What can these records tell me?

The signatures included were by women in New Zealand aged 21 or older who were petitioning the government for the right to vote. The transcripts of this 1893 petition include the following details:

  • Name
  • Year
  • Number
  • District
  • Country

Discover more about these records

On 19 September 1893, Governor Lord Glasgow passed women’s suffrage in New Zealand with the signing of a new Electoral Act. New Zealand was years ahead of other countries in granting universal women’s suffrage. Both the United States and the United Kingdom succeeded in doing so only after the First World War.

Between the 1880s and 1893, several petitions were circulated and signed in an effort to gain the right to vote for women. Two of these, from 1892 and 1893, have survived to present day and are held by Archives New Zealand. The 1892 petition gained around 20,000 signatures but ultimately failed in its objective. The 1893 petition resulted in 23,853 signatures (with an additional 7,000 added before being shown to Parliament, pushing its total to over its target goal of 30,000 signatures). The individual sheets, totaling more than 500 pages, were adhered together and, when unrolled, measured longer than 270 meters (885 feet).

The 1893 petition, with its abundance of names, was then presented to Parliament. To better capitalize on the thousands of names and the growing demand for the vote, the petition was unfurled with some degree of fanfare: it was, in fact, unrolled down the center aisle of the meeting room, striking the back wall with a resounding bang.

The original petition is on display at Archives New Zealand in the Constitution Room.


These records were provided by Archives New Zealand and published under Creative Commons Licence 3.0: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/au/legalcode