The waiata that went viral: gay marriage in New Zealand one year on

On April 17 2013, New Zealand’s Marriage Act was amended and same-sex marriage was made legal.


A year ago, New Zealand became the first (and, to date, only) country in the Asia-Pacific to have legalised same-sex marriage.

The reading of the Bill was immediately followed by a celebratory waiata. The hall filled with the sound of Pokarekare ana nga wai o Rotorua, a traditional love song. The video of the waiata went viral, garnering support and celebration around the world.

A speech by MP Maurice Williamson also caught the eye of international netizens. Williamson got the house laughing at fundamentalist rebuffs of the Bill, and quoted the Bible, saying: “Be ye not afraid”.

Within the first month of the Act coming into effect in August 2013, dozens of couples tied the knot. The Act has encouraged gay-friendly tourism, as well as drawn a market of Aussies wanting to wed. Aussies now make up nearly a third of same-sex marriages in New Zealand. These marriages are merely symbolic, as international same-sex marriages are not recognised in Australia.