Women's Suffrage 125

Womens Suffrage logo

This year we celebrate 125 years since New Zealand became the first country to give all women the right to vote. This came about on 19 September 1893, when the Electoral Act was signed into law.

It was a very contentious topic at the time. In most other democracies (including Britain and the United States) women did not get the right to vote until after the First World War. New Zealand women voted for the first time in a general election on 28 November 1893. Read more about women's suffrage in New Zealand.

The commemoration events are being led by Ministry for Women, with support from many other entities, including the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, New Zealand History, the National Library and Archives New Zealand. You can read about our wahine, 125 extraordinary women.

The Petitions

There were 13 separate petitions on women's suffrage in 1893, with a total of over 31,000 signatures. You can search the the petition database for your ancestors. This only has signatories from the largest of the petitions, so your ancestor might be on one of the others. Unfortunately, not all of the petitions have survived.

The aim is to have a short biography for every person who signed the petition. These are for the petition page. You can read this guide to help you write a biography.

New Plymouth Events

8 to 22 July 2018: family history display at Puke Ariki
Tuesday, 4 September 2018, 7:30pm: NP branch meeting with presentation by Mary Perrott
Saturday, 8 September 2018, 10am to 3pm: public open day at the branch rooms.