Right to vote hard-won by ancestors

LETTER

I have recently heard several people asking, “Why should I vote?” It prompted me to think about why I feel voting is such an important part of my life, and why I try to encourage everyone who is eligible to cast their vote.

On September 19, 1893 New Zealand women won the right to vote in elections. In November of that year, women first voted in an election. As a result, New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world to extend this right to all women.

Women’s Suffrage Day (September 19) celebrates the aims of the movement for gender equality and is a reminder of the ongoing issue of equality for women.

However, it was not just women who had to fight for the right to vote. Miners, Maori men and women and a minority of European men were also refused voting rights.

Miners usually didn’t qualify to vote as the property they lived in wasn’t worth enough. To avoid unrest, like the rebellions that had occurred on Australian goldfields, the New Zealand government passed a law in 1860 so men who had a miner’s right (a licence, which cost £1 a year) were eligible to vote.

Maori voting was restricted. At first only a few Maori could vote, as most Maori land was owned collectively.

In 1867 the government created four Maori electorates which covered the whole country. All Maori men aged 21 or over became eligible to vote for these Maori seats. Separate Maori seats still exist and, since 1974 Maori have had to choose whether to be on either the Maori roll or the general roll.

In 1969 the voting age for everyone was lowered from 21 to 20. It was lowered again in 1974 to 18.

Our voting rights were hard-won by our ancestors and it is an insult to our forerunners, those farsighted pioneers, if we don’t exercise our right to vote.

So this is why I vote. I hope you will too.

Dianne Saunders

I have recently heard several people asking, “Why should I vote?” It prompted me to think about why I feel voting is such an important part of my life, and why I try to encourage everyone who is eligible to cast their vote.

On September 19, 1893 New Zealand women won the right to vote in elections. In November of that year, women first voted in an election. As a result, New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world to extend this right to all women.

Women’s Suffrage Day (September 19) celebrates the aims of the movement for gender equality and is a reminder of the ongoing issue of equality for women.

However, it was not just women who had to fight for the right to vote. Miners, Maori men and women and a minority of European men were also refused voting rights.

Miners usually didn’t qualify to vote as the property they lived in wasn’t worth enough. To avoid unrest, like the rebellions that had occurred on Australian goldfields, the New Zealand government passed a law in 1860 so men who had a miner’s right (a licence, which cost £1 a year) were eligible to vote.

Maori voting was restricted. At first only a few Maori could vote, as most Maori land was owned collectively.

In 1867 the government created four Maori electorates which covered the whole country. All Maori men aged 21 or over became eligible to vote for these Maori seats. Separate Maori seats still exist and, since 1974 Maori have had to choose whether to be on either the Maori roll or the general roll.

In 1969 the voting age for everyone was lowered from 21 to 20. It was lowered again in 1974 to 18.

Our voting rights were hard-won by our ancestors and it is an insult to our forerunners, those farsighted pioneers, if we don’t exercise our right to vote.

So this is why I vote. I hope you will too.

Dianne Saunders

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