Suffrage stories to feature at A&P show

Heritage NZ assessment advisers Susan Irvine (left) and Sarah Gallagher show posters telling the lives of Otago-Southland signatories of the great Suffrage Petition of 1893, which will be on show at this weekend's Wanaka A&P Show. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Heritage NZ assessment advisers Susan Irvine (left) and Sarah Gallagher show posters telling the lives of Otago-Southland signatories of the great Suffrage Petition of 1893, which will be on show at this weekend's Wanaka A&P Show. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Constitutional history sounds an unlikely exhibit subject at an A&P show, but Heritage New Zealand expects the stories of 12 colonial women in Otago and Southland will strike a chord with people attending this weekend's Wanaka A&P Show.

The women were all signatories to the great Suffrage Petition of 1893 - its 25,000 signatures played a major role in women gaining the right to vote, later that year.

The petition has been digitised and families of several signatories have appended biographies detailing their ancestors' life stories.

HNZ made its debut at the show last year with an exhibit on the region's historic buildings, and decided on a follow-up this year.

''We wanted a rural theme [to the petition],'' HNZ assessment adviser Susan Irvine said.

''We also wanted to focus on everyday women, not the big important women who were leading the campaign ... but those everyday women who go past unnoticed but who are our great-grannies.''

The stories of the dozen women Ms Irvine selected from more than 8000 women in Otago-Southland who signed the petition have been turned into display posters for the the show.

The featured women are: Catherine Hancock (1863-1944), of Munro's Gully, near Lawrence; Catherine Henrietta Elliot Fulton, nee Valpy (1829-1919), of Outram; Caroline Buckland, nee Fairburn (1847-1934), a farmer near Waikouaiti then near Middlemarch; Isabella Simpson Meek, nee Sutherland (1862-1907), who grew up on a farm between Waitati and Purakanui; Mary Edie (1835-1927) and her daughter Mary Ann Margaret Edie (1869-1946), of Dunrobin; Charlotte Rachel Grimmett (1836-1921), one of the early residents of Caversham; Magdalena Jane Orchiston (1852-1937), who had a varied career around Otago and Southland; Sarah Jane Stenning, nee Burgess (1870-1946), of Pounawea; Martha Logan, nee McDowell (1840-1924) of Owaka; Jane Niven, nee Thomson (1853-1919), of Southland; Hannah Sleeman, nee Blades (1859-1926), of Mataura.

''The big miss is we never found a Maori woman who fitted all our boxes, which was a real shame,'' Ms Irvine said.

''We got a good geographic mix but not cultural, necessarily.''

After the Wanaka show, the posters are likely to go on show at museums in Owaka and Mataura.

mike.houlahan@odt.co.nz

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