Con­nec­tion to suf­fragette for Ynys Fraser

Rotorua Weekender - - News - Saman­tha Ol­ley

A 101-year-old Ro­torua woman has helped launch a book about her grand­mother, a suf­fragette 125 years ago, who helped New Zealand women be­come the first in the world to vote.

El­iza Wal­lis (nee Hart) was part of the “mon­ster pe­ti­tion” of 32,000 sig­na­tures pre­sented to Par­lia­ment in 1893, prompt­ing the pass­ing of the women’s fran­chise law. She was one of the found­ing mem­bers of the Na­tional Coun­cil of Women in 1896 and a friend of Kate Shep­pard, the coun­cil’s first pres­i­dent.

Last Satur­day, Wal­lis’ grand­daugh­ter Ynys Fraser QSM was the guest of hon­our at Deb­bie Mccauley’s launch of the bilin­gual chil­dren’s book El­iza and the White Camel­lia: A Story of Suf­frage in New Zealand at Tau­ranga City Li­brary.

Mccauley, an award-win­ning au­thor, is also one of Wal­lis’ de­scen­dants.

The suf­fragette was her fourth great aunt.

Mccauley’s book cov­ers ma­jor events in Wal­lis’ life from her birth in 1846, in­clud­ing poverty, em­i­gra­tion, elec­tions, il­le­git­i­mate chil­dren, women and the vote, the trial of Min­nie Dean and the for­ma­tion of the Na­tional Coun­cil of Women, con­clud­ing the month fol­low­ing the start of World War I.

Ynys Fraser’s fa­ther Wil­fred Stan­ley Wal­lis OBE was the youngest of El­iza Wal­lis and her hus­band John’s 12 chil­dren. Fraser has spent 99 of her 101 years in the Ro­torua area.

She said she was “very proud” of her fam­ily her­itage.

“Through­out the gen­er­a­tions, in var­i­ous ways, all of them are for­ward think­ing.”

El­iza Wal­lis died be­fore Ynys was born, and Fraser didn’t re­alise how im­por­tant her grand­mother’s trail­blaz­ing was un­til her late teens.

“I be­came in­ter­ested in pol­i­tics my­self. When you’re young you join this union and that union and marches . . . I was al­ways march­ing for some­thing. The League of Na­tions, or some of the other over­seas or­gan­i­sa­tions for peace. “

Fraser’s fa­ther mo­ti­vated his chil­dren to stand up for so­cial jus­tice, the way El­iza had.

“We were all in­ter­ested in what was go­ing in, af­fairs both in New Zealand and the wider world.”

Deb­bie Mccauley has also fol­lowed in El­iza’s foot­steps. She won a Women’s Suf­frage Cen­ten­nial Year Schol­ar­ship in 1993 and is on the Suf­frage 125 Tau­ranga com­mit­tee.

“Women’s his­tory is of­ten more dif­fi­cult to un­cover but I’ve al­ways been fas­ci­nated by my suf­frage con­nec­tion.” launch.

Photo / Ge­orge No­vak

Ynys Fraser, 101, with her cup of tea and copy of the book.

Deb­bie Mccauley and Ynys Fraser, 101, at El­iza and the White Camel­lia book

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