From the ed­i­tor

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - NEWS - SARAH DANIELL sarah. daniell@ nzher­ald. co. nz

Septem­ber 19 marks Aotearoa’s 125th an­niver­sary of women’s suf­frage. A few months ago we gath­ered around and said, “So what are we go­ing to do?” From one meet­ing, a sin­gu­lar idea emerged: we send a post­card to high-pro­file women around the world and ask them to write us a per­sonal note ac­knowl­edg­ing this mo­men­tous oc­ca­sion.

This was some­thing tan­gi­ble and of the time (post­cards were all the rage by 1870). A legacy idea (if, in­deed, any were re­turned to us).

But it was eas­ier said than done. First we had to find — and then en­gage — var­i­ous pub­li­cists and ask them to not ig­nore us, to please read the email, then to send us a postal ad­dress so we could mail out a card.

We would tell the story of suf­frage leader Kate Shep­pard’s ex­tra­or­di­nary courage and achieve­ment; the story about a small na­tion at the bot­tom of the world that was the first to give women a voice in the most pro­found and vi­tal way: poti ma wahine — votes for women.

Hol­ly­wood ac­tor and #MeToo cam­paigner Ash­ley Judd’s agent came back and said, “She’s in. Please send a card.” (How­ever, as we went to press her card had not ar­rived.)

Then chef and writer Nigella Law­son. Law­son’s agent in the UK also rep­re­sents Joanna Lum­ley. They sent a mes­sage ask­ing could we send one for her too, be­cause she’d love to do it. Then I got an email from He­len Pankhurst, great-grand­daugh­ter of Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the Bri­tish suf­frage move­ment, say­ing, she’d heard about some­thing called a “Post­card Project” — she’d love to take part. Could we please send her one? We chose images for the post­cards, wrote lists. Through­out this project, what res­onates is that New Zealand once led the way for the whole world and though there are still knots that need un­ty­ing to have women truly equal, this is a vote of con­fi­dence in our col­lec­tive spirit as New Zealan­ders — and as women and girls.

I’ve also learned that the power of an idea, once it takes hold, is se­ri­ously im­pres­sive.

We sent out about 100 post­cards and, at the time of go­ing to press, more than 50 were re­turned. Still more are trick­ling in.

Yes, we can con­grat­u­late our­selves but there is still much to do. In Moana Maniapoto’s fea­ture on “Black Pearls”, game changers, she clar­i­fies the no­tion of progress, and Pakeha as­pi­ra­tions ver­sus the re­al­ity for wahine Maori. It’s a ral­ly­ing cry, a re­minder — if we had needed it — of the legacy of coloni­sa­tion and the sheer stealth of women like Dame Whina Cooper and Eva Rickard when they were up against so much.

Pho­tog­ra­pher Gil Hanly, now in her 80s, talks with Kim Knight about cap­tur­ing the fem­i­nist move­ment in Aotearoa.

Dionne Chris­tian cham­pi­ons the women who wore the pants in the 1800s and re­fused to back down.

An­gela Bar­nett in­ter­views high-pro­file New Zealand women about the mo­ment they broke down the bar­ri­ers they en­coun­tered and Giselle Clarkson (aka Giselle Draws) has cre­ated ex­quis­ite por­traits for each. We made a com­mit­ment, too, that this is­sue of

Can­vas would be cre­ated en­tirely by women. Thanks to all who have con­trib­uted to this is­sue. We want to share th­ese mag­nif­i­cent, heart­felt, hand­writ­ten post­cards, so they are part of an ex­hi­bi­tion at Auck­land War Me­mo­rial Mu­seum Ta­maki Paenga Hira, start­ing to­day, un­til Septem­ber 22. Thanks to the mu­seum, for al­low­ing us to share them.

Thanks to Te Papa for al­low­ing us to use the colourised im­age of Kate Shep­pard. It’s part of the award-win­ning He Tohu ex­hi­bi­tion at the Na­tional Li­brary of New Zealand in Welling­ton (see het­ohu. nz).

Thanks to the pub­lish­ers of 200 Women, a book full of in­spir­ing women from around the world, who con­tacted pub­li­cists on my be­half ( 200 Women, cre­ated by Ruth Hob­day and Ge­off Black­well, photography by Kieran Scott; Up­start Press, $75).

And thanks to the women from both here and over­seas who took part in the Post­card Project. Their mes­sages are em­pow­er­ing. Col­lec­tively we are greater still.

Mana wahine!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.