Suffrage 125 Years Whakatu Wahine

In most other democracies - including Britain and the United States - women did not gain the right to vote until after the First World War. New Zealand women voted for the first time in a general election in November 1893.

Issue information

In the last decades of the 19th Century, New Zealand women vigorously campaigned to achieve the right to vote. In September 1893, they finally won that right for all women over the age of 21.

New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections. This set a path for further elevation of women, including the 1919 Women’s Parliamentary Rights Act. Our country's first female MP, Elizabeth McCombs, was elected in 1933 and, as of 2018, New Zealand has now been led by three female prime ministers.

This milestone also paved the way for the furthering of women’s rights in the realms of economics, health, education, the arts, and domestic life, and is a treasured touchstone for those who continue to campaign for equality.

New Zealand’s early embrace of women’s voting rights has become a key part of its identity as a world-leading, progressive democracy. In 1990, Kate Sheppard was commemorated on New Zealand’s $10 banknote, alongside the suffragists’ symbol, the white camellia.

Individual Stamps

$3.00 Kate Sheppard

The success of the campaign came at the end of an enormous struggle by suffragists, led by the indomitable Kate Sheppard. 

$3.00 Camellia

The white camellia became a symbol of the women's suffrage movement, worn by people who supported women’s right to vote in New Zealand. The white camella featured on the stamp is named after Kate Sheppard. 


Miniature Sheet and First Day Covers

The first day cover highlights the camellia as the symbol of the women's suffrage movement. The miniature sheet displays a quote from Kate Sheppard - "Do not think your single vote does not matter much. The rain that refreshes the parched ground is made up of single drops." The miniature sheet first day cover is adorned with the petition that led to the passage of the Electoral Act 1893 which gave all New Zealand women over the age of 21 the right to vote. The camellia that flows across both stamps has been embossed to lift the image from the rest of the stamp.  

Technical information

Date of issue: 5 September 2018
Number of stamps: Two gummed stamps
Denominations: 2 x $3.00
Stamps, miniature sheet and first day covers designed by: Helcia Berryman, Grange Park Creative, Raumati South, New Zealand
Printer and process: Southern Colour Print Ltd by offset lithography
Number of colours: Four process colours
Stamp size and format: 35mm x 46mm (vertical)
Paper type:  Tullis Russell 104gsm red phosphor gummed stamp paper
Number of stamps per sheet:  24
Perforation gauge: 14.78 x 14.86
Period of sale: Unless stocks are exhausted earlier, these stamps will remain on sale until 4 September 2019. First day covers will remain on sale until 31 October 2018.