19 Sep 2014

Meri Te Tai honoured on Suffrage Day

6:23 pm on 19 September 2014

Meri Te Tai Mangakahia, one of Te Rarawa's influential ancestors and women's suffrage campaigner, is being remembered as the inspiration for wahine to take on the big issues for their people.

voting ballot box

Photo: PHOTO NZ

It is 121 years ago today that Aotearoa became the first country to grant wahine (women) the right to vote.

Meri Te Tai Mangakahia was born near Whakarapa on the Hokianga Harbour in 1868. She was the first woman to address Parliament in 1893, and requested not only for Maori women be given the vote, but that they be eligible to sit in the Maori Parliament.

Catherine Murupaenga-Ikenn, an executive of Te Runanga o Te Rarawa, said today is her tupuna like Meri Te Tai who have shown her to be comfortable in her own skin.

She said Meri Te Tai cut through whatever bureaucracy or belief around what women could achieve back in her day, and that is inspirational.

Mrs Murupaenga-Ikenn said her people carry on that legacy because Meri Te Tai gave wahine permission to take on the big take (issues) and to make a difference for generations to come.