126 years

Camellia Japonica “Kate Sheppard.” Seen in the grounds of the NZ Parliament, Wellington. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Yesterday was Women’s Suffrage Day in New Zealand.

On September 19th, 1893, the Governor General Lord Glasgow, signed into law a bill granting eligibility to vote to “all women who were ‘British subjects’ and aged 21 and over, including Māori, were now eligible to vote (the nationhood requirement excluded some groups, such as Chinese women).”

It made New Zealand the first country in the world to grant women the vote.

The white camellia was a symbol of women’s suffrage, and this cultivar, “Kate Sheppard” is named after one of the leaders of the suffrage movement.

Kate Sheppard (and the camellia) are also depicted on our ten dollar bill.

Posted to Friday Flowers

32 thoughts on “126 years

    • The barrier was a citizenship one, rather than ethnic per se. Chinese, who came to NZ originally as gold miners were the principal ethnic group in the country that weren’t British subjects. The rules changed sometime in the 20th century to end that discrimination.
      Maori men had universal suffrage before European men (or any women) because of the Maori system of collective land ownership. Suffrage here was originally based on individual land tenure, and therefore excluded the vast majority of Maori. Maori electorates were set up to allow representation in Parliament.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think a lot of it was pragmatic really; our social welfare system was created because, being a new country, we lacked the institutions like parishes and even extended families that had traditionally looked after people in need.

      I’ve read that one of the (male) architects of women’s suffrage supported it because he thought women would vote conservatively, and as their husbands told them to 🤨🤣 He figured that would give his party an advantage.

      Liked by 1 person

        • I think with the relative homogeneity of the white settler population, and the fact that you had to work really hard to break in land and get established, it was difficult to blame people for their misfortunes, and accept that “something” had to be done. As a tiny country, it was easiest to organise that “something” at a national level.

          Liked by 1 person

          • That makes a lot of sense. The US, by comparison, is and was so diverse and so huge with many different cultures and values that it was and is much harder to get any unity on difficult issues.


  1. We owe a great deal to the early suffragettes and the various activists in the decades that followed. It pains me how much our rights as women are taken for granted today.

    Congrats to NZ for being first out of the gate!

    btw – our money looks a lot like yours! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • We certainly do, and I agree, although some of the young women I know seem to be more aware of how hard-won our rights were — especially as they seem some of those rights being taken away in other parts of the world.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s certainly something to be proud of, this early suffragette movement. Sadly these days there still seems a long way ahead of us. A new study in Germany just showed that women receive far less retirement money than men, having done the same jobs. 😯

    Liked by 1 person

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