125 year anniversary of women winning the right to vote in New Zealand

New Zealand women won the right to vote on 19 September 1893.

125 years on, the Suffrage 125 celebration is an opportunity to remember the suffragists and what they fought for and reflect on women’s rights today – Women, the Vote and Activism

In the late 19th century women suffragists fought for the right to vote, and on 19 September 1893 a new Electoral Act was passed into law. New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections.
Women's suffrage

Stories of women’s activism

You can search a database to find people who signed the petition:  Women’s suffrage petition database

From page 253:

Keziah is my great great grandmother, who arrived in New Zealand in 1851, from Turvey, Bedfordshire with her parents and two siblings (a number of immigrants from Turvey settled around Woodend). Rebecca is a great aunt. There’s several Gibbs from Woodend in the database who will also be relations.

Many immigrant women and their families were determined to have a fairer society in their adopted country.

It took over a century, but we have had three female Prime Ministers over the last twenty years.

NZH – Suffrage 125: Jenny Shipley, Helen Clark and Jacinda Ardern make photographic history

Former Prime Minister Jenny Shipley, left, current Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, centre, and former Prime Minister Helen Clark, right. Photo / Babiche Martens

49 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  September 19, 2018

    Is there any analysis of what the consequences have been?

    • Blazer

       /  September 19, 2018

      Its given birth’ to…many.

    • PartisanZ

       /  September 19, 2018

      Jeez Alan … I never thought to ask that question … or the question: What might the consequences have been of NOT doing it? E.G., women would have remained men’s ‘chattels’ … Perhaps by 1940 such would have been women’s protestations that they would have had to be kept in segregated areas or concentration camps?

      But okay, consequences –

      1) Women were officially made citizens with equal voting rights … which implies they were recognised more fully as human beings … (for the first time in the history of Christendom – the wonderful Western doctrine which has bought ‘civilization’ to the whole wide world – with its bizarre worship of the Virgin Mary and coincident legacy of oppression of women and everything ‘female’) …

      2) The ballot therefore represented potentially the whole adult population rather than half of it

      3) Primary caregivers were finally represented in the ballot …

      … Oh fuck it I can’t go on …

      We should have done an analysis – ‘scientific’ of course – of the consequences of outlawing slavery … It might have been much ‘better’ to keep slavery?

      The consequences of introducing human rights legislation … of legislating in favor of private property rights … FFS … Kings, feudal Lords and The Commons might have been much much better?

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  September 19, 2018

        Women have never been chattels; that is an insulting urban myth that insults both sexes equally. Read some history.

        Why has it traditionally been the man’s place to go and work to support his chattel ? It should be the other way around; when did a slave-owner ever work to support the slaves and not the other way around ?

        Why did and do men do the hard and dirty work ? Nearly 180 years ago, it was decided that mining was too dangerous for women and ‘youths’ to be involved with it, not, of course, for men to be doing it. My road is being dug up for fibre to be laid; guess who’s doing all the hard, strenous work ?

        • PartisanZ

           /  September 19, 2018

          I’m sorry Miss Kitty … but you’re wrong …

          “Most American treated married women according to the concept of coverture, a concept inherited from English common law. Under the doctrine of coverture, a woman was legally considered the chattel of her husband, his possession.”

          http://chnm.gmu.edu/courses/omalley/120f02/america/marriage/

          “Upon marriage, the husband and wife became one person under the law, as the property of the wife was surrendered to her husband, and her legal identity ceased to exist.”

          This only changed (or began changing) in 1882 with The Married Women’s Property Act (in England) … and in Aotearoa New Zealand in 1884 … just 9 short years before Universal Suffrage …

          http://www.nzlii.org/nz/legis/hist_act/mwpa188448v1884n10367/

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Married_Women%27s_Property_Act_1882

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coverture

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  September 19, 2018

            That is a highly emotive and not very accurate way of puttting it, and it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Couverture did not mean that the wife ceased to exist as a person in law.

            It ignores marriage settlements where money was settled on the wife before marriage (in the case of a woman who had family money, this was tightly tied up so that the husband could neither ‘kiss it or kick it’ away from her. Property that was legally settled on the wife could not be taken from her. Rich aristocrats were not going to hand over the family fortune to anyone.

            I would challenge anyone to find the word chattel used of a wife in reality.At the time, I mean, not written since..

            It’s a gross insult to women to assume that they meekly became the property of their husbands; it doesn’t take human nature into account.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  September 19, 2018

        Did you realise that for the greater part of the last 180 years, the ruling monarch was a Queen ? Two Queens have clocked up 125+ years between them.

        Have you heard of Elizabeth I ?

        • PartisanZ

           /  September 19, 2018

          It might be cogently argued that the situation of Monarchs is quite different from the average woman Miss Kitty …

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  September 19, 2018

            Of course. But you mentioned Kings et al, as if the female equivalent did not exist.

  2. David

     /  September 19, 2018

    125 years of terrible decision making, I cant see one good thing that has come from this..except Ruth Richardson.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  September 19, 2018

      What examples do you think there are of different outcomes because of women’s vote?

      • David

         /  September 19, 2018

        Well for a start money would have been allocated and we would have a prostate screening program that doesnt involve any Dr input, there would be a fleet of mammogram type vehicles outside pubs doing a quick xray type thing.
        There would have been work done to address the terrible imbalance of workplace deaths where men are copping 93% and its about time women were put in perilous positions and counselling done so they too can encourage their friends to do crazy shit.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  September 19, 2018

          ??? Do you know, that caravan idea had never occurred to me, and I am very concerned about the gross inequality between the money and publicity given to the two main cancers that affect the two sexes.

          I wonder why it can’t be done. I just nip in, have my boobs xrayed, and I’m out a few minutes later. Nurses can do cervical smears, could they do the bum test ?

    • Blazer

       /  September 19, 2018

      Ruth Richardson represents everything thats wrong with the National Party.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  September 19, 2018

        Making women first Minister of Finance, first PM?

      • PartisanZ

         /  September 19, 2018

        Worse than that Blazer … Ruth Richardson represents everything that’s wrong with politics, so-called democracy and, perhaps most of all, the ‘snake-oil’ pseudo-science of economics

  3. It was a lengthy battle to win the vote for women.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  September 19, 2018

      Straw men; there is a fair amount written about her in the history books.This is just trying to make it seem as if women’s history is considered unimportant,

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  September 19, 2018

      Yes, a lot of fluff about the fight to get it. No evaluation of the consequences.

      Jan, Clare and Meka not providing much support for the “Girls can do anything” meme.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  September 19, 2018

        I am annoyed that Kate Sheppard seems to get almost all the credit, and that the others are largely ignored,

        I am also annoyed that she is used and has words and ideas…not attributed, but I can’t think of the word I want…that people say that she would have wanted this and that, when for all we know she wouldn’t have.

  4. PDB

     /  September 19, 2018

    Lots of ‘firsts’ for women – for example we currently have the first ever New Zealand PM not knowing what GDP is and then trying to pretend she did on national radio.

  5. PartisanZ

     /  September 19, 2018

    Wow … the comments of most of the men on here absolutely SAY IT ALL!

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  September 19, 2018

      You could address my question

      • PartisanZ

         /  September 19, 2018

        But Alan … I have … see up above …

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  September 19, 2018

          Sorry, hadn’t seen that. However it doesn’t say much apart from some seriously OTT speculation which is hardly borne out by comparison with countries like Switzerland who were much slower to give women a vote.

          • PartisanZ

             /  September 19, 2018

            Its a moot point …. Switzerland DID give women the vote!

            How would comparison to a landlocked and exceedingly conservative nation in Western Europe, also its banking capital, with an homogenous population, illuminate this thread …?

            Does Switzerland’s ‘success’ at remaining extremely conservative, a banking capital, and neutral during WW2 because it suited Allied and Axis nations alike, somehow justify not giving the vote to women?

            It’s even an argument against direct rather than deliberative [so-called] ‘democracy’ …

            You’ve taken a extraordinarily bizarre position on this thread IMHO Alan, reminiscent of some of the holes you used to dig yourself when I first ‘joined up’ … Put that shovel down now man!

            We don’t measure the ‘consequences’ of basic human rights legislation like we do the consequences of an investment on the stock exchange or a business merger …

            An analogy might be that this isn’t like ‘the anti-smacking law’ … which, although it extends the rights of children, arguably does have consequences … This is like the fundamental rights of children … as human beings …

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  September 19, 2018

              Ranting doesn’t improve you argument, PZ. Eg: “women would have remained men’s ‘chattels’ … Perhaps by 1940 such would have been women’s protestations that they would have had to be kept in segregated areas or concentration camps?”
              No such consequence occurred in Switzerland.

              If you think it is unreasonable to question the consequences of an event being celebrated you had best review your attitude to Waitangi Day.

            • PartisanZ

               /  September 19, 2018

              Yeah yeah … HFD said it best, “Isn’t equality enough consequence for you”?

            • PartisanZ

               /  September 19, 2018

              I’ll give some thought to your comparison between ‘consequences’ of female suffrage and of Waitangi Day … I don’t see much of an immediate connection …

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  September 19, 2018

              Simple enough. If Waitangi Day is an opportunity to consider the operation of the Treaty then Women’s Suffrage Day is an opportunity to consider the operation of women’s suffrage.

  6. PartisanZ

     /  September 19, 2018

    @PG – “Many immigrant women and their families were determined to have a fairer society in their adopted country … It took over a century, but we have had three female Prime Ministers over the last twenty years.”

    Yes, women may have been a major force behind the drive for a fairer society … The Fair & Decent Bloc …

    And men, as shown on this thread, a major force in blocking it? The Wealth & Power Bloc …

    Many immigrant families were determined to have a fairer society in their adopted country.

    Nearly two centuries later, do we really have a fairer society?

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  September 19, 2018

      So no effect then?

      • High Flying Duck

         /  September 19, 2018

        Is equality not effect enough Alan?
        There is plenty of blather about women being “more empathetic” and having different personality biases than men, but in the end there are still Lefties, Righties, Centrists, geniuses and idiots among women as much as men.
        Giving women the vote was never going to change the world to any meaningful extent, although there possibly may have been a minor shift in policy positions to meet the needs of the new voter base.
        What is did do was give voice to a previously disenfranchised sector of society.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  September 19, 2018

          In fact, there were many women who were involved in politics; a wife could make or break a man’s career. From what I read, the vote was often the vote of both man and wife.

          It wasn’t until 1918 that there was universal male suffrage in Britain, something that tends to be ignored.

          The UK suffragettes were as likely as not to want the vote on the same level as men, i.e., not for all and sundry but for the middle and upper classes.This is also ignored now, as was the urban terrorism of the militants.

          • PartisanZ

             /  September 19, 2018

            “When Law becomes Injustice … Resistance becomes our Duty” …

            • PartisanZ

               /  September 19, 2018

              Ah … “When Injustice becomes Law … Resistance becomes our Duty” …

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  September 19, 2018

          I accept the equality case, HFD. I’m interested to know what the other good vs harm impacts have been. I don’t expect there are none.

          • PartisanZ

             /  September 19, 2018

            And we should therefore equally examine the good vs harm impacts of only men having the vote … yes?

            Or is only men having the vote going to be the ‘control’ …?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  September 19, 2018

              The inevitable result of evaluating the female franchise would be the male one is also measured. Your hysterical reaction to my enquiry is quite odd.

            • PartisanZ

               /  September 19, 2018

              I don’t think so … You’re enquiry implies that male-only franchise is the ‘norm’ and female franchise should be measured against it …

              All you said was “Is there any analysis of what the consequences have been?” …

              Your next question to David was much more reasonable, “What examples do you think there are of different outcomes because of women’s vote?”, although this must be tempered by the certain knowledge that for nearly 100 years after obtaining the franchise, women only had male candidates to vote for …

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  September 19, 2018

              Surely it is obvious that any comparison of female suffrage with what went before will show up the consequences of male suffrage. The positive impacts of female voting illustrate the negative impacts of male voting and vice versa.

              There is no implication of norm except in your mind. Your point about female candidates is valid and pertinent.

  7. Gezza

     /  September 19, 2018

    I really like that photo

  8. A problem with looking up ancestry records is spelling of names. I have just searched birth records for Keziah Norton (great great grandmother) and can find nine children, but her name is spelt six different ways:

    Keziah, Kezia, Kesia, Kesiah, Hezia, Eliza

    I’m taking the spelling from the suffrage petition as the correct spelling.

  9. Kitty Catkin

     /  September 19, 2018

    I know a woman in her 80s who was the youngest child of a mother who married later than most women…the mother was taken by her mother to the polling booth on the first election day after women’s suffrage was granted. I met the mother who lived to be a great age and planted herself on her daughter who was single and owned a house with two spare bedrooms. Poor M, what a fate.

    So I once met someone who was there for the first women’s vote !