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Women who made History in New Zealand

Updated on October 19, 2016
Elsie Hagley profile image

Elsie is a kiwi living in New Zealand, enjoys sharing articles of her country. Land of the long white cloud. First country to see a new day.

Kate Sheppard - photographed in 1905

Source

One of the most important women in New Zealand History was Kate Sheppard who achieved the rights for women to vote in 1893, where a partition was signed by 31,000 people which was a great achievement in those early years of New Zealand's developments for the future of women.

She was born in Liverpool England

Katherine Wilson "Kate" Sheppard (10 March 1847–13 July 1934) was the most prominent member of New Zealand Women's Suffrage also the country's most famous suffragette.

New Zealand was the first self-governing country to grant women the right to vote in 1893 when all women over the age of 21 were permitted to vote in parliamentary elections.

Kate Sheppard on the New Zealand Ten-dollar note.
Kate Sheppard on the New Zealand Ten-dollar note.

How New Zealand Women achieved the vote

A short video describing how New Zealand Women achieved the vote in 1893. Created for the St Pauls Collegiate School History Department Wiki.

Women win the Vote - NZ 1893

1919 Women Eligible for Parliament

In 1919 women won the right to be elected to the House of Representatives. The law was changed late in 1919, and with only three weeks notice, three women stood for Parliament in 1919.

They were Ellen Melville in Grey Lynn, Rosetta Baume in Parnell, and Mrs Aileen Cooke in Thames. Ellen Melville stood for the Reform Party and came second. She stood for Parliament several more times, but while generally polling well she never won a seat.

  • Ellen Melville stood for the Reform Party and came second. She stood for Parliament several more times, but while generally polling well she never won a seat. NB: In 1913, Ellen Melville became the first woman to be elected to a municipal authority in New Zealand, gaining a seat on the Auckland City Council.
  • Rosetta Lulah Baume (1871–22 February 1934) was a New Zealand teacher, feminist and community leader.From 1918 to 1920 she was a vice president of the revived National Council of Women of New Zealand and in 1919 she was a founder and committee member of the Auckland Women's Club.
  • Born Alleen Anna Maria Douglas (later Garmson, Wrack, Cooke), she died in Auckland on the 30th May 1951. Cooke was the first lady to contest Thames Electoral seat 1919



1933 First Women in Parliament

Elizabeth McCombs ca. 1933. Photo Credit - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_McCombs
Elizabeth McCombs ca. 1933. Photo Credit - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_McCombs

Elizabeth Reid McCombs

Among the causes, she promoted where, equal pay for women.

Increasingly poor health made it difficult for McCombs to participate fully in politics. She died in Christchurch on 7 June 1935 aged 61, less than two years after entering parliament.

In her Lyttelton electorate, she was succeeded by her son Terry McCombs

Terry McCombs, who was the Minister of Education in the First Labour Government from 1947 to 1949. Terry McCombs held the Lyttelton seat until 1951, concluding a 38-year family hold on the seat.

She had Four children (two were adopted)

1947 First Woman Cabinet Member - Mabel Howard

Photo Credit - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mabel_Howard
Photo Credit - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mabel_Howard

Mabel Howard

Mabel Bowden Howard (18 April 1894 – 23 June 1972) She never married, had no children. Died at the age of 78 years old.

  • In 1933, at the age of 39, she became the first woman to become secretary of a predominantly male union in New Zealand.
  • In 1943, Mabel Howard was elected Member of Parliament for Christchurch East at a by-election, becoming the fifth female MP.
  • She won the new electorate of Sydenham in 1946 and held this seat until her retirement in 1969.
  • Only four years after entering Parliament in April 1947, she was appointed the minister of health and Minister in charge of Child Welfare, becoming the first woman to serve as a Cabinet minister in a Commonwealth country outside of Britain.

Interesting Fact (Which I remember well)

The photo above tells it all - She was remembered for waving two large pairs of bloomers in parliament in 1954 in support of her successful campaign to have clothing sizes standardized.

First Women Government General of New Zealand - Dame Catherine Tizard

Dame Catherine Anne Tizard (née Maclean; born 4 April 1931) was Mayor of Auckland City and the16th Governor-General of New Zealand, the first woman to hold either office.

Dame Catherine Tizard

First Women Chief District Court Judge of New Zealand - Silvia Cartwright.

Silvia Cartwright. Photo Credit - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silvia_Cartwright
Silvia Cartwright. Photo Credit - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silvia_Cartwright

Silvia Cartwright

Dame Silvia Rose Cartwright born 7 November 1943.

In 1989, she became the first female Chief District Court Judge, and in 1993 she was the first woman to be appointed to the High Court.

She was the eighteen Government General of New Zealand in office from 4 April 2001 – 4 August 2006

Governor General Dame Silvia Cartwright

Jenny Shipley

United States President Bill Clinton meets with Prime Minister of New Zealand Jenny Shipley.  The two leaders step down from the podium following their press conference. September 15, 1999.  Photo Credit - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jenny_Shipley
United States President Bill Clinton meets with Prime Minister of New Zealand Jenny Shipley. The two leaders step down from the podium following their press conference. September 15, 1999. Photo Credit - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jenny_Shipley

Jenny Shipley - First Female Prime Minister of New Zealand

Dame Jenny Shipley, (born 4 February 1952).

Jenny Shipley Joined the National Party in 1975.

She successfully stood for the party in the Ashburton electorate in the 1987 election.

Entering parliament at the age of 35.

In 1997, the then-current Prime Minister Jim Bolger lost the support of the National Party and was replaced by Jenny Shipley, making her the first female Prime Minister of New Zealand

Dane Jenny Shipley served as the 36 Prime Minister of New Zealand from December 1997 to December 1999.

She was the first woman to hold office, also the only woman to serve as Parliamentary leader of the National Party of New Zealand.

Represented the Ashburton electorate until her retirement from politics in 2002, though it was renamed Rakaia in 1990.

In the 1999 election, the Labour Party led by Helen Clark defeated the National Party.

Jenny Shipley continued to lead the National Party until October 2001.

She suffered a heart attack in 2000.

She retired from Parliament in 2002.

Jenny Shipley accepted a damehood on 14 August 2009

Since 2009, Shipley has chaired the Genesis Power Board.

She is also a member of the Club de Madrid, a group of more than 80 former Presidents and Prime Ministers of democratic states, which works to strengthen democratic leadership and governance worldwide.

Shipley chairs Global Women NZ and gives her time to a number of causes. She is Patron of Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre and the NZ Heart Foundations "Go Red for Women".

Helen Clark

Helen Clark in 2010. Photo Credit - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Clark
Helen Clark in 2010. Photo Credit - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Clark

Helen Clark - Longest Serving Female Prime Minister

Right Honorable Helen Clark, born 26 February 1950.

In 1981 she was elected to Parliament for the safe Labour seat of Mount Albert, a position she held until her resignation in 2009.

In 1987, Clark became a Cabinet Minister in the Fourth Labour Government, led by David Lange (1984–1989), Geoffrey Palmer (1989–1990) and Mike Moore (1990), first as Minister of Housing and as Minister of Conservation, then as Minister of Health and later as Deputy Prime Minister.

In 1989 Helen Clark became the first female Deputy Prime Minister, she held the position for a year.

In 1999, Helen Clark became the second Female Prime Minister of New Zealand, and the first woman to gain the position at an election, as the Prime Minister, leader of the Labour Party of New Zealand.

Helen Clark was the 37th Prime Minister of New Zealand, serving three consecutive terms from 1999 to 2008. She was the first woman elected, at a general election, as the Prime Minister, and was the fifth longest serving person to hold that office.

She has been Administrator of the United Nations Development Program UNDP, the third-highest UN position, since 17 April 2009

Helen Clark first gained election to the New Zealand House of Representatives in the 1981 general election as one of four women who entered Parliament on that occasion.

In winning the Mount Albert electorate in Auckland, she became the second woman elected to represent an Auckland electorate, and the seventeenth woman elected to the New Zealand Parliament.

Labour government was defeated in the 2008 election.

She resigned from Parliament in April 2009 from her Mount Albert electorate and was replaced by David Shearer, as the Labour Party leader, to take up the post of Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and is the first woman to lead the organization.

UNDP operates in 177 countries, working with nations on their own solutions to global and national development challenges.

Forbes magazine ranked her 20th most powerful woman in the world in 2006 and 50th in 2012. In 2014, she rose to the 23rd position

Helen Clark on Women's Political Empowerment

Celebrating New Zealand Women - Everywoman Conference 2011 - Our Place

Celebrating New Zealand Women - Everywoman Conference 2011 - Our Place

C3 Everywoman Conference 2011 made a tribute to honour the pioneering History Makers and modern day women who with their passion, creativity, determination, and intellect have made a difference in our world.

Here is a special thanks to all the women who have contribute to making New Zealand history and I haven't written about it.

God Defend New Zealand - (with lyrics)

© 2014 Elsie Hagley

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    • Elsie Hagley profile image
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      Elsie Hagley 23 months ago from New Zealand

      Thanks Paula. I appreciate all you have done for me.

      Yes I will take your advise and move around HubPages more, as I'm getting better at sitting at my computer longer, since I found I had cancer and had half my top lip removed, which hindered wearing my glasses for too long..

      Looking forward to my future days of writing here.

      Have a great day you are a very kind person. Blessings.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 23 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Elsie......I just "shared" several of your hubs, at random, on Twitter, Pinterest and here on HP......hope you get some hits! I also just followed you.....Good luck. Things pick up after a while. Make yourself more visible by moving around.

      This is a great hub. Interesting!

      Ask and you shall receive. Most Hubbers are good about helping out!....

    • Padmajah Badri profile image

      Padmajah Badri 2 years ago from India

      A nice Hub on Women power.A dedication to all women leaders of Newzeland.Voted up.Happy writing.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image
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      Elsie Hagley 2 years ago from New Zealand

      littlething: There are many women that made history in New Zealand as there are many women all around the world that made their mark in the world.

      If we don't write about them no one will ever really know them, so it's always nice to have a group of them from each country.

      I will have to look around the articles in HubPages to see what other country has a group of women that made history, always very interesting to read.

      Thanks for the twitter call, nice to meet you.

    • littlething profile image

      Jackie S 2 years ago

      Wow! Those are amazing women! I love history, particularly not too well known history. Wonderfully written hub! Shared on Twitter! Have a wonderful evening from the US.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image
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      Elsie Hagley 2 years ago from New Zealand

      Anne Harrison:The photo of Mabel Howard holding those bloomers in parliament certainly made a start to making clothing sizes to be standardized, I wonder how many would do that type of thing these days in front of all the members and get away with it?

      Not that it makes much different these days with all the imported clothing, they are certainly not the same sizing.

      Thanks for the visit and commenting.

    • Anne Harrison profile image

      Anne Harrison 2 years ago from Australia

      A very interesting hub, Elsie. In terms of politics and gender equality, not to mention indigenous relations, New Zealand has always been in advance of Australia. Love the photo of Mabel Howard with the bloomers - certainly grabs the attention!

    • Elsie Hagley profile image
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      Elsie Hagley 2 years ago from New Zealand

      colorfulone: Helen Clarke is a very knowable woman that I admire. I may be wrong and a lot of people will most likely disagree with me but I think she has made New Zealand a place where woman in high places and not so high, can succeed as well if not better than men, Helen has done so much for the world, she seems to have so much energy and never tires.

      When she was Prime Minister of New Zealand she was always there, wherever she was required, very active and not afraid to get her hands dirty.

      Her party just seemed to fall to pieces after she left New Zealand to take up the post for Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme.

      Thanks for your visit, hope you have a perfect 2015.

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 2 years ago from Minnesota

      Thank you for introducing my to some women who helped shape history, I am most familiar with Helen Clark.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image
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      Elsie Hagley 2 years ago from New Zealand

      ladyguitarpicker: Pleased you enjoyed this article, I enjoyed doing the research, I'm very proud of all of those women.

      Yes the videos do justice to the title of this hub and explain very well how these women helped New Zealand to be a pleasant place to live.

      Hope you had a great Christmas and may 2015 be a wonderful year for you.

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 2 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Elsie, this was a wonderful and enjoyable hub. I never knew New Zealand had so many influential women in its history. Maybe some day we will have a women President. Great videos.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image
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      Elsie Hagley 2 years ago from New Zealand

      MelRootsNWrites: It's very interesting what women have achieved in the last century, even so in New Zealand equal pay for women doing the same job as a males are not getting the same pay.

      Women have come a long way though, when it comes to Parliament in NZ, in 2002 women made up half the members in Parliament, not sure what the figures are today some twelve years later, will have to do some more research.

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image

      Melody Lassalle 2 years ago from California

      This was interesting, Elsie! I didn't realize New Zealand gave women the right so early. Though US states began adopting the right early, the country as a whole didn't get on board until 1920.

      I always think of how difficult it must have been for those first women in politics. Even the most educated woman was not viewed as equal to men when it came to legislating and governing. The biases they had to overcome.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image
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      Elsie Hagley 2 years ago from New Zealand

      paperfacets: thanks for commenting, it is always nice to remember those that made a country what it is today.

      I think t would be a lot harder to write an article about women who made history in the US, as it is such a big place to our tiny island, deep down under, of four to five million people.

      I do give thanks to those women that helped make NZ what it is today and most of all Helen Clark a very kind loveable women that wasn't afraid to challenge and take part in every sport or whatever subject the day brought she was always there, which wasn't always easy against so many powerful male components.

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 2 years ago from La Verne, CA

      Had to read this about New Zealand and her pioneering women. To think we in the U.S. waited so long er vote.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image
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      Elsie Hagley 2 years ago from New Zealand

      aesta1: Appreciate your visit.

      It's always nice to learn a little history, I was quite surprised what I learnt while researching this subject.

      I know there is a lot on the internet about each one of these ladies I have portrayed but I thought I would bring it all together in one article right up to date in 2014.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image
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      Elsie Hagley 2 years ago from New Zealand

      travmai: Your are right it wouldn't have been easy in those days to succeed, as in the early years it would have been done by mail or telegram to communicate. As Kate Sheppard lived in Christchurch in the South Island and Parliament is in Wellington in the North Island. I must go back in history and find out how long it would take the mail to get across Cook Strait.

      I think I will be having some more articles coming up about this subject.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image
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      Elsie Hagley 2 years ago from New Zealand

      ChitrangadaSharan: Thanks for the voted up, appreciate it.

      Glad you enjoyed reading about those powerful women that helped to make New Zealand what it is today, a pleasant place for women to live and not afraid to say something if they are not satisfied, after all we are all equal in this world, or should be.

      Have a nice day.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image
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      Elsie Hagley 2 years ago from New Zealand

      billybuc: A former history teacher, lots of knowledge in your head.

      I appreciate you visiting, I bet you could write a whole book on history a very fascinating subject. Hope you are having a nice day.

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hi Elsie, thoroughly enjoyed reading this. These women certainly made their mark and it couldn't have been an easy journey. I remember Helen Clark of course. Mabel Howard looks formidable - she certainly made her point with those bloomers. And Kate Sheppard - I didn't realise NZ was the first country to give women the vote. Thanks Kate. Thanks Elsie.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image
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      Elsie Hagley 2 years ago from New Zealand

      Jodah: Appreciate your visit and comment, that is why I wrote this article, even I learnt a lot researching this topic.

      Helen Clark is well known, a very powerful women with lots of knowledge, but most of all a very kind heart. I met her years ago when she was campaigning for the Labour party, she is very easy to talk to, not over our heads.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      This is very interesting and informative hub!

      It is so nice and motivating to read about such powerful women from New Zealand. I am aware of some of these strong personalities.

      Thanks for sharing this very informative hub! Voted up!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      A wonderful salute to women in New Zealand. As a former history teacher, I love articles like this one. Nice job, Elsie!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thanks for sharing about these important women in New Zealand history Elsie. I had only heard of Helen Clark before.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image
      Author

      Elsie Hagley 2 years ago from New Zealand

      That's nice that you share a birthday with Kath, she is a name to be remember by all, to prove it everyone that handles a $10 note have her at their fingertips.

      Thanks for commenting, I have enjoy all the searching and study of New Zealand women who made history, even learnt a lot myself.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Very interesting to read about these strong and powerful women. Kate and I share a birthday!

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