Women extolled at 130th Anniversary of Suffrage Movement

A Purple or White Evening of Charm and Wit: New Zealand’s most famous Suffragist Kate Sheppard (1848-1934); Organiser Hansa Naran (Centre) with Robyn Pearce (left) and Faye Abel, a Senior Citizen of Clarks Beach at the 130th Anniversary of Suffrage Movement held in Pukekohe on September 19, 2023 (Photo Supplied)

A Correspondent
Auckland, October 3, 2023

The important role played by women and their contributions in political, economic, commercial, social and community sectors were recalled with pride at a special event held to commemorate the Suffrage Day on September 19, 2023.

The event, organised by Hansa Naran at the Clarks Beach Bowling Club located in Pukekohe, recalled the struggle of four women led by Kate Sheppard 130 years ago that made New Zealand the first country in the world to accord women the right to vote.

“The right of women to vote in Parliamentary elections at a time when the world was still reluctant to recognise their role in the community, was a landmark in the history of democracy. We celebrated the occasion with women of charm, wit, character and joy under the theme of Purple or White,” Ms Naran, who was honoured at the Sixth Annual Indian Newslink Sports, Community, Arts and Culture Awards in 2019, said.

Time Management Expert Robyn Pearce at the 130th Anniversary of Suffrage Movement held in Pukekohe on September 19, 2023 (Photo Supplied)

Robyn Pearce

Robyn Pearce, an internationally acknowledged Time Management Expert, who was the Special Guest Speaker, recalled the four women who made a difference in their own and thence others’ lives.

“Who said we cannot?” she asked but agreed, “It was a hard act to follow.”

Ms Pearce concluded with a challenge to all to discover what fired them up by asking themselves.

Is there something you always want to do and not accomplish it?

She said that you are never too young, too old, too broke, or too busy to make a difference or learn something new. You do not have to be a famous or wealthy person. It can be something simple. She encouraged all to step out of their comfort zone, take up a new hobby, take a trip that has been on the bucket list for ages, or do something that will bring assistance or joy to someone else. ‘Just do it,’  she said.”

Former Manurewa Councillor Anne Candy at the 130th Anniversary of Suffrage Movement held in Pukekohe on September 19, 2023 (Photo Supplied)

Anne Candy

Anne Candy, who was the Manurewa Ward Councillor for 15 years and Deputy Mayor of the Manukau District Council for nine years, and Lifetime Member of the Maori Women’s Welfare League provided an insight into the Suffrage Movement.

Outlining the impressive and decisive role played by Maori women, she said that the fight to gain the right to vote in a European and Patriarchal society was tough.

“The Bill was declined four times,” Ms Candy said and narrated the passion with which women have trailblazed in New Zealand and cited a few examples: Iriaka Ratana who became the first female Maori MP in 1949, Jenny Shipley, the first female Prime Minister in 1999, Helen Clark the first woman to be the elected Prime Minister, Dame Winifred Laban who became the first woman MP of Pacific Island descent and Georgina Bayer, the world’s first openly transwoman in Parliament – all in 1999.

The simplicity of table talk that focused on a tea light candle’s glow or Kate Shepherd’s headshot on printed $10 notes and 50 & 60 cents stamps was a welcome change from cycle ways, kerbside food scrap collections and rate increases.

The importance of people

Here the most important thing was people, people, people … it was a refreshing sentimental journey that filled a cup to overflowing … and everyone went home with a white camellia corsage one that was handmade receiving many compliments; crepe paper out shown diamonds and pearls, which opened up the conversation of the Suffragette Movement …women! … passionate movers and shakers who never gave up and delivered hope and a ‘rite of passage’ to equality in a globally patriarchal environment. 1893 was the historical year … it is your opportunity to honour this hard-fought battle 130 years later in our Elections this year … vote for people who have your values, speak your words and share your humanity.

As well as organising the event, Ms Naran proved her mastery in the culinary art of preparing Indian food to the delight of the guests.

There is something about ‘settlements’ in seaside or rural areas. These are places where your memories of bygone days get stirred up – ‘the good old days’ … grassroots people, no strangers – all friends, out for a night of sheer pleasure with anyone and everyone.

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