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Lunch with Sir Ian McKellen in New Zealand for $1,000

Lunch with Sir Ian McKellen in New Zealand for $1,000

Wizardly actor and gay rights activist Sir Ian McKellen is donating his time to the New Zealand Labour Party for a fundraising lunch in Wellington on 23 June.

The antipodean country has become a second home to the British actor as he has been working there for more than a decade for his role as Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the new Hobbit trilogy.

McKellen is appearing at the Labour Party lunch on the invitation of general secretary Tim Barnett, an old friend of the actor’s. They first met when Barnett was the first executive director of leading UK LGBT rights organization Stonewall in the early 1990s.

‘I ended that job when I emigrated to New Zealand, but we kept in touch and when he came here in 2000 to start filming Lord of the Rings we re-established contact,’ said Barnett, New Zealand’s second openly-gay MP, to Gay NZ.

‘As he ends his time here, and thinking about all that has happened in law reform here through that period, we wanted to mark that with an event. He was happy to help.’

Tickets for the lunch in the Old Museums’ Building’s great hall, part of the Massey University campus, are $1,000 (New Zealand dollars, $790, €600) for a seat at McKellen’s table and $250 (New Zealand dollars, $200, €150) to join the lunch at another table.

A motion from Labour Party MP Louisa Wall brought about gay marriage in New Zealand, although MPs from all main parties supported the bill.