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Spirit of Suffrage a Call to Action for All Kiwi Women

MEDIA RELEASE
September 18, 2014
Spirit of Suffrage a Call to Action for All Kiwi Women

Internet MANA is drawing on the courage and integrity of New Zealand women on Suffrage Day – Friday, September, 19 – to encourage them to pay tribute to the spirit of their foremothers who gained women the vote.

Internet Party leader Laila Harré and MANA’s Annette Sykes will vote in Auckland and Rotorua supported by fellow women candidates, party staff and party members on the 121st anniversary of Suffrage Day.

For Ms Harré and Ms Sykes the connection to New Zealand’s world-first suffragists is proudly traced and deeply felt.

Laila’s great grandmother, Emily Harré, was a signatory to the 15th and final petition to Parliament which brought New Zealand women the vote.

Previous petitions submitted over three years by suffragists was always blocked by members of the Upper House who were backed by liquor interests.

This time, suffragists targeted the Upper House with rallies, telegrams and white camellias, finally winning over two MPs on October 8. Legislation was introduced on September 19, 1893.

Earlier that year, history was made with the first address by a woman to the Kotahitanga Parliament. Meri Mangakahia introduced and spoke to her motion that women should be allowed not only to vote but to stand for the parliament because they were property owners.

Meri has been the wahine toa guide to MANA’s Annette Sykes throughout her career.

“I will honour today the struggle of many Maori suffragists like Meri to find empowerment after the tumultuous times of the New Zealand Land Wars. Maori women had to support each other out of necessity to protect themselves and their hapu,” says Annette, “and today’s Maori women have to do it again.”

Laila Harré recalls one of the famous 10 reasons given by Kate Shepherd for women having the vote – that women care greatly about the “uprightness and rectitude of life in a candidate”.

Ms Harré says this discerning motive for women is vital this election.

“Women must send a clear signal on Suffrage Day that dirty politics and dirty government has to go from Aotearoa-New Zealand.”

Women candidates for Internet MANA will also be voting on Suffrage Day. For details, please visit https://www.facebook.com/events/627284334037287.

ENDS

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