Events for Women’s Suffrage

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By Mick Jensen

A week of local events to mark the 125th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage will begin on Sunday with a church service at the Plains Railway Church, Plains Museum, Tinwald.

Those attending the 2pm service are encouraged to wear purple or white, the suffrage colours.

At the end of the service a Kate Sheppard camellia will be planted at the Plains Railway, honouring the pioneer women of the Ashburton District who fought for the right for all women to vote.

Some 24 other camellia plants, all sponsored by Hotel Ashburton, will be given to all schools in the district to acknowledge the Women’s Suffrage anniversary.

The idea of sharing the suffrage celebration with the young people of the district came from Dellwyn Moylan, whose great great grandmother and great great aunt both signed the main suffrage petition submitted to Parliament in 1893.

Ms Moylan said other camellia plants would be planted at Community House Mid Canterbury and Hakatere Marae, and another in the hotel’s garden.

During the week of September 16-23 participating businesses around Ashburton will dress their shop windows in purple and white banners to mark the suffrage milestone.

An official suffrage ceremony will be held at 5.30pm at the Event Centre on September 18. Among the speakers is Judith Sutherland, chairwoman of the Kate Sheppard Memorial Trust Advisory Committee.

The following day a noon memorial walk is planned from the cenotaph at Baring Square West to Ashburton Domain.

Walkers are again asked to wear purple and white in remembrance.

The walk will conclude with the planting of a “Kate Sheppard Rose”.

New Zealand’s Electoral Act of 19 September, 1893 made this country the first in the world to grant women the right to vote in parliamentary elections.

Thirteen petitions were signed.