Transgender icon Carmen Rupe has died in Sydney, aged 75.
She died in St Vincent’s Hospital after months of poor health, the Gay NZ website reports.
Born in Taumarunui in 1935 as Trevor Rupe, it was after a move to Sydney in the 1950s that Carmen took on the first name that would see her become an icon and heroine to the queer community.
The entrepreneur and entertainer made an unsuccessful bid for the Wellington mayoralty in 1977, on a platform promising gay marriage and legalised prostitution.
Carmen ran Wellington sex venues in the 1970s, where patrons met for coffee and sexual liaisons at a time when both homosexuality and prostitution were still illegal.
Following hip surgery earlier this year, Carmen was admitted to hospital several times.
Friend Jurgen Hoomsa told Gay NZ Carmen was “lucid and coherent and had a strong will to live” as recently as Monday, but her health had deteriorated throughout the year.