Suffrage Window in Whanganui District Council Chambers

Whanganui NCWNZ and commemorative suffrage window June 2022
Artist Greg Hall, rear, with NCWNZ members anti-clock wise from him, Lynda Sammons, Joan Sullivan, Jo Power, Jenny Saywood, Margaret Campion, Sheryn Robertson, Judy Stein and Helma Vermeulen. Photo by Leigh Mitchell-Anyon also published in the Whangaui Chronicle and used here with permission.

The local branch of NCWNZ at Whanganui commissioned a window honoring women's rights activists Ellen Ballance, Margaret Bullock, and Jessie Williamson. The window also includes the NCWNZ logo and the white camelia associated with the women's suffrage movement in New Zealand. This art piece is one of twenty-five windows displayed in the District Council Chambers, depicting the Whanganui story - Nga Korero Hitoro o te Hapori. The work was designed and crafted by painter Julie Greig and glass artist Greg Hall.

The window features three Whanganui women who were members of the Whanganui Women’s Franchise League (later renamed the Women's Political League) which coordinated locally the campaign for women's suffrage.

  • Ellen Ballance (née Anderson; 1846 – 1935) was the inaugural president of the Whanganui Women's Franchise League in June 1893. She was also a vice-president of the Women's Progressive Society in London.
  • Margaret Bullock (née Carson; 1845 - 1903) worked at the Whanganui Chronicle as one of the first women parliamentary correspondents. She was vice president of the league until Ellen Ballance left for England, and was then president from 1893 until 1897. She was national vice president in 1900 of the NCWNZ.
  • Jessie Marguerite Williamson (née McAllan; 1855?–1937) was a founding member of the Franchise League then became treasurer in 1896, and either president or secretary from 1897 until 1903. 1897 NCW conference she was made NCWNZ recording secretary in 1897 and national treasurer in 1898.

The window was commissioned due to a bequest from a former NCWNZ member Wynne Costley who dedicated most of her life to the well being of women. She joined NCWNZ in 1966 and over the years she attended numerous NCWNZ conferences, the last being the 1996 Centennial Conference in Christchurch.

For Further Reading:

Bronwyn Labrum. 'Bullock, Margaret', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1993. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand,

Bronwyn Labrum. 'Williamson, Jessie Marguerite', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1993. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand,

"Ellen Ballance," Wikipedia,

Bronwyn Labrum, "Wanganui Women's Political League 1893 – c.1902" New Zealand History (essay first published in 1993),

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