News | 18 September 2018

Council shines light on Suffrage 125

This year, 19 September marks 125 years since the Electoral Act was passed giving all women in New Zealand the right to vote – and making New Zealand the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections.

Suffrage 125 logo

The Michael Fowler Centre, Cable Car tunnels, Carter Fountain, and Woman of Words sculpture in Midland Park are some of the iconic sites to be lit up in the Suffrage colours of purple and white.

Mayor Justin Lester says he is proud to be celebrating this momentous occasion in the capital.

“Wellington has a long history as the capital, the beating heart of politics, and as a progressive city, so we’re pleased to be marking this date with numerous events and projects around town.

“We already honour Kate Sheppard with pedestrian crossing lights, and now we’ll be turning the city purple to honour the work of the Suffrage movement.”

Following the Electoral Act passing in 1893, 109,461 New Zealand women registered to vote, with 82% of the adult female population casting their votes in the election that year.

New Zealand led the way by being the first in the world to give adult women the vote, and has continued to lead the way on the political stage according to Deputy Mayor Jill Day.

“There are celebrations all around the country recognising New Zealanders from all cultural backgrounds that have contributed to women’s rights and eliminating discrimination against women.

“I’m grateful for the work those frontrunners, and all the others after them, have done to inspire women in Aotearoa New Zealand. They have set the foundations that enabled me to be Deputy Mayor of Wellington alongside others in leadership, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Minister of Local Government Nanaia Mahuta, Governor-General Patsy Reddy, Chief Executive Te Puni Kōkiri Michelle Hippolite, Chief Justice Sian Elias, and Dr Charlotte Severne, who has just been announced as the next Māori Trustee.”

Council’s Public Art Panel also selected and funded two temporary art projects that mark the 125th anniversary.

Mausina will see Māori women artists of internationally acclaimed theatre company MAU join with women from Wellington's Pasifika communities for a free performance ceremony in the grounds of Parliament at 3pm on Wednesday 19 September.

Over Time will see artist collective Public Share invite Wellingtonians to join them for a tea break in Civic Square to celebrate the anniversary of New Zealand women voting for the first time at a public event in November.

Over the next months, there will also be three plaques installed around the city to honour some remarkable women who really embodied the progressive nature of woman from different generations: Maud Basham (Aunt Daisy), Suzanne Aubert (Sister Mary Joseph or Mother Aubert), and Iris Wilkinson (Robin Hyde).