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Auckland marks 125 years of women’s suffrage

125 years of women’s suffrage celebrated across Tāmaki Makaurau

Published: 20 August 2018
  • Sunrise Celebration
  • Beattie and Sanderson. Lady voters going up to polling-booth in Rutland Street, election day, Auckland. 1899. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections, 7-A12353.
  • Women’s suffrage petition cartoon. From ‘The New Zealand Graphic’, 12 August 1893. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections, 7-A12355.

On 19 September 1893 New Zealand became the first country in the world where women were able to vote in a general election.

One hundred and twenty-five years on, Auckland Council is marking this historic moment and the path it paved for the liberation of women, with mostly free events and activities for all ages.

Be a part of history and join with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the next generation of women leaders at the Sunrise Celebration in Aotea Square at 7am on 19 September. Hear from guest speakers and musicians as we honour the fight for gender equality in Aotearoa. Breakfast will be available for purchase from food trucks in the square. This free event is presented by the National Council of Women, Auckland Council and Auckland Live.

Te Ara I Whiti - The Lightpath will join the celebrations throughout September with a special interactive lighting design by artist Peata Larkin to commemorate 125 years of women’s suffrage. Over summer four new semi-permanent outdoor artworks by emerging artists will be installed that explore the powerful themes behind the suffrage movement to mark this special milestone.

Feature exhibitions at Māngere Arts Centre - Ngā Tohu o Uenuku will also explore the theme of wāhine suffrage, including multimedia project Uwha by artist Tīpare and The Suffrage of Coven that presents a queer, oceanic spin on the suffrage movement.

The Central City Library’s Wāhine Take Action programme of activities celebrates 125 years since New Zealand women led the way to the polling booths with exciting events for all ages. From 20 August to 11 November the library will transform into a place of civic action and debate, with free workshops, exhibitions, discussion, art and craftivism. Some highlights from this programme are below.

Explore unique, original photographs, letters and posters showcasing Aotearoa women who took steps to create social change in The Exhibition: Wāhine Take Action or join Sue Bradford: Picket lines & Parliament to hear how this powerful wāhine has taken action for social change throughout her colourful career.

Don’t miss Late Night with The Laterals, an Auckland Libraries and Artweek partnership that projects digital art from up and coming female artists onto the St James for Late Night Art. The Central City Library’s Steam Girls workshops encourage young women to confidently explore technology and lead their peers to new levels of discovery. These hands-on, fun workshops include elements of coding, 3D printing, mathematics and engineering.

Councillor Cathy Casey is proud to see Auckland celebrate 125 years of women’s suffrage.

“We have a proud history as world pioneers in women’s’ suffrage and it’s great to see such a great range of Auckland Council events celebrating this special milestone. Bring your friends and whānau and come along to mark this occasion and join the conversation on how we can continue to fight for equality for women and all communities.”

Other Auckland suffrage event highlights include Auckland Museum’s Are We There Yet? exhibition examining the successes and speed-bumps of gender equality so far and where to next. Auckland Live’s Speak Up! panel discussions by wāhine in the arts include She Danced in the Fire – an evening with Aotearoa’s leading women musicians, in conversation with Karyn Hay. Tickets from $25 are available from Ticketmaster.

Auckland Council’s suffrage events join the Ministry of Women’s Suffrage 125 nationwide programme of celebrations. Go to ourauckland.nz/events for more details on suffrage events in Auckland or visit women.govt.nz to see events in the Ministry of Women Suffrage 125 programme.