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Suffrage Day marked in New Zealand

Wednesday 18 Sep 2013 2:41 p.m.

Suffragette Kate Sheppard celebrated victory on 19 September 1893 (File)

Suffragette Kate Sheppard celebrated victory on 19 September 1893 (File)

Many people around New Zealand will celebrate Suffrage Day on September 19. It will be 120 years since Kiwi women became the first in the world to win the right to vote in national elections.

Statistics NZ and the Ministry of Women's Affairs have marked the anniversary by creating a graphic illustrating women's participation in New Zealand life and society over the past 120 years.

It shows and compares things like the working-age women in employment, the average age of first birth and average number of children in 1893, 1953 and 2013.

Here's how Suffrage Day is being marked around New Zealand:

  • Auckland

The National Council of Women NZ traditional annual celebration of women's suffrage is taking place at the Suffrage Memorial at Khartoum Place in Auckland CBD from 12:30pm Thursday.

Speakers will include Mayor Len Brown, Pippa Coom on the role of bicycles in the suffrage movement and more.

  • Hamilton

Hamilton City Libraries will continue their celebrations Thursday with talks from three leading ladies.

Speakers will include Hamilton City Councillor Pippa Mahood, who has also been on the District Health Board, prominent politician Dame Jocelyn Fish, and Margaret Evans, Hamilton's first female mayor.

There will be a display of ephemera from the libraries' collection, including electoral leaflets for a range of women candidates over the years.

The talks will be held at 12:30pm in the archives reading room on level three of the Garden Place Library.

  • Invercargill

Those in Invercargill are joining together this Saturday at the Holy Trinity Church to celebrate with tea and cake.

Mayor Frana Cardno will talk about the challenges of her role, and author Rosemarie Smith will discuss her book about the women's suffrage, published at the centenary in 1993.

Guests are asked to bring a memento, photo, or story of an inspirational woman.

  • Rangiora

In the North Canterbury town of Rangiora, people are preparing to re-enact the petition assembled by Kate Sheppard and presented to Parliament in 1893.

Guests in Victoria Park will help roll out a 233m replica petition ribbon in 1890-era dress attire. 

  • Wellington

In Wellington on Thursday, all the women in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours list have been invited to attend two investiture ceremonies at Government House.

The Governor-General, Lt Gen the Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, and Lady Janine Mateparae, will also host an investiture dinner Wednesday night for the women honoured on the day before.

People are invited to view the original petition at Archive New Zealand's office in Thorndon, Wellington. The document, which was signed by nearly 32,000 New Zealanders, will be on display next to the Treaty of Waitangi for the rest of the week. 

Wellingtonians gathered at the Royal Alehouse on Wednesday, with guest speakers Sue Kedgley and Cath Robinson. Ms Kedgley is a former Green MP and worked at the UN headquarters in New York for 8 years. Ms Robinson is the Director for Women in Leadership in the Ministry of Women's Affairs.

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