Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, was welcomed at Government House on Sunday evening with thunderous applause as she stepped up to speak about women's suffrage.

"Tēnā koutou katoa," she said before thanking Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy for inviting Prince Harry and herself to the event.

"We are proud to be able to join you tonight, in celebrating the 125th anniversary of women's suffrage in your country."

Meghan made special mention of women in New Zealand who campaigned for their right to vote and how it was universally admired.

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The Duchess of Sussex addresses the crowd at Government House in front of a portrait of the Queen. Photo / Simon Vigar Twitter
The Duchess of Sussex addresses the crowd at Government House in front of a portrait of the Queen. Photo / Simon Vigar Twitter

"In looking forward to this very special occasion, I reflected on the importance of this achievement, but also the larger impact of what this symbolises," she said.

"Because yes, women's suffrage is about feminism, but feminism is about fairness.

"Suffrage is not simply about the right to vote, but also about what that represents - the basic and fundamental human right of being able to participate in the choices for your future and that of your community.

"The involvement and voice that allows you to be a part of the very world that you are a part of.''

Britain's Prince Harry meets guests at the reception. Photo / AP
Britain's Prince Harry meets guests at the reception. Photo / AP

Meghan said suffrage was more than women's right to vote but about basic and fundamental human rights.

"So bravo, New Zealand, for championing this right 125 years ago for the women who well-deserved to have an active voice and an acknowledged vote and for all of the people that this effort has paved for, globally.

"We all deeply thank you.

"In the words of your suffragette, Kate Sheppard: 'All that separates whether of race, class, creed or sex is inhuman and must be overcome'."

Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex speaks to invited guests during a reception at Government House in Wellington. Photo / Pool
Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex speaks to invited guests during a reception at Government House in Wellington. Photo / Pool

Reddy welcomed Meghan and Prince Harry to the country and acknowledged that they were visiting during an important year for New Zealand.

"We are celebrating a significant milestone in New Zealand's history - the achievement of women's suffrage 125 years ago.''

She said Kiwis were not in the habit of putting up sculptures of our prominent citizens; but that suffragette Kate Sheppard's likeness appeared in various places including the $10 note.

Reddy said Sheppard is New Zealand's Emmeline Pankhurst - the prominent British political activist and leader of the British suffragette movement of the 1900s.

"We honour her [Kate Sheppard] as a great pioneer for women's rights. Under her leadership, New Zealand women were the first in the world to achieve the right to vote - 25 years before the United Kingdom and 27 years before the United States.

Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, meets guests at a reception hosted by the Governor-General. Photo / AP
Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, meets guests at a reception hosted by the Governor-General. Photo / AP