Marking women’s suffrage at museum
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.