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September-October 2022, Issue 637

| Action Hubs | News | GenderEqual NZ |
Making gender equality, reality.

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Suzanne Manning October 2022
Suzanne Manning, President

President's kōrero

The month of September was celebration month! Suffrage Day was celebrated around the two motu with many events. I myself was thrilled to be invited to the unveiling of the suffrage stained-glass window at the Whanganui District Council Chambers, commissioned by the Whanganui branch – kei te pai ō mahi. (See the article on this commemorative window in a previous Circular article here: It was a time when NCWNZ was out and about, visible and proud. Especially so at Parliament, when we were able to hold the postponed celebration for the 125th anniversary of NCWNZ’s founding. It was great to see so many members and guests there, with so many of those who have contributed over many years. Thank you to all who were involved in the organisation of the event, it was very special because of your efforts.

In October, we held our online AGM which was well attended by individual and organisation members. In addition to discussing the annual report and financial statements (the review of which is yet to be completed), we were able to start a discussion about our tools for advocacy:

  • Submissions on legislations?
  • Resolutions at conference?
  • Position papers?
  • Action Items?

What are they used for, useful for, and could be used for? With our new Action Hubs, we have a chance to rethink our advocacy tools for the modern social, technological and political environment. We can be strategic about how and when we use different tools. This was the start of the discussion, which will be continued next year.

We also had a chance to thank Beryl Anderson, who will be stepping down from Parliamentary Watch Convenor after 8 + 3 years. She is a goldmine of information, both about historic events and the current political vibe; and she has been a steady guiding hand for PWC for a long time now. It has been easy to be complacent when Beryl was available to lead the group. Now it is time for others to step up, and be trained in managing this essential coordinating committee. Full training given, don’t be shy!

We also trialled our new voting structure for the first time under a new constitution, and it has shown up a few issues we will have to sort out. We will need people to be clear as to whether they are an individual member or a non-voting organisational representative, and we will need to get more individual members to vote or else change our rules for quorum. We had 42 individual votes (we needed 80 for quorum) and 15 organisation votes (we needed 13). Although the overwhelming vote agreed to accept the draft annual reports and financial statements, it was not a constitutionally valid vote. The Board will be looking at this in more detail, but it is a matter of concern for each and every member – how do we ensure effective decision making for NCWNZ?

As Aotearoa opens up again after/despite the pandemic, the number of invitations that the Board is getting to events and meetings is increasing.  We have attended a launch of the National Library’s Suffrage Petition workbook, a celebration of 50 years of the Equal Pay Act, an ‘informal korero and progress update’ on the Training Incentive Allowance hosted by Minister Sepuloni, and a civil society forum with the European Parliament Free Trade Agreement Committee. We are being approached to speak to different groups, such as the Japanese Women’s Innovation Network, the PPTA women’s committee, the Public Service Commission/Te Kawa Mataaho women’s network, the Inland Revenue women’s network, and just recently, a company organising an overseas trip for students of Minnesota University in the US. These invitations speak of our continued relevance to women’s groups and civil society in general, and the work of the Action Hubs and Branches contribute to this recognition. Ka mau te wehi 😊.

Finally, it is with disappointment that the Board has decided to withdraw from hosting the ICW-CIF Executive Committee meeting in September 2023. We felt that there would not be enough time to prepare properly for this meeting, especially in a way that would bring the costs down enough to be affordable for a wide range of participants, and do this in an election year when we know that we want to be keeping an eye on the issues to bring to the attention of politicians. The Board is discussing other options and we will let you know when anything has been decided.

Keep safe and well in the lead up to the end of year, holiday season and summer weather.

Ngā mihi maioha,
Suzanne Manning

Some of what's happening at local branches

NCWNZ's Beryl Anderson with 2022 Suffrage Cup winner James Mason, and Ri Comer, WSUJames Mason, Ri Comer
Hutt Valley NCWNZ Beryl Anderson (left) with Suffrage Cup 2022 winner James Mason, and Ri Comer of Wellington Speaking Union (right). Image courtesy of Wellington Speaking Union.

The Wellington Speaking Union organises the Senior Premier A Grade, the top debating grade within the Intercollegiate debating competition. The winning school receives the John F Henning Cup, donated in 1961 by the then United States Ambassador to New Zealand. The best speaker in the Grand Final is presented with the Suffrage Cup, donated by the Hutt Valley branch of the National Council of Women.

This year’s finalists were Wellington College (affirming) and Kapiti College (negating). The motion was:

“This house regrets the rise of 'hustle culture'.”

“Hustle culture” is a lifestyle where growing one’s career or developing additional business opportunities, or the environment that you work in,
becomes such a priority in one’s life, that other aspects of being human — such as hobbies, family-time and self-care — often take a back seat.

After a vigorous debate, the judges’ decision awarded the Henning Cup to Wellington College and the Suffrage Cup to their first speaker, James Mason.

Equity cartoon from idhsustainabletrade workshopNational Council of Women Ōtautahi Christchurch Branch was approached by four Year 8 students (12-13 year olds) from Mt Pleasant School in Ōtautahi Christchurch for support in running some sessions with young children at their school, around gender equity issues.

The girls had chosen gender equity as a year-long topic for a programme of study that is a primary school version of the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme. The four girls had already painted the toilets at the school (which had been blue for boys and pink for girls) green, and had discarded a raft of picture books in the school library that were too obviously gender specific and had set new rules with the Board of Trustees for future book buying.

The students decided that the aim would be to talk to the youngest children – age 5-6 – as the girls had found in their research that these young children were still forming ideas about gender roles. They wanted a focus on helping the children to understand that gender is something that doesn’t define you as a person; to look at breaking the stereotyping for both genders. Louise Tapper and Zoe Cummins from NCWNZ Ōtautahi Christchurch Branch talked with the girls about their ideas and then developed lesson plans for the session. These were based around talking to the children about what they wanted to be when they grew up, and then looking at different options for both boys and girls and talking this through to encourage non-stereotypical choices. We also developed an activity looking at babies dressed in pink and blue clothes and how children would name these babies, based on the clothes they were wearing. We talked about it being OK for boys to be in pink and girls to be in blue if they wanted to be and that there really didn’t need to be any rules. The four girls led the session – each class divided into four groups - with Louise and Zoe in support roles.

The lesson plans are detailed below.

Session on Gender Stereotypes with Mt Pleasant 5-6 Year Olds
Louise Tapper and Zoe Cummins
National Council of Women Ōtautahi Christchurch
23 September 2022

Learning Objective:

  • To introduce the idea of gender stereotypes and help the children to understand that gender stereotyping can limit ideas about what girls and women can actually do. Some of the ideas about what is expected of only girls and only boys don’t match with what happens in real life.
  • Gender stereotypes are harmful because they take a simple idea and try to say it works for everyone in a group. Gender stereotypes sometimes make people stop doing an activity they like and really want to do. They make it harder for people to be themselves and to like what they like.

Organisation of Classes:

Two classes of years 0-1; 5-6 year olds.
22 children in one class; 36 children in the other.
Classes to be divided into four groups for the sessions.
Kate, Zara, Isabella and Morgan will facilitate a group each. Zoe and Louise will move between groups. Teachers in the classes will also provide support.


  1. Ask some of the children in the group to tell you about what they might want to be when they grow up.
    • Have some pictures of boys and girls.
    • Show the children a chart with headings of different jobs – a doctor, a firefighter, a nurse, a teacher, a builder, a supermarket worker.
    • What do you think this girl might want to be when she grows up? This boy? Have different children put boy and girl pictures under chosen jobs.
    • Why did you put this boy/girl here? Is that a ‘boy’ job? Is that a ‘girl’ job? Why?
    • Talk about how both boys and girls could do any of these jobs.
  2. Show pictures of a baby in pink and a baby in blue. Ask the children for ideas about what they think the baby’s name could be?
    • Write names on a piece of paper – blue dressed baby/pink dressed baby. Why can’t the baby in pink be called Jack or Harry? Or the baby in blue be called Jessica or Sarah?
    • What if we told you that this baby dressed in pink clothes is a little boy? Why do you think the blue dressed baby is a boy? Why do you think only girl babies get put in pink?
  3. Common Ground Game
    • Children form a circle outside (?).
    • Call out statements and children who agree with the statement run into the middle of the circle = the Common Ground. Make sure children understand that there is no right or wrong answer.
    • Begin with general, warm up, statements:
      • All of you are in Room…
      • Mt Pleasant School is a great school
      • You have sandwiches in your lunchbox today.
      • Your favourite colour is purple.
    • Then move on to gender related statements:
      • Girls like reading books.
      • You think it’s cool for girls to play rugby.
      • All boys like to play tag.
      • Nurses are all girls.
      • Some children like the colour pink.
      • All boys like to play with trucks.
      • Boys can't be ballet dancers.
      • Some girls like to play with Lego.
      • Teachers are all girls.


Sit in the circle and explain to children about stereotypes. It is good to understand that both boys and girls can do anything they like to do, not just things that some people say only boys can do and only girls can do. When people stereotype boys and girls – that means make rules about what boys should do and what girls should do - it is not what happens in real life. In real life, some girls like to get very muddy and sometimes play rugby; some boys like pink and some boys really like dancing. Some girls will grow up and be firefighters and some boys will grow up and be nurses. That is all very OK. Everyone needs to feel Ok to be themselves and to like what they like.

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Nearly a hundred people gathered at the Kate Sheppard National Memorial on 19 September 2022 to celebrate Suffrage Day in Ōtautahi Christchurch. Pointing toward the women portrayed in the monument, the keynote speaker, Mayor Lianne Dalziel, urged everyone to honour the historic activists by getting out and voting at midterm elections. See the Otago Daily Times video (19 September 2022) of the event.

Rosemary Du Plessis Christchurch Suffrage Day 2022
Rosemary Du Plessis, President of NCWNZ Ōtautahi Christchurch Branch, welcomes all and introduces keynote speaker, Hon Luanne Dalziel, Mayor of Christchurch.
Sarah Pallett, MP, and Hon Luanne Dalziel at Christchurch Suffrage Day 2022
Sarah Pallett, MP for Ilam (Keynote Speaker 2021) and Hon Luanne Dalziel, Mayor of Christchurch and Keynote Speaker 2022
Madison Dobie, an Associate in Dentons Kensington Swan’s Major Projects and Construction team - talking about the challenges of working as a young woman lawyer in the construction industry.
Helen Brown at Christchurch Suffrage Day 2022
Helen Brown (Ngāi Tahu), senior researcher in the Ngāi Tahu Archive at Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, talking about Rhoda Flora Orbell, Ngai Tahu who signed the 1893 suffrage petition.
Asayal Almutairi - Youth leader Otautahi Muslim community
Clare Piper - Women in Urbanism Aotearoa
Helen Osbourne at Christchurch Suffrage Day 2022
Helen Osbourne - Property Lead for Kate Sheppard House, Heritage NZ
Rosemary Du Plessis and NCWNZ Christchurch Suffrage Day 2022
Rosemary Du Plessis - NCWNZ Ōtautahi Banner and the Kate Sheppard Suffrage Memorial

125th Birthday Celebrations in Wellington

Below are some of the photos from a celebration event in Wellington on 13 September 2020 - a celebration of the 125th birthday of Te Kaunihera Wāhine o Aotearoa, NCWNZ. This event was deferred from last year due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions. Hosted by Minister for Women, Hon Jan Tinetti, and sponsored by Countdown, the event took place in the Banquet Hall in Parliament and included presentations of NCWNZ Distinguished Service Awards. NCWNZ President Suzanne Manning has provided details about the event below.

“It was obvious from the start as guests arrived, that all were very happy to be there, smiling and chatting, and looking forward to the event.” (Coreen Rodger). That set the tone for the evening, and the relaxed atmosphere as Te Kaunihera Wāhine o Aotearoa – The National Council of Women of New Zealand celebrated 125 years of existence.

“Thank you also for organising the tour of parliament - it was interesting and focussing on the suffrage players and process was fascinating.” (Christine King). Te Paramata – Parliament were very supportive, and welcomed us wonderfully. From the specially organised tour beforehand, to the display of Suffrage and women-oriented artworks including sculpted busts of Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia and Kate Sheppard, to the mihi whakatau by Kura Moeahu and the welcome speech of our host, Minister for Women Jan Tinetti, to the “delicious nibbles and drinks”: it was all laid on for us.

We were entertained by Newlands Intermediate Rōpū i te Kapa Haka, and the energy that they showed was spellbinding, as was later mentioned by our keynote speaker Saunoamaali’I Karanina Sumeo, the EEO Commissioner. The students “loved the occasion and the opportunity to show off their talents.” (Angela Lowe, Principal).

The focus was then on NCWNZ and our past, present and future. Many commented on how much they learnt from the historic overview of NCWNZ as an organisation, and the work that we are doing now. “But most of all, it was the talented young women coming into NCWNZ who made the greatest impression!” (Jennifer Jameson).

As an opportunity to celebrate, of course there was cake, with the ceremonial cutting. There was also the opportunity to recognise five fabulous women with Distinguished Service Awards: Ana Maria de Vos Sanchez, Jan Brown, Christine King from Auckland, Correen Rodger from Dunedin, and Elizabeth Lee from Wellington.

The evening drew to a close with more talking with friends, those we’ve known for a while and those we’ve just met. The real treat was being able “to talk with members face to face and not over zoom.” (Margaret Sinclair-Jones). We agree wholeheartedly!

Thank you to everyone who helped organise the event – Bernice Williams’ name springs to mind – to those who supported it in some way, and to those who came to enjoy.

Ngā mihi nui ki a tātou.
Suzanne Manning, Proud-to-be-President-of-NCWNZ.

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Hon Jan Tinetti at NCWNZ Birthday Celebration 2022 Picture5.jpg Picture6.jpg
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Seeking nominations for Ethics Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology

ECART logoManatū Hauora | Ministry of Health invites you to submit nominations for two laypeople positions on the Ethics Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology (ECART).

ECART is established under section 27 of the Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Act 2004 (the HART Act). Its purpose is to consider, determine and review applications for assisted reproductive procedures or human reproductive research. Further information on ECART can be found on their website ( A link to the advertisement can be found on the ECART website

Manatū Hauora encourages people from all backgrounds, especially those who can reflect the needs, values, and beliefs of Māori, and have an understanding and are committed to meeting the obligations of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, to apply for these roles. In this instance, Manatū Hauora is specifically seeking:

  • One layperson member with expertise in law (particularly medico-legal experience).
  • One layperson member with the ability to articulate issues from a disability perspective.

ECART members are appointed for terms of office of up to three years. Members may be reappointed from time to time. No member may hold office for more than six consecutive years.

Please send your nominations to the Ministry of Health’s Appointments team by email at [email protected] no later than Friday 11 November 2022. Please include the nominee’s name and contact details at a minimum. Please also ensure you notify candidates of their nomination and confirm their willingness to be considered for a role.

Candidates will need to provide:


Charts: Child poverty in New Zealand

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) Child Poverty Report 2022, prepared by Bryan Perry, claims that data stretching from 2007 to 2021 show that New Zealand has seen a drop in the number of children in poverty. Poverty is defined essentially as indication of household resources being insufficient to meet basic material needs. The trend (see the charts below) has been falling for those households with children (i.e., ages 0-17) reporting “not enough” income for basics. This trend for New Zealand has been ignored by many who use a limited amount of data (e.g., just household income) or who insist that if only people got full-time work, their material hardship would lessen.  Instead, MSD’s main Household Incomes and Material Wellbeing reports show that not all households with low incomes are in hardship, and not all who report they live in hardship have low incomes.

The chart below illustrates material hardship trends for children in low-income households, noted here as “poor children,” as well as for children in “non-poor” and “near-poor” households from 2007 to 2021. (NOTE: AHC equates to a household’s total income after deducting housing costs; and HES stands for Household Economic Survey.)

MSD report Oct 2022 - figure 21 on p21

The chart shows that material hardship rates for children increased during the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2008 (GFC) illustrating the associated downturn, then the trend in steady improvement from 2013 to 2021. This downward trend could relate to a combination of rising employment rates, rising wages, increases to income support for families with children, increased support for housing and child-care costs, and other measures that reduce demand on the family budget (e.g., free doctors’ visits and food-in-schools programmes).

This next chart shows median AHC household income for New Zealand children by ethnicity in real (CPI-adjusted) terms. (NOTE: the Consumers Price Index (CPI) is a measure of inflation for New Zealand households.) There have been solid net gains in real terms since 2007 for children in each of the main ethnic groups, albeit with different trajectories through and immediately after the GFC (around a 35% real gain) for all four groups since 2007. Since disability statistics are available from the HES only in 2019-20 and 2020-21, there is no trend information.

MSD report Oct 2022 - Figure13 p16This chart shows that median incomes of households with children of predominantly Māori and Pacific peoples still lag below those households in New Zealand who identify themselves as European. However, the rise in median incomes for households with children of Māori and Pacific peoples is steeper since 2018 and perhaps could continue to rise. However, the report finds many problems still needing to be addressed. For example, the surveys show that around 8% of all children (90,000) live in homes that report a major problem with dampness or mould. Also, the report shows that for many households, full-time paid employment on its own does not provide enough for the household even at a very basic level, especially where there are children. Even with the WFF tax credits (including the in-work tax credit) and other support (e.g. childcare subsidies), some working households with children still struggle. Around half the children in households in material hardship come from households whose main source of income is from paid labour. And, of course, the value of unpaid work is immense, especially in relation to parenting and other caring responsibilities, but is not examined in this report.

Perry’s report (download the .pdf file at statistics that come from multiple sources. It uses measures for the Child Poverty Reduction Act (2018), Stats NZ's Child Poverty Statistics report (February 2022), and the 2020-21 Household Economic Survey (finished on June 30, 2022). Perry reminds his readers that the Household Economic Survey (HES) responses come from the “usually resident” population living in private dwellings. This means the survey results do not include those children living in places such as motels, boarding houses and hostels or those in more transient accommodation -- those “living rough.” For example, the HES does not include the families in Emergency Housing which includes around 3,800 children (Source: MSD Monthly Housing Update for July 2022).

Ultimately, Perry reports a falling trend for households with children reporting “not enough” income for basics. While he cautions the results of the COVID-19 pandemic are still being processed and that the surveys are missing data on children living in transient housing, he concludes children of New Zealand have overall since 2007 experienced improvements in material wellbeing.

From the APRC September 2022 newsletter

Did you know that the NCWNZ is a member of the Asia-Pacific Regional Council (APRC)? The APRC is affiliated to the International Council of Women and its first meeting was held in Auckland in 2004. The APRC September 2022 newsletter included the Farewell Speech by Jungsook Kim, Immediate Past President, ICW. We offer here excerpts of that speech:

Dear NCW Presidents and ICW Sisters,
I’m delighted to report that the 36th General Assembly in Avignon, France from May 16 to 21 was a grand success. It seemed like a painfully long time since we were able to have such broad, in person, participation. The energy, good will, determination, and comradery were palpable to say the least. ... I would like to express my deepest gratitude for the support and love that you have shown to me during [my presidency]. ... In the very near future, I feel confident we will see substantial progress in addressing our new triennial theme “Women’s Empowerment: Peace and Sustainable Development”. Together with the newly elected ICW board members, I am certain that the new president Martine Marandel and her team will perform superbly in mustering the resources at their disposal. And YOU sisters, constitute the greatest of those resources. To accomplish great things requires your continued support. ... When I think about all the intelligent, focused, women I’ve had the great pleasure to work with over the past seven years, when I think about the friendships that were forged and will certainly last a lifetime, and when I think about our accomplishments in the context of multiple global challenges, I feel so very proud to have been a part of it.
Thank you.
Jungsook Kim
Immediate Past President
International Council of Women 10 July 2022.

Readings to consider

A grove of ancient trees cultivated for perfume centuries ago has been discovered among the fields laid out for sheep and cattle on Mere Whaanga's ancestral land, Taipōrutu, on Māhia Peninsula. She and her family are researching and preserving the site of what had been carefully tended groves of tree species - tītoki, white rata, kohekohe, kohuhu, tarata, heketara - of which the "fragrant leaves and flowers which were probably used to perfume oil pressed from the berries of the tītoki." As early as the 18th century, British reports included that New Zealanders wore sachets made with tītoki oil. Dr. Whaanga (Ngāti Rongomaiwahine, Ngāti Kahungungu) said her forthcoming book, "21 Generations of Taipōrutu," will provide 21 generations worth of mātauranga (knowledge) for all those interested in ecology, biodiversity and kaitiakitanga (guardianship). Read more on the RNZ website, where you can also listen to the interview with Dr. Whaanga on "Country Life."


Did you know that the minimum age of criminal responsibility is currently 10 years old? This is the age that children can be prosecuted and punished for a serious crime in New Zealand. Amnesty International NZ is petitioning government to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years of age. You can take a free, self-paced course with Amnesty International Academy - including interviews with child activists and ideas for taking action on children's rights. Another way to aid in this effort is to share an activity for children aged 9 and younger - talk with children about the issues underlying this campaign. Download the drawing activity developed by Amnesty International NZ (.pdf file here) You can post a photo of the children's drawings and tagging Minister Kiritapu Allan on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook - and include a mention of @AmnestyNZ to show your contribution. Read more on the Amnesty International NZ website here:


Book cover for Anne Thurston's _Notes from Inside_Notes from Inside: A courageous woman’s experiences of domestic violence and mental illness
by Anne Thurston

Anne Thurston has published a memoir describing her life of domestic violence, mental illness and recovery. It is a book about her story of survival, her family and how she overcame the abuse.

Thurston, Anne. (2022). Notes from inside: A courageous woman’s experiences of domestic violence and mental illness. Published by the author. ISBN: 978-0-59606-4. Available at bookshops.


Milestones: The Political Importance of the White Camellia in NZ

Kate Sheppard camelliaCamellias originate from China, Japan and Southeast Asia. They are one of the oldest flowers known to humans. They are hardy, evergreen and have many sizes and shapes suitable for many types of garden situations, from specimen trees to ground covers, containers or hedges. The species most widely grown as ornamentals are the sasanqua, japonica and reticulata. The first of these to flower every year in autumn and winter are the sasanquas. Japonica camellias are generally taller than sasanquas and have larger, more leathery leaves. Their flowers are larger too and they flower from winter to late spring and are generally slower growing. In New Zealand camellias bloom from late August to late September. The Camellia japonica alba plena 'Kate Sheppard' has become a symbol of New Zealand women’s suffrage since it was first introduced from Taranaki in 1993.

Caricature of 'Ironsand' (Mr E M Smith) in Auckland Weekly News 12 Dec 1896
E.M. Smith with Taranaki camellia in his buttonhole

Taranaki had a large role to play in the political symbolism of the camellia. In early July 1892 Edward M. Smith, an armourer and Liberal Party member of Parliament representing New Plymouth, offered to provide any members who supported women's suffrage with a "Taranaki camellia.” In a newspaper article on a debate over the use of ironsand of Taranaki: "There is a general flavour of camellia about the House. The centre of the camellia is Mr. E.M. Smith, who has brought down a host of specimens from that favoured place Taranaki. The rage of camellia goes right round the House, marking many button-holes with red and white." On 21 July Smith wore "a lovely Taranaki camellia," when honored in a Parliamentary discussion for his work in manufacturing steel. In July 1893, he still wore his "Taranaki camillia" when speaking in the House.

On 12 September 1893 a deputation from the Wellington Women's Franchise League visited the Hon. Richard Oliver (representing Otago) and presented twenty white camellia flowers, one for each of those members of the House of Representatives who had voted on 8 September in favour of women gaining the vote. Each camellia had attached the name of the gentleman for whom it was intended, and was tied with white ribbon. (The bill had passed by 20 votes in favour to 18 against.) The deputation gave a short address: "Please accept this white favour, emblem of our esteem and gratitude. Your honourable names will long be remembered favourably in the history of this colony in relation to the passing of the Women's Franchise Bill, and the benefits accorded thereby."

Pressure against women's suffrage at the national level renewed, and some members of the Legislative Council petitioned the governor to withhold his consent. In what was later called "a battle of the camellias" or sometimes the "battle of the buttonholes," on 15 September 1893 Wellington anti-Women's Franchise League presented to the Hon. William Campbell Walker (representing Canterbury) a basket of red camellias tied with red ribbon for their supporters to wear in their coat buttonholes. They explained in their address: "A committee of ladies of the city of Wellington respectfully request hon. members of the Legislative Council who spoke and voted against the franchise being granted to the women of the colony to accept this small token of their regard and esteem for their efforts to allow us to remain in our proper sphere apart from politics."

The Victorian Language of Flowers names Camellia flowers as signifying perseverance, love, devotion, and a great admiration for someone. They also represent perfection and faith. Why white? The Women's Christian Temperance Union formed in the 1880s and brought into New Zealand in 1885 used a white ribbon emblem (in contrast with but complementary to the pre-existing Blue Ribbon badge) that the color choice connotes social purity that femininity could bring to the political arena. In Victorian flower language popular at the time, a red camellia was seen as passion. To the Victorians, red camellias symbolized that the recipient was the “flame” of the giver’s heart and who was unable to stop thinking of them.

The national preparations for the centennial of the winning of the right to vote financed many communities to create new public commemorations of this international first. In New Plymouth Karen Eagles and Donna Glendining asked camellia breeders Viv Joyce and her father Alf Gamlin to create a special paeony style style white camellia to be unveiled as part of the 1993 Suffrage Centennial Year. Alf had the name registered with the New Zealand Camellia Society, and Viv grew 300 of the white bushes in Manaia. The 'Kate Sheppard' camellia was officially launched at the Manaia Town Hall as part of the 1993 commemoration of women's suffrage, and then the new hybrids were planted all over Taranaki. Dame Cath Tizard, the first woman Governor-General of New Zealand, bought ten for Government House in Wellington. Parliament celebrated the centenary of women’s suffrage in 1993 with the planting of ‘Kate Sheppard’ white camellia shrubs in the grounds gifted by the National Council of Women of New Zealand. Many local clubs and communities used the planting of the white camellia as a symbol of their support for this international first in women's rights - Jill Pierce compiled many (if not all) of these sites in her book published in 1995 by the National Council of Women of New Zealand, The Suffrage Trail.

In another reference to the powerful meaning of the white camellia, the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles were launched in 2012 at Government House; New Zealand businesses and organisations signed up to the initiative and promising to use the seven principles (equal opportunity, inclusion and non-discrimination; health, safety and freedom from violence; education and training; enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices; community leadership and engagement; and transparency, measuring and reporting) to guide them in implementing gender equality strategies. The White Camellia Awards honour businesses promoting gender equity through the Women's Empowerment Principles. The White Camellia Awards are jointly run by UN Women, the Human Rights Commission, Diversity Works, BPW New Zealand and Zonta.

Suffrage 125 logoFor the Suffrage 125 celebrations in 2018, Whakatane artist Robyn Watchorn crafted a white camellia brooch for each of the former and current women MPs, and the women gathered for a photograph in the Parliamentary Library's Reading Room to respond to the photo of Richard Seddon and his male MPs taken in 1905. The Ministry of Women created the Suffrage 125 symbol that used the white camellia surrounded by a ring of suffrage purple and the number 125 includes a reference to the New Zealand koru as well. In a workbook published for public use by the Electoral Commission, "Your Voice, Your Choice: Votes for Women" included on pages 14-16 an activity that is useful for all ages - crafting a paper camellia to put in your own jacket buttonhole to show your support for women's right to vote. 

"Me aro ki te hā o Hine-ahu-one. Pay heed to the mana of women."

Milestones in the political use of the white camellia in New Zealand

1877 - Kate Edger, the first woman BA graduate, was presented a white camellia at her graduation ceremony in Auckland.

1892 - Edward M. Smith, New Plymouth MP, offered to provide any members of Parliament who supported women's suffrage with a "Taranaki camellia."

1893 - On 12 September 1893 a deputation from the Wellington Women's Franchise League presented twenty white camellia flowers, one for each of those members of the House of Representatives who had voted on 8 September in favour of women gaining the vote. Then on 15 September Wellington anti-Women's Franchise League presented a basket of red camellias tied with red ribbon for their each of their supporters to wear in their coat buttonholes. 

1894 - 19 September Napier WCTU organised community-wide celebrations of the anniversary of "our enfranchisement."

1895 - The WCTU local branches organised September 25 celebrations of the anniversary of the franchise in Kaiapoi and Christchurch.

1896 - Christchurch W.C.T.U. hosted a large meeting in the Art Gallery on 25 September to celebrate the third anniversary of the enfranchisement of the women of New Zealand.

1993 - The Camellia japonica alba plena 'Kate Sheppard' was first introduced from Taranaki and became thereafter the symbol of New Zealand women’s suffrage for the national celebration of the centennial anniversary. 

2012 - The White Camellia Awards are initiated to honour businesses promoting gender equity through the UN Women's Empowerment Principles. 

2018 - Hand-crafted white camellia brooches were given to all women MPs, and the Ministry of Women created the Suffrage 125 celebration logo featuring the white camellia.

Resources and Further Reading

"Political Jottings," New Zealand Times, Volume LIII, Issue 9645, 2 July 1892, Page 3:

"In the House," Lyttelton Times, Volume LXXVIII, Issue 9783, 21 July 1892, Page 5:

"Political Jottings," New Zealand Times, Volume LIII, Issue 9661, 21 July 1892, Page 3:

"Political Gossip," Evening Star, Issue 9184, 13 July 1893, Page 2:

"Womanhood Suffrage," Evening Post, Volume XLVI, Issue 64, 13 September 1893, Page 3:

"Parliamentary Notes," New Zealand Herald, Volume XXX, Issue 9306, 15 September 1893, Page 5:

"The Order of the Red Camellia," New Zealand Herald, Volume XXX, Issue 9307, 16 September 1893, Page 5:

"Caricatures, with names and nicknames... 'Ironsand' (Mr E M Smith)..." Supplement to the Auckland Weekly News, Christmas Number (12 December 1896), in Wikimedia Commons:,_1896.jpg

"Union and Temperance News," White Ribbon, Volume 1, Issue 4, October 1895, Page 6:

"Anniversary of Women’s Enfranchisement," White Ribbon, Volume 2, Issue 16, October 1896, Page 8:

"Camellia brooches acknowledge New Zealand’s 149 past and present women MPs," New Zealand Parliament (19 September 2018):

"A symbol for Suffrage 125," New Zealand Minitatanga mō ngā Wāhine, Ministry for Women (2 February 2018):

Jill Pierce, The Suffrage Trail: A guide to places, memorials and the arts commemorating New Zealand women (Wellington: NCWNZ, 1995).

Stories to celebrate

Making the Most of Now

Videos from NCWNZ Christchurch YouTube channel (2022)Louise Tapper of the NCWNZ Ōtautahi Christchurch Branch (assisted by Rosemary Du Plessis) led the "Making the Most of Now" project that documented the COVID-19 pandemic experiences of thirteen young women in Ōtautahi Christchurch.

Podcasts based on the interviews were broadcast on Plains FM Community Radio in July and August of 2021. Now four short videos based on these interviews and featuring three of the participants in this research are available on the NCWNZ Ōtautahi Christchurch YouTube channel. Funding for the video project was obtained last year from the Rata Foundation - an application from NCWNZ Ōtautahi Christchurch Branch. 

These four videos highlight issues raised by a group of young women from Ōtautahi Christchurch about their experiences of the earthquakes, the mosque shootings and predominantly, COVID-19. The young women talk about the impact of the pandemic on their lives and share some of the strategies they used to promote their personal wellbeing in stressful, uncertain and difficult times.

This project was the initiative of Louise Tapper and accomplished with the support of Rosemary Du Plessis and the NCWNZ Ōtautahi Christchurch Branch. Participants in this project convinced Louise and Rosemary that it was important to share what young women had to say through podcasts and short videos.

Please share the links to these videos as widely as possible through your networks.

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First Woman Elected to Lead UN International Telecommunications Union (ITU)

Doreen Bogdan-Martin of New Jersey, USA, is the first woman elected Secretary-General of the UN International Telecommunications Union. The ITU sets international standards for the use of electromagnetic signals for radio, internet and television communications. Established in 1865, the ITU became a United Nations specialized agency in 1947. Read more at the ITU press release here:

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NCWNZ Agrees with Fair Pay Agreements

The National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ) welcomes the Fair Pay Agreements Act. Extending collective bargaining has the potential to improve minimum wages and conditions of employment for all those in low paid work and in particular Māori, Pacific, disabled and migrant women.

The President of NCWNZ, Dr Suzanne Manning, says:

“We believe that collective employment agreements are good for women. They can promote the value of women’s work, provide enhanced provisions such as additional paid parental leave, and actively support equity in the workplace by reducing the gender wage gap. NCWNZ believes that the Fair Pay Agreement Act will benefit workplace productivity in Aotearoa New Zealand by balancing the interests of employees and employers, and fostering collaboration, stability, and greater workplace harmony.”

NCWNZ congratulates the government on this piece of legislation and asks that the government now focuses on ensuring transparency of conditions and pay rates. Workers in low paid and casualised sectors will need government support to easily access accurate information about pay rates and conditions in their sector for effective collective bargaining.

NCWNZ also welcomes the government's announcement that NACEW has been given responsibility for identifying an appropriate pay transparency mechanism, which will be important in reducing the gender pay gap.

To read the full statement by the NCWNZ, sent as a submission in May 2022 to the Education and Workforce Committee on the Fair Pay Agreements Bill 115-1, download the .pdf file here.

(Note: This was first published on the NCWNZ News blog on 31 October 2022.)

Dates to note for November-December 2022

11 - 13 November 2022: Graduate Women International 34th triennial General Assembly and Conference (online)

9-15 November: UN International Week of Science and Peace

16 November: UNESCO International Day for Tolerance

17 November: UNESCO World Philosophy Day

20 November: World Children's Day

25 November: International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

2 December: International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

3 December: International Day of Persons with Disabilities

10 December: Human Rights Day - read about the women who shaped the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

18 December: International Migrants Day

20 December: International Human Solidarity Day

Quotation to ponder

“The dogma of woman’s complete historic subjection to man must be rated as one of the most fantastic myths ever created by the human mind.”

- Mary R. Beard, Woman as Force in History: A Study in Traditions and Realities (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1946): 144.

The Circular is the official organ of The National Council of Women of New Zealand. This newsletter is archived at The National Library of New Zealand (ISSN 2815-8644).