project. Find a list of the Wellington City Library’s zines here (Excel file).
Te Papa Tongarewa, the Museum of New Zealand, has a fantastic collection of ephemera relating to queer history. Check out their collection of Carmen’s fascinating headdresses, memorabilia and other objects she has donated.
[L] Sprung! Productions, in association with Casper's Bar & Cafe present D; Devotion '93 festival and dance party. November 19-27, 1993, Wellington. A gay and lesbian celebration; he taiopenga rehia na te whanau takatapui. Ref: Eph-D-GAY-1993-01 [R] Gay Task Force (N.Z.). Rally in support of the Homosexual Law Reform Bill. Celebrate being lesbian & gay. Date: Tuesday 21st May 1985; time 8.00 pm; place, Old Town Hall, Wellington. Topp Twins, 'Normal Jones', Fran Wilde . Ref: Eph-C-GAY-1985-02
Film & television
Watching films and television shows, particularly documentaries, can be a great way to understand a subject in depth in a very accessible manner.
Videos on a wide range of subjects can be accessed from the National Library. To search for videos on the National Library website, enter your search term in the search bar, then on the left-hand sidebar select “Filter by Type: Videos.” For example, a search of “the New Zealand AIDS Foundation,” filtered by “videos,” will bring up four hits, including the DVD Beginnings: The New Zealand AIDS Foundation . This DVD will be a great starting place for anyone researching the foundation or the AIDS crisis in general. For radical religious commentary on homosexuality, see the videorecording of Brian Tamaki’s 2005 speech A nation under siege: a social disaster has hit our nation .
Additionally, NZ On Screen have a fantastic collection showcasing queer media made in New Zealand which are free to watch online, ranging from television shows such as Jewel’s Darl starring Georgina Beyer, films like The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls and documentaries about key events and figures such as intersex activist Mani Mitchell . The contemporary television shows of the time exhibited here, such as Queer Nation (1996 - 2004), are a great resource, and in particular those with a Māori and Pasifika focus, like Takatapui (2004 - 2008), the world’s first indigenous queer series, and the drama Tala Pasifika - Talk of the Town (1995).
You can also find a wealth of information from New Zealand’s Archive of Film, Television and Sound, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, including plenty of sources in Te Reo Māori. To view or listen to any one item, add it as a favourite and then click ‘request information;’ the staff will then ready the material for you to visit and use in Ngā Taonga’s media library, which is open to the public. For instance, see their documentary about Mama Tere, a transgender woman who tells her story of life as a sex worker and how she formed social service the Te Aronga Hou Inaianei (Takataapui ā Iwi Whānau Tautoko). Another source worth highlighting from Ngā Taonga, is Sunday: Homosexual Law Reform, a highly informative debate over whether “the homosexual law reform bill should be passed,” showcasing well both sides of the argument, had between in the affirmative, Fran Wilde and Dr Ian Scott, and in the negative, John Kennedy and Geoff Braybrooke.
Given the political and legal marginalisation of the queer community in Aotearoa, government material is an important resource for consideration when writing queer history. Archives New Zealand, Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga are responsible for the guardianship of New Zealand’s public archives, including government documents, film, paintings and photographs. You can use Archway to search their collection, but to view their items you must make an enquiry.
International Day of Solidarity for Global Queer Equality, Wellington, 2013. Ref: PADL-000942
Hansard (Parliamentary Debates)
Hansard is the name given to the transcripts of the debates in New Zealand parliament. The speeches of and debates between Members of Parliament, about or by members of the queer community, provide an interesting political account of this history, and can be found at the New Zealand Parliament website.
The New Zealand Parliament website is great for their collections of documents regarding the various bills and acts which group all related material - the history, the reports, the submissions and so on - onto one page. You can read about the progress of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, including all the Parliamentary Debates, submissions and reports.
These resources can also be found at the Virtual Democratic Infrastructure Group website. To access the speeches from the Virtual Democratic Infrastructure Group site, click on “NZ Hansard” underneath the title, where you will be taken to their search box. For instance if one searches the terms “homosexual police,” the first hit is the Parliamentary Debates regarding Homosexual Police Officers , which provides dialogue between David Lange and John Banks on the subject of employing gay police officers.
This site allows you to search via “speaker.” See in particular the maiden speech of Chris Carter, New Zealand’s first openly gay Member of Parliament, and both the first speech and valedictory speech of Georgina Beyer.
March supporting the Homosexual Law Reform Bill, Wellington, 1985. Ref: EP/1985/2383/21-F
The queer community is and has been frequently involved in activism and advocating to change discriminatory laws, making submissions to Parliament a valuable resource which can be found either at the New Zealand Parliament website, through Archway, or through the National Library website by searching for “submission” after your search term.
LAGANZ has a number of sets of submissions made to the Select Committee on the Homosexual Law reform Bill of 1985. They are part the LAGANZ Manuscripts collection - see Judy Keall LAGANZ MS-papers 098 and Roger Maxwelll LAGANZ MS Papers-097. There is also an index to these submissions compiled by Phil Parkinson included with these sets of papers.
The submission made by the Homosexual Law Reform Society to the Statutes Revision Committee in 1985 is for example a great resource on the Homosexual Law Reform movement, giving a brief history of the Society and its role in promoting reform before launching into the Society’s argument in favour of law change, the relevance of AIDS to homosexual law reform, and an analysis of the Bill. The Auckland University Gay Liberation group additionally gave a very in depth submission.
Also writing in support of Homosexual Law Reform but from a religious point of view were the coalition group Christians for Homosexual Law Reform, who wrote their submission Say yes: Christians and the Homosexual Law Reform Bill. On the other hand, writing in opposition to the Bill, the Reformed Churches of New Zealand wrote their Homosexuality and the law: freedom at last? A submission .
The queer community is often under scrutiny by various medical-related and religious groups, and as such is the subject of many different kinds of “reports.” Homosexuality: A Report is one of several reports issued by the Church of England which gives the dominant views of the Church in New Zealand in 1967, here stressing that there should be more research into the causes and treatment of homosexuality. AGB McNair and Jane Chetwynd’s Nationwide survey of the impact of AIDS on the New Zealand population , prepared for the Department of Community Health in Christchurch in 1987 is a great research on societal attitudes of the time.
The GAPSS : findings from the Gay Auckland Periodic Sex Survey, published by the New Zealand AIDS Foundation was a biennial survey published in four reports from 2002 to 2008. The 2006 report can be found online as a PDF.
A visual documentation of queer history can be found in newspapers, illustrated magazines, cartoons, photograph albums, posters, pamphlets, zines and a variety of other sources. Using visual material is a wonderful way to really bring the history of this often very colourful community to life.
To search for images from the Library's collections, enter your term in the search bar, then select “Filter by Type: Images.” Not all of the Library’s images are available online; if the record page of an image doesn’t show the picture, then you'll need to come into the Library reading rooms in Wellington to view it, or contact the Library so that we can send you a scan or description of it.
Images are often organised into collections. For example, when you search for “Carmen Rupe,” filtered by image, your first result is a collection of photographs from 1936-2011.
The Te Ara website also contains a wealth of images of various sorts - from photographs of people like famous takatāpui performer Mika, to artwork by Māori artist Richard Kereopa, to posters advertising lesbian nightclub Club 41. To view these images go to Te Ara’s ‘Sexuality and Reproduction’ collection and click through the various subject headers.
Above photographs taken by Ans Westra in 1975, titled ‘Interior views of the Purple Onion revue bar, Vivian Street, Wellington.’ The Purple Onion was Wellington’s first drag show venue. The middle photo shows Carmen taking the stage. Ref: AW-1287
The dangerous - and, until 1986, illegal - nature of being queer and ‘out of the closet’ meant that to a certain extent people had to be careful with the images taken of them, particularly of themselves being intimate with their loved ones. Nonetheless there are many fantastic images to be found, even dating back to the nineteenth century.
Chris Brickell’s work Manly Affections: The Photographs of Robert Gant, 1885 - 1915 brings together a wonderful collection of photographs of queer men in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
PrideNZ.com provides a series of image sets on the Image Aotearoa websiteM, relating to Amy Bock and other female impersonators, Brian Brake, Katherine Mansfield and Robert Gant. One can also search Image Aotearoa directly, and you can refine your search by both date and collection. For example, one might search “female impersonator” refined by the 1940s for an insight into the military and drag.
Peter Wells article on the photographs of Fiona Clark of transpeople for the exhibition Go Girl in the early 1990s showcases some of the controversial photo set.
David Hindley’s set of photographs covers the period during the homosexual law reform bill of 1985/1986.
The LAGANZ collection also has a number of photograph collections including that of the Pink Triangle Publishing Collective (1977-1992) – which published the Pink Triangle magazine. The collection of photographs is located at LAGANZ MS-papers 607 and includes an inventory listing the individual photographs.
Cartoons are generally intended to be humorous or satirical, and are often good sources when you want to understand what the general public may have been thinking about certain events or people, particularly those of a political nature.
The Library has numerous cartoons about queer events and people, such as cartoons about homosexual law reform, marriage equality and Carmen Rupe. For more information about the Library’s cartoon archive and how to use it, see the cartoon archive research guide.
Leone Neil’s collection of ‘T. V. Cartoons’ was compiled in 1989 of cartoons about transpeople - mostly transvestites, with a partial focus too on transwomen - from all over the globe.
For queer cartoons by queer people, see Rooster Tails by transgender man Sam Orchard. Orchard makes cartoons and zines about his own personal experiences as well as about queer life in general, for example his cartoon about his experience meeting intersex activist Mani Mitchell. He publishes his work on his website, which is archived by the Library but is also currently live and still being updated.
The cartoons from feminist magazine Broadsheet might also be of interest, as there are several that are lesbian-related.
Some of the material which you may find useful has not yet been digitised. It's available on the Tiaki catalogue of unpublished materials, which you can access as a registered reader and view in the Library’s Katherine Mansfield reading room.
LAGANZ is home to a huge collection of manuscripts, which you can browse on the alphabetised online index and can request to view at the National Library. If you click ‘control+F,’ or ‘command+F’ on a Mac, you can enter your search terms and quickly jump through entries this way. For example, if you searched “AIDS” in this way you would be presented with 129 hits, not all of which are listed under ‘A’ as “AIDS” is not necessarily the first part of the title. However, if you search for items like this you're likely to get unrelated hits; for example, searching for “trans” will take you not to sources about transpeople, but also to sources labelled things like “Blood transfusion service - New Zealand.”
In order to view LAGANZ’s manuscripts click on one of the numbers listed next to the entry - for example, if looking at Fran Wilde, you might click on “400” - and you will be taken to the item description within the list.
To view the item in person, you’ll need to come into the Library and fill out one of the request slips, which can be found at the Turnbull Library General Enquiries Desk on Level 1.
For example, you can use LAGANZ manuscripts collection to access Transformation’s papers (LAGANZ-MS-Papers-065), a group which was founded by Gillian Cox and her wife Margaret Cox to cater for transsexual people who felt they did not belong in more transvestite-centered groups such as Hedesthia.
Like images, music can be a good way of trying to understand what the past really felt like - or rather, what it sounded like! What people preferred to listen to, and what people wrote songs about, can reveal what was significant to them. You can search for music through the Advanced Search page, selecting either “Music Collection” or “New Zealand Music, Sound, Audio-Visual Collection” to narrow your results.
Notable queer musicians in New Zealand include the famous comedic and musical lesbian duo the Topp Twins, and choir group GALS: Gay and Lesbian Singers Auckland, whose greatest hits can be listened to at the Library.
MP Gerald Wall addressing Homosexual Law Reform Supporters, Wellington, 1977. Ref: EP-Ethics-Demonstrations-Homosexual Law Reform-02
Oral histories are an incredibly important method of accessing the past, by hearing directly from those who were living through it. As the significance of oral histories are becoming increasingly recognised, most of the sources below date from, at the earliest, the late 1960s/the 1970s. Some of the below are primary sources - recordings of rallies, or people speaking about the present - whilst others are secondary sources, providing a reflective view of the past.
You can search for audio recordings on the National Library website. Simply enter your term in the search bar, then select “Filter by Type: Audio.” Another method is to in the Advanced Search, and under
If you want to listen to oral history material, you will need to allow for a significant amount of time, as you will need to allow for the librarians to make an access copy of the recording so as not to damage the original, and you will need to get permission to access and use most of the material (the Library staff will help you with this).
LAGANZ has a wealth of audio from the Homosexual Law Reform Debate on their Audio Database. To search the database simply enter your search term in the search bar, or view by key events, speaker, or browse all records entirely. To search for a phrase, such as “Gay Task Force,” you can click the drop-down box next to the search box that says “All Words” and select “Phrase.” To view more information about the recordings, click on the red Media ID number next to the title/description. To listen to the recordings, you will have to visit the National Library and fill out one of the request cards, which can be found at the National Library General Enquiries Desk on Level 1.
Some of LAGANZ’s recordings are available at PrideNZ, which provides a fantastic online resource that contains over 700 audio recordings and interviews, accompanied by transcripts, featuring recordings from various events, groups and people. Check out Mani Bruce Mitchell’s podcast on being the first out Intersex person in New Zealand.
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision have a great collection of audio material such as radio show recordings. It has a particular abundance of material regarding the Homosexual Law Reform, such as an audio recording from the Auckland Town Hall of various women speaking on the topic of the Bill in 1985. There's also a selection of Audio Curios called “The Beauty of Difference”. This collection also hosts media relating to specifically Maori queer viewpoints; see Marae’s discussion panel on gay rights or the debate about the Destiny Church on Willie Jackson’s Eye to Eye (2005).
An interesting way to think about queer history is to think about the locations where this history was made, sites that were important places for community building, political planning, and simply for being a safe space to express oneself and have fun in.
The organisation Walk Tours NZ is a queer group that conducts “free LGBTI rainbow themed walk tours” in Wellington, taking participants on a physical tour of Wellington’s queer past. These 90 minute tours of Wellington CBD are usually conducted on the first Sunday of every month and incorporate research from renowned historians Dr Alison Laurie and Hugh Young, showcasing the since-changed sites of places like Carmen’s International Coffee Lounge and lesbian Club 41. Keep up to date with the group on their Walk Tours NZ facebook page.
Carmen at Parliament steps, Wellington, 1975. Ref: EP/1975/2576/4A-F
Although once published serials contain static information, serials are great in that they are constantly being updated to publish new information on a variety of different subjects. It is for instance a great way to find information on the more underrepresented groups. Often the name of the journal or newspaper will give you an insight as to the angle that will be taken with the subject matter; for example the Journal of Women’s Studies will likely take a feminist angle, whereas the New Zealand Psychologist will tend to be more scientific.
The National Library is home to Index New Zealand (INNZ), which is a great resource for finding specific articles contained within various serials, such as newspaper articles, research articles, and journal articles, and gives a good description of the article in question under the ‘details’ tab.
To read an article - such as ‘Absolutely Fa’afafine’ by Keryn Henger - you must find which publication the article is part of (in this case, the New Zealand Women’s Weekly 13 March 2000), and search for the magazine name in the Catalogue. Once you have clicked through to request that item, either a list of links to request the individual issue will come up (as in the case of New Zealand Women’s Weekly), or when requesting the item in the “Comment” section enter in the date of publication and/or the issue number.
Some articles, Rogena Sterling’s article about Intersex Awareness Day, ‘Important day to celebrate who I am’, are available online: under “Access item” simply click on the link to the journal.
LAGANZ’s also has a great list of published queer serials, including newspapers and periodicals from all over the world. To view the various serials, choose one of the alphabetised sections listed underneath the “Serials Holdings List” header, and you will be presented with a section of what is available. If you're looking for a specific serial, for instance lesbian magazine Circle, you would click “CAP-CUT” and find it listed there.
To view the item in person, you’ll need to come into the National Library and fill out one of the request cards, which can be found at the National Library General Enquiries Desk on Level 1. The aforementioned Jack Goodwin Collection is also home to over 1200 magazines, periodicals and community newspapers.
To view specific types of serials on the National Library website, enter your search term, then in the left-hand sidebar select “Filter by Type: Journals” or “Filter by Type: Newspapers,” and so on.
Because queerness has been viewed as a psychological/mental health issue, journals such as the New Zealand Psychologist and Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry contain numerous articles on the topic. See for example A. J. W. Taylor’s article on transpeople ‘TransTasman Transsexualism’, in the New Zealand Psychologist or his article on transvestites in the same journal, ‘Clinical and Psychological Observations on Transvestism’.
HIV/AIDS is also a subject often written about in academic journals. The New Zealand Medical Journal is home to many such articles, including A. G. Fraser et al.’s ‘The acquired immunodeficiency syndrome in Auckland in 1985’ and Phil Parkinson’s ‘Homosexuality Debate’.
Journals such as the Journal on Homosexuality and Women’s Studies Journal also publish articles related to New Zealand’s queer community. For a history of male impersonators, see Julie Glamuzina’s ‘An astounding masquerade’ in the Journal of Lesbian Studies, which discusses the case of a person assigned female at birth who portrayed themselves as male and fraudulently married a woman.
Gay Liberation Movement demonstrating, Wellington, 1974. Ref: EP-Ethics-Demonstrations-Homosexual Law Reform-01
Broadsheet was a monthly feminist magazine produced by the Auckland Women’s Liberation group from 1972 – 1997, and although it did not focus specifically on queer topics there are many articles relating to the community; search especially for articles written by Broadsheet editor Jenny Rankine, who often wrote about lesbianism. Also, Broadsheet published several articles on bisexuality; see ‘The Word is Out: Bisexuality’ by Lisa Sabbage in issue no. 170 July/August 1989, and ‘Loving women...and men: bisexual lives’ by Clare Bear in issue no. 182 October 1992. For earlier feminist commentary on homosexual law reform, see ‘Homosexuality: a danger to our community?’ in Women’s Viewpoint v. 2 no. 6 March 1964.
"BOY" BERTHA., NZ Truth, Issue 81, 5 January 1907
Newsletters were an important way for community members to reach out to each other and stay informed, especially where groups were too small or underfunded to publish a magazine.
The Homosexual Law Reform Society used a newsletter to help the community stay informed on the progress being made towards homosexual law reform, including news clippings about the issue and encouraging members to donate and make parliamentary submissions. For a discussion of the reaction of conservative Christian opposition to homosexual law reform, see Selwyn Dawson’s ‘God’s bullies’ in Auckland Metro no. 51, September 1985.
The Wellington Lesbian Network Newsletter , archived by the National Library, contains advertisements for events, international and local lesbian news, calls to action and other short articles.
The first organisation founded in New Zealand specifically for transpeople, Hedesthia, used its monthly newsletter S.E.L.F , later replaced by Trans-Scribe , in order to keep the diasporic members of the group in the loop as to the goings-on of the group, and to build relationships between members through publishing their stories.
The LAGANZ website contains a number of digitised personal accounts from the Friends of LAGANZ newsletter regarding Homosexual Law Reform.
The New Zealand Prostitutes Collective published a newsletter titled O.N.T.O.P. (Ongoing Network Transgender Outreach Programme), which aimed to provide support to transpeople people in the sex work industry.
Papers Past is the National Library’s website for digitised newspapers and also includes letters, diaries, magazines and parliamentary papers from the 19th and 20th centuries. All major newspapers, plus numerous local papers, have been digitised from 1839 up to 1949. The website provides great overviews of the various publications and you can also refine your search by ‘article,’ ‘advertisement’ or ‘illustration’ to find specific types of content.
For more recent newspapers search the National Library catalogue. The National Gay Rights Coalition of New Zealand published their newspaper the Pink Triangle from 1979-1990 covering a range of queer issues.
LAGANZ has a number of collections of newspaper clippings from the 1970’s to the present day. Two sets of clippings arranged in scrapbooks that are very useful and easy to use for research are the Duff collection of 3 volumes 1973-1975 and the Hill Collection of 8 volumes 1974-1986 (both located at folio shelves 004.75).
Amy Bock as Percy Carol Redwood, by Cecil Wright Pattillo, ca. 1909. Ref: PA1-q-1020-54-1
Due to the nature of queer history being an area of study that is still relatively new and rapidly developing, theses written by graduate students are an invaluable source of information. NZ Research is a fantastic website provided by the National Library which publishes freely-available research papers and related resources.
Read for example Poiva Junior Ashleigh Feu’u’s work Ia e Ola Malamalama I Iou Fa'asinomaga: A comparative study of the fa'afafine of Samoa and the whakawahine of Aotearoa/New Zealand, for an exploration, grounded in oral history, of the two indigenous queer identities.
There is no way to search specifically for theses within the National Library website, but generally entering your search terms followed by ‘thesis’ should reveal the required material.
For example, Elizabeth Kerekere’s doctorate thesis Part of the Whānau: The emergence of Takatāpui identity: he whāriki Takatāpui is an in depth study of Takatāpui history.
The queer community continue to advocate for positive change, and as such many groups now use websites and online newsletters to communicate information. While they can often be the most up-to-date source, websites can also disappear or change their URL without warning.
For those that are no longer accessible online, the Library may hold archived copies. To search for archived websites enter your search term in the search bar, then on the left-hand sidebar select “Filter by Type: Websites.”
- Agender NZ contains various factsheets, a brief history, an extensive ‘Trans 101’ information page, and various other resources such as a photo album.
- Association of Reconciling Christians and Congregations are advocating to end LGBT discrimination in Christian communities, with various related links and resources.
- Equal Rights, Equal Marriage Marriage Equality New Zealand’s website, has been partially archived by the National Library and now contains the lists of those who voted for and against the Bill in its various stages.
- Intersex Awareness New Zealand (ITANZ) featuring online news articles dating back to 2007 along with background information, detailing their history and activities.
- Intersex Youth Aotearoa blog last updated August 2016.
- No Pride In Prisons was a queer and trans activist group fighting for prison abolition, their website detailing a queer perspective of the justice system and the group’s activities. Now the organisation is named People Against Prisons Aotearoa (PAPA).
- PrideNZ provide a fantastic online resource containing over 700 audio recordings and interviews.
- Queer Asian Stories from Aotearoa is an online blog for queer Asian people and their allies to submit their stories about what it is like to be both part of the LGBTQIA+ and Asian communities in New Zealand.
- QRD NZ, still active today, is an online resource for LGBT New Zealanders featuring news stories dating back to 2000.
- Rainbow Youth RY is a charity that supports queer & gender diverse youth in Aotearoa, New Zealand.
Other sources for queer material?
- Express A leading voice in New Zealand’s LGBT+ media since 1992.
- Gayline information site for New Zealand's gay organisations and gay-friendly services.
- Gay Wellington Resources featuring local and global content and resources, although last update was 2012.
- New Zealand AIDS Foundation official NZAF website featuring information about the organisation, HIV and AIDs, health issues and law reform, with research reports and newsletters available.
This guide is dedicated to the queer community, and how tirelessly members have worked to get us to the position we are in today.
Thanks to the following Turnbull staff for their help and guidance in creating this guide:
- Roger Swanson (Research Librarian)
- Jay Buzenberg (Online Content Coordinator)
- Amy Watling (Online Research Services Leader)
- Rita Havell (Research Librarian)
- Hannah Benbow (Research Librarian)
- Mary Skarott (Research Librarian)
And to the whole team at the Alexander Turnbull Library: thank you for welcoming me with friendliness and enthusiasm.
–Will Hansen (Intern, Alexander Turnbull Library, 2017)
Celebrating International Lesbian Day, Wellington, 1993. Ref: EP/1993/3537/4-F