Waikato125 is an initiative which pays tribute to pioneers of women’s suffrage here in New Zealand.

Waikato125 specifically celebrates instrumental women in the Waikato today; recognising those who display values much like the great Kate Sheppard, who passionately lead the New Zealand women’s suffrage movement over 125 years ago.

Championed by Hamilton City Councillor Angela O’Leary, Waikato125 provides a platform for Waikato citizens to nominate women they believe stand out in their community, who work actively to make a difference. Waikato’s 125 women will be acknowledged and awarded for their achievements at the Waikato125 high tea celebration on September the 19th, the 125th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage.

Waikato125 commemorates the great achievements made over 125 years ago by women who campaigned and won the right for women to vote in parliamentary elections. Waikato125 acknowledges the movement as being instrumental in helping shape New Zealand to what it is today.


In early colonial, New Zealand along with many other European societies excluded women from having any political involvement, seeing politics as being outside a women’s natural compass.

In 1848 a women’s rights convention was held in New York, signifying the start of the suffrage movement. The 50 years following saw suffragettes actively working to empower women; realising that to achieve reform women must gain a political voice.

Kate Sheppard worked actively during this time leading the New Zealand movement, presenting multiple petitions to Government that resulted in New Zealand becoming the first self-governing country in the world to present women with the right to vote.

The suffrage movement was continued throughout the 1900’s by many strong New Zealand women who tirelessly fought to gain the voice and political opportunities Kiwi women now have today.

Artwork by Heather Lomas

Artwork produced by Heather Lomas for the 1993 Suffrage centenary.


Heather Lomas, Suffrage, acrylic on board, 1993. Waikato Bequests Trust courtesy of Waikato Museum L2012/16/1.