The numbers:

On November 28, 1893, women in New Zealand were able to vote for the first time.

Nearly 90,300 women aged 21 years and over cast their votes at polling stations all around New Zealand.

Despite possibly hopeful warnings from opponents of women's suffrage that ''lady voters'' might be harassed at polling booths, election day passed off in a relaxed, festive atmosphere.

According to a Christchurch newspaper, the streets ''resembled a gay garden party'' and ''the pretty dresses of the ladies and their smiling faces lighted up the polling booths most wonderfully''.


It began with insistence and perseverance and rolled into a movement that could not be halted.

The 1893 Electoral Act signed on September 19, 1893 by Governor Lord Glasgow gave New Zealand women the right to vote, making this country the first in the world to give voting equality to men and women.

Ten weeks later, on November 28, 1893, women went to the polls for the first time. Despite the short registration time, 109,461 women — more than half the Pākehā women in New Zealand — had enrolled and on polling day 90,290 of them cast their votes.
New Zealand's population was then around 700,000.

There were no electoral rolls for the Māori seats but women cast about 4000 of the 11,269 Māori votes in 1893.

The call for the vote came with one of the highest subscribed petitions this country is likely to see. By June 1893 ''Mary J. Carpenter and 25,519 others'' had signed.

All up, over two years, about 51,000 women signed various suffrage petitions — a quarter of the adult Pākehā female population.

Of the 1892 one, 211 signatories were women in Northland. Among several smaller related petitions was one submitted by a Mrs J. Irwin Wilson, of Whangārei, containing 83 names.

Although all women were able to vote in 1893, they did not earn the right to run for Parliament until 1919 and the first female MP, the Labour Party's Elizabeth McCombs, was not elected until 1933 (see September 13).


Today women remain under-represented in Parliament, making up 38 per cent of the MPs elected in 2017, and Jacinda Ardern is only the third female New Zealand prime minister.