National Library of New Zealand
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Women's Suffrage

About the Exhibition

When Governor Glasgow signed the Electoral Bill on 19 September 1893, New Zealand became the first self-governing nation in the world where women had won the right to vote. The Bill was the outcome of years of meetings in towns and cities across the country, with women often travelling considerable distances to hear lectures and speeches, pass resolutions and sign petitions. A number of petitions were presented to both Houses of Parliament from the early 1880s till 1893. Only two of these historically important documents are known to have survived and both are preserved at Archives New Zealand.
The 1893 Women's Suffrage Petition is on display in the Constitution Room at Archives New Zealand's Wellington office, along with a facsimile of the first sheet bearing the signature of prominent suffragist Kate Sheppard.

Other information about women's suffrage in New Zealand, including a microfilm copy of the full petition and alphabetical name index of signatories and a transcript with geographical listings, is available in Archives New Zealand's Wellington Reading Room.