Mark­ing women’s suf­frage at mu­seum

Katikati Advertiser - - News - By CHRIS STEEL

2018marks the 125th an­niver­sary of women’s suf­frage in New Zealand, and what bet­ter­way to launch the 1893 land­mark leg­is­la­tion in Katikati, than a gallery full of mag­nif­i­cent wom­en­who did­mag­nif­i­cent things.

TheWestern Bay Mu­seum opened its lat­est ex­hi­bi­tion, Suf­frage 125— Our Women, Their Sto­ries last Thurs­day evening with spe­cial guests MP Angie War­ren-Clark, Western Bay deputy mayor MikeWil­liams and coun­cil­lors Peter Mackay and Mar­garetMur­ray-Benge. Ru­ral Women NZ’s Jen­nifer Turner, whowas pre­sent­ed­with the NZ Suf­frage Cen­ten­nialmedal in

1993, was also a guest.

This is a thought-pro­vok­ing ex­hi­bi­tion, and one that shares the his­tory of an im­por­tant change in his­tory for all­women. It gave women the power to vote. Mu­seum cu­ra­tor Paula Gaelic said ex­hi­bi­tion plan­ning for women’s suf­frage is gov­erned by the Com­mem­o­ra­tion Pro­gramme of theMin­istry of Cul­ture and Her­itage. The­mu­seum is part of the Na­tional Pro­mo­tional net­works.

The stun­ning ex­hi­bi­tion has a time­line andmap to re­flect the dif­fi­culty and time it took to get this land­mark leg­is­la­tion passed.

“Many times the NZ suf­frage move­ment pre­sented the pe­ti­tion without suc­cess, but the­women never gave up.”

This ex­hi­bi­tion shares the sto­ries of na­tional and re­gional women— Kate Shep­herd, who led the NZ cam­paign, El­iz­a­beth Yates, the first fe­male­mayor in the Bri­tish em­pire, Meri Te Tai Manga-ka-hia, the firstMa¯ori woman to speak in the Ma¯ori par­lia­ment, Mary Ann Col­clough (Polly Plum), who cham­pi­oned women’s rights and Mary Ann Muller, a con­tro­ver­sial au­thor whowrote ar­ti­cles on women’s rights. The na­tional women look over the re­gional cham­pi­ons from Te Puke, moko­roa, Te Puna, Katikati and Athen­ree.

The­women’s pho­tos and sto­ries fea­ture on large pan­els mounted on run­ners top and bot­tom and hung from the ceil­ing. The 10 pan­el­swere cre­ated and in­stalled by lo­cal firm, 1st Signs. Owner Zoe Skay­man said the job was chal­leng­ing but she and her hus­band found it in­ter­est­ing read­ing the his­tory of the women.

“My hus­band and I had such an ed­u­ca­tion, and we dis­cussed it with our 10-year-old daugh­ter.”

Con­di­tions were hard in 1893. Mrs Gaelic said the women had to walk, ride a horse or bike and they were iso­lated.

“Up un­til this time, men could mod­er­ately beat their wives with a stick.”

But there were men who sup­ported the cause.

“In par­lia­ment the­men wore white camel­lias to show sup­port and red camel­lias for those who did not,” she said.

Western BayMu­seum is thrilled to tell the sto­ries of the women and men­who bat­tled for woman’s right to vote in their new ex­hi­bi­tion, says Ca­role Parker, chair of the Western Bay Her­itage Trust.

“The Suf­frage 125 ex­hi­bi­tion is an in­cred­i­ble story and one not to be missed. The high qual­ity of the ex­hi­bi­tion is a tes­ti­mony to the out­stand­ing ex­per­tise and pas­sion of man­ager Paula Gaelic and the team at the mu­seum. Hun­dreds of hours have gone into per­fect­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion and it is stun­ning.”

Labour MP AngieWar­renClark said the ex­hi­bi­tion made her feel proud to be awoman.

“As a fem­i­nist woman I am very proud women have the right to vote, es­pe­cially Ma¯ori. Then, it was un­heard of in our so­ci­ety and around the world.”

Ms War­ren-Clark said she was de­lighted there was a mu­seum in the re­gion to cel­e­brate this event.

“We’ve just had one de­clined in Tau­ranga.”

More events are planned to mark Suf­frage 125 at the mu­seum in­clud­ing a re­gional writ­ing com­pe­ti­tion, a Katikati suf­frage re-en­act­ment­march in Septem­ber and the fa­mous magic lanterns evenings. White camel­lia brooches have been made by the Katikati Flo­ral Art group and cost $5— pro­ceeds go back to the group. These are avail­able at the mu­seum. O¯

(BE­LOW) THIS Septem­ber­marks the 125th an­niver­sary of women’s suf­frage in New Zealand. Come to the Western Bay Mu­seum to find out more.

BELINDA Hard­ing and Diane Lo­gan dressed for the era wel­com­ing vis­i­tors to the open­ing of the Suf­frage 125— Our Women, Their Sto­ries ex­hi­bi­tion in Katikati.

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