WITOKO- CHRISSY (B) 11 September 1944
(D) 5 November 2002
Chrissy Witoko lived in Wellington from the early 1960's until her untimely passing from kidney failure in 2003.
From the beginning, Chrissy established herself as part of the GLTG community. She was one of those people who were always out and proud.
Her working life started in the toll room at the New Zealand Post Office, the kitchen on the Wellington wharf and the Grand Hotel in Willis Street.
Chrissy once said that she was as happy washing someone else's dishes as she was running her own business, as long as she was working. Although she was considered an extremely unpretentious person, she was also someone who, with her personality, presence and class, made you sit up and take notice.
Chrissy was a worker and it was not long before she cashed in on her unique skills with people and entered the nightlife industry of Wellington. In the early days she worked in such infamous establishments as The Powder Puff (always called the Powder Pouf!), The Sorrento, The Sunset Strip, The Knutcracker Suite, The Doodle Inn, The Mexicali and many others.
One day in the 1960's a young man entered the Sorrento, saw Chrissy and never left. Andrew and Chrissy formed a lifetime partnership and, in later years Chrissy became the foster mother of Andrew's son, Nikora. Andrew's devotion to Chrissy never flagged and this was never more obvious than when he continued to give her his support and love in the last years of her life.
It did not take long for Chrissy to become well known in the Wellington area. In particular, her help to those less fortunate ensured her place in the hearts of many Wellingtonians. This status is still fixed in the psyche of the community after her death and was demonstrated by the number and variety of people who attended and paid tribute at her Tangi.
For the twenty years before her death, Chrissy ran her own businesses, The Hole in the Wall and the famous Evergreen Coffee House in Vivian Street. Through this later venue, Chrissy provided a place for the disenfranchised, lonely and alternative people of Wellington who were not made welcome in other establishments.
Within this melting pot, Chrissy managed to mix gay men, straight businessmen, lesbians, clergy, transgender people, blue collar workers, politicians, gang members, prostitutes and men in drag. Chrissy had an ability to bring together people of differing backgrounds, so all were able to mix together in a safe, comfortable and homely environment.
The Evergreen also provided a focus for those in need. No one was ever turned away if their need was genuine - but God help any who crossed this sister.
While doing this, she also found time to use her incredible style and class to work on Gay issues and events with an energy that made her a hard act to follow. She received many Gay Community Awards including Glammies for Person of the Year and an Alfies Award for Personality of the year.
She was proclaimed "Queen of Wellington" on her 50th birthday during one of the year's biggest and most sought after social events at Wellington's recently rebuilt Majestic Centre. The Throne she was presented with that night occupied a place of honour in her home until the day she died.
Chrissy Witoko was always true to herself and to all those with whom she dealt.
LINKS TO CHRISSY WITOKO