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Sunday 12 April 2015

'Uncle Wow' Broadhead farewelled

Posted in: New Zealand Daily News
By Daily News staff - 13th January 2015

No photography, no headstone and no epitaph were among the instructions left by flamboyant gay artist and performer Warwick Broadhead whose two and a half hour-long funeral was today attended by upwards of 600 mourners.

People from the performing, gay, Waiheke and cultural communities packed out St Matthew-in-the-City in Central Auckland to standing room only. Before a simple white cloth-swathed bier bearing Broadhead's body, speakers recalled his early days in a strongly Christian Mt Roskill family, his escape into theatricality and his ongoing development of the deeply spiritual side of his life.

His large extended family, including nephews who referred to him as 'Uncle Wow', told anecdotes of his often endearing but occasionally difficult to deal with eccentricities. Performers and people who came to know him through his shows around the country revelled in his creation of shows such as the Full Moon Follies in the late 1970s, his critically acclaimed one man and a suitcase show The Hunting of the Snark and other highly idiosyncratic performance pieces.

A close gay friend fondly remembered the immense highs and lows of their relationship and posthumously forgave him for their last spat.

Music, poetry, wails of lament, communal singing and stirring organ anthems combined to create a collage of Broadhead's life.

Warwick Broadhead, born in 1944, died last week of a heart attack in his Waiheke Island home. He will be buried later this afternoon in an unmarked grave at Auckland's Waikumete Cemetery.

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