New Zealand women were the first in the world to win the right to vote in national elections. After years of campagining led by Kate Sheppard and others, the main woman’s suffrage petition was submitted to Parliament on 28 July 1893. Legislation allowing women to vote was signed-off on 19 September 1893, and the first women went to the polls on 28 November, 1893.
But despite significant progress over the past 120 years, women remain under-represented on boards and at parliament, earn less than men for similar work, and violence against females remains a serious problem.
Here is a selection of historical interviews, features and documentaries about women, the vote and equality over the decades.
National Council of Women, Christchurch, 1896. Ref: 1/2-041798-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22694035
From left, standing: Mrs A Ansell (Dunedin), Mrs Henry Smith (Christchurch), Miss A E Hookham (Christchurch), Mrs G Ross (Christchurch), Miss Jessie Mackay (Christchurch), Mrs Isherwood (Christchurch), Mrs Black (Christchurch), Mrs Widdowson (Christchurch), Miss F Garstin (Christchurch), Mrs Wallis (Christchurch), Mrs Darling (Christchurch), Mrs J M Williamson (Wanganui), Mrs Wilson (Christchurch). Seated: Mrs G J Smith (Christchurch), Mrs A Daldy (Auckland), Mrs Hatton (Dunedin; Vice-president), Lady Anna Stout (Wellington, Vice-president), Mrs Kate Sheppard (Christchurch; president), Mrs A J Schnackenberg (Auckland; Vice-president), Mrs W Sievwight (Gisborne), Mrs M A Tasker (Wellington), Mrs D Izett (Christchurch, secretary). Seated on floor: Mrs C M Alley (Malvern), Mrs A Wells (Christchurch), Miss Bain (Christchurch). Photographer unidentified.
24 Sep 1954
Jocelyn Hollis presents the National Wednesday Women's session: A portrait from life, Mabel Howard, M.P. Recorded 24 Sep 1954. The programme consists of narration and an edited interview with New… Audio
1 Jan 1955
This programme features narration and dramatisation that reflects the mood of parliament surrounding the women's Franchise Movement during the late-1800's and women's suffrage in New Zealand. Actors… Audio
1 Jan 1955
This programme features a talk by 'My First 80 Years' author Helen Wilson, who was also an early leader of the Women's Division of Federated Farmers. Wilson talks about the circumstances surrounding… Audio
1 Jan 1963
Three women residing in Auckland, Mrs. Dickson, Mrs Hills and Mrs Mankelow recall their first vote in the general election on November 28, 1893. Recorded in 1963. Interviewer unknown. Sound Archives… Audio
Herea Te Tangata Ki Te Whenua 'Bind the people to the land'. The life and story of land activist and noted Maori leader Whina Cooper, interviewed by Alwyn Owen. Part 1 of 2. Sound Archives Ngā Taonga… Audio
Herea Te Tangata Ki Te Whenua 'Bind the people to the land'. The life and story of land activist and noted Maori leader Whina Cooper, interviewed by Alwyn Owen. Part 2 of 2. Sound Archives Ngā Taonga… Audio
8 Mar 1988
Deb Nation looks back at the 1977 Christchurch United Women's Convention with the key players, including Sister Pauline O'Reagan, Alison Cooper, Nedra Johnson, Jane Chatwin and Jenny Heal. It was a… Audio
17 Sep 1993
Bronwen Evans looks at what women have achieved since the second wave of feminism of the 60s and 70s. Topics discussed include the feminist backlash, childcare roles, housework and more. First… Audio
18 Apr 2010
It was a great day on 19 September 1893 when women got the vote. Audio
19 Sep 2010
Dr Sandra Grey, senior lecturer at Victoria University, and Ana Gilling, PhD candidate at Queens University, Belfast, talk about women's suffrage and the role of MMP in improving proportional… Audio
29 Nov 2012
Coffee was on sale in Wellington today at different prices for men and women in an attempt to highlight the gender pay gap. Audio
11 Sep 2013
While Kate Sheppard is usually the first name that comes to mind in the New Zealand women's suffrage movement, there is a less well known Nelson woman who was also a pioneer for women's rights. Mary… Audio
4 Dec 2013
Kirsten Patterson is Acting Chief Executive of the Institute of Chartered Accountants. Kirsten's survey of members shows male Chartered Accountants with less than five years experience earn on average… Audio
Erina O'Donohue investigates the challenges women face, including violence and equal pay, 120 years after winning the vote Audio
28 Mar 2014
Despite the revolutionary change to women's participation in education and the paid workforce in recent decades, the gap in what they're paid compared to men remains in most developed economies. Audio
Equality for women with feminist blogger Deborah Russell. Looking at the gender pay gap. Audio
The Public Service Association says yesterday's decision from the Supreme Court is another nail in the coffin for the gender pay gap. Audio
Woman about to cast her electoral vote for the first time. 1935.
Image courtesy National Library Ref: 1/2-C-016179-F
About this collection
A brief history of the participation of women in New Zealand society, focusing on women’s rights, the battle for the vote, and gender equality.
Archival audio supplied by Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. To request a copy of the recording, please contact SANTK.
Image shared by Archives NZ.