Follow the journey the Women's Suffrage petition has taken — from its creation on 19 September 1893 to its preservation as a taonga for future generations in the He Tohu exhibition today.
- Inequality, issue, action, commitment, perseverance, organisation, implications.
- He Tohu themes: the documents, people, living together, our future.
What to do
Learn about the journey the Petition took
Get students to:
Then create a timeline of key events that led to all women in New Zealand gaining the right to vote in 1893.
Students watch The power to vote and answer the following questions:
- What conditions of living in the 1800s made it so hard for the Petition to get to, and be accepted in, parliament?
- What made the difference for the problems to be overcome and the Petition to eventually be successful?
- Why were women so determined to find success with this petition?
- What current New Zealand living conditions and resources would make it easier to collect signatures for a petition to present to parliament today? What conditions of life today would make it more difficult?
- Why do women in New Zealand still not have equal rights?
Understand the Petition's history in He Tohu
Before the He Tohu exhibition opened, New Zealand’s 3 iconic constitutional documents moved from Archives New Zealand to the National Library of New Zealand in a historic and emotional predawn ceremonial procession.
Get students to read Moving the documents, watch the video on that web page, and answer the following questions:
- What protocols and ceremony surrounded the moving of New Zealand's founding documents from Archives New Zealand to the He Tohu exhibition in the National Library, Wellington?
- Why was it such a careful and significant ceremony?
- Why did this happen predawn?
- Who do you think was involved in the complete process?
He Tohu is a permanent exhibition of 3 iconic constitutional documents that shape Aotearoa New Zealand. To find out more, get students to watch He Tohu exhibition (YouTube video, 3:06) and He Tohu: A declaration. A treaty. A petition (YouTube video, 1:29). Discuss:
- the importance of He Tohu
- what interactions they could see
- what information is available
- why has so much time and effort has gone into creating He Tohu?
Find out about the conservation of the Petition as a taonga
Get students to read:
Then answer these questions:
- What are the concerns about preserving this document today?
- What processes have had to happen in order to display the original Women's Suffrage Petition documents in He Tohu?
- What conditions have to be managed and monitored carefully?
- What occupations and skills would be involved with the process of moving the Women's Suffrage Petition from Archives New Zealand to He Tohu and the preservation of the original documents?
- What are the special materials and processes used to preserve the Women's Suffrage Petition in He Tohu?
Extension: The feminist activists of the Petition
Students watch The feminist activists of the Petition and answer these questions:
- What dispositions did the women have who drove the Women's Suffrage Petition?
- Find examples of feminist activists today who are forging the way for other women.
- What issues could you support that would improve living conditions for women today and in the future?
Some useful resources
Archives New Zealand:
New Zealand Curriculum — social sciences
- Identity, Culture, and Organisation