New Zealand 1893 Women's Suffrage Petition

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Part of the New Zealand Topics Team for the New Zealand Project

The goal of this project is to identify and commemorate those who signed the 1893 Women's Suffrage Petition in New Zealand.


Project Leader


Will you join me? Please post a comment here on this page, in G2G using the project tag, or send me a private message. Thanks!

Project tasks

Here are some of the tasks that I think need to be done. I'll be working on them, and could use your help.

  • Add the project sticker to the profiles of all women who signed the petition, using the template {{1893 Suffrage Petition Sticker}} (see below)
  • Improve the biographies for those profiles
  • Add new profiles and biographies for other signatories who aren't on Wikitree yet
  • Improve the coverage and quality of biographies falling under the associated category of New Zealand, Suffragettes, for women (and men) who were actively involved in the suffrage movement in New Zealand
    • There is a New Zealand Suffragettes freespace page that brings together short bios of leading suffragettes who have Wikitree bios

Finding the signatories

There is a searchable database of the signatories of the largest of the 13 petitions presented to the New Zealand Parliament on 28 July 1893. That petition contains the names and addresses of about 24,000 women aged 21 years or older, out of the 25,520 who signed it.

Once you have found a name in the database, click the 'more' link to the right of the name. This takes you through to a separate page for each woman; the profiles marked in bold have additional biographical details about her. Don't forget to cite your sources when adding the sticker: there is a pre-written source citation at the bottom of each individual's page.

The other twelve smaller petitions containing more than 6000 names do not appear to have survived, except for the names of the women who presented those petitions to Parliament.

UPDATE: The signatories to the 1892 petition are now accessible online and the sticker may also be used to commemorate those who signed that petition.

Project Sticker

This template is for profiles of those who signed the New Zealand 1893 Women's Suffrage Petition.

{{1893 Suffrage Petition Sticker}}

This displays the following:
Image for sticker for 1893 Women's Suffrage Petition
... ... ... signed the 1893 Women's Suffrage Petition

About the petition

The Women's Suffrage petition is on display at the He Tohu exhibition in Wellington, New Zealand.

History and significance of the petition

Like most Western democracies in the 19th century, the right to vote in New Zealand was initially restricted to men who met certain property or other financial tests. The franchise for Parliamentary elections expanded to allow all Māori men to vote from 1867, and all men from 1879 (except for Chinese New Zealanders, who were still barred from becoming citizens and so could not vote). Women who owned property in their own right could vote in local elections from 1873.

The campaign for women's suffrage in New Zealand began in the 1870s, but from the late 1870s to the early 1890s, several attempts to change the law to allow women to vote in Parliamentary elections were unsuccessful - sometimes losing by as little as one vote.

A branch of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union was formed in New Zealand in 1885, and proved to be strongly influential in campaigning for women's suffrage, under the leadership of Kate Sheppard. There was a strong connection between temperance movements and women's suffrage campaigns, as it was expected that women would vote for candidates in favour of tighter controls on alcohol.

Women's suffrage campaigners organised a series of petitions to Parliament - the 1891 petition gathered over 9,000 signatures, and the 1892 petition contained almost 20,000 signatures. The third and last petition, of 31,872 signatures, was the largest petition presented to the New Zealand government up to that time.

Watch an animation of the presentation of the petition to Parliament

It was dramatically presented to Parliament on 28 July 1893, and when Parliament debated a change to the legislation to allow women aged 21 or over to vote in August, the legislation was passed by a narrow margin. The Electoral Act became law on 19 September 1893, and despite the tight timeframes to enrol to vote, nearly 70% of eligible women voted in the general election held on 28 November 1893.

New Zealand was the first self-governing nation to have universal suffrage. New Zealand women could not, however, run for Parliament until 1919, meaning that Finland was the first country in the world to allow women to both vote and be a candidate, in 1906.

Other resources

Further information about the New Zealand women's suffrage movement, the petition and the women who signed it:

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Comments: 7

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Is there some way to acknowledge those women who were enrolled in the 1893 Roll? I have made comment in the bio Burren-19 but I feel something more is needed.
posted by Philip Norton
my 2nd great-grandmother was an Adams by birth , married Rowlandson

she was a Signer / Suffragette

'J. L. Rowlandson', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 8-Sep-2011

Jessie Louisa Ruth ADAMS Married ROWLANDSON 1863–1933 BIRTH 19 MAY 1863 • Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand DEATH 26 DEC 1933 • 7 Rautangi Road, Mt Eden, Auckland, New Zealand 2nd great-grandmother Click on sheet number to see the 1893 petition sheet this signature appeared on. Digital copies of the sheets supplied by Archives New Zealand. J. L. Rowlandson suffrage_petition Surname: Rowlandson Given names: J. L. Given address: Sunnydale Sheet No: 155 Town/Suburb: North Dunedin City/Region: Dunedin

posted by Jackie Stoddard
[Comment Deleted]
posted by Jackie Stoddard
deleted by Jackie Stoddard
Kia ora Jackie, you don't need to formally join the project, you can just add the sticker to the profile on Wikitree of the person who signed. It looks like Elizabeth died before the date of the petition, but I see there is a J L Rowlandson among the signatories - is that her daughter?
posted by Suzanne Doig
Elizabeth (Abram) Braddock was the only Braddock who signed the 1893 Women's Suffrage Petition, I've added the template to her profile. :-)
posted by Campbell Braddock