Women's Network

The PSA's women's network aims to promote the interests of women within the PSA, facilitate the sharing of information and experiences and encourage and support women’s participation in PSA representative structures at all levels.

Womens network logo purpleThe Women's Network is a place for women members to share experiences about work and organise around the things that need to change. Over 50,000 women are members of the PSA.

The women’s network has over 5500 members, and growing rapidly. Any woman can be a member of the Women's Network.


Joining the Network

Existing PSA members

If you're already a PSA member, click the 'Join Network' button at the top of this page (you will need your member number and to log in here).

New PSA members

If you're about to join up as a new PSA member, you can sign up for the women's network when you join the PSA by simply checking 'women's network' on the join form. Join the PSA online here.

What's great about the network

Women's network members get invited to network events, such as the biennial national conference and regional events. They also get priority to attend PSA women’s leadership workshops.

16 September 2021

Tena koutou, wahine toa!

Welcome to the PSA Women’s Network Suffrage Day newsletter

New Zealand Suffrage Day is on the 19th of September.   This year it falls on a Sunday, which hopefully means it will be a lot easier for women in some parts of the country to attend a commemoration.

For those of you who aren’t able to do that (we feel for you, Auckland!!), we thought we’d provide you with a bumper edition of our newsletter.  That way, you’ll be able to sit down on Sunday with a good cuppa and something relevant to read that will help you to reflect on the meaning of the day.

Usually, when we talk about Suffrage Day we mostly think about Kate Sheppard, sitting at her dining room table, compiling her “monster petition” of over 30,000 signatures.  This was the third such petition and was organised in response to a cry from government that the women of New Zealand “did not want the vote”.

This final petition travelled by steamship to Wellington and was ceremoniously unrolled down the length of the Parliamentary chamber, coming to a halt when it hit the far wall of the chamber with a small thud.  The names of the many women who signed this document were irrefutable proof of their very fervent desire to attain the right to vote.

It’s wonderful to give due credit to Kate Sheppard and what she achieved, but often we forget the many other women, from both our past and our present, who have contributed so much towards improving the lives of women, not just in this country, but globally.

With that in mind, this year the Women’s Network want to celebrate Suffrage Day with a little more diversity.  We certainly want to talk about Kate, but we also want to highlight many of the other inspirational women in New Zealand, from a variety of different era’s and backgrounds, whose work should also be acknowledged. So let’s start with:

KATE SHEPPARD
Kate Sheppard was born in Liverpool, England in 1847 to Andrew and Jemima Wilson.

Sadly, Kate’s father died young, leaving her mother to raise five children. Kate’s mother, who was comfortably off but not wealthy, turned to her relatives for help. Kate went to live with an uncle in Nairn on the north-east coast of Scotland, who was a minister in the Free Church. Her love of great causes may well have stemmed from that relationship.

The rest of the family went to relatives in Dublin, where Kate joined them at a later date.

At almost 21 years of age, Kate sailed with her family to New Zealand. They travelled as saloon passengers on the “Matoaka”, arriving in Lyttleton on the 8th of February 1869.

Shortly after, Kate met her first husband, Walter Sheppard, in Christchurch. They married and had a son, Douglas, and through him a grand-daughter, Margaret Isabel, both of whom they loved dearly. Sadly, Kate’s later life was struck with tragedy. Walter, Douglas and Margaret all died young, leaving Kate with no immediate family in her old age.

Her close friends, Jennie and Will Lovell-Smith were kind enough to take her in, and she lived with them until Jennie’s death in 1924. Will and Kate then married in 1925 and had four years together, until he too, passed away. In her dotage, Kate was fortunate to be cared for by Will and Jennie’s daughters, until her own death at the ripe old age of 86.

Kate Sheppard is largely known for her work towards achieving the vote for women. However, she advocated for many other worthy causes as well. Notable among these was her campaigning for Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value, something many women are still fighting for today, 130 years after Kate did.

Kate also advocated for the right to divorce, the abolishment of the corset and the right for women to be allowed to exercise. She was often seen around Christchurch, riding her bicycle, an occupation which, in Kate’s time, was viewed as highly radical in some circles and could often result in abuse and even stones being hurled at those women who chose to take up the activity!

Kate was very health conscious for her time. She was a leader in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, whose objective was the prohibition of alcohol. She also favoured vegetarianism (this was in 1893).

Like many of her sister suffragists, Kate was a very intelligent, forward thinking woman.  Unlike the English Suffragettes, who resorted to letter bombs and other acts of violence, Kate used intellect and reason to argue her case for the vote, as well as the many other changes she felt would improve the lives of women and children.

Here is a small sample of quotes made by this formidable New Zealand suffragist:

“Sisters, we are human beings first, creatures of sex secondly. We have our share of work to do for the people and our country. Let us get the vote, and help to make our country honest, kind, moral, and unselfish. Let the men try to make it rich and great if they like.
We will try and make it something better even than ‘rich and great’ as we would make our sons good and noble”.
KS article: Why women should vote. 1892

“That there is still ‘one law for man and another for woman’ is, in this nineteenth century of ours, a humiliating fact, and the one-sided unwritten social code to which the law gives support, is a disgrace to our civilisation, and altogether out of harmony with the spirit of love which should permeate society.
When all the disabilities under which women labour are removed, then, and not till then, shall we be a free country in the fullest sense of the word”.
KS in The White Ribbon July 1895 p1

“The ideal that we aim at is freedom regardless of sex. To place legal fetters on the ability and usefulness of one sex is a crime not only against that sex but against the community.
For the community has ample need for every power for good possessed by any and every member. Woman must be free to work for humanity in whatever capacity for which God has fitted her. And so we ask today, as we have asked for years past, for the removal of all the civil and political disabilities of women … for economic equality or partnership between husband and wife, for the co-guardianship of children by wife and husband; for equal pay for equal work and equality of opportunity for men and women to fill all Government posts, capacity for the work and not sex to be the test
… and for the furthering of these and other reforms, we want to see women sitting side by side with men in the legislative assemblies, helping to make laws which will be beneficial to the community as a whole”.
KS in Evening Star (Dunedin) 19 Sep 1914

Kate Shepard

 If you live in Christchurch or have the opportunity to visit, we’d encourage you to stop by the Kate Sheppard National Memorial and learn more about these amazing representatives of New Zealand’s suffrage history.

Kate shepard memorial

Kate Sheppard National Memorial, Worcester Street, Christchurch

The six key suffragists (depicted above) are:

Kate Sheppard, Christchurch – The leader of the suffrage campaign. Kate was instrumental in organising three suffrage petitions on behalf of the women of New Zealand. Her third and final petition, which contained over 30,000 signatures, was ultimately successful in 1893, and made New Zealand the first self-governing country in the world in which women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections.

Helen Nicol, Dunedin – who was a pioneer in the women’s franchise campaign in Dunedin. Helen was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1854 but immigrated to New Zealand with her family at the age of two. Her father was a gardener who prospered in New Zealand; Helen used her inheritance to bring up other family members and to support women’s suffrage. Helen joined forces with two other Dunedin Suffragists, Marion Hatton and Harriet Morison. Their combined efforts ensured that Dunedin contributed more signatures to the three pro-suffrage parliamentary petitions than any other part of the country.

Ada Wells, Christchurch – Ada campaigned vigorously for equal educational opportunities for girls and women. Ada was Christchurch’s first woman city councillor. A pacifist during WW1, in her marriage Ada often found herself the victim of beatings from her husband, a violent man 12 years her senior with a fondness for alcohol. Ada's marital experience – where she was, at times, the family breadwinner – strengthened her belief that women should have economic independence. Ada was the founder of the Canterbury Women’s Institute, the first secretary of National Council of Women, a writer, and a natural health therapist and masseuse.

Amey Daldy, Auckland – a foundation member of the Auckland WCTU and president of the Auckland Franchise League. Amey would drive around Auckland in a buggy with her grandchildren in tow, collecting signatures for petitions on women’s rights. An intelligent and feisty woman, Amey would enter into spirited but amicable debates on women’s suffrage with local businessmen. She also chaired large gatherings in the City Hall theatre. A stern-looking woman with a high collar and hair swept up severely under a white lace bonnet, Amey became the subject of cartoons in the New Zealand Graphic.

Harriet Morison, Dunedin – Vice President of the Tailoresses’ Union and a powerful advocate for working women. 1892, Harriet led a successful women's movement against Henry Fish’s bid for the mayoralty of Dunedin. Fish was a Parliamentary spokesman for the liquor trade and opposed to women’s suffrage. In 1906 Harriet became a factory inspector for the Department of Labour in the South Island – the first female inspector in the country. Two years later, she moved to Auckland to run a new Women's Branch of the Department. For 14 years, Harriet was an official visitor to the Seacliff Lunatic Asylum near Dunedin. Her obituary in the New Zealand Herald describes her as having "a keen personal interest in the welfare of the mentally afflicted".

Meri Te Tai Mangakahia, Taitokerau – Meri requested the vote for women from the Kotahitanga Maori Parliament and the right of women to stand for election. She is the only non-Pakeha suffragist on the national memorial.

More about MERI TE TAI MANGAKAHIA :
Meri Te Tai was of Ngati Te Reinga, Ngati Manawa and Te Kaitutae, three hapu of Te Rarawa.  She is said to have been born on 22 May 1868, near Whakarapa (Panguru) on the northern shores of the Hokianga Harbour, Northland.

She was the great-grandchild of the woman of mana, Ngākahuwhero. Her father, Te Tai was a renowned kaumatua of the Te Rarawa iwi. Her mother was Hana Tera.

Meri is said to have been educated at St Mary’s Convent in Auckland and was an accomplished pianist. She was the third wife of Hamiora Mangakahia. In 1893, Meri’s husband was elected the Premier of Te Kotahitanga, the Maori parliament. When the hui was held the following year, the women’s meeting decided that Meri should speak to the men about how women wanted to participate in the Maori Parliament. Meri had influence and mana.

On 18 May 1893 the Speaker of the lower house of the Kotahitanga parliament introduced a motion from Meri Mangakahia, requesting that women be given the right to participate in the selection of members. It was suggested that she come into the house to explain her motion, and later that day she addressed the parliament. She was the first woman recorded to have done so.

Meri requested not only that Maori women be given the vote, but that they be eligible to sit in the Maori parliament.

At first, these requests were not granted.  But the Maori women persisted, and year after year repeated their claims. They finally won both in 1897. Meri went on to set up Nga Komiti Wahine and was also a journalist. She died young at 52, of influenza, and is buried with her father at Pureirei.

Meri

A copy of Meri’s original speech in Maori, including the English translation, can be found here.

You may also enjoy this interview with Meri’s great granddaughter, Challen Wilson, and great grand-niece, Emma Frost: https://nukuwomen.co.nz/2019/03/20/008-meri-te-tai-mangakahia/

PASIFIKA WOMEN
A big thank you to the brave and amazing women and men who truly paved a way for all women to have the right to vote, to hold offices as MPs, become Prime Minister, Governor General and hold other prominent lead roles in our nation Aotearoa/NZ.

Our nation is also a Pasefika Nation with Pasefika being an integral part of it. Aotearoa/NZ is home to many NZ-born & migrant women "Kiwis" of Pasefika heritage. ( Three of the current Womens Network Committee have links to the Cook Islands, Fiji, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tuvalu & Uvea.)

The following names are a fraction of current Pasefika women in Aotearoa/NZ contributing to making our nation a better place for all. They are women who follow in the steps of their ancestors and the many inspiring women from our very own past and around the world.

The first Pasefika woman MP in our Aotearoa/NZ Government was Dame Luamanavao Winne Laban (Samoa), in 1999 until 2010. She is now the Assistant Vice-Chancellor at Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington.

The six Pasefika women MPs in Government – Barbara Edmonds (Samoa), Anahila Kanongata’a-Suisuiki (Tonga), Teresa Ngobi (Samoa), Jenny Salesa (Tonga), Carmel Sepuloni (Samoa/Tonga) and Poto Williams (Cook Islands) are the most Pasefika women MP’s in Aotearoa/NZ Government to date.

Ida Malosi (Samoa) is the first Pasefika judge outside of Auckland.

ida

Saunoamaali’I Dr. Karanina Sumeo (Samoa) is the current EEO (Equal Employment Opportunities) Commissioner for the NZ Human Rights Commission. Champion advocate for closing the Equal Pay Gap & Ethnic Pay Gap plus driving for open pay transparency.

karanina

Alexia Hilbertidou (Samoa) founder of GirlBoss NZ, an organisation aimed at empowering young women in STEM studies.

Alexia

These women have managed to weave their ancestry into the fabric of Aotearoa/NZ society infusing this with their culture of diplomacy, courage and respect.

We’ll take a quick tour around Pasefika to look at some notable figures in past history and in current  times. Women who have inspired many to not just accept the status quo, but similar to Kate Sheppard, to made a stand and to dare to challenge. Women who persevered and were eventually successful.

Whilst Aotearoa/NZ was the first self-governing nation to grant the vote to women in 1893, there were other territories around the world that enfranchised women at the same time or soon (ish) thereafter.

Pitcairn Island/Norfolk Island
From 1838 women descendants of the mutineers from the Bounty were able to vote, and once a settlement was formed on Norfolk Island in 1856.

Hawai’i
The beautiful ‘independent nation’ islands of Hawai’i were ruled by
Queen Lili’uokalani up until 1892 when she was overthrown by non-Native businessmen who were supported by the U.S. military on January 17, 1891. With this new regime the rights of the indigenous women of Hawai’i with their voting rights or running for office were brought to a halt.

LilliCaption

Wilhelmina Kekelaokalaninui Widemann Dowsett (1861 – 1929) , a native Hawaiian suffragist fought to reverse this loss of power. In 1912 she established the first suffrage organisation in Hawai’i. She encouraged other native Hawaiian women to join her through suffrage meetings and in person. It took 27 years since the reign of Queen Lili’uokalani before women in Hawai’i were able to vote.

Wilomina

Tonga
In 1951 a constitutional amendment by Tonga’s beloved Queen Salote Tupou III (1900-1965) permitted Tongan women to vote. The island nations of Cook Islands, Niue & Tokelau come under the realm of Aotearoa/NZ since the turn of last century. They have NZ citizenship and the women of these nations respectively are able to exercise their right to vote. However, the women of the Cook Islands were in 1893 able to participate in the island council & federal parliament elections (as they were a British protectorate at that time). They were able to vote on 14th October 1893.

Fiji
Women were only given the right to vote alongside their male counterparts in 1963.

Samoa
Only via Universal suffrage in 1991 was it possible for women 21 years of age to vote. With their first ever female Prime Minister Hon Fiame Naomi Mata’afa it will be an interesting time for their nation having a modern day leader.

Hon Fiame

So, you can see, it is 2021 and the rights we have now, for some other nations were granted not too long ago. It is wonderful to celebrate the successes of the past and to see that all women have come from a place of strength and that we together must celebrate all women and each other.

LIST OF LOCAL SUFFRAGE DAY COMMEMORATIONS

Unfortunately, due to COVID, some parts of the country will be unable to hold commemoration services this year. The following events are currently still planned to take place in Christchurch, however:

Celebrate with us in Ōtautahi
Sunday, 19 September 2021 -
Suffrage Day Celebrations

Schedule :
10am: Guided tour of Kate Sheppard’s home and epicentre of New Zealand's women's suffrage movement.
10.30 - 11am: Morning tea served on verandah overlooking the garden, where Kate received the telegram informing her women had been granted the vote.
11am: Board a luxury coach for a short tour past significant sites associated with Kate including visiting her grave.
11.45am: Dropped at the Suffrage Memorial Event at the National Kate Sheppard Memorial on Oxford Terrace where the Mayor Lianne Dalziel, Hon Sarah Pallett MP Ilam and other guests will speak. Bring a flower, a white camellia if possible.
1pm: Memorial finishes. Board coach and return to Kate Sheppard House for lunch in the garden.
1.15pm-2.30pm Lunch served and house open for tours through the house.

Tickets
All Day Suffrage Day: including house entry, morning tea, bus and lunch: Adult $39.50, Concession $32.00
Optional After Memorial event - lunch and entry to house: Adult  $29.50, Concession $22.00
Limited tickets are available until 4pm this Thursday 16 September. Sorry there will be no door sales.
Book here

Tour Christchurch with Kate Sheppard (a separate tour to the one advertised above) will also be holding their annual Suffrage tour on 6 November, to coincide with Canterbury’s Heritage Festival.
(Please email me if you would like further details of this fun event – I am on the committee and have the privilege of playing the role of Kate Sheppard during the tour!).

Levels permitting, we’d encourage you to attend an event near you and take the opportunity to reflect on the life-changing legacy of our early New Zealand suffragists.

They fought hard, and sacrificed much, so the women of today might enjoy the rights and freedoms they and their forebears had been denied.

There is, of course, still much to be accomplished in the fight for true equality.  We therefore have a responsibility to continue the journey, so the legacy we pass to our own daughters is a greater inheritance again that that which was passed to us.

What women’s issues will you decide to fight for?

Kia kaha wahine ma!!
Manaakitanga,

Nancy McShane
Co-Convenor, PSA Women’s Network
and
Nia Bartley
Women's Network Lower North Island Representative, CTU Komiti Pasefika Co-convenors 

Tena koutou, wahine toa!

Welcome to the PSA Women’s Network Suffrage Day newsletter

New Zealand Suffrage Day is on the 19th of September.   This year it falls on a Sunday, which hopefully means it will be a lot easier for women in some parts of the country to attend a commemoration.

For those of you who aren’t able to do that (we feel for you, Auckland!!), we thought we’d provide you with a bumper edition of our newsletter.  That way, you’ll be able to sit down on Sunday with a good cuppa and something relevant to read that will help you to reflect on the meaning of the day.

Usually, when we talk about Suffrage Day we mostly think about Kate Sheppard, sitting at her dining room table, compiling her “monster petition” of over 30,000 signatures.  This was the third such petition and was organised in response to a cry from government that the women of New Zealand “did not want the vote”.

This final petition travelled by steamship to Wellington and was ceremoniously unrolled down the length of the Parliamentary chamber, coming to a halt when it hit the far wall of the chamber with a small thud.  The names of the many women who signed this document were irrefutable proof of their very fervent desire to attain the right to vote.

It’s wonderful to give due credit to Kate Sheppard and what she achieved, but often we forget the many other women, from both our past and our present, who have contributed so much towards improving the lives of women, not just in this country, but globally.

With that in mind, this year the Women’s Network want to celebrate Suffrage Day with a little more diversity.  We certainly want to talk about Kate, but we also want to highlight many of the other inspirational women in New Zealand, from a variety of different era’s and backgrounds, whose work should also be acknowledged. So let’s start with:

KATE SHEPPARD
Kate Sheppard was born in Liverpool, England in 1847 to Andrew and Jemima Wilson.

Sadly, Kate’s father died young, leaving her mother to raise five children. Kate’s mother, who was comfortably off but not wealthy, turned to her relatives for help. Kate went to live with an uncle in Nairn on the north-east coast of Scotland, who was a minister in the Free Church. Her love of great causes may well have stemmed from that relationship.

The rest of the family went to relatives in Dublin, where Kate joined them at a later date.

At almost 21 years of age, Kate sailed with her family to New Zealand. They travelled as saloon passengers on the “Matoaka”, arriving in Lyttleton on the 8th of February 1869.

Shortly after, Kate met her first husband, Walter Sheppard, in Christchurch. They married and had a son, Douglas, and through him a grand-daughter, Margaret Isabel, both of whom they loved dearly. Sadly, Kate’s later life was struck with tragedy. Walter, Douglas and Margaret all died young, leaving Kate with no immediate family in her old age.

Her close friends, Jennie and Will Lovell-Smith were kind enough to take her in, and she lived with them until Jennie’s death in 1924. Will and Kate then married in 1925 and had four years together, until he too, passed away. In her dotage, Kate was fortunate to be cared for by Will and Jennie’s daughters, until her own death at the ripe old age of 86.

Kate Sheppard is largely known for her work towards achieving the vote for women. However, she advocated for many other worthy causes as well. Notable among these was her campaigning for Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value, something many women are still fighting for today, 130 years after Kate did.

Kate also advocated for the right to divorce, the abolishment of the corset and the right for women to be allowed to exercise. She was often seen around Christchurch, riding her bicycle, an occupation which, in Kate’s time, was viewed as highly radical in some circles and could often result in abuse and even stones being hurled at those women who chose to take up the activity!

Kate was very health conscious for her time. She was a leader in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, whose objective was the prohibition of alcohol. She also favoured vegetarianism (this was in 1893).

Like many of her sister suffragists, Kate was a very intelligent, forward thinking woman.  Unlike the English Suffragettes, who resorted to letter bombs and other acts of violence, Kate used intellect and reason to argue her case for the vote, as well as the many other changes she felt would improve the lives of women and children.

Here is a small sample of quotes made by this formidable New Zealand suffragist:

“Sisters, we are human beings first, creatures of sex secondly. We have our share of work to do for the people and our country. Let us get the vote, and help to make our country honest, kind, moral, and unselfish. Let the men try to make it rich and great if they like.
We will try and make it something better even than ‘rich and great’ as we would make our sons good and noble”.
KS article: Why women should vote. 1892

“That there is still ‘one law for man and another for woman’ is, in this nineteenth century of ours, a humiliating fact, and the one-sided unwritten social code to which the law gives support, is a disgrace to our civilisation, and altogether out of harmony with the spirit of love which should permeate society.
When all the disabilities under which women labour are removed, then, and not till then, shall we be a free country in the fullest sense of the word”.
KS in The White Ribbon July 1895 p1

“The ideal that we aim at is freedom regardless of sex. To place legal fetters on the ability and usefulness of one sex is a crime not only against that sex but against the community.
For the community has ample need for every power for good possessed by any and every member. Woman must be free to work for humanity in whatever capacity for which God has fitted her. And so we ask today, as we have asked for years past, for the removal of all the civil and political disabilities of women … for economic equality or partnership between husband and wife, for the co-guardianship of children by wife and husband; for equal pay for equal work and equality of opportunity for men and women to fill all Government posts, capacity for the work and not sex to be the test
… and for the furthering of these and other reforms, we want to see women sitting side by side with men in the legislative assemblies, helping to make laws which will be beneficial to the community as a whole”.
KS in Evening Star (Dunedin) 19 Sep 1914

Kate Shepard

 If you live in Christchurch or have the opportunity to visit, we’d encourage you to stop by the Kate Sheppard National Memorial and learn more about these amazing representatives of New Zealand’s suffrage history.

Kate shepard memorial

Kate Sheppard National Memorial, Worcester Street, Christchurch

The six key suffragists (depicted above) are:

Kate Sheppard, Christchurch – The leader of the suffrage campaign. Kate was instrumental in organising three suffrage petitions on behalf of the women of New Zealand. Her third and final petition, which contained over 30,000 signatures, was ultimately successful in 1893, and made New Zealand the first self-governing country in the world in which women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections.

Helen Nicol, Dunedin – who was a pioneer in the women’s franchise campaign in Dunedin. Helen was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1854 but immigrated to New Zealand with her family at the age of two. Her father was a gardener who prospered in New Zealand; Helen used her inheritance to bring up other family members and to support women’s suffrage. Helen joined forces with two other Dunedin Suffragists, Marion Hatton and Harriet Morison. Their combined efforts ensured that Dunedin contributed more signatures to the three pro-suffrage parliamentary petitions than any other part of the country.

Ada Wells, Christchurch – Ada campaigned vigorously for equal educational opportunities for girls and women. Ada was Christchurch’s first woman city councillor. A pacifist during WW1, in her marriage Ada often found herself the victim of beatings from her husband, a violent man 12 years her senior with a fondness for alcohol. Ada's marital experience – where she was, at times, the family breadwinner – strengthened her belief that women should have economic independence. Ada was the founder of the Canterbury Women’s Institute, the first secretary of National Council of Women, a writer, and a natural health therapist and masseuse.

Amey Daldy, Auckland – a foundation member of the Auckland WCTU and president of the Auckland Franchise League. Amey would drive around Auckland in a buggy with her grandchildren in tow, collecting signatures for petitions on women’s rights. An intelligent and feisty woman, Amey would enter into spirited but amicable debates on women’s suffrage with local businessmen. She also chaired large gatherings in the City Hall theatre. A stern-looking woman with a high collar and hair swept up severely under a white lace bonnet, Amey became the subject of cartoons in the New Zealand Graphic.

Harriet Morison, Dunedin – Vice President of the Tailoresses’ Union and a powerful advocate for working women. 1892, Harriet led a successful women's movement against Henry Fish’s bid for the mayoralty of Dunedin. Fish was a Parliamentary spokesman for the liquor trade and opposed to women’s suffrage. In 1906 Harriet became a factory inspector for the Department of Labour in the South Island – the first female inspector in the country. Two years later, she moved to Auckland to run a new Women's Branch of the Department. For 14 years, Harriet was an official visitor to the Seacliff Lunatic Asylum near Dunedin. Her obituary in the New Zealand Herald describes her as having "a keen personal interest in the welfare of the mentally afflicted".

Meri Te Tai Mangakahia, Taitokerau – Meri requested the vote for women from the Kotahitanga Maori Parliament and the right of women to stand for election. She is the only non-Pakeha suffragist on the national memorial.

More about MERI TE TAI MANGAKAHIA :
Meri Te Tai was of Ngati Te Reinga, Ngati Manawa and Te Kaitutae, three hapu of Te Rarawa.  She is said to have been born on 22 May 1868, near Whakarapa (Panguru) on the northern shores of the Hokianga Harbour, Northland.

She was the great-grandchild of the woman of mana, Ngākahuwhero. Her father, Te Tai was a renowned kaumatua of the Te Rarawa iwi. Her mother was Hana Tera.

Meri is said to have been educated at St Mary’s Convent in Auckland and was an accomplished pianist. She was the third wife of Hamiora Mangakahia. In 1893, Meri’s husband was elected the Premier of Te Kotahitanga, the Maori parliament. When the hui was held the following year, the women’s meeting decided that Meri should speak to the men about how women wanted to participate in the Maori Parliament. Meri had influence and mana.

On 18 May 1893 the Speaker of the lower house of the Kotahitanga parliament introduced a motion from Meri Mangakahia, requesting that women be given the right to participate in the selection of members. It was suggested that she come into the house to explain her motion, and later that day she addressed the parliament. She was the first woman recorded to have done so.

Meri requested not only that Maori women be given the vote, but that they be eligible to sit in the Maori parliament.

At first, these requests were not granted.  But the Maori women persisted, and year after year repeated their claims. They finally won both in 1897. Meri went on to set up Nga Komiti Wahine and was also a journalist. She died young at 52, of influenza, and is buried with her father at Pureirei.

Meri

A copy of Meri’s original speech in Maori, including the English translation, can be found here.

You may also enjoy this interview with Meri’s great granddaughter, Challen Wilson, and great grand-niece, Emma Frost: https://nukuwomen.co.nz/2019/03/20/008-meri-te-tai-mangakahia/

PASIFIKA WOMEN
A big thank you to the brave and amazing women and men who truly paved a way for all women to have the right to vote, to hold offices as MPs, become Prime Minister, Governor General and hold other prominent lead roles in our nation Aotearoa/NZ.

Our nation is also a Pasefika Nation with Pasefika being an integral part of it. Aotearoa/NZ is home to many NZ-born & migrant women "Kiwis" of Pasefika heritage. ( Three of the current Womens Network Committee have links to the Cook Islands, Fiji, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tuvalu & Uvea.)

The following names are a fraction of current Pasefika women in Aotearoa/NZ contributing to making our nation a better place for all. They are women who follow in the steps of their ancestors and the many inspiring women from our very own past and around the world.

The first Pasefika woman MP in our Aotearoa/NZ Government was Dame Luamanavao Winne Laban (Samoa), in 1999 until 2010. She is now the Assistant Vice-Chancellor at Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington.

The six Pasefika women MPs in Government – Barbara Edmonds (Samoa), Anahila Kanongata’a-Suisuiki (Tonga), Teresa Ngobi (Samoa), Jenny Salesa (Tonga), Carmel Sepuloni (Samoa/Tonga) and Poto Williams (Cook Islands) are the most Pasefika women MP’s in Aotearoa/NZ Government to date.

Ida Malosi (Samoa) is the first Pasefika judge outside of Auckland.

ida

Saunoamaali’I Dr. Karanina Sumeo (Samoa) is the current EEO (Equal Employment Opportunities) Commissioner for the NZ Human Rights Commission. Champion advocate for closing the Equal Pay Gap & Ethnic Pay Gap plus driving for open pay transparency.

karanina

Alexia Hilbertidou (Samoa) founder of GirlBoss NZ, an organisation aimed at empowering young women in STEM studies.

Alexia

These women have managed to weave their ancestry into the fabric of Aotearoa/NZ society infusing this with their culture of diplomacy, courage and respect.

We’ll take a quick tour around Pasefika to look at some notable figures in past history and in current  times. Women who have inspired many to not just accept the status quo, but similar to Kate Sheppard, to made a stand and to dare to challenge. Women who persevered and were eventually successful.

Whilst Aotearoa/NZ was the first self-governing nation to grant the vote to women in 1893, there were other territories around the world that enfranchised women at the same time or soon (ish) thereafter.

Pitcairn Island/Norfolk Island
From 1838 women descendants of the mutineers from the Bounty were able to vote, and once a settlement was formed on Norfolk Island in 1856.

Hawai’i
The beautiful ‘independent nation’ islands of Hawai’i were ruled by
Queen Lili’uokalani up until 1892 when she was overthrown by non-Native businessmen who were supported by the U.S. military on January 17, 1891. With this new regime the rights of the indigenous women of Hawai’i with their voting rights or running for office were brought to a halt.

LilliCaption

Wilhelmina Kekelaokalaninui Widemann Dowsett (1861 – 1929) , a native Hawaiian suffragist fought to reverse this loss of power. In 1912 she established the first suffrage organisation in Hawai’i. She encouraged other native Hawaiian women to join her through suffrage meetings and in person. It took 27 years since the reign of Queen Lili’uokalani before women in Hawai’i were able to vote.

Wilomina

Tonga
In 1951 a constitutional amendment by Tonga’s beloved Queen Salote Tupou III (1900-1965) permitted Tongan women to vote. The island nations of Cook Islands, Niue & Tokelau come under the realm of Aotearoa/NZ since the turn of last century. They have NZ citizenship and the women of these nations respectively are able to exercise their right to vote. However, the women of the Cook Islands were in 1893 able to participate in the island council & federal parliament elections (as they were a British protectorate at that time). They were able to vote on 14th October 1893.

Fiji
Women were only given the right to vote alongside their male counterparts in 1963.

Samoa
Only via Universal suffrage in 1991 was it possible for women 21 years of age to vote. With their first ever female Prime Minister Hon Fiame Naomi Mata’afa it will be an interesting time for their nation having a modern day leader.

Hon Fiame

So, you can see, it is 2021 and the rights we have now, for some other nations were granted not too long ago. It is wonderful to celebrate the successes of the past and to see that all women have come from a place of strength and that we together must celebrate all women and each other.

LIST OF LOCAL SUFFRAGE DAY COMMEMORATIONS

Unfortunately, due to COVID, some parts of the country will be unable to hold commemoration services this year. The following events are currently still planned to take place in Christchurch, however:

Celebrate with us in Ōtautahi
Sunday, 19 September 2021 -
Suffrage Day Celebrations

Schedule :
10am: Guided tour of Kate Sheppard’s home and epicentre of New Zealand's women's suffrage movement.
10.30 - 11am: Morning tea served on verandah overlooking the garden, where Kate received the telegram informing her women had been granted the vote.
11am: Board a luxury coach for a short tour past significant sites associated with Kate including visiting her grave.
11.45am: Dropped at the Suffrage Memorial Event at the National Kate Sheppard Memorial on Oxford Terrace where the Mayor Lianne Dalziel, Hon Sarah Pallett MP Ilam and other guests will speak. Bring a flower, a white camellia if possible.
1pm: Memorial finishes. Board coach and return to Kate Sheppard House for lunch in the garden.
1.15pm-2.30pm Lunch served and house open for tours through the house.

Tickets
All Day Suffrage Day: including house entry, morning tea, bus and lunch: Adult $39.50, Concession $32.00
Optional After Memorial event - lunch and entry to house: Adult  $29.50, Concession $22.00
Limited tickets are available until 4pm this Thursday 16 September. Sorry there will be no door sales.
Book here

Tour Christchurch with Kate Sheppard (a separate tour to the one advertised above) will also be holding their annual Suffrage tour on 6 November, to coincide with Canterbury’s Heritage Festival.
(Please email me if you would like further details of this fun event – I am on the committee and have the privilege of playing the role of Kate Sheppard during the tour!).

Levels permitting, we’d encourage you to attend an event near you and take the opportunity to reflect on the life-changing legacy of our early New Zealand suffragists.

They fought hard, and sacrificed much, so the women of today might enjoy the rights and freedoms they and their forebears had been denied.

There is, of course, still much to be accomplished in the fight for true equality.  We therefore have a responsibility to continue the journey, so the legacy we pass to our own daughters is a greater inheritance again that that which was passed to us.

What women’s issues will you decide to fight for?

Kia kaha wahine ma!!
Manaakitanga,

Nancy McShane
Co-Convenor, PSA Women’s Network
and
Nia Bartley
Women's Network Lower North Island Representative, CTU Komiti Pasefika Co-convenors 

Margaret Takoko is the PSA Women's Network organiser. 

Margaret is based in Gisborne and can be contacted at margaret.takoko@psa.org.nz

Margaret attends regular meetings held by the Council of Trade Unions Women's Committee throughout the year.

Update August 2021

Click here for the August 2021 Update

Suffrage Day 2020

Click here to see the newsletter from the Ministry of Women's Deb Malcolm about Suffrage Day 2020

Other Resources

New Horizons Trust - Offers awards to women for second-chance education and training.

History of Equal Pay -  A collection of PSA and personal papers collated and inventoried in 1990 by consultant archivist, Diana Morrow.

Flexible Work - Employment NZ

CTU Women’s Council - Council of Trade Unions

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence Victims' Protection Act 2018 Fact Sheet  (PDF Download) - Council of Trade Unions

Why We Have This Family Violence Policy - Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

Work and Parenting

Parental Leave - Employment NZ

Flexible Work - Employment NZ

Infant feeding at work - Employment NZ

Pregnancy and your job - Ministry of Health

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment - The Human Rights Commission 

 

SUBJECT: Suffrage Day – 19 September 2020

Kia ora koutou,

127 years ago history was made when Aotearoa New Zealand became the first country in the world to give women the right to vote. To celebrate Suffrage Day (19 Septmeber) this year we’ve partnered up with the National Library of New Zealand and the Government Women’s Network to highlight the work of three suffragists who were instrumental in securing the vote for women. From 18 September to 10 October 2020 a free Suffragist display featuring Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia, Kate Sheppard and Mary Ann Müller will be in the foyer at the National Library of New Zealand in Wellington.

We also recognise that many of this year’s celebrations will be online. We have attached a list of resources to help you celebrate Suffrage Day and to share with your audiences:

·         Explore National Library’s He Tohu site for details around New Zealand’s suffrage history and  resources for schools and community groups.

·         Read about Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia, Kate Sheppard, Mary Anne Müller and other suffragists on Te Ara, the encyclopedia of New Zealand.

·         Search the 1893 suffrage petition database on NZ History to see if your ancestors signed the petition.

·         Read He Tohu Rangatira – Māori women and the 1893 suffrage petition from Archives New Zealand to learn about the wāhine Maori who signed the petition.

·         Download the free ebook, New Zealand Women and the Vote, from Manatū Taonga Ministry of Culture and Heritage.

·         Find out about women’s activismin New Zealand throughout history from NZ History.

·         Write a biography on one of the women who signed the petition. Archives New Zealand has advice for researching and writing a biography on one of the signatories so we can learn more the individual women who came together to make history.

Attached you’ll find a Suffrage Day symbol that you can share across your social media channels in celebration.

The Ministry for Women’s website also has further facts and figures on women in New Zealand. Please let us know if you need further information.

We wish you a wonderful celebration of this milestone in New Zealand’s history.

Ngā mihi

 

Deb Malcolm

 


News from the PSA. "What happens at home affects what happens at work"
News

"What happens at home affects what happens at work"

Since 2011 the PSA's been campaigning for special leave for family violence victims - it's now law.

Continue reading

News from the PSA. Gender Pay Principles launched!
News

Gender Pay Principles launched!

After months of collaboration, the Gender Pay Principles for the State Sector have been published – and they’re a proud win for unions.

Continue reading

News from the PSA. New resource for delegates dealing with sexual harassment
News

New resource for delegates dealing with sexual harassment

For many of us, sexual harassment is a reality in our workplaces.

Continue reading

News from the PSA. Supporting people experiencing family violence
News

Supporting people experiencing family violence

For far too many New Zealanders, family violence is a reality.

Continue reading

News from the PSA. Equal pay for Māori and Pasifika
News

Equal pay for Māori and Pasifika

Women in the workforce are consistently paid less because of their gender.

Continue reading