Martin King advises on the best policy and practices around LGBT+ rights and, along with husband Mike runs Queenstown's Winter Pride and The Rainbow Excellence Awards.
In 1976 my birth mother was sent to the Salvation Army maternity home in Grey Lynn because, back then, unwed mothers were hidden away and, because she was just 13, she decided to adopt me out.
I met my birth mum when I was 27. My half-sister, who was only 13 at the time, found a way to contact me and because my husband and I were about to go overseas, and had no idea when we'd be back, we went to meet her. I'm usually very confident but, when we drove to Northland, we parked at the end of their street, and I said, "I don't know if I can do this", because it was so intense and overwhelmingly emotional.
Despite my amazing upbringing, the best way to describe being adopted, it's like there's always this little piece of your jigsaw puzzle that's missing. I didn't need to have an enduring relationship, but I did want to see them. You wonder if you look like your family? Nurture is strong, but so is nature.
I'm very similar in personality to my adopted mother but, to understand who I am physically was fascinating, and I discovered all those interesting genetic things.
Growing up near the beach in Whakatāne, I enjoyed a typical small-town life of sunburn and sand and, when I was 16, I went on an AFS scholarship to Brazil. It was a little overwhelming for a boy from Whakatāne, but it forced me to grow up and fend for myself. I was in a city of about half a million - small by Brazilian standards - and there were carnivals all the time, with dancing in the street, although culturally there were challenges.
They're very Catholic and I'm not religious. Because I hadn't come out yet, my sexuality had to be concealed, as they can be quite conservative and homophobic, quite misogynist too. And I didn't speak a word of Portuguese. Safety was also an issue. I was mugged a couple of times, but those experiences just made me more wary and helped me realise how fortunate I was to come from a relatively safe and liberal place.
Once back home I studied HR at Auckland University and, in my first year I lived in a hostel. When my hostel neighbour's brother came to visit, our eyes met across the carpark and we've been together ever since. That was 25 years ago.
To most people it was obvious I was gay but, being brought up in a heteronormative society, I imagined coming out would be terrible. Even though the Homosexual Law Reform Bill had gone through - it's not like I grew up in the 60s or 70s when being gay was illegal - I did worry what people would think, but my family and friends were all great.
My mother said she'd figured it out and was just waiting for me to tell her. Because my parents separated when I was 16 and Dad went back to Scotland, I didn't come out to him until I was 27, when I went to the UK.
Dad was in a regiment called The Black Watch and, after I introduced Dad to Mike, Dad took us to The Black Watch Club and introduced us to all his friends. He was amazing but, now I look back, I think he also always knew. Coming out is always complex, even though it's a much more accepting and more legally supportive society.
My husband and I always talked about having a family and, because of the opportunities I was given through being adopted - it was very positive for me - we also chose to adopt. Back then, CYFS had brought in a new pathway for permanent foster carers called Home For Life and on December 23, a few months after being approved, we received a phone call about a 4-year-old boy. We were told to come and meet him, then we had 24 hours to decide if we could take him.
Our son had faced extreme challenges. He'd been in several temporary foster homes and, as a result, he had some issues. But we said yes, then we had till January 7 to sort everything out, our jobs, his room, even though we didn't know if we were getting him for one week, one month, a year, forever or never.
We both told our employers, Mike was deputy principal at a high school and he was given a year's parental leave and I was HR director at Coca Cola and I also got paid parental leave.
For the first six months we settled Xavier in, then Mike became a stay-at-home dad.
Xavier's 13 now, he's at high school but, because he's still quite traumatised, he needs a lot of daily support. This is one of those "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" situations. A lot of people I know, it would have destroyed their marriages but it's just made us closer, and more committed to helping Xavier become the best adult he can be.
After I'd been at Coke for seven years, I'd ticked every career highlight and there was nowhere for me to go, so we decided to move to Queenstown. It would also give Xavier the opportunity to live an active, outdoorsy life with great hikes, mountain biking and snow boarding. I found job with a global travel start-up and our lifestyle was amazing.
While in Queenstown, we were approached by the lesbian couple who'd run Gay Ski Week for the previous six years. They asked if we wanted to take it over and we said yes. We rebranded it as Winter Pride and invested a lot of time and money to make it one of the biggest winter pride events in the world.
My husband and I also run The Rainbow Excellence Awards. They were launched last year to recognise and celebrate inclusion, and having an awards programme helps businesses see the value in diversity. But we still need to do more, because a quarter of lesbian, gay and bisexual people are still in the closet at work, even at Rainbow Tick organisations.
The aim of the awards is to start conversations, to hear what's working and what's not and to learn what homophobia people are experiencing. I was privileged to come out at 17 and to excel in business.
I'm also fortunate to have been married for 25 years and have a family, but everyone should be able to experience those things. We spend most of our waking lives at work, so we need to create safe, inclusive workplaces and ensure everyone can aspire to the top of the tree.
As long as people are forced to live in the closet or they're exposed to bi, trans or homophobia, I will use my voice to make a better world for LGBT+ people because the work being done in this area changes lives and saves lives too.