Artist, Linda Munn believes the suffrage movement wouldn't have happened without the support of Māori women.

She's one of many who came together to honour the Māori women given the right to vote in Māori electorates one hundred and twenty-five years ago.

The 1893 election was the first time women were able to vote which on 28 November was in the general electorates, and on 20 December in the Māori electorates.

"Meri Te Tai Mangakahia and the first Māori woman MP, Iriaka Ratana - those names should be noted right next to to Kate Shephard," Munn said.


Munn was one of four wahine who spoke at the Te Mana o te Wahine event held in Tauranga.

Well known for co-creating one of New Zealand's most iconic symbols, the Tino Rangatiratanga flag, Munn is also an art teacher and Womens Refuge advocate.

"We have 13 Māori wahine in parliament today sitting on different parties. We are stronger and I think that has a lot to do with knowing who we are as Māori," she said.

She says while things have improved, Māori wahine are still fighting to be heard.

"People are still in denial aboutt our history, about our land wars. Education is the key. Māori wahine don't always have to be out there with a great big banner. It's more just bringing people into your space and being able to share."

Te Mana o te Wahine caps off a series of events commemorating women's suffrage in Tauranga Moana.

Other speakers included this year's winner of Māori Woman Business Leader - Miriana Stephens, Kai Aroha founder - Tania Lewis-Rickard and founder of Platform Advertising - Blanche McMath.

Organiser Parewhati Taikato said the event was to honour the historic significance of the day in 1893 but also celebrating the achievements of Māori women today.

"I hope people feel inspired," she said. "Māori women wear a number of different pōtae, or hats, so I think it's just about acknowledging all of those. And there's not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to success or achievement."

Not all those attending were Māori.


Landscape Architect, Wendy Davies is a huge supporter of the women's suffrage movement, and has a strong admiration for Māori women.

"I know that Māori will surge ahead one day… We are seeing a renaissance, they are coming out of the post-colonial despondency and women will be at the forefront of the movement."

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