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New Zealand Suffrage Petition Signatories (1891 | 1892 | 1893)

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This project is for the profiles of people whose signatures appear on the suffrage petitions presented to the New Zealand Parliament in 1891, 1892 & 1893. Please add under the sheet number of the 1893 petition that they signed in alphabetical order by last name. More information, including a database, can be found here:

In early colonial New Zealand, as in other European societies, women were excluded from any involvement in politics. That was set to change, however, when Kate Sheppard became a founding member of the New Zealand Women's Christian Temperance Union in 1885. She would become New Zealand’s most famous suffragist [Note: The term suffragette was not used in New Zealand - it was introduced by the Daily Mail in 1906].

The Union took the first of three major petitions to Parliament in 1891. This petition was presented by Sir John Hall, and strongly supported by Alfred Saunders and the premier, John Ballance. More than 9,000 women had signed, and in 1892 more than 19,000 signed the second petition. However the third petition in 1893 collected almost 32,000 signatures and was the largest ever presented to Parliament.

On 19 September 1893 the governor, Lord Glasgow, signed a new Electoral Act into law. Kate Sheppard received a telegram from the premier, Richard John Seddon conceding victory to the women. The Electoral Act 1893 resulted in New Zealand becoming the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections. 19th September is celebrated as Suffrage Day in New Zealand.

Women in most other democracies (including Britain and the United States) did not win the right to the vote until after the First World War (1914-1918). New Zealand was a world leader in women's suffrage.

The suffrage colours in New Zealand were gold, white and violet [easily remembered by Give Women the Vote]. These colours were later adopted by the American suffrage movement, who called them gold, white and purple. British women’s suffrage colours were green, white and purple.

1891 Suffrage Petition

Unfortunately these petition sheets have not been preserved.

1892 Suffrage Petition

The 1892 suffrage petition has more than 17,000 names, including some from places missing on the 1893 petition. A transcript can be downloaded as an Excel file, the link to which can be found at the very bottom of this page:

Sheet No. 234

  1. Sis. Emily Townsend
  2. Eliza Wallis

1893 Suffrage Petition (the 'Monster Petition')

A database is a digitised version of the 1893 petition can be found at this link:

Sheet No. 1

  1. Kate Sheppard Katherine Wilson Sheppard was the most prominent member of New Zealand's women's suffrage movement, and is the country's most famous suffragist.
  2. Sis. Emily Townsend Her signature appears directly under Kate Sheppard's on the first page of the 1893 Woman's Suffrage Petition.

Sheet No. 148

  1. Julia Ann Berland (Cranefield)

Sheet No. 499

  1. Mary Jane Pinfold

Sheet No. 520

  1. Emma Birkett

Sheet No. 532

  1. Eliza Wallis Founding member of the National Council of Women in 1896.