Cathryn Baragwanath (Ngti Hine) owns Cafe 39 Gillies in Kawakawa and says she is a microcosm of what is happening to hospitality workers across New Zealand – and it’s out of control.
“We’ve been subjected to minor attacks on a daily basis, and we’ve been able to withstand them. However, daily attacks when we request a vax pass are not acceptable.”
The 46-year-old, who came out as a lesbian 30 years ago at the age of 16, claims she has never encountered homophobia before, particularly in her home community of Kawakawa in the Far North.
She told Te Ao Mori News that she and her wife, Olive Brown, have run the cafe for six years and that their sexuality was used against them on Sunday.
“I felt ashamed; I felt as if I were 16 and coming out for the first time. I sensed paru’s homosexuality – all over a vaccine pass “‘ She stated.
She expressed her frustration in an emotional video posted to the cafe’s Instagram page and is considering ways to protect herself and her staff.
“Had I had Jacinda [Ardern’s] phone number, I would have called her and said, ‘I’m going to buy them coffee – it’s not worth the attack.’
In Northland, 83% of the eligible population has been vaccinated, but only 73% of Mori have been vaccinated in Te Tai Tokerau. Although Baragwanath says she supports efforts to increase vaccination rates, she acknowledges that they come at a cost.