Women’s Suffrage Day

On the 19th of September in 1893 an important petition was held. Thousands of people signed the petition resulting in New Zealand being the first country to give women the vote. On Thursday 20th September I went to parliament for the Women’s Suffrage Day Breakfast. The first thing I had to do was take people’s coats and hang them up. After that I went inside the Banquet Hall to find my Aunty and my seat. First up was Kura Moeahu, and he said a Mihi Whakatau.

Then we were welcomed by Dr Lee Mathias, a Doctor of Health Science, she explained what was going to happen that morning. Hon Jo Goodhew, the Minister of Women’s Affairs, gave the opening address and introduced the first speaker, Rt Hon Dame Jenny Shipley.

Rebekah, Dame Jenny Shipley and Board of Trustees Member Helen Potiki
Rebekah, Dame Jenny Shipley and Board of Trustees Member Helen Potiki

Dame Jenny Shipley was the first women prime minister of New Zealand, she talked about encouraging New Zealanders to take action to improve the lives of women. She wants to see girls excel in education, and to translate that success into employment, earnings and leadership success. She wants women to be able to enter any occupation, industry or sector that they want to and be able to make the most of their talents and skills. “I want to be a part of a society where we have no tolerance for any violence, particularly against women, and where women have increased safety…We all have a part to play in making these things happen. The benefits will be immense, not only for women, but also for their families, our communities and for all New Zealanders.” She was really inspiring to listen to and encouraged me to start making small changes in my life.

The next speaker was Dr Aissil and she talked about the changes that she has made using her skills and talents. She started an organisation called ICARE. This stands for Iraqi Children’s Aid, Response & Education. Dr Aissil is a dentist who studied at Otago University in Dunedin, New Zealand. She had to do a project for school which involved studying a country and finding a way to help. So naturally, she chose the country she’s from, Iraq. It was such an amazing speech she gave.

After that we had a closing speech given by Hon Jo Goodhew and then we were pretty much finished. The last thing I did was get photos taken with all the important people, which was heaps of fun. I got to meet so many people of all ethnicities and I learnt heaps as well. It was all in all a great morning.

– Rebekah Warwick (9SN)

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