Politics | Takatāpui

Takatāpui student reflects on K‘ road rainbow crossing, drag queens’ reading protests

A university student says the lack of historic research surrounding takatāpui is contributing to the negative pushback in recent weeks.

Benjamin Thomas-Watt (Ngāpuhi) studies history and sociology and was the takatāpui representative at Massey University.

Last week the LGBTQIA+ community saw its rainbow pedestrian crossing on Karangahape Rd painted over with white paint and Rotorua Library’s Rainbow Storytime event with drag queens cancelled.

However, in Gisborne where a rainbow crossing the main street was also painted over, the local council was swift to restore it - and the town’s library went ahead with its Rainbow Storytime despite a strong protest.

“With the painting on Karangahape Road and then we’ve been having protests in Rotorua surrounding drag queens doing readings for children so takatāpui I’ll say are widely accepted but there are also those minorities who are obviously homophobic or transphobic.”

He said it was about creating spaces and teaching kids about diversity but there weren’t enough spaces to do so.

English law to blame

“If you look at the Big Gay Out it was thought of as this big sexual festival where gays rock it off and have fun. It’s now going towards a family event. People come from all ages, sex, gender identities and families. They come to just to celebrate who we are at the Big Gay Out.”

Thomas-Watt said he finished a required history paper called A History of New Zealand’s Peoples where it focused on the minorities and homosexuality in the first half of the 20th century.

“I came across a question of “When did takatāpui became illegal in New Zealand?” [While] doing my searches a lot of the research pointed towards Te Tiriti o Waitangi.”

Te Tiriti didn’t adopt any laws or regulations regarding the illegality of takatāpui, it was however the enforcement of the English laws in 1858 that did, Thomas-Watt said.

The English Laws Act 1858 is when the UK’s laws were adopted in Aotearoa.

Since taking the paper he has been reaching out to organisations hoping to correct media articles, Wikipedia pages and government departments about this.

Te Rito