125thAnniversary of Women’s Suffrage in New Zealand

Ranjit Singh Ahluwalia

New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world to grant all women the right to vote in parliamentary elections 125years ago on 19th September 1893 when Lord Glasgow, signed a new Electoral Act into law.

Thesuccess was attributed to the enormous struggle over a seven year campaign by suffragists like Kate Sheppard who collected 31,872 signatures which culminated in the 1893 petition which was presented to Parliament in a wheelbarrow. At 270mtrs long the petition was unrolled across the chambers of the House with dramatic effect. It was the largest petition ever gathered in Australasia. The Electoral Bill was passed by 20 votes to 18 and 10weeks later women alongside the men casted their votes at their first election.

The petition contains the signatures of many leading suffragists and feminists, including Kate Sheppard, Marion Hatton, Rachel Reynolds, Ada Wells, Tailoresses’ Union leader Harriet Morison, writer Edith Grossman, and sisters Christina and Stella Henderson (whose younger sister, Elizabeth, then too young to sign, would later achieve fame as New Zealand’s first woman MP – under her married name, McCombs).

Today, 29th July 2018 marks 125 years since the presentation of the petition to Parliament, a great milestone worthy of celebrations and most appropriately to gather and listen to “OUR STORIES.”


Organiser: Hansa Naran


Team: Dianna Aislabie; Maree Allan; Jo Mathews; Jenny Joseph & Rosemary Keay


Place: Waiau Pa Hall, McKenzie Road, Waiau Pa 2679

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