In 1992 4 New Zealand icons (and the queen) appeared on new banknotes. A part of creating nationwide identification, these notable residents had been chosen to symbolize the pinnacles of accomplishment.
Āpirana Ngata, Edmund Hillary, Ernest Rutherford and Kate Sheppard — all in circulation so their acts and values might be admired, celebrated and emulated.
Collectively, the banknote icons signalled a bicultural nation that celebrates Māori information and success, a spot the place ladies are equal and the place it’s potential to guide the world, together with in science and exploration.
However whereas positioned on particular person pedestals, these folks had been additionally a part of citizenship-building that relied on staff efforts.
Ngata was one in every of many gifted members of the Younger Māori Social gathering. Hillary didn’t climb Everest alone. And Rutherford’s scientific breakthroughs resulted from collaborative work that stood “on the shoulders of giants”.
Forged in bronze
So what of Kate Sheppard’s place? A yr after she graced the $10 word, she was placed on one other pedestal, actually. Unveiled in 1993, the nationwide memorial gives a helpful interpretation of the suffrage chief’s place within the collaborative ladies’s motion of the late nineteenth century.
The memorial’s Christchurch location, Sheppard’s identify in its title and her central place solid in bronze all recognise her management. However the monument additionally recognises how, after the victory, she introduced collectively the networks that had shaped throughout the suffrage marketing campaign.
Sheppard grew to become the primary president of the Nationwide Council of Ladies (NCW) in 1896, however flanking her in bronze are others central to the ladies’s motion.
The ‘epicentre of girls’s suffrage’ — Kate Sheppard’s Christchurch dwelling lastly opens as a public museum
Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia of Taitokerau requested the vote for girls from the Kotahitanga parliament. Amey Daldy was a pacesetter of Auckland’s Ladies’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and Franchise League. Ada Wells of Christchurch labored for equal academic alternatives for women and girls. Harriet Morison of Dunedin was an advocate for working-class ladies and lively within the Tailoresses’ Union. And Helen Nicol led the necessary ladies’s franchise marketing campaign in Dunedin.
The monument additionally recognises the advanced layers and themes of girls’s suffrage, together with the place of males reminiscent of MP Sir John Corridor who performed a significant half within the suffrage victory. Seven different distinguished suffragists are additionally named. Smaller panels depict generic ladies going about their day by day lives, all a part of the broader motion.
An archetypal heroine?
So what makes Sheppard so iconic? In addition to her position in a world-first episode in New Zealand historical past, I might argue Sheppard embodies most of the traits widespread to fashionable heroines globally.
She is emblematic of a mom determine, particularly as a maternal feminist involved with dwelling, purity and well-being. Metaphorically, her work entails giving start to the nation.
Accompanied by a picture of the symbolic white camellia flower introduced to pro-suffrage MPs, Sheppard’s picture on the banknote is a part of her invention as a female, stylishly dressed, commanding determine.
However there are different dynamics at work, too. Sheppard is typically framed as a reformer, known as to work for a extra peaceable and egalitarian society. However the 2015
punk-rock musical That Bloody Lady portrays her as a insurgent warrior queen, preventing with bravery and willpower.
Did a tragic household secret affect Kate Sheppard’s mission to present New Zealand ladies the vote?
Intrigue in her non-public life additionally provides to Sheppard’s enchantment. Was her marriage to Walter Sheppard sad? They lived other than 1905 till he died in 1915. Creator Rachel McAlpine wrote a fictional account involving an extramarital affair and a love little one.
And what of the rumours surrounding Sheppard’s friendship with William Lovell-Smith, who she married in the direction of the tip of her life after the loss of life of his spouse Jenny? Her non-public life hints at thriller and suggests a lady advancing new methods of co-habiting.
There may be additionally tragedy. Sheppard misplaced her solely little one, Douglas, in 1910, and outlived her nearest and dearest buddies and relations, together with her solely grandchild.
Sheppard’s shape-shifting presence leaves room for us to create our personal variations to enhance all of the writing she left revealing her beliefs and concepts. The Kate Sheppard Ladies’s Bookshop aptly memorialises her, and her management is honoured by means of scholarships and awards.
All this has helped preserve her reminiscence alive, particularly with the feminists who’ve all the time claimed her as a heroine.
Ref: 1/2-005159-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, CC BY-NC
Who else however Sheppard?
Sheppard is on the cash, then, however who else may symbolize the heroic archetype?
Waikato girl of mana and Kīngitanga chief Te Puea Hērangi is unquestionably one, described by historian J.G.A. Pocock as probably essentially the most influential girl in New Zealand’s political historical past.
Te Puea was additionally a mom determine. A literal healer, she nursed her folks again to well being — particularly after the smallpox epidemic of 1913 and the devastating 1918 influenza epidemic that killed 1 / 4 of the inhabitants at Mangatāwhiri, leaving many orphans to be cared for.
Her motto is alleged to have been “work, eat, pray, work once more”. Te Puea was known as to assist her folks and was devoted to main their resurgence. Particularly, her efforts secured the Kīngitanga motion. A part of her legacy as essentially the most lively chief of her technology was the constructing of Tūrangawaewae marae at Ngāruawāhia.
Like Sheppard, Te Puea’s well being and welfare work included campaigns in opposition to alcohol and smoking. Within the face of Pākehā resistance she constructed a formidable well being facility at Tūrangawaewae. In 1951 she grew to become the primary patron of the Māori Ladies’s Welfare League.
NZ was first to grant ladies the vote in 1893, however then took 26 years to allow them to stand for parliament
Her activism included searching for compensation for land confiscation. An early peace warrior, she led a non-violent marketing campaign in opposition to conscription throughout the first world struggle. Like Sheppard, she was a part of a world community and well-connected across the Pacific.
Additionally like Sheppard, Te Puea was strategic and collaborated with many males. She launched Māui Pōmare’s political profession and later collaborated with Āpirana Ngata. Well-known within the Pākehā world as Princess Te Puea, in 1937 she was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
In some ways, in fact, Christchurch and Ngāruawāhia had been worlds aside. Whereas each ladies challenged the state, Sheppard represented a mainstream Pākehā institution, whereas Te Puea pursued mana motuhake for her folks. But, positioned aspect by aspect and considered by means of an early Twenty first-century lens, each are necessary heroines in historical past.
Each stand for residents working collectively for the widespread good. Kate Sheppard may be on the cash to symbolize ladies’s rights as a basic a part of Aotearoa New Zealand. However, as her memorial suggests, it’s necessary we don’t see her as the one girl worthy of being on a pedestal.
Katie Pickles obtained funding from Royal Society Te Aparangi James Cook dinner Analysis Fellowship.