Women's Suffrage and Local Government

2018 marks the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand. On 19 September 1893, the Electoral Act 1893 was passed, giving all women in New Zealand the right to vote. However, it would not be until 1919 that women were able to stand for election to become Members of Parliament.

To mark this anniversary, Auckland Council Archives has compiled an online exhibition which includes a timeline and photographs of the female elected representatives of the former borough, city, county, regional and district councils of the Auckland region.
On 29 November 1893, Elizabeth Yates was elected mayor of the borough of Onehunga – the first woman in the British Empire to hold such an office. The Municipal Corporations Act 1876 had given all property owners and ratepayers the right to vote and to stand for election in local government. This law made no distinction between male and female property owners, thus Elizabeth Yates chose to exercise this right and stand for office believing that she …

Acknowledging Armistice Day

On 11 November 1918, an armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany, and the guns fell silent on the Western Front. Armistice Day has been commemorated in New Zealand ever since, not only to celebrate peace but also to acknowledge the sacrifices of those who made peace possible.

The depth of this sacrifice is exemplified by the experience of one small town, Manurewa. At the outbreak of the First World War, there were about 500 people living in the area. Few if any of them were to remain unaffected by the war.

The photograph below was proudly taken on the opening day of Manurewa School, 3 September 1906. Little could it be imagined at the time that in less than a decade the ranks of the children assembled here would be significantly thinned by bullets, bayonets, sickness and bombs.

Seven of the older boys in the back row would see active service during the First World War: Walter Burton (fourth from left), Bert Ralls (sixth from left), Ted Mills (eighth), George Coxhead (tenth)…

Heritage Talks go live!

Tāmaki Pātaka Kōrero | Central City Library is pleased to announce that our popular Heritage Talks programme will now be available as part of Auckland Libraries’ content on SoundCloud and YouTube.

Heritage Talks are a regular event run by Research Central and focus on topics of interest in the areas of local, family and world history. Talks are presented by a range of researchers and historians whose enthusiasm for their subjects is contagious. And now you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your home to share in the stories. Grab a cup of tea, sit back, and relax!

Each SoundCloud podcast will give a brief introduction to the speaker and topic including a talk teaser before proceeding to the talk itself. If the talk contains a significant amount of visual material then we will endeavour to make these available through YouTube. Available now is Keith Giles’ Crazy Cameramen and Profligate Photographers. As the title implies, this popular talk captures some of the colour of colonial …

The women were marvellous

In 1951 the National government used troops to run the waterfront after shipping companies locked out watersiders. The watersiders had refused overtime work in protest at a low wage offer. The dispute lasted for five months and grew to involve 22,000 workers including freezing workers and coal miners. The government announced a state of emergency, censored the media, seized union funds and outlawed support for the workers and their families.

Labour MP Mabel Howard called the emergency regulations “a war on women” as wives had to run a home without wages or support. It was forbidden to give children food. Strikers’ children at Wellington’s Clifton Terrace primary school were separated from their classmates at lunchtimes in order to prevent food-sharing.

And yet wives and children and the striking workers survived. “The women were marvellous,” was a common refrain afterwards. When asked to elaborate on how they were marvellous, many commentators dried up.

When Renée researched her 1986 p…

Commemorating - "Influenza 100"

After four years of the most horrific warfare the modern world has ever known, the First World War's end was in sight. More than 10 million soldiers were killed and around the same amount of civilians. Of the number killed, 18,000 New Zealanders had been lost on the battlefields and at sea. In a population of just over a million people, the loss of 18,000 meant that no family was left untouched.

There was a feeling of anticipation tempered with feelings of loss, for our people returning home. A cruel twist of fate meant that any celebration was curtailed, as influenza swept through the world killing upwards of 50 million people. More than the war itself.

In a couple of short months approximately 9000 (over 2000 are known to be Māori) New Zealanders succumbed to the influenza and the associated secondary infections.

Auckland was badly hit with a death rate of 7.5 per 1000 people, making an approximate total of 1128 Pakeha and 35 Māori.

Waikumete Cemetery was the main burial ground …

An influenza memorial in Manurewa

In old St Luke’s Anglican Church, Manurewa, is a poignant reminder of New Zealand’s 1918 influenza epidemic. Tucked away in one corner of the chancel is a carved and polished rimu lectern. This has a tiny brass plaque affixed which reads:

To the Glory of God
And in memory of
Dorice Whittingham
Sometime Organist of this Church
Who died for the sake of

Dorice (usually known as ‘Doris’) died on 8 December 1918 of influenza contracted while nursing patients at Papakura hospital. She had been married to local quarryman and ex-serviceman Alexander Whittingham for little more than a year.

A death notice was published in the NZ Herald the following day. A brief tribute was also published in a local newspaper:

“When the epidemic was rampant at Papakura both Mrs Whittingham and her mother volunteered assistance. The former had the advantage of having had considerable nursing experience at Te Aroha, and therefore was entrusted with some of the serious cases. About a week ago she herself …

2018 Auckland Family History Expo round-up with speakers' notes