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Monday 10 April 2017

Through rainbow glasses: MPs' legacies

Posted in: Features
By staff - 23rd July 2014



A number of MPs are saying goodbye to Parliament before it rises for the election. Some, we won’t miss. Others were solid. And then there are the memorable characters who will reserve a special place in our history, thanks to the illuminating marriage equality debate.


Cam Calder, National, 2009-2014

  • Happily attended this year’s Big Gay Out as part of John Key’s entourage.
  • Voted in favour of marriage equality.

Darien Fenton, Labour, 2005-2014

  • Voted for marriage equality.
  • Big Gay Out attendee.

Dr Rajen Prasad, Labour, 2008-2014

  • Voted for marriage equality.

Dr Pita Sharples, Maori Party, 2005-2014

Solid leadership: Pita Sharples.

  • Voted for marriage equality.
  • Was consistently inclusive and supportive of lgbti community, and brought this to the Maori Party, saying in 2005: “The Maori Party's priority of whanau includes gay and lesbian people, whanau and communities,” and "The Maori Party is aware of the strength of views against gay and lesbian relationships, and of the erroneous view that homophobia is and was a feature of traditional Maori society. This is not the view of the Maori Party.”

Chris Tremain, National, 2008-2014

  • Voted for marriage equality - something he has listed among his highlights from his time in Parliament.
  • As Internal Affairs Minister, changed department’s policy to make passports more flexible for transgender/intersex people.

Kate Wilkinson, National, 2005-2014

  • Voted for marriage equality.
  • As Associate Immigration Minister, intervened so Rocky Horror creator Richard O'Brien could be granted New Zealand residency.

Those who saw the light:

Chris Auchinvole, National, 2005-2014

"Preach it!" we told Chris Auchinvole as he made a memorable marriage equality speech.

  • Voted for marriage equality
  • Was deputy on the select committee which heard submissions on the bill and said it was “instructive, illuminating, and educative”.
  • The Uniting Church preacher was one of the National MPs who made brilliant speeches during the marriage equality debate:

"What I learnt from listening to the submissions, colleagues, was that in fact each homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender person appearing before us was not to be seen just as an individual, not to be identified just by gender preference, but in fact to be seen as a mother’s son or a daughter, and a father’s daughter or son, as siblings to their brothers and sisters, grandchildren to their grandparents, nephews and nieces to their uncles and aunts, and uncles and aunts to their nephews and nieces, and cousins to their cousins. They are all family, along with their heterosexual friends and relations, and all are an integral part of the New Zealand family, and all are part—in my mind, in my heart, and in my conscience—of God’s family. I now realise that this bill seeks to put first something that critics have accused it of undermining, and that is the family."

  • Was mentioned in’s 2013 Honours list for his marvellous speech.

Tau Henare, National, 2005-2014 (also previously with NZ First and Mauri Pacific)

Tau Henare went from an unhelpful smart-ass to helping the cause of marriage equality. He and Kevin Hague (pictured) were among the MPs in a cross-party working group on the issue.

He’s popped up in our news a number of times in his second stint in Parliament, first for all the wrong reasons, but eventually for all the right ones!

The bad:

  • In 2011 he tweeted "what a gay story" about an article discussing the use of the word 'gay' as a derogatory term within New Zealand schools.
  • He also mocked gay Labour MP Charles Chauvel - showing a picture of him the back of his partner's car and referring to it as "Driving Miss Daisy".

The awesome

  • The following year things changed for Tau. He went to Uganda with Louisa Wall and Jan Logie, and helped them join fellow parliamentarians in urging a commitment to the safeguarding of human rights for all citizens, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • He became a solid backer of Louisa Wall as she progressed marriage equality, speaking in favour of the change at a rally at Parliament ahead of the first reading. He stepped in and helped the Speaker change his mind when he said a National Marriage Equality Conference could not be held in the Legislative Council Chamber in Parliament.
  • During the debate on the second reading, he was fiercely in favour, saying it was not even about straight people:

“It has nothing to do with me. It has nothing to do with my sanity, my lack of sanity. My happiness, my lack of happiness. It has everything to do with other people's sanity, their happiness and how they choose to live their lives."

  • Fabulously called Winston Peters out during the third reading of the bill, describing his rhetoric as the “biggest shyster speech” he has ever heard.

You won’t hear a valedictory speech from this Twitter lover – he already delivered in tweets!

Dr Paul Hutchison, National, 1999-2014

Paul Hutchison's speech underlined the magic of the marriage equality debate

The bad:

  • Voted against civil unions.
  • In 2005, as National’s health spokesman, criticised government funding of gender reassignment surgery as “unjustified and a waste of health resources”.

The excellent:

  • The former gynaecologist and obstetrician had a turnaround Louisa Wall described as “poignant” when he decided to vote in favour of marriage equality at the first reading, after the pair shared a late-night discussion – and he spoke to other gay MPs about the high suicide rate among lgbti teens.

"I cannot construct a strong enough intellectual, moral, health or even spiritual argument against it,” he said.

"From a health perspective, we should be doing everything possible to create an environment in New Zealand where everyone feels they are included.”

  • Was mentioned in’s 2013 Honours list as a result.
  • Attended the 2013 Auckland Pride Parade with colleague Nikki Kaye.

Tariana Turia, Labour, Maori Party, 1996-2014

  • Was rated ‘abysmal’ by due a conservative start to her career, where she voted against civil unions and stated she was against gay couples even having next-of-kin rights to kids.
  • Her views changed later in her political career, possibly thanks to the influence of Pita Sharples, and she went on to vote for marriage equality and to state at a forum her party was in favour of gay adoption.
  • As associate Health Minister she was supportive of HIV/AIDS prevention and ending stigma:

"It is important that we talk openly about HIV and AIDS because preventing transmission is the best protection and people need to know how to protect themselves." (World AIDS Day 2010).

Blink and you miss her:

Claudette Hauiti, National, 2013 - 2014

Claudette Hauiti gave a beautiful maiden speech, but we don't have much else to report.

She was only in Parliament for 14 months, but Claudette Hauiti is leaving in a cloud. What she did do (according to our news archives):

  • Was National’s first MP to enter parliament whilst openly lesbian (Marilyn Waring was of course outed).
  • Mentioned her wife and the takataapui community in a moving maiden speech:

“Thanks to the takataapui community I bring to this House and my Government strength of courage to overcome adversity, tolerance in the face of rejection, acceptance where there is love. And an ability to recognise diversity as being the fabric that makes up this young beautiful nation.”

  • Spoke at this year’s Candlelight Memorial at Te Papa.
  • Flanked John Key at the Big Gay Out.
  • Was part of a panel at the NXT:14 Youth Leaders Conference.

Won’t be missed ...

Shane Ardern, National, 1998-2005

  • Voted against civil unions.
  • Voted against marriage equality.

John Hayes, National, 2005 - 2014

  • Became the MP for Wairarapa after Georgina Beyer.
  • Voted against marriage equality.

Phil Heatley, National, 1999-2014

  • Voted against civil unions.
  • Voted against marriage equality.

Colin King, National, 2005-2014

  • Voted against marriage equality
  • Supported colleague Tim Macindoe’s homophobic (and failed) supplementary order paper wanting anyone who provides "goods, facilities or services," to be able to discriminate against gay couples.

Ross Robertson, Labour, 1987-2014

  • Wasn’t present for the vote on the 1993 Human Rights Act.
  • Among six Labour MPs who voted against civil unions.
  • Met the god-awful Family First on the steps of Parliament to accept its anti-marriage equality petition.
  • Was one of just three Labour MPs who voted against marriage equality.

Eric Roy, National, 1993-2002, 2005-2014

  • Voted against marriage equality.

Tony Ryall, National, 1990-2014

  • Voted for the 1993 Human Rights Act protecting from discrimination on grounds of sexuality or HIV status.
  • Voted against civil unions.
  • Voted against marriage equality.
  • Told Sky News’ Barry Soper suggestions he might be gay are “nonsense”.
Did we miss something? Let us know! staff - 23rd July 2014

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