Author: Jean Johnston
Nearly 600 signatures of Gisborne women were sent to Auckland to join other signature sheets on the 1893 Suffrage Petition. Who they were is now not known. However, 213 Gisborne women had signed the previous 1892 petition and their names were recorded. Who were these women? How did they mobilise themselves to vote for the first time in 1893? While there has been a local and national focus on Margaret Home Sievwright (1844-1905), she was ably supported by other Gisborne women who willingly worked alongside her to promote women’s equal place in an emerging colonial society.
This book profiles of these mainly unknown women and the local organisations they belonged to and accompanies the Ambitious Gisborne Women exhibition in Tairāwhiti Museum, Gisborne, held from November 2018 until April 2019. The exhibition celebrated 125 years of New Zealand women’s suffrage and voting for the first time on 28 November 1893 and Māori women voting on 20 December 1893.
Gisborne women took an early political stance in December 1894 when members of one of their organisations, the Gisborne Women’s Political Association, were described as ‘Ambitious Gisborne Women’ in newspapers throughout New Zealand. All of the organisations profiled in this book were open to all women, offered welfare to the community they lived in and provided political education to their members. What is abundantly clear is that Ambitious Gisborne Women were willing to take on leadership roles, to work to address and solve practical problems to improve their community, to raise funds, and were dedicated in supporting the people of this district.
Published by Tairāwhiti Museum, 2020
Design: Kaaterina Kerekere, KE Design
Printing: Te Rau Print, Gisborne
Supported by The Margaret King Spencer Writer’s Encouragement Trust, the Friends of Tairāwhiti Museum and Trust Tairāwhiti