Gay New Zealand MP fights for surrogacy reform after birth of son


Tāmati Coffey new zealand baby parliament gay
Photo: New Zealand Parliament

New Zealand MP Tāmati Coffey is clearly proud of his husband of more than ten years, Tim Smith, and their young son Tūtānekai Smith-Coffey.

Photos of Trevor Mallard, the Speaker of the New Zealand Parliament, holding and feeding the baby have made headlines around the world.

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Ilhan Omar, outspoken member of the US Congress, joyfully shared news of Tūtānekai’s presence in New Zealand’s Parliament on Twitter.

Australian media, who so regularly have to report on sporting defeats at the hands of our Kiwi brothers and sisters, joked that Māoris were “just showing off now”.

During his parliamentary appearance, Tūtānekai’s father, Tāmati, asked Peeni Henare, NZ Minister for Youth, what the government is doing to support young Māoris (rangatahi).

Tāmati is campaigning strongly for amendments to New Zealand law regarding surrogacy.

Baby Tūtānekai adopted from his surrogate mother in New Zealand

Baby Tūtānekai is the biological son of Tim Smith, but Smith and Coffey had to adopt him from his surrogate mother Natasha Dalziel.

Only a few gay male couples have had a surrogate child in New Zealand. The Smith-Coffey family spent almost NZ$40,000 to start their family, as male couples do not have access to public funding for IVF treatment in New Zealand.

Tim Smith, a former music teacher from northern England, and husband, Tāmati, met Natasha through a mutual friend.

“It was like the awkward first date,” said Tāmati, but Tim said they walked away “buzzing”.

Natasha, who wasn’t paid for carrying the baby, has three children of her own thanks to a sperm donor. She was eager to be a surrogate as a way of giving back.

The Smith-Coffey family had to undergo innumerable and intrusive bureaucratic investigations as part of the process.

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“We’ve had to be judged at every turn about our capability of being able to raise children from all kinds of places, like the Ethics Counsel, like Oranga Tamariki,” Tāmati said.

“You have to sit in the office and be judged about whether or not you’re fit.”

Coffey had stated in a television interview that he always knew he would one day be a dad but “didn’t quite know how he’d do it.”

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