Georgina Beyer was the first trans MP in the world. She has been a prostitute, an entertainer, a mayor and an MP. She told her story in the book Change for the Better with Cathy Casey in 1999. Her maiden speech in 2000 was widely televised and she became the subject of an award-winning documentary, ‘Georgie Girl’, co-directed by Annie Goldson and Peter Wells. In 2018 Georgina, an inspirational speaker, was invited to speak at the Oxford University Union as well as at Cambridge University.
Ron Brownson is Senior Curator New Zealand and Pacific Art at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. He has worked long-term as a professional curator and is an expert on New Zealand and Pacific art with a particular interest in photography. He has initiated many exhibition and publication projects and is a trustee of the Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust. His books include John Kinder’s New Zealandand Art Toi: New Zealand art at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, one of the most comprehensive profiles of local art yet published.
Natasha Dennerstein was born to a family originating in Belarus. She worked as a psychiatric nurse for many years, which gave her an interesting perspective on the human condition. Natasha studied creative writing at Whitireia Polytechnic in New Zealand and went on to take her Masters in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University. She also has an MFA from San Francisco State University. Natasha is interested in the things that humans have in common rather than the things that separate them. She is writing towards figuring out what it means to be a human being.
Joanne Drayton is an acclaimed New Zealand author whose output is globally recognised as being of the highest calibre. Her book The Search for Anne Perry was numbered in the top 10 non-fiction books on the New York Timesbestseller list in 2015 and was a finalist in the New Zealand Book Awards in 2013. She has written biographies of Frances Hodgkins, Rhona Haszard, Edith Collier and Ngaio Marsh, while her latest book, Hudson & Halls: The Food of Love is enjoying huge acclaim. She has also curated exhibitions and publishes in art history and theory. In 2007, she was awarded a National Library Fellowship, and in 2017 a prestigious Logan Fellowship at the Carey Institute in upstate New York.
Chelsey Furedi is a writer, artist and animator. She graduated from Animation College with a Diploma in Applied Animation in 2015 and a Diploma in Digital Media in 2016. She has worked as an in-house animator for several companies, and has self-published the webcomic series Rock and Riot, a queer 1950s story about teenage rebels. She is now working on Project Nought, a queer sci-fi webcomic about a time-travel exchange program.
Jared Gulian’s olive-farming memoir, Moon over Martinborough, became a New Zealand bestseller in 2013 and was serialised by Radio NZ. Based on his award-winning blog, it tells the comic tale of how he and his partner, both American city boys, became olive farmers in the Wairarapa. In 2018, Jared successfully self-published an international edition of the book under the new title An Olive Grove at the Edge of the World. Jared also writes gay fiction under the pen-name Ty Jacob. His self-published gay novel, The End of Billy Knightbecame a runaway bestseller in-store at Sydney’s Darlinghurst Bookshop in 2017. He lives in the Wairarapa with his partner, some chooks and a few pet pigs.
Mika Haka is a rare commodity – a truly original New Zealand Māori artist and entertainer with three decades of eye-poppingly innovative work spanning stage, film, television, fashion and music. He has toured his critically acclaimed live shows to seven Edinburgh Festivals, has recorded seven albums in te reo Māori and English, and penned the world’s first ever gay haka, Tēnei Tōku Ure (This is my penis).He has also appeared in more than twenty TV series, specials and films. He has given back by educating and inspiring new generations of Māori and Pacific artists and performers, while he is also kaitiaki of the Mika Haka Foundation, a charity organisation committed to keeping young New Zealanders active and healthy through physical culture and the performing arts. He has told his life story to Sharon Mazer in I have loved me a Man, recently published by Auckland University Press.
Sandi Hall is a manuhiri writer mostly published in other countries, and is proud that four of her books, including her light-hearted Paekakariki lesbian novels, are offered by the NZ Library Service. The first of her seven novels was published by Britain’s The Women’s Press and translated into German and Danish, with a later slip edition in the Canada & USA. As Chair of the Auckland Branch NZSA, in 2014 she persuaded the Branch to offer a cash incentive for a Queer Writing Competition for Auckland Pride, negotiating with express to publish the winners. Sandi also writes plays, four of which have been staged. To celebrate the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage, she has, with whanau approval and assistance, written a play about the nineteenth century Māori feminist Meri Te Tai Mangakahia.
Jeremy Hansen is an Auckland-based writer and journalist. He is the co-author of Villa: From Heritage to Contemporary(Godwit, 2009) and the editor of the book Modern: New Zealand Homes from 1936 to 1977(Godwit, 2013). He edited the architecture and design magazine HOMEfrom 2005-16, which won Magazine of the Year at the Canon Media Awards in 2016, and the free Auckland weekly Paperboy. He has written for publications including Metro,The Listener, North & South, Architectural Record and Dwell.
David Herkt is a writer and award-winning television director. He has published memoirs, short stories, poetry and arts journalism, and his feature-length interviews and book reviews regularly appear in print.
Douglas Lloyd Jenkins is one of New Zealand’s best-known commentators and writers on New Zealand’s design history and has been described by Wallpaper magazine as ‘one of the most influential design writers in the Southern Hemisphere’. His landmark book At Home: A Century of New Zealand Design was the Montana Book Awards Non-Fiction Winner in 2004, and The Dress Circle: New Zealand Fashion Design since 1940, which he co-authored with Lucy Hammonds and Claire Regnault, was shortlisted for the same prize in 2011. Other books he has written include 40 Legends of New Zealand Design and New Dreamland. In 2008 Douglas was honoured with a MNZM for his contribution to architecture and design, and in 2009 the New Zealand Institute of Architects awarded him the President’s Award for his contribution to architecture.
Katie O’Neill is a graphic novelist, who has created several works with the Portland-based publisher Oni Press that have resonated throughout the world. Her books are aimed at intermediate-level readers, with strong LGBT characters and themes of self-love, kindness and mindfulness. Her first book, Princess Princess Ever After, received a starred review from Kirkus, was featured on the 2017 ALA Rainbow Book List Top Ten and nominated for a Sakura Medal in 2018. Her next book, The Tea Dragon Society, was the winner of two Eisner Awards in 2018 for best publication for kids and for best webcomic. It was also selected for the 2018 ALA Rainbow List, won the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Kids Comics, was chosen as one of Amazon.com’s Best Comics & Graphic Novels for 2017, and featured in the 2017 School Library Journal's Top 10 Graphic Novels. Her third book, Aquicorn Cove, published in October 2018, has also received warm reviews.
Sam Orchard is committed to building a world where our many differences and complexities are celebrated. His ongoing web comic Rooster Tails has been running for nine years and is the only comic of its kind in Aotearoa. Written from his life as a queer transgender man, the comic explores themes of mental health, fat embodiment, nerd culture and trans identity. Sam is also the author of Family Portraits, a series of short comic stories that amplify the stories of intersectional identities within Aotearoa’s rainbow communities. Sam’s recent activism projects include ‘We Are Beneficiaries’ and ‘Out Loud Aotearoa’. As part of these he engaged other artists and writers to drive social change in New Zealand, gaining international attention across social media, amplifying viewpoints which are often missing from public discourse.
Ruby Porter is a prose writer, poet and artist. She tutors creative writing at the University of Auckland, and also in high schools. Ruby has been published in Geometry Journal, Argos, Aotearotica, The Spinoff and The Wireless, and a selection of her poetry is available on NZEPC as part of Six Pack Sounds. She was the winner of the Wallace Foundation Short Fiction Award in 2017 with her short story, ‘A Word for Blue’, and the inaugural winner of the Michael Gifkins Prize in 2018 with her debut novel, Attraction, which was written during her Masters of Creative Writing at the University of Auckland. It will be published in 2019 by Melbourne-based Text Publishing.
Victor Rodger is a critically acclaimed playwright of Samoan and Scottish descent. His work often deals with issues of sexuality, race and identity, and has been praised for its boldness, candour and freshness. Since his first award-winning play, Sons, was produced in 1995, he has written eight plays, including Black Faggot, My Name is Gary Newmanand Club Paradiso.A collection of his work was published by Victoria University Press in 2017, while his personal essay, ‘Voyage Round My Father’, was published in The Best of E-Tangatathe same year. Victor has also written extensively for television, as well as children’s stories for Radio New Zealand.
Andrew Rumbles has worked in the sales departments of major publishing houses and has also managed his own bookshops. In conjunction with his Ponsonby Dymocks store Andrew wrote book reviews for express. He writes a little poetry and when he isn’t reading a book can be found working in real estate.He is the chair of the organising committee for samesame but different.
Nicholas Sheppard grew up in the rural South Island, then moved to Auckland. He has worked as a freelance journalist for local newspapers such as The Herald and The Dominion Post, and magazines such as Remix; and has written for prominent American news and cultural websites, such as The Federalist, Huffington Post, Politico and The Daily Beast. He has taught at a private music school, and currently teaches English. Broken Play is his debut novel.
Robert Tennent During his childhood Robert called many different countries home: Cambodia, St Lucia, Papua New Guinea and a few other short-term locations. He went to boarding school in New Zealand when he was thirteen. A year before graduating, he was raped by someone known to him. After this incident he chose to be celibate for a period of time, to look after himself and accept what had happened. When he was ready to have sex again, he took a photo of his first partner and continued to do this with other men he hooked up with. He has now published these images with poems in a book called Come Back To Bed, which revolves around the rediscovery and exploration of sex after a sexual assault.
Chris Tse is a writer based in Wellington whose poetry has drawn acclaim for its ‘emotive power’ and being ‘utterly exposing, playful, inventive and daring’. He studied film and English literature at Victoria University of Wellington, where he also completed an MA in creative writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters. He is the author of two poetry collections published by Auckland University Press: How to be Dead in a Year of Snakes (winner of the Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry and a finalist at the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards) and HE’S SO MASC, which was published in March 2018. Chris is also an occasional food blogger, musician and actor.
Julie Watson is an educator, facilitator and advocate. After two decades of working with the Human Rights Commission, she is now programme lead for Silver Rainbow, a facilitator with Rainbow Tick and does education and consultancy around relationship and LGBTQI issues. Julie is part of the Rainbow Panel Advisory group to Auckland City Council and is in her fourth year as the programme director for samesame but different.She is also the artistic director for Auckland Playback Theatre and an independent advocate for students at Unitec.
Brendaniel Weir was born in Auckland and took part in Homosexual Law Reform marches as a schoolboy. He has written educational television, worked in the film industry and is a lecturer in English language. In 2013, he graduated with a Masters of Creative Writing, also winning the post-graduate writing prize. Brendaniel’s first novel, Tane’s War (Cloud Ink Press, 2018) explored the intersection of three lives in the 1950s: Aussie and Briar, two young shearers working on a training station, and Tane, an older man whose past haunts him, particularly his service during World War One. Tane’s War has received critical acclaim in New Zealand and overseas.
Peter Wells is an award-winning author and film-maker. In 2018 Unity Books gave Peter Wells a $20,000 award for his ‘body of work but also his long-span social justice activism ... His strong sense of social justice combined with his literary achievements has nourished, sustained and encouraged readers in Aotearoa.’ Peter has consistently broken barriers in both publishing (first gay book written under the author’s own name) and film (Jewel’s Darl showed transgender characters in a sympathetic light to New Zealand in 1986). Most recently he produced a memoir of his family, Dear Oliver, as well as a series of Facebook posts chronicling his experience of living with cancer, later reprinted in The Spinoff under the title ‘Hello Darkness’, which won a Media Voyager Award in 2018. Hello Darknessis also the title of his forthcoming book which includes this material and more. He co-created the Auckland Writers Festival in 1999 and the samesame but different LGBTQI Writers Festival in 2015.