Co-leader of the Maori Party has acknowledged with sadness, the passing of one of New Zealand’s widely celebrated drag queen, Carmen.
“She literally created history when she opened Carmen’s International Coffee Lounge in the late sixties. It quickly became an established part of the Wellington landscape due to the unique character of its founder”.
“Carmen was larger in life in so many respects” said Mrs Turia. “When she walked in the room you always had a very strong sense of her presence”.
“People from all walks of life respected her and appreciated the warmth and the compassion that she would share with them”.
“We knew her as Trevor Rupe from Taumarunui; we knew her as a loved member of the gay community, we knew her as an HIV/AIDS activist; and of course the world knew her as a flamboyant, incredible performer on stage”.
“Carmen strode through life with an attitude which told everyone that no-one could make her feel inferior or judge her as less than their equal”.
“Her decision to contest the Wellington mayoralty; her entrepreneurial flair and her determination to speak her mind remain a lasting legacy of her role in our development as a nation”.
“I will never forget my aunt telling me, when Carmen came to Whanganui, that our focus should not be on promoting her as an iconic stripper and transgender celebrity – even though that was very much part of who she was.
My aunt encouraged us instead to focus on celebrating Carmen for all that she was – for all of her unique attributes and the wonderful person that she was”.
“And so today, I am sure I join with many who shed tears for Carmen, the queen, the friend, the whanau member, the legend”.