On Wednesday 19 September 2018 three “Kate Sheppard” camellias were planted at the Victoria Esplanade Gardens, to mark the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage. The occasion was marked by a short talk by Margaret Tennant, Emeritus Professor at Massey University, before the planting of the camellias by Grace Fakahau, Deputy Chair of the Palmerston North Youth Council, Janice Viles, Vice president of the Manawatu Branch of the National Council of Women, and Rachel Bowen, City Councillor.
During the campaign for women’s suffrage, those who supported the 1893 Electoral Bill were presented with a white camellia to wear in their buttonhole. The white camellia has since become a symbol of women’s suffrage in New Zealand. The “Kate Sheppard” camellia was bred by Viv Joyce of Taranaki to mark the 100th anniversary in 1993.
In Palmerston North approximately 523 women are recorded as having signed the petition to give women the right to vote. These women came from all walks of life but while their names are recorded the stories of many of them are now lost to us. Nora Linton and Rebecca Dawick (pictured) were amongst those who signed.