National | Georgina Beyer

Louisa Wall on Georgina Beyer: 'She smashed stereotypes'

"I'm really proud to say she was my friend," former Labour MP, gender equality and human rights advocate Louisa Wall (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Hineuru, Waikato) told teaomā today as she headed to Pōneke to pay her respects to trailblazing Georgina Beyer who died yesterday of kidney disease at Mary Potter Hospice in Wellington, aged 65.

Wall remembers the time she and Beyer were part of the Sexuality and the Stories of Indigenous People book launched in 2007 where they, among others, shared their stories of being takatāpui.

“I remember that book launch because Georgina was the guest and just the way she entered the room and dominated it, people gravitated towards her,” she says.

“She was a natural performer but also a natural advocate space filler in terms of being takatāpui.

“Everywhere she went people respected her and were in awe of her because of the way she held herself.

Louisa Wall recalls memories made with the trailblazing Georgina Beyer.

Beyer (Te Ati Awa, Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Porou) was the world’s first openly transgender mayor and MP. She advocated for LGBTQ+ rights, affordable housing and progressive Labour policies, equity and redress for Māori.

'Connection with community'

Regarding Beyer’s mayoralty, Wall says it was her “connection with community” that got her voted in to begin with.

“She had a phenomenal swing when she became an MP later but it was based on her work as the mayor of Carterton. When you think about that place in terms of Aotearoa New Zealand, very rural and very blue voting for Georgina, she smashed stereotypes.

“She consolidated that, if you want to represent your community, it doesn’t matter who you are – if you live an authentic life that’s based on community values and community advocacy, then people will vote for you.

“As a Māori wahine, she has created an amazing legacy that has not yet ended.”

Beyer will lie at Pipitea Marae in Pōneke from 2pm till 5pm today, with a public memorial service expected to be held in the coming weeks.

Public Interest Journalism