Women's Suffrage in New Zealand

By Patricia Grimshaw | Go to book overview

3
Women and the Temperance Movement

The streets are filled with snares that lurk
In the wayward children's path,
Yet people say that women's work
Is still by the lonely hearth.
But the stagnant air of the world is stirred
By the voice despised so long;
The woman's voice in the land is heard--
The words of a strange new song.
We'll know the worth of a purer youth,
When women rule with men,
For love of virtue and peace and truth
Shall save the world again
.

New Zealand temperance verse

By 1885 the feminist movement in New Zealand was already effecting its revolution in the role of woman in society, a revolution which had led many men by that date to advocate her emancipation in the political field. When full political rights continued to be withheld from women, it was no surprise that an organized movement should finally emerge to act as the spearhead of suffrage agitation. Such agitation originated in 1885 in a newly-formed women's society, the Women's Christian Temperance Union. To understand why a temperance society should have undertaken this work, and continued it with vigour until success was attained, it is essential to consider the nature of the drink question in New Zealand, and how the temperance movement came to play a vital role in the feminist development of the country's women.

Colonial societies in the nineteenth century were notorious for the character of their drinking habits, and New Zealand in its early years had proved no exception. From the whaling communities of the 1830s, from the goldmining centres of the 'sixties, and from urban societies of the 'eighties came the same account. An enormous quantity of alcoholic liquor was being consumed. 1It was a society in which press

-21-

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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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