The suffrage story of Mary Ann Gunson

Today is the 125th anniversary of the day the Electoral Act was passed into law, making Aotearoa the first self-governing nation where women could vote in parliamentary elections.

The 1893 women's suffrage petition was a huge part of the successful campaign for the vote. Over 30,000 women signed the petition - a small individual act that helped bring about a huge change for the wāhine of Aotearoa. In 2018 we celebrate the action they took by researching and telling their stories.

Below is the story of Mary Ann Gunson, who signed sheet 21 of the petition. Her signature is fourth from the top in the image below. Her biography was written and researched by Judith Corbelletto-Thompson, who attended one of our Wāhine Take Action research workshops at Tāmaki Pātaka Kōrero (Central City Library) last month.

Mary Ann Gunson, sheet 21 Mary Ann Gunson (nee Bryne) was born in Glasgow about 1843. She arrived in New Zealand in 1874 aged 31 and the same year married James Gunson. She lived the…

The suffrage story of Harriett Garland

As part of our Wāhine Take Action programme celebrating the 125th anniversary of women's suffrage in Aotearoa, we recently held two suffrage story research workshops at Tāmaki Pātaka Kōrero (Central City Library). The aim was to uncover stories of women who signed the 1893 women's suffrage petition -  many of whom we know little about. By researching and telling their stories we celebrate the action they took in signing the petition - an individual act that helped bring about a huge change for the wāhine of Aotearoa.

This is the story of Harriett Garland, written and researched by Donna Salmon, one of our workshop participants. Harriett's biography is also now part of the interactive display at the He Tohu exhibition and on the suffrage petition database at NZHistory.

Harriett Garland, sheet 390 Harriett Threader was born in 1854 in Brentwood, Essex, the daughter of Thomas Threader, hairdresser, and Harriett Threader (nee Girling). As a teenager, she worked as a shop assis…

The history of Chinese families and businesses in Auckland

After my father came to New Zealand in 1955 he worked in New Zealand Shipping Co Ltd’s Auckland office. Part of his job was overseeing the provisioning of the company’s ships after they had docked in Auckland. New Zealand Shipping’s fruit and vegetables were supplied by C. W. Wah Jang and Co. Ltd of 31 Queen Street. Strategically located near the wharves and just across from the Chief Post Office, Wah Jang’s did a prosperous trade in fruit and vegetables with most ships floating around the South Pacific. During the Second World War, Wah Jang’s apparently provisioned every United States Navy vessel passing through Auckland!

Helene Wong’s Heritage Talk at Tāmaki Pātaka Kōrero (Central City Library) earlier this year on the history of Chinese families in Auckland helped clear up some of the mysteries about Wah Jang’s. Her talk also highlighted the racism with which New Zealand’s Chinese have always had to struggle. The tendency for Pakeha New Zealanders’ to show Anglocentric superiority…

Wāhine Take Action exhibition

125 years ago thousands of women took action by signing the 1893 Suffrage Petition, adding their individual voices to a collective call for political representation. Now open on Level 2 of the Central City Library is the latest Heritage Collections exhibition Wāhine Take Action, timed to coincide with Suffrage 125 celebrations across Aotearoa and part of a wider series of events at Tāmaki Pātaka Kōrero (Central City Library) this August to November.

The exhibition takes a broad view of what ‘taking action’ means, looking at the many different ways women have worked for social change or to support their communities. Some actions are taken individually, while others are part of larger movements. Some are explicitly feminist, some are not. All demonstrate the leadership of women in cultural, social, and political life in Aotearoa.

Featured content includes unique photographs, posters and letters from our manuscript collections, rare books and heritage magazines, and women’s voice from th…

Parade magazine – know your ancestors

Parade magazine, published from 1946–1981, was an Australian monthly which included a substantial amount of New Zealand content. From 1970–1980 there was a regular feature called ‘Know your ancestors’ which provided readers with family history advice.

Aucklanders are lucky to have an almost complete run here at Auckland Libraries as this is a real gem in our collections. Parade was described by a colleague as a barbershop magazine and it is distinctive for its vibrant painted covers. The great New Zealand and Australian comics and cartoonists’ blog Pikitea Press has featured Parade numerous times and many of the covers are viewable there. A strong market now exists on eBay for these magazines, so they’re certainly collectable.

The simplest way to describe the content of Parade would be to think about it as being half scandal and half history, often with both in one story. War and crime stories feature repeatedly. The histories are histories told from the perspective of the coloniser…

The Semadeni Family of Te Atatū Peninsula

West Auckland was settled by many migrants from a variety of countries. One of those families was the Semadeni family from Switzerland who have lived on Te Atatū peninsula since 1910. Antonio Semadeni emigrated to New Zealand in 1860. One of the earliest mentions of him in records is in the Waipu area in 1864.

One of Antonio’s sons, Edward Adam Semadeni (1870 – 1931), a wood turner from Mount Eden and his wife Ethel Cozens (nee Probert) (1874 – 1933) acquired land in Harbour View Road seeking a rural farming life style in 1910.

Edward and Ethel completed building the brick house that was already on the land. The bricks came from many of the brickworks that existed in Te Atatū at that time giving it a patch work effect.

Edward Semadeni and his wife were devout Methodists. He was the Superintendent of Sunday School from 1910 - 1931 and his wife played the organ. The church services were held in the local school originally, until the old Methodist Church was built (the building next to t…