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125 years of Women’s Suffrage – were you there?

Janet de Wagt with the Suffrage Banner

I know, I’m a year late, but I was travelling a lot last year and missed the call. So, when I saw the article about this wonderful banner when it went on display at Old Government House in Wellington earlier this year, I had to check it out. After all, my characters knew all about the suffrage movement and how important the Votes for Women bill was at that time. Emma voted (The Disenchanted Soldier) and Gwenna argued with her step-mother Bethan about not voting, determined she would when she was old enough.

The banner is an amalgamation of, “30 original hand-stitched banners, arranged into seven large banners, made by artists, craftspeople, children and other interested participants in a series of workshops held in historic places around the country to mark women’s suffrage bill was passed in 1893.”

Creative New Zealand’s website says – “The banners are a reference to the three Parliamentary petitions that were circulated around the country and which ultimately resulted in women finally being granted the right to vote.”

Led by Dunedin artist Janet de Wagt and Heritage New Zealand, and funded by a Creative New Zealand grant, the series of workshops drew interest from people of all ages keen to be part of history. All participants at the workshops signed their names, referencing the suffrage petitions.”


Banner hanging in the stairwell of Old Government House, which was the seat of Government at the time.

Were you one of those people? Did you have an ancestor who signed the original petition? I’d love to hear your story.

There are some wonderful photos of the workshops, the progress and finished articles on Janet de Wagt’s website. Scroll through the first post and then scroll on further to earlier posts to see them all. I wish I’d known about it, I would have been interested in joining one of the workshops – but I didn’t.

The display in Wellington finished on 31 May and I believe the banners that were made in various parts of the country will be returned to those buildings – for now. A permanent home at Bowen House is being sought for the future.

I know Alberton, in Auckland, was one of those historical houses where a workshop took place.

What other historic houses were used? Do you know?


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