Women's Suffrage

About the Exhibition

When Governor Glasgow signed the Electoral Bill on 19 September 1893, New Zealand became the first self-governing nation in the world where women had won the right to vote. The Bill was the outcome of years of meetings in towns and cities across the country, with women often travelling considerable distances to hear lectures and speeches, pass resolutions and sign petitions. A number of petitions were presented to both Houses of Parliament from the early 1880s till 1893. Only two of these historically important documents are known to have survived and both are preserved at Archives New Zealand.

The 1893 Women's Suffrage Petition is on display at He Tohu, a permanent exhibition of three constitutional documents that shape Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Women’s Suffrage Petition database on NZHistory is an excellent way to search for a signatory. This database allows you to search by surname, by suburb or town, by city or region, or by Sheet number. A digital version of each Sheet of the Petition is available.

If you would like to write a biography for He Tohu and NZHistory, check out our Women’s Suffrage Biography Research Guide.