NZ Post celebrates 125 years of New Zealand women getting the vote

6 September 2018

New Zealand Post is celebrating the courage of women who fought for the hard-won right to vote in New Zealand 125 years ago, with a new stamp release.

The issue features an image of celebrated suffragist Kate Sheppard, blended with a white camellia, the symbol of the movement.

NZ Post’s Head of Stamps and Coins Simon Allison says NZ Post is proud of the role it played in bringing the 1893 Suffrage petition together.

The petition, organised by Kate Sheppard, had 32,000 signatures on it when it was presented to Parliament, and led to New Zealand becoming the first self-governing country in the world to grant all adult women the right to vote in parliamentary elections.

“This stamp issue celebrates New Zealand as a world-leading, forward-thinking nation. NZ Post played a small but important role in that part of the petition that was sent around the country through our postal network.

“On the back of the petition, which is on display at He Tohu, National Library, you can see an old stamp and Kate Sheppard’s address at her Post Office private box in Christchurch.

“NZ Post has been part of New Zealand’s history for 178 years, and we plan to be here for at least 178 more, delivering things New Zealander’s care about, like this petition,” Mr Allison said.

As the nation reflects on the last 125 years, NZ Post has been looking back at what it was like for women working in the then Post Office. Our history includes:

  • Miss L Bates is the first recorded female employee, a Sub-Deputy Postmistress in 1851. She worked in Onehunga and earned one pound per month.
  • By 1892, there were 47 women employed in telephone exchange roles, which were a key part of the then post and telegraph service at the time.
  • June 1963 married women working at the Post Office could retain their permanent status, seniority and grading.
  • In 1984, the Post Office became one of 12 government employers to sign a statement committing to an active role in creating equal opportunities for all employees.
  • And in January 1985, the first female Director was appointed. At 33, Leslie Clifford, was the youngest member of the administration.
  • In 2018, over 55% of NZ Post’s workforce is female. More than half of its board members are women, including Jane Taylor, who is chairperson of the New Zealand Post Board.

The Suffrage 125 Years stamp issue is available now at nzpost.co.nz/suffrage