1893 Women's Suffrage Petition 

1893 Women's Suffrage Petition 

Country  New Zealand
Repository  Archives New Zealand, PO Box 12 050, Wellington, New Zealand
Section  Inscriptions on International Register
Gender Dimension  Records on gender equality issues; Achievements of women in history; Stories from women's perspective
GEM  GEM 3 – Gender Transformative
Description  The 1893 Women's Suffrage Petition – Te Petihana Whakamana Pōti Wahine, was signed by close to a quarter of the New Zealand female adult population. It led to legislation that resulted in New Zealand becoming the first self-governing nation where women gained the same right as men to vote in general elections.

The petition inscribed on the New Zealand and international Memory of the World registers has 25,519 signatures. Twelve smaller petitions do not appear to have survived and little is known about them.

In colonial New Zealand, as in many other European societies, women were mainly excluded from involvement in politics. Many people – men and women – accepted the idea that women were naturally suited for domestic affairs, and only men were fit for public life and the world of politics. In the 19th century, movements for the emancipation of women arose in a number of Western countries as women began to challenge these narrow views of their role. These movements had an impact in New Zealand.

Petitions seeking women’s suffrage were presented to both New Zealand Houses of Parliament in 1891 and 1892. These petitions were not successful, and another was organized. Petition sheets were circulated throughout New Zealand and returned to Christchurch where Kate Sheppard, the leader of the New Zealand suffrage movement, lived. Kate Sheppard glued many of the petition pages together to create "a monster petition" of 25,519 signatures. This was in addition to 12 other smaller petitions.

The thirteen petitions were presented to the House of Representatives on 11 August 1893. Legislation to give women the vote was passed by both Houses of Parliament and signed into law by the Governor-General on 19 September 1893. The New Zealand success followed years of organization with women often travelling long distances to hear lectures and speeches, pass resolutions and sign petitions. The success was used internationally to work for universal franchise in other countries.

The documentary heritage was inscribed onto the Memory of the World international register in 1997.
Reference  - https://nzhistory.govt.nz/politics/womens-suffrage

- https://archives.govt.nz/discover-our-stories/womens-suffrage-petition

- https://natlib.govt.nz/he-tohu/about/womens-suffrage-petition

- Photo credit: © Archives New Zealand