Māori Development Minister, Willie Jackson, has today acknowledged the passing of a Georgina Beyer, who he described as a great woman, a courageous leader, and a trail-blazer.
Ms Beyer – descendant of Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāti Porou – was a deliberate disruptor, a change agent, a challenger to the establishment, said Mr Jackson.
“Never once did she resile from countering ignorance, racism or bias. She was an unashamed supporter of progressive policies, most especially for those who are seated on the margins of our society, those who were much maligned and forgotten. Georgie made us remember that their needs are just as important as anyone else,” he said.
“Anyone who had the grace to be in Georgie’s presence will attest to her sharp tongue, complimented by her wit and willingness to educate us all on the need to protect those in vulnerable places.
“Much of this was driven by her own experiences in life. Georgie grew up in the Hutt Valley, Wellington and in Papatoetoe in a time when being different was openly frowned upon.”
Minister Jackson said became good friends with “Georgie” after the pair entered Parliament together in 1999.
“I was able to witness first hand her wit and oratory skills in the House. She had no fear when advocating for the different groups she represented and I was proud to have worked alongside her,” he said.
“Her legacy is now firmly entrenched, not just as the world’s first openly transgender member of Parliament, but more importantly for her work including prostitution law reform, her contributions to civil unions, anti-discrimination laws and the promotion of Māori rights.
“She was indeed one of a kind – a star and history maker who will never be forgotten for her contribution to New Zealand society.”