We honour the courage and tenacity of the women etched into the memorial and the more than 30,000 women who signed the final petition.
When I think of the challenges Kate Sheppard and those suffragists faced – no electronic media, no give-a-little page, no means to communicate other than through cycling and pounding the pavements, street by street, collecting signatures and never giving up. The first two petitions did not succeed, but the third one did and the rest is history.
And then for over 80% of the female population to both register and vote in the election just a matter of weeks later is an extraordinary story.
Today we ask all women to feel inspired by the courage and tenacity that represented.
And to reflect upon the importance those women placed on the right to right once it had been won. We must never ever take it for granted.
It took 25 years for women to get the right to stand for Parliament and another 15 years after that for the first woman to be elected to Parliament – and she was from Christchurch too – Elizabeth McCombs representing the set of Lyttleton. And another 14 years for the first woman to be appointed as a Cabinet Minister – also from Christchurch, the Hon Mabel Howard.
In my role as Mayor of the city, Kate Sheppard and the suffrage movement is very much a part of the Christchurch story – they are an important part of our identity – of who we are.