Friday, November 25, 2011

I voted!

I live next door to a polling station and so didn't plan a particular time, so when the radio announced there was only an hour to go, I hopped to it!
I am so proud to be a New Zealand woman on election day. In November 1893, New Zealand women were granted the right to vote. Not the first country, but right up there. This on top of women who owned property and paid rates having been voting in local government election in some area of the South Island, since 1867.
Thanks to good women like Kate Sheppard, the head of the franchise and legislation department of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, who was the most prominent leader of the suffrage campaign. Her portrait appears on our $10 note.
The site of the first polling station where women voted, at Tahakopa. It was a very dignified day with none of the predicted violence or hysteria.
Then in 1919, women got the right to stand for parliament. A right already available in some countries but a full YEAR before women in the USA were even allowed to vote.  
 Elizabeth McCoombs, Labour MP for Lyttleton, the first woman to win a seat in parliament, in 1933. So the idea took a while to catch on.
A proud piece of history for a town that has felt the bite of the earthquake big time.
Also I think she bears an uncanny resemblance to Helen Clark, New Zealand's 10th Labour Prime Minister, and second woman to hold the role in a row (Jenny Shipley preceded her as National PM). Also, Clark is the one of NZ's longest standing PMs, at nine years.
So that is why I am proud to be able to pop next door and do my minute bit for democracy in this country. Women far braver than I achieved unheard of victories at unimaginable cost to themselves so that I could take it for granted.


  1. Go, New Zealand! Your country is far ahead of the pack in lots of ways.

    Very best, and so glad you voted. If only our citizenry were as good about it.

    Very best,


  2. Natalie the US voting system seems to complex, maybe people just don't get it? I think it is so sad for country that has every reason to be proud of its commitment to democracy.

  3. Thanks for the history lesson, fascinating. I always rather thought that NZ seemed pretty politically progressive, what a cool legacy.

    Women could vote in Wyoming territory in 1869, with other western states following and eventually in 1920 American woman all officially had the vote. It's kind of interesting how that system works, many changes seem to happen first on state levels before attaining national significance...

    Thanks for the interesting post!