Louisa Wall is a Maori and LGBTQ icon in New Zealand. Famous for her athletic ability at an early age, then later for becoming a member of Parliament, Wall proposed a bill for marriage equality in 2012 that passed in 2013.
Wall was born in 1972 in the town of Taupo on New Zealand’s North Island. As a young woman, she excelled at netball and rugby, playing at the national level on the Silver Ferns netball team and the Black Fern women’s rugby team.
In 2008, Wall became a member of parliament for the Labour Party to replace a member who had retired. She lost the election held that same year, but returned to Parliament in 2011. In 2012, she submitted a bill for marriage equality, which passed in April 2013. At the bill’s third reading, Wall gave a speech comparing the bill to the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi between the British and the Maori, the founding document for the nation, as an important component of New Zealand justice.
When the bill for marriage equality passed in Parliament, Wall became the center of attention as well-wishers brought her bouquets of flowers. Dressed in a rainbow-colored blouse, Wall applauded cheering people in the gallery above the Parliament floor. They in turn sang “Pokarekare Ana” (a Maori love song) to her as she waved, blew kisses, and sang along with them.
Issues With Marriage Equality in Aotearoa
New Zealand set the pace for LGBTQ rights in Oceania and the world when Maori transwoman Georgina Beyer became the first Trans mayor (1995-2000) and member of Parliament (1999-2007). Wall continued the push when she proposed a marriage equality bill. She said the struggle for same-sex marriage was on par with the Maori struggle for legal recognition. By advocating for Maori and LGBTQ communities, Wall joined Beyer as an icon for both communities and for LGBTQ rights in Oceania.
New Zealand (also known as Aotearoa) was the first Pasifika nation to legalize marriage equality, and did so over a year earlier than Hawai‘i, the site of the first legal action in favor of same-sex marriage. In 1993, the Hawai’i Supreme Court ruled that denying Gay people the right to marry was unconstitutional, but marriage equality was only realized a decade later.
Louisa Wall on Her Shifting Identity (GayNZ.com)
It is amusing to see that description of me but I am used to labels.
When I was 17 and made the Silver Ferns I was always “Silver Fern Louisa Wall”. Then I made the Black Ferns and became “Black Fern Louisa Wall”.
I am obviously a novelty… and to some therefore the “Maori and lesbian” label is what fits for them now… hei aha, it doesn’t worry me. And negativity, homophobia; yes, but that is part of the role I now have as a public figure.
GayNZ.com News. “Rainbow Labour Louisa Wall.” March 5, 2008. http://www.gaynz.com/articles/publish/34/article_5729.php
InthehouseNZ, video of the passing of marriage equality in the New Zealand Parliament. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DW4DXOAXF8U