We Christchurch women are proud that Kate Shephard, a Christchurch woman, was the prime organiser of the 31,872-signature petition (collected over seven years) and annually we have gathered at the memorial (cnr Worcester Boulevard & Cambridge Terrace) which depicts those wonderful women and the wheelbarrow in which the petition was taken to Parliament in Wellington.
Suffrage day is often also called White Camellia day, as women who supported enfranchisement wore a white camellia, yesterday women both wore the flowers and lay them at the wonderful memorial. The memorial was unveiled at the 100 year anniversary and a new camellia verity was also created then and named ‘Kate Sheppard’. Today we celebrate 120 years of all NZ women being able to vote.
So far, from my research, it seems only one of my ancestors, my great-grandmother Elizabeth Rowe, (married Herbert Bunny) signed the petition and during that same year, 1893, her daughter, Mabel, my maternal grandmother was born.
One of the great things about the 1893 Electoral Bill was passed was that Maori women were given the vote too … not just women with land. Unfortunately Chinese women, in fact all Chinese people, did not get the vote until the early 1950s.
Don’t waste the courage and strength of those brave 19th century women – make sure you always vote.