True Blue Boys – The Topp Twins and New Zealand Identity

In a discussion of the Topp Twins film "Untouchable Girls", television presenter Mark Sainsbury asked: “Who would have ever thought our national identity could be summed up so perfectly by yodelling lesbian twins from Huntly?”

The apparent paradox that Sainsbury’s question highlights was echoed in the film: How did a pair of lesbians come to not only be celebrated so widely in New Zealand, but also celebrated as somehow capturing the very essence of New Zealand? What is it about Ken and Ken, or Camp Mother and Camp Leader’s connection to a certain type of “New Zealandness” that enables Jools and Lynda Topp to keep “getting away with” what they do?

In order to explore some of these questions, this talk examines the relationship between the Topp Twins and New Zealand identity. In doing so it considers the Topp Twins alongside New Zealand masculinity, rural authenticity, and the quirks so often evident in New Zealand’s story of its national identity.

Presented Victoria University of Wellington Associate Dean (Teaching and Equity) of Humanities and Social Sciences Anita Brady.