1893 Women's Suffrage Petition

The 1893 women's suffrage petition was the third of three petitions to the New Zealand Government in support of women's suffrage and resulted in the Electoral Act 1893, which gave women the right to vote in the 1893 general election. The 1893 petition was substantially larger than the 1891 petition, which had around 9,000 signatures, and larger still than the 1892 petition, which contained some 20,000 signatures.[1] The third petition was the largest petition presented to Parliament at that point with nearly 32,000 signatures.[2] The petition was signed in various parts of the country by women, aged 21 or older, who signed their names and addresses.

The first sheet of the 1893 Women's Suffrage Petition. Archives Reference LE1 1893/7a

The petition was submitted to Parliament on 28 July 1893. The main petition has more than 500 individual sheets together to form a roll which stretched more than 270 metres (890 ft). There were another 12 smaller petitions which have not survived.[3]

Politicians John Hall, Alfred Saunders, and Premier John Ballance were all in favour of women's suffrage, but the effort was largely led by the New Zealand branch of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union led by Kate Sheppard from 1887.

1893 Women's Suffrage Petition

The petition is on display at the National Library of New Zealand in Wellington as part of the He Tohu exhibition. It remains, however, under the care of the Chief Archivist and Archives New Zealand.[4] It has been on the UNESCO Memory of the World register since 1997.[5][6]

The 1891 petition has not survived but the 1892 petition is held by Archives New Zealand.[7]


  1. ^ "Women's Suffrage Petition — Te Petihana Whakamana Pōti Wahine". natlib.govt.nz. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  2. ^ Taonga, New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatu. "Sheppard, Katherine Wilson". teara.govt.nz. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  3. ^ "About the suffrage petition – Women and the vote | NZHistory, New Zealand history online". nzhistory.govt.nz. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  4. ^ "He Tohu". National Library of New Zealand. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  5. ^ "The 1893 Women's Suffrage Petition | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization". unesco.org. 2011. Retrieved 11 November 2011. The 1893 Women's Suffrage Petition led to New Zealand becoming the first self-governing nation in the world where women won the right to vote. It was signed by close to one quarter of the female adult population and was, at that time, the largest petition of its kind signed in New Zealand and other Western countries.
  6. ^ "NZ Register". unescomow.org.nz. 2011. Archived from the original on 2 March 2012. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
  7. ^ Zealand, Archives New. "Archway :: Series Full Description". archway.archives.govt.nz. Retrieved 4 December 2018.

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