Minister, Members of Parliament, fellow mayors, councillors and distinguished guests
It is an honour and a privilege to be here tonight to announce this year’s recipient of the Special Commendation Award.
Before I do that, I want to reflect on the significance of the 19th September as a milestone in our history as a city and as a nation. Today is the 125th anniversary of the passing of legislation that gave women the right to vote – the first country in the world to do so. And it all started here in Christchurch.
It is not insignificant that the only woman appearing on any of our banknotes, apart from Her Majesty the Queen, is Kate Sheppard.
She was an indomitable force. It took courage and determination to achieve what she did all those years ago.The suffragists won the vote on the 19th September 1893 after a massive petition – the third attempt – was tabled in parliament. No electronic mail, no social media, no give-a-little pages – no means of communication except cycling and pounding the pavements – street by street.
Even more extraordinary is that over 80% of women registered and voted in the General Election on the 28 November just 10 weeks later.
This is our story and we should be proud.
Today, the Christchurch Foundation Women’s Fund has been launched and you are all invited to contribute to the fund that will be used to support girls and women who are actively leading change in their community. Your support will make a real difference.
We know that most charitable dollars do not find their way to the hands of women who seek to be the change they want to see in the world. And all we will ask in return is that they give us their stories so others can be inspired to reach for the stars.
What a fitting way to recall the courage and tenacity that is our suffrage story - our story as a city and a nation.
And this leads me onto the Special Commendation Award, which on every level, but especially today, is so well deserved. You’ve already heard me use two words - courage and tenacity - to describe an incredible and inspirational leader. How fitting they are.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my absolute privilege to announce this year’s special commendation award recipient –Dame Adrienne Stewart.