Happy Suffrage Day New Zealand – 19th September

web KATE detailHappy anniversary to New Zealand – and tomorrow morning (19th Sept) I’m attending a breakfast at Te Papa  (Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa) to celebrate, and commemorate the women who fought for the right to vote – and look to the future too no doubt.

It’s 123 years since the woman of New Zealand, our wonderful suffragists, our early feminists, won us the ability to vote in our general Parliamentary elections. Some, but certainly not all, women had been able to vote in various non-Parliamentary elections.

Female ratepayers, that is landowners, had been voting in local body elections from 1875; two years later they could stand for school committees, then in 1893, after years of campaigning, New Zealand women, whether landowners or not, became able to vote in the national Parliamentary elections.

Annual celebrations in Christchurch 19th Sept
Annual celebrations in Christchurch 19th Sept

Our suffragists certainly led the way, with the USA, in the face of most states allowing it, granted the same right to their women in 1920 (19th amendment) then, in 1928 all women in Britain were able to vote: before that, from 1918 only female property owners over 30-yrs had been able to vote.

Given our history I get upset at the lack of knowledge by a wide swathe of New Zealand, including the media, using the term suffragette to refer to our suffragists.

That term was coined about 15 years after New Zealand women were voting therefore New Zealand women were not suffragettes. First used in a newspaper it was a derogatory term but eventually was captured by the women of the USA and UK but was and never should be used in relationship to Kate Shepherd and our women ancestors, including my maternal great-grandmother, Elizabeth Rowe: my grandmother, Mabel was born in 1893 so it has always been easy to remember both dates!

One of the great things about the 1893 Electoral Bill was that while Māori women were given the vote too not ‘just’ women with land, unfortunately,  Chinese women, in fact all Chinese, did not get the vote until the early 1950s.

Suffrage day (19th November) is often also called White Camellia day, as women who supported enfranchisement wore a white camellia.

The Christchurch memorial was unveiled at the 100-year anniversary and a new camellia variety was created and named ‘Kate Sheppard’.

Don’t waste the courage and strength of our brave 19th century women by honouring them and making sure you always vote – it was a hard won battle, albeit very different to those in the UK in particular. 

 

Salute to heros in Christchurch – re-greening the city

Every time I return to Christchurch (which I left in November 2010, but not as a quake refugee – the moving decision had been made a few months before the Sept 4th, 7.2 quake) I’m in awe at the many ways people are supporting the re-growth of the South Islands largest city.

Just some of the heroes of Christchurch

In the south of the city, Sydenham, one of the oldest suburbs, I came across this area – where lovely old buildings once stood – a group of people are greening the area now that it’s been cleared of demolishing rubble  – see more here – regreening the rubble

It’s by  people like this (heroes to me) that the new Christchurch is being built: brick by brick, plant by plant – my hat comes off to you all! It’s people like this, people like all my forbears, who arrived here between 1860 – 1870 (from Cornwall, Ireland and Scotland) and helped build this city and county.

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The story of a grocer and an earthquake, Christchurch, New Zealand

Before the September 2010 quake, just around the corner from my place stood Johnson’s Grocery where locals loved to step back in time: and where I loved to buy freshly cut ham from Colin Johnson in his traditional white apron and delightful manners.

Opened in 1911 as Leigh and Co. it was bought by Colin’s father in 1949 and he has worked there since 1957: this is shopping as it used to be with lollies (sweets) in jars on the counter and cheese sliced from the block with a wire. What I love is how Colin always seems to know exactly where everything is and he climbs up and down a ladder to retrieve whatever it is I’ve asked for.

What do you want? Swiss chocolate; truffles from France; English biscuits or cheese; haggis from Scotland, this shop has them all. Colin doesn’t need to search for stock, people from around the world ask him to carry their special goods.

Colin also enjoys welcoming tourists into the shop telling me “They don’t have to buy anything. They are always welcome to take photographs.” It’s certainly photogenic – the old delivery bicycle on the footpath must feature in many photo albums, blogs and travel articles world-wide.

Then Christchurch was hit by a 7.1 quake at 4:35am. I clung to the bed in my 3rd floor apartment. I heard a few things fall but stayed in bed – thinking if the building collapsed I’d land on something soft, but also worried about being found in the state of my dress – or rather undress! Vanity rules.

Soon up and with warm clothes on, I’d checked out the window and apart from a little concrete block fence that had fallen over, all seemed well in my inner city street despite the aftershocks. I texted this to the National Radio station which was broadcasting reports of this major event in the city of my birth and coffee in hand was also tweeting and posting on Facebook.

By 7am, as the day lightened, I went out exploring my neighbourhood. (See some pics from that walk here)

I take a photo of Johnsons shop window – it doesn’t look too bad

Thirty minutes later I’m going past again – the door is open and a man I hadn’t seen before was standing there.

“Do you have permission to be in there’ I challenge him. It seems Colin is inside and he’s his son-in-law.

"Who are you? Are allowed to be here' I ask
Lots on the floor, but many items still perfectly stacked!
The buildings, including Johnsons, are demolished: ChCh Town Hall. Kilmore St, is in background

And now, Johnsons Grocery has reopened, (November 2011) and is busier than ever. The temporary shop is now in the new container shopping precinct, all bright colours with Colin still in his apron and pencil behind his ear. I visit the day before he re-opens in Cashel Mall re-start  project the shelves are half-full – and put my foot in the wet concrete as I enter! Workmen quickly repair the damage. (See photos from that day here)

Whoops!

Shelves wait to be stocked .. the bike no longer delivers!

I visited a month later and the shop is buzzing, Colin and his wife are busy and happy, and although the shelves are no longer bowed, they are still stocked with goodies from many parts of the world, so, next time you are in Christchurch make sure this grocery shop is on your must-visit list.

This is the first of my Christchurch earthquake heroes’ award blogs: a shout-out to all business who have re-opened (or stayed open) in my city – sometimes under extremely difficult conditions.

See more heroes here


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