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Cyclists celebrate Sheppard

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“Kate Sheppard” with her petition

Report and photos by Roy Murphy
In what was dubbed the Suffrage 125 Bicycle Ride, about 90 mostly women cyclists took to Wellington streets to celebrate 125 years since Kate Sheppard won the vote for women. The ride was organised by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga and the Wellington Frocks on Bikes.

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The cyclists, many dressed in period costume, left Old St Paul’s to the accompaniment of classical piano music broadcast by Dan Mikkelsen from his unique bicycle machine. They rode through the streets of Wellington’s central business district to gather on Parliament grounds for a photo op.

Amy Tarleton, standing in for Kate Sheppard (top picture), received a symbolic suffrage petition.

christine-jamieson

Christine Jamieson, looking stunning in period costume, sported a banner draped from her shoulder. The front read “Votes for Women” while the back read “Phase II: Pockets”. She explained women’s clothing at that time was devoid of pockets which were considered unfeminine and unnecessary.

One alternative theory was that handbag manufacturers suppressed the use of pockets in order to boost their own sales. My theory is that men didn’t want women’s shapes to be further obscured.

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Teresa Cowie

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The cyclists finished at the Government Buildings where New Zealand’s first Pacific Islander MP, Dame Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, celebrated the progress made by women in New Zealand since Sheppard’s day. Unfortunately, she said, progress was much slower in the Pacific Islands with very few women elected to parliament.