Women's Suffrage in New Zealand

By Patricia Grimshaw | Go to book overview

10 The First Election

. . . that women above all things, vote for men only who think that rigid economy in governmental expenses and a non-borrowing policy should be the main stay of our government. Our Main Stay is the celebrated C. B. Corset at 4/6, very light and durable and as flexible as the conscience of the average new Liberal candidate.

Advertisement from a women's journal, Auckland, November 1893.

THE first election in which women participated aroused considerable excitement and concern. Apart from the natural interest of all adults in the proceedings, every group involved in the suffrage campaign had its own particular concerns. Suffragists were eager that women electors should dispel the fears of anti-suffragists about women's conduct at elections. Pressure groups representing denominational, temperance, or liquor trade interests, were anxious to protect or forward their policies. Politicians feared for their own political futures and those of their parties. The expectations of those who had hoped or feared so much from the woman's vote were now to be put to the test.

The first main task of the suffragists was to ensure that as many women as possible were registered on electoral rolls. Their opponents had constantly maintained that women, having no wish for the suffrage, would not enrol. 1 From the day of the final passage of the Franchise Bill, suffragists had only six weeks before the rolls were closed in which to prove the allegation incorrect. Before the registrars' doors were opened on the very first day queues of women formed to enrol, and, once enrolled, suffragists were able to register their fellow electors themselves. At thanksgiving meetings for the victory of the cause facilities for enrolment were provided, and special meetings were organized specifically for registration. At many of these meetings like those held at Invercargill, Kaiapoi, Marton, Oamaru, Woodville, Waimate, Nelson, and other centres large and small, the audiences were organized into work parties to make a house-to-house canvass for the purpose,

-96-

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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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