History, Life at No.22, New Zealand

NZ Women’s Suffrage – A Tauranga Connection

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?

Alice Maxwell - The Elms Te Papa_edited

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.

NZ Womens Suffage A Tauranga Connection

27 thoughts on “NZ Women’s Suffrage – A Tauranga Connection”

  1. Thanks for researching such an interesting story. It’s always lovely to read true biographical stories of women who have had the courage to stand up for their beliefs and change womens’ lives for the better. #MLSTL

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s fantastic we remember these women who stood up for their beliefs, not forgetting how difficult it must have been for them, but they stuck to what they believed in for future generations. Alice, an inspirational woman. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s always interesting to read about women who stepped up and changed their lives and a little bit of the world around them. I love that there’s even a flower associated with Alice and the suffrage movement – that’s just a lovely little addition isn’t it?
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed. And if people don’t know how hard-won the rights we have were, they are more likely to squander them and take them for granted.
        And learning about the women who came before is so inspiring when it comes to the work that still needs to be done.

        Liked by 1 person

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