“This is an important time for all women in our country. We have our first female Māori Development Minister. Our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaking te reo Māori at many official national events like Rātana and Waitangi,” she says. And women occupying key leadership roles like the Governor General and the Prime Minister.
Today marks the official launch of Suffrage 125, a campaign by the Ministry for Women, to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Suffrage Day, on 19th of September.
“The Women’s Suffrage movement evokes a sense of pride amongst us all. And rightly so, it’s important we acknowledge the women, and men, who drove that change and reflect on how far we have come since then”.
As well as paying tribute to the well-known campaigners pivotal to the suffrage movement, such as Kate Sheppard, Di encourages New Zealanders to also recall the political influence of wāhine Māori such as Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia, of Te Rarawa, the first Māori woman MP.
“Meri was the first woman recorded to address the lower house of the Te Kotahitanga Parliament (Māori Parliament) in 1893. She asked for Māori women to get the right to vote, and went further even than the aim of the European suffrage movement, asking that women also be able to sit in the Māori parliament.”
Di says while this is a time for celebration, it is also an opportunity to refresh our commitment to making change that will truly benefit the lives of New Zealand women.
“The movement for gender equality is ongoing, especially among those women whose voices often go unheard or overlooked.
“We have great potential to build on the achievements of the people who paved the way for a better Aotearoa New Zealand” she says “let’s keep building it together”.
Nicky Birch, Te Puni Kōkiri Communications Manager
027 762 7293 or 04 819 6299