NZNO organiser and our StandUp representative on the Council of Trade Unions Women’s Council, Georgia Choveaux talks about how proud she is that New Zealand women were the first to vote.
“You do not have the right to vote.”
Can you imagine being told that? That nature did not intend you to have a say in politics and how your country is run. Can you imagine instead being pointed back in the direction of the kitchen stove and silenced?
Well our great, great grandmothers were told they had no right to vote, because they were women, and what they did about it is one of the greatest tales our country has known.
They organised, spoke up, marched and they signed. In fact, 32,000 women signed the 1893 Petition calling for votes for women, and on this day, 11 August, in 1893 that petition was delivered to Parliament.
Sir John Hall wheeled in the hopes and aspirations of every one of those women. The petition was so large it had to enter parliament in a wheel barrow. The petition was then unrolled, each signature representing a voice for equality, down the aisle of our debating chamber until it thumped against the far wall.
Can you imagine?
Over 500 sheets of paper glued together, 270 metres long, 32,000 signatures with one demand: the VOTE
Just six weeks later, on the 19th of September 1893 our great, great grandmothers succeeded… they won New Zealand women the right to vote.
I am so proud of how our foremothers fought for my right to be a voter. So I’m not wasting that right this election.
I am going to vote at my nearest polling booth on the very first day of voting – September the 3rd.
I am going to be heard. I am going to be a New Zealand woman who is first to vote. Will you join me?
PS … If you want to see if you have any 1893 suffragette petitioners in your family search your family name or street address here to see if their voice was wheeled into parliament a hundred and twenty one years ago today.
Check out our Suffrage information document (pdf) for more information about the campaign for women’s suffrage in New Zealand.