Sunday, 16 June 2013

to the women the wahini of New Zealand Aotearoa

Kua roa kē te wā e pōti ana ētahi tāngata.   Some people have had the vote for a long time.

Remember our pride, the year we won civic freedom.

New Zealand, the first nation to secure voting rights for women in 1893.

The stones of our political foundation.


What is it to vote?
A vote is a power and an expression of an opinion, ideal, hope and definition.
To declare oneself as being, in a democracy of the people.
Voting is a tool, it’s a choice.
What have we if we have no choice?

As women our current political position is unprecedented.
We need to further dissolve the bonds that prevent our participation in the political world.
The political world resides in all spheres of our lives, public and private. 

Good seed, good soil.
In Mary Ann Muller's pamphlet
'An Appeal to the Men Of New Zealand' of 1869, she asked  
"How long are we to remain a wholly unrepresented people?"  
She clearly observed and rightly envisaged 
"Our women are brave and strong, with an amount of self-reliance, courage and freedom from conventionalities eminently calculated to form a great nation".
She demanded
"Give them scope". 
Mary Ann Muller challenged
"This change is coming, but why is New Zealand only to follow?
Why not take the initiative?" 

( be introduced to Mary Ann Muller in Judith Devaliant's 1992 book on the fight for women's votes in New Zealand )

Judith Devaliant quotes Richard Seddon who helped defeat the woman’s suffrage of 1879 say

“...if you give too much power you unsex woman”.

 Others described woman’s suffrage as

“this filthy thing”  

described women as

 “miserable fanatics, idiotic faddists and narrow minded bigots whose moral judgment must be warped and valueless, because they are engaged in the noble work of raising the wretched and protecting the weak”.

We continue our noble work.

While every day we suffer gender abuses, we are born to and reside in a peaceful and privileged nation. 

We have politically participated over the previous 120 years to create the good island we have today.

This gives our cause greater potency.

We’re in a position to effect further change within and beyond our shores.

We don’t all vote.

The systems in which we reside have us met with apathy.
Have we have forgotten the power of the vote and how to utilise it.
Are we disconnected?
Does a prevailing culture distract us?
It could appear privilege is enough and action not warranted.  
The blinkers are on or our education systems have failed.
And as we allow poverty, inequality and the exclusive society to persist, there will always be the silent voice. 

Women face rights violations in every town and city of New Zealand today.

We live within a system where there are rules of engagement.
The nature of our system will change with the environment we provide.
Our current systems faults are due to the current environment.
We must continue to meet with the failings to secure a better future.
Our time to do that is within our time.
Political freedom is available to us.
We can vote.

Voter turnout usually sits at around 80%.
Social issues go some way to explaining why 20% of us do not vote.
At the General Election of 2011, voter turnout fell to an all-time low of 73%.
Complacency and perhaps a little lack of faith in the system, now falls into the fray of why New Zealanders do not vote. 

Ma te rangatahi pea o tēnei rā e whatu he kanoi kōrero. Perhaps the youth today will weave a strand of history. (WEAVE)

A total of 77% of those eligible to vote in the 18 to 24 year old bracket were enrolled to vote by Election Day in 2011.

What have we demonstrated to our youth to say voting is of no relevance, to blame youth for failing to participate?
Leadership and the dispersal of knowledge is a role for who?

The woman who led the struggle for women’s votes in New Zealand, Kate Sheppard, noted the benefits for future women.
Yes, it resonates today.

In her Franchise Report of 1891 Kate wrote:

“Slowly but surely, our cause is gaining ground. The principal of the rights of the individual irrespective of sex may be said to have taken root, and while it still needs to be carefully nourished, so that its roots may strike deeper, and the branches spread far and wide yet the blighting influences of prejudice and self-interest are gradually dying away, and we trust will soon vanish all together.”

Good things do take time.
We maintain hope.

The future will provide its own challenges to further generations of women. What position will we have them in to enact change and live fulfilled lives?

Such a fall if we drop the chain.
Do we give our daughters a path to begin their walk?

We can demonstrate to women everywhere that we understand our rights and see the potential fruit of our task.

To; Women everywhere
 always vote at elections. Weave.

Deeds louder than words
action a spoken language.
Words spoken to explain deeds
no substitute for them.
Words define our aims
voting enacts upon them.
As we vote,
our action incontrovertible
It has been said.

By casting our vote we remain relevant within a system that frames us.
By voting we work to obtain and maintain our freedoms.
Vote to potentially create a better world for all.

Where women’s lives are improved all benefit.
By voting we attach ourselves to every issue.
By voting we select people who represent our interests.

By voting we walk with women everywhere.

We travel through the abuses of power relationships, we cast a withdrawal of support and diminish them from our world.

One woman’s struggle, one injustice, one failure, one inadequacy within the system is our problem to rectify.

The vote is one of the many tools we have by which we secure our world.

By voting we own the struggle.

There is no need for our divisions of life choices to distract us from the overall position of Womanhood.

Do we say it’s not important, worth an effort, a swell?

Could all women of Aotearoa be registered to vote?
Can we all vote on Election Day?
Cast our vote on the day we’ve been called?

What song would be heard?

Whatever our opinion, whatever the walls which prevent us, we must participate.

We can enact today's thread and carry the chain of tomorrow on which all hangs.
Create some fine choice with women everywhere. 
Surfs up, its epic.
We are in line to break through.

Rise good wave, as one inherit womanhood.  

Let us see how far the ripple.

“And now we await that ‘to-morrow’ on which so much hangs. Shall we be singing a ‘Jubilate’ or wailing a funeral dirge? If the later, one thing is certain that a resurrection will soon take place, and that of the most lively character. Women suffrage can never again be buried; the very stones would cry out against such an outrage. But we do not anticipate failure, the very worst that can happen is postponement.”  Kate Sheppard, 1892.

                                                      Meri Te Tai Mangakahia.
                      Adressed Maori parliament for membership & Women's Votes  in 1893.

                      The first meeting of New Zealand's National Council of Women. April 1896

                                               . the stones of our foundation.

 J.Devaliant. A Biography. Kate Sheppard. The Fight for Women's vote in New Zealand. 1992. (isbn: 014 0 17614 4) Penguin.


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