Kate Sheppard


Artwork by Baé

In recognition of an important election, November's #MuseoftheMonth is suffragist Kate Sheppard.

'We are tired of having a "sphere" doled out to us, and of being told that anything outside that sphere is "unwomanly".' Sheppard, an Englishwoman who immigrated to New Zealand, strived to translate her political philosophy into practical proposals for reform. She realized that the welfare of women and children would only improve with the right for women to vote.

10 New Zealand dollars

Sheppard collected the largest petition ever presented to the Parliament of New Zealand with nearly 32,000 signatures. No longer able to ignore the demand, the Parliament granted the Electoral Bill in 1893. New Zealand had become the first country in the world in which all women exercised the right to vote. 

The supporters of the 1893 Electoral Bill were presented with while camellia to wear in their buttonhole. A new variety was named after Sheppard for the 100th anniversary in 1993, for the white camellia still lives as an endearing symbol of women’s suffrage in New Zealand today. 

Detail from suffrage petition, 1893 (Archives New Zealand, LE1, 1893/7a)
National Council of Women, Christchurch, 1896

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