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
The structure here is a titanium earring (a madly impractical, 1980s-excess sort of earring); incredibly strong because it is a) titanium and, b) triangular.
I know this because it’s my earring, but life is full of structures for which I have no “eye of God” perspective.
A society works because (and when) its citizens can trust the institutions and processes that form the structure of that society. Trust can only be maintained if those institutions and processes continue to perform, and do so with sufficient transparency that we are not left holding onto little but blind faith.
And when the structures start to seem wobbly or indistinct, it is our job as members of the society to stand together and do all we can to fix them.
Easier said than done, admittedly.
Some days I’m really proud to be a New Zealander.
This morning I woke to learn that a crowd-funding campaign supported by 39,000 Kiwis (including the Big T and me) has succeeded in buying a beach (1).
Awaroa Inlet Beach, in the Abel Tasman area of Nelson, was put up for sale at the beginning of this year by the family which had owned it for a number of years. During their tenure, they had allowed public access to the beach, but with new ownership came the very real possibility that such access would be taken away.
A couple of guys from the South Island got pretty upset about this, and on January 22nd, launched a Givealittle campaign to raise money to buy the beach and put it into public ownership — so everyone could enjoy this beautiful, pristine area of coastline. The aim was to raise at least NZ$2,000,000. This was achieved, but as the sale was by tender, it was by no means certain the amount would be enough.
Duane Major and Lincoln Churchill set up the Givealittle campaign to buy Awaroa Inlet Beach for all New Zealand. Image courtesy of The Press, 16 February, 2016.
This morning we found out that it was. With a little extra help from an anonymous donor and the NZ Government, New Zealanders have asserted control over our land and added an extra beach to the Abel Tasman National Park.
It may seem frivolous and very “First World” to buy a beach. After all, just a few days ago our Fijian neighbours were struck by Tropical Cyclone Winston, which killed at least 29 people, left many thousands homeless and has wrecked untold damage on Fiji’s vital tourist industry.
But what we have done carries symbolic as well as practical significance. New Zealanders have traditionally been incredibly egalitarian people. Until it began to be dismantled in the 1990s, health, education and welfare systems genuinely worked, to everyone’s benefit, and the notion of the wealthy few excluding the many from our beautiful landscapes would have been unthinkable. It seems it still is.
The Awaroa Beach campaign has taken the abstract concepts of fairness, equality, even democracy; and given them form and power. It has shown how ordinary people are using new technologies (social media, online fundraising, etc) to bring about change.
It has shown that there is hope; something that is much-needed as our government prepares to ratify the TPPA agreement.
And I’d be willing to bet that many of the people who pledged money towards buying Awaroa Beach are also digging deep to help the people of Fiji. That’s what Kiwis do.
There are definite themes that emerge; my growing fascination with the minutiae of the natural world, my frustration with neo-liberal political and economic systems that devalue both human life and the earth upon which we depend, and a growing interest in the interplay between memory and image. And of course art; particularly sculpture. This last has also provided an excuse to indulge in another love — travel — taking me to Wellington for LUX Festival of Light, Gibbs Farm on the Kaipara, and Sydney for the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition at Bondi.
At Bondi, I noticed an alarming number of visitors treating works of art as little more than backdrop for selfies; this became the basis of my post Putting yourself in the picture: how to experience art in the 21st century.
A rainy day visit to the monumental sculptures at Gibbs Farm left me feeling renewed and awed at the juxtaposition of art and landscape (Art in the Outdoors: a vigorous antidote to melancholy)My friends Turtle Donna Sarten and Bernie Harfleet took their beautiful and thought-provoking work Feed the Kids Too to Wellington’s LUX Festival where it proved once again to be a hit with visitors.
Marx’s “all that is solid melts into air” graffiti’d onto rusting pipes beside London’s Thames provoked a piece on urbanisation and unchecked growth — a theme I had already visited in an earlier challenge — On the Half-Gallon, Quarter-Acre Pavlova Paradise.
Politics was never far from my thoughts in 2015, as the Big T and I joined many thousands of people around the world protesting at the proposed TPPA agreement.
Photo-editing as a tool to explore the relationships between image, emotion and memory became increasingly important to me, as I began to focus on the natural world and my place in it.
And sometimes I managed not to over-think and seek deeper meaning. Sometimes, I was able just to enjoy the moment and the images that captured that moment — particularly when it meant spending time with my son.
To Sally, many thanks for hosting this challenge. Thanks too to everyone who takes part and makes the experience so interesting, sociable and rewarding.
Wishing you all a very happy new year.
ngā mihi o te tau hou