Women's Suffrage in New Zealand

By Patricia Grimshaw | Go to book overview

Preface

NEW ZEALAND women were given the right to vote in Parliamentary elections in 1893. Women had voted in Wyoming since 1869 and in Utah since 1870, women property-holders in the Isle of Man since 1880; Colorado gave women the vote, with New Zealand, in 1893, and South Australia followed the next year. New Zealand was thus the first national state in the world to allow women to vote, yet New Zealand historians have taken little interest in the event. There appear to be three trends of thought on the subject. Some historians have claimed that there was no agitation for the vote, that it was passed by chance or by the idealism of the early Liberal party. 1 Others have been influenced by William Pember Reeves who attributed the suffrage to the work of the temperance movement in their hopes for aid from the women's vote. 2 A third group, those connected with women's organizations, have relied on an account of the suffrage movement published in 1905 by W. Sidney Smith, 3 who, in contrast to Reeves, revealed the extent to which women themselves had for the suffrage, but who attempted little analysis of the mainspring of the women's activities.

This book is designed to show that the concession of the vote in New Zealand was the outcome of a feminist movement comparable to movements elsewhere in the world. To support this it is demonstrated that the grant of the suffrage was not an isolated event, but one contemporaneous with many other parallel changes in the position of women in New Zealand, and that the issue itself was forced into prominence by an organization, the Women's Christian Temperance Union, whose motives in campaigning for the vote were basically feminist. This involves a consideration of the relation between feminism and temperance in nineteenth-century New Zealand, in order to suggest how it was possible for women temperance advocates to be also genuine feminists.

-v-

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Women's Suffrage in New Zealand
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Preface to the 1987 Edition vi
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Introduction xi
  • I- The New Woman 1
  • 2- Early Parliaments and Women's Rights 12
  • 3- Women and the Temperance Movement 21
  • 4- The Women's Christian Temperance Union 27
  • 5- The Suffrage Movement Gathers Way 36
  • 6- The Movement in Full Swing 46
  • 7- The Politicians' Dilemma 60
  • 8- The Debate on Women's Suffrage 74
  • 9- Success 86
  • 10- The First Election 96
  • II- Liberals, Teetotallers, or Feminists? 108
  • 12- Post Mortem on the Suffrage 119
  • Afterword (1987) 123
  • References 127
  • Bibliography 143
  • Index 150
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