New Zealand women have been voting since 1893 (for 120 years)


Women’s suffrage 1893:  120 years ago, New Zealand became the first country in the world to give women the vote.

Every 19th September  women in New Zealand celebrate and remembered with gratitude, the struggle for the right to vote – long before the term suffragette was in vogue in the UK and USA.
(For more detailed information of this see New Zealand’s online encyclopedia http://www.teara.govt.nz/ )
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.
Kates home in Christchurch
Kates home in Christchurch

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.web KATE detail

Don’t waste the courage and strength of those brave 19th century women – make sure you always vote.