The Dame Hilda Ross statue in Hamilton's Garden Place is finally due to have an information plaque added, seven months after the statue unveiling.
The plaque features the life dates and achievements of Dame Hilda, a copy of the 1919 Women's Parliamentary Rights Act, a list of the 10 Waikato women serving in Parliament as MPs and a NZ Herald article from 1959, reporting about 10,000 people turning up for Dame Hilda's funeral.
Former Hamilton mayor and chair of the TOTI trust, Margaret Evans, says the trust is delighted to see the interpretive board ready to be put up.
"We had so many people ringing up asking 'Who is that woman?'. People will appreciate knowing more about her."
The TOTI trust's Dame Hilda statue project took eight years to be finalised. The unveiling took place in October last year, in the presence of Dame Hilda's descendants, and dignitaries including former MPs Dame Marilyn Waring and Georgina Beyer.
Although the statue had been ready for quite a while before the ceremony, it had to be stored because of Covid-19.
Evans says: "Our main focus at that time was getting the statue erected and ready to go, so we lost sight of the information plaque."
The plaque will also include three photos of Dame Hilda.
"I love the photo of her in Parliament showing her as the sole woman alongside 16 men. The other photo of her with a hose shows her character quite well: She was a hands-on politician, she didn't sit in meetings, she went out and about," Evans says.
The statue, sculpted by Otaki artist Matt Gauldie, portrays Dame Hilda in Parliament, with one hand holding a copy of the 1919 Act which finally allowed women to become MPs, while the other is raised, advocating on behalf of women and children, whose welfare she considered her principal concern.
Dame Hilda Ross (1889-1959) was deputy mayor of Hamilton in 1945 and became the first Hamilton and Waikato woman to be elected as an MP the same year. Four years later she became the second woman in New Zealand to become a Cabinet minister.
She co-founded children's health camps, was well-versed in music and a hospital board member. Dame Hilda was MP for 14 years serving in Cabinet under then-Prime Minister Sidney Holland, holding ministerial portfolios such as Child Welfare, Social Security and Welfare of Women and Children.
Evans says TOTI has also received approval to change the name of Ward St East in honour of Dame Hilda.
"Although the shop owners have already been notified, the name change of Ward St between Centre Place and Victoria St was put on hold until the statue project was finalised. Now that it is and with the Innovative Streets project in Ward St West it is logical to revisit and finish the conversation about the name change soon."