In the 1800s New Zealand women had the social status of lunatics and were thought to have the intelligence of children.
They battled for seven years to get the vote and finally won that right on September 19, 1893, almost 120 years ago. The anniversary is to be celebrated in Wanganui tomorrow, with events at the start and end of the day.
The organisers are Carla Donson, from the Women's Network, Kyle Dalton from Whanganui Regional Museum and Nicola Young, an environmentalist, Chronicle columnist and consultant for AECOM. She became interested in women and politics when she thought about standing for Wanganui District Council.
The 1893 Electoral Act, which gave women the vote, was achieved through a petition of 31,872 signatures. It was so big it was presented to Parliament on a wheelbarrow. New Zealand was the first self-governing country to give women the vote.
Wanganui's evening event to celebrate is a talk by Mr Dalton about the local suffrage movement. It's at the Whanganui Regional Museum on September 19 and will be illustrated by photographs from the museum's collection. The talk is from 7pm until 8pm, entry is by koha and Margaret Campion will also speak about her book on the the National Council of Women movement in the city.
Wanganui has had many inspirational women, and the poster advertising next week's events shows one, Jane Winstone.
She was born in Wanganui in 1912, grew up on Durie Hill and went to Sacred Heart College. She became one of New Zealand's youngest women pilots and got her licence in 1931, the 13th woman in the country to achieve that.
In 1934 she made a record-breaking flight from England to Australia, and she married a fellow pilot. They were both tragically killed while working as pilots in the World War II effort. Jane Winstone died when the engine of a Spitfire failed as she was flying over England.
Inspirational women are the subject of the other suffrage event next week. It's a breakfast talk at Oggies Cafe in Wilson St, from 7.30-8.30am on Thursday.
The first speaker will be Green list MP Jan Logie. She will be followed by Annette Main who leads Wanganui District Council, Jenny Duncan, who leads the Whanganui Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Elise Goodge, who leads Mainstreet Wanganui. They will each speak, then take part in a panel.
In 1888 the Women's Christian Temperance Union said women should have the vote because they were "less accessible than men to most of the debasing influences" and their presence would have a "refining and purifying effect" at polling booths.
That's not quite the modern perspective but women were still out-numbered in politics, Mrs Young said, and she was hoping everyone would vote. Eighteen-year-olds voting for the first time and disempowered stay-at-home mums should remember their choices carry as much weight as anyone's, she said.