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Thursday 09 October 2008


Out and about with Louisa Wall

Posted in: Features
By Louisa Wall MP - 16th September 2008

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A busy few months: Louisa Wall
Labour MP Louisa Wall reports back from a busy few months of events connecting with the LGBT communities.

I have had a very busy few months out in the electorate taking our policies to the people and with the election nearly upon us, this is just the beginning. The act of taking our policies to the people is challenging and enjoyable and none more so then my korero to the Auckland Lesbian Business Association on Wednesday 13 August.

I was asked to talk about my experience of being a new MP and to provide some insight into the role and I would like to thank Jilly, who invited me to address the ALBA membership and the team for the opportunity before the campaign begins in earnest. It is worth noting that a political forum will be held on Wednesday 8 October and Maryan Street will be representing the Labour Party.

It was also my pleasure on Monday 25 August to stand in for the Hon Judith Tizard at a function at Erawan Thai in Herne Bay. This function was organised by Paul Rose and the Auckland Rainbow Team in honour of Tim Barnett, current senior government Whip, in an acknowledgement of all that he has done and continues to do to advance the health and wellbeing of the Rainbow community, given he is retiring at the next election. And I note that I addressed a very healthy crowd of both party members and members of the Rainbow community who have worked with Tim, some driving from Wellington and returning after the event, and I want to highlight the attendance of Martin Gallagher and his wife Gillian, who was so very appreciative of all the work Tim has done in parliament on behalf of Tim's parliamentary colleagues.

Another recent event I attended which is worth highlighting was a forum organised by Philip Patston called Diverse Dads, Fathers of the Future organised as part of Waitakere City Councils focus on Fathering Week held at the Kelston Community Centre. The panellists were either disabled or gay fathers and the event was incredibly insightful and enjoyable.

Tony, who was a paraplegic, declared that because he was less mobile, he had developed a more communicative and emotional engagement with his daughter. His disability was not an issue for her and he found it hard not to tell her he loved her all the time.

Ian and Erik, the mates I had gone to support as part of our Rainbow whänau, were encouraged into the role of parent through a set of whänau circumstances and have raised over 20 children from two generations with up to seven tamariki living with them at one time. Three of their tamariki were there to support them and their relationship has never been an issue for any of the kids. Overall, they have experienced a positive response from the communities they now intersect with, the education and art, culture and heritage sector, as gay men raising children.

Forty year old Rob, who broke his neck when he was 17 in a car accident, works and has two teenage daughters and a 2 year old son called Thomas. Rob wanted his daughters to pick partners who will do anything for them. He was active enough with Thomas as this stage but did think his lack of mobility would be an issue as Thomas grows but his brother is on the scene to do such physical things with Thomas he will have access to a mobile male role-model.

Jonny, a father of teenage girls felt his cerebral palsy did not affect his ability to parent his girls at all. He tells them every day he loves them and sometimes they tell him to make his own cup of tea, but overall parenting is about the relationship you have with your kids and having a disability enhanced the opportunity to dialogue and communicate which is the foundation of being a good parent.

Overall the message from these gay and disabled fathers was that they are not constrained by a stereotype of what a father or male parent should be but rather they are archetypes of their own parenting.

For all the dads, a positive and honest relationship with their children, the ability to communicate with them, to tell them they loved them, to have an emotional connection was the most important factor in being a good parent.

And their diversity enhanced and did not hinder this because of the ways they have to engage with the world. They thought they were pretty good parents and after the session, I thought they were pretty cool too.


Louisa Wall MP - 16th September 2008