Give Kate A Voice: Bringing Kate Sheppard's speeches to life

by Noted / 24 September, 2018

To this day we have never heard suffragette Kate Sheppard's voice, nor is there a single resource archiving her work. A new project, marking 125 years since NZ women fought successfully for the right to vote, brings her words to life and is the first archive of her speeches and writings.  

This year marks 125 years since women in New Zealand were granted the right to vote.

The landmark day it was signed into law – September 19 – was the result of the unwavering efforts of social activist and suffragette leader Kate Sheppard, who, with her growing army of supporters campaigned tirelessly to give Kiwi women a voice.

Her efforts to change the electoral law suffered numerous defeats, but she did not give up. Kate Sheppard embarked on a mission to collect the signatures of women across the land in a petition and then presented that 30,000-signature petition to Parliament. It was this act which finally got the law change across the line.

Sheppard's vision saw New Zealand become the first self-governing country in the world to give women the same rights as men in choosing who represented them in parliament.

Her influence was monumental, but while many of us are familiar with the story and recognise Kate Sheppard as the face on our $10 note, how many of us have heard her words or been roused by her writings?

In a very special NZ On Air-funded project, a small team of creatives has collated Kate Sheppard's speeches and writings and created a video that brings her words to life. Her words are spoken by eight prominent Kiwi women: Former Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Helen Clark, politician Louisa Wall, accessibility innovator Minnie Baragwanath, businessperson Theresa Gattung, entrepreneur Alexia Hilbertidou, refugee advocate Faumata Bah, actor Miriama McDowell and musician Ladi 6.

Sheppard encouraged New Zealanders to see and treat women as equals, to pay women the same as men, allow women a voice in the making of the laws, to recognise a woman as a person rather than as 'a thing'.

"Women, take the matter up," she urged.

This article was first published by Now to Love.


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