A few days ago was the 126th celebration of women in New Zealand achieving the right to vote.
It was also my first week back volunteering at The Elms/Te Papa for a few months. I tend to arrive early to enjoy a walk around the gardens and familiarise myself before any visitors are welcomed in. While wandering around, I remembered the 3 white Camellias [Camellia Japonica “Kate Sheppard”] planted near the newly developed Heritage Garden. Though the Camellias aren’t in flower yet as are still relatively young trees, I will hopefully again be volunteering here when they do bloom profusely.
These 3 trees were planted during Tauranga’s celebration of 125 years of NZ Women’s Suffrage, in honour of Alice Maxwell at The Elms/Te Papa. Whose signature was on the signatory to the 1893 Women’s Suffrage Petition.
The White Camellia became the symbol of the New Zealand women’s suffrage movement after they were given to supporters in September 1893. One of the reasons for choosing this flower could be the coincidence of the White Camellia being prolific during September. Alice Maxwell certainly had a few camellias to share.
So, who is Alice Maxwell?
Photo: Courtesy of Tauranga Kete [google]Alice was born in Australia. Arriving in New Zealand when she was four, in 1865, with her widowed mother and three siblings. Her earlier years were spent in Wadestown, Wellington.
At 21, Alice would travel up north and stay at The Elms with her aunt and uncle Christina and Alfred Brown. During this time, she developed a passion regarding the history of The Elms, and it would eventually become her permanent home for the next 62 years.
Her mother and older sister also lived here but passed away in 1919 and 1930 respectively. As well as playing a role in the Women’s Suffragette Movement, Alice was a supporter of many other charities. These included Barnardo’s Homes for the orphans and soldiers who had been wounded in World War One, just to name a couple.
All supported by Alice and her sister via the selling of flowers.