ELIZABETH McCOMBS
Politician
1873-1935

New Zealand's first female MP

Elizabeth McCombs broke through the glass ceiling of New Zealand politics in 1933 when she became our first ever female MP.

McCombs earned her place in political history after securing the seat of Lyttelton at the 1933 election.

Her election came 40 years after New Zealand women gained the right to vote via the Suffragette movement. It also came 14 years after women were allowed to stand for Parliament.

McCombs had earlier made two unsuccessful bids to enter Parliament: At the 1928 and 1931 elections.

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McCombs – who was elected to the Labour Party's executive shortly after its founding in 1916 – had earlier become just the second woman to be elected to the Christchurch City Council.

After entering Parliament she was a strong advocate for New Zealand women, including calling for pay equity, pushing for the recruitment of women into the police force, and campaigning for better unemployment benefits for unemployed women.

For her services, she was awarded the King George V Silver Medal.

McCombs died in 1935.