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. 

 

Kate Sheppard: suffrage hero or that bloody woman?

Christchurch in particular is proud that local woman, Kate Sheppard, was the leader and figurehead of the suffrage movement that resulted in a petition that ensured all New Zealand woman were able to vote from 1893.

New Zealand is the first country in the world to give women the vote: married, single, migrant, indigenous, poor, rich, with or without land, working or not – all women were able to vote with the passing of the 1893 Electoral Bill.

Notice we kiwi did not use the word ‘suffragettes’ as we’d the vote some twenty years before that term was coined!

Born to Scottish parents, Kate came to New Zealand in 1868 with her widowed mother, and New Zealand honours her by having her image on our ten-dollar note.

Every Suffrage Day, 19th September, a few women gather at the Christchurch memorial panel to pay tribute to all those wonderful women by placing white camellias and purple balloons on this inner city sculpture. Note this is at the corner of Worcester Boulevard & Cambridge Terrace – although with post-quake (2010/11) plans it may be moved.

A punk rock musical about her struggles with the Prime Minister (Seddon) has recently been performed at the Christchurch Festival .. called That Bloody Woman, it had good reviews so I look forward to seeing it soon – apparently some were initially ‘shocked at the opening scenes’ when her sexual behaviour was exposed but ‘this quickly abated as the story developed’ I was told.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
Pedestrian crossing signal in Wellington NZ.  Began a temporary installation but now here to stay

The memorial was unveiled in 1993, the 100th anniversary of this historic event. It has six women on it with Kate Sheppard holding the petition in a wheelbarrow which is how the petition was delivered to the steps of Parliament in Wellington. The side panels show women in typical everyday (1893) settings – gathering shellfish, teaching, factory sewing, farming, caring for families and nursing. These are flanked by bronze panels telling the New Zealand suffrage story.

Here are more pictures about one of our favourite kiwi women.

 

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Three cheers to ‘that bloody woman’ I say!

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.

Street portrait competition with Meetup – Wellington NZ

While finding it hard to get over my travel, and suffering from camera envy, and start my real work again,  I spent a couple of hours in a photo event in Wellington – we had to produce two  street portrait photos in two hours: these are the two pictures I entered from my ‘hood’ – Cuba Street, Wellington . Which do you prefer and why? (We haven’t had the result of the comp’ yet – prize is the title of ‘awesomeness’ )

The colours of Cuba St

 

 

Staunch