Tribute to suffrage pioneers

A handcrafted tribute to New Zealands suffragists has opened in the Art Gallery

Tribute to suffrage pioneers

A unique handcrafted exhibition honouring our whakapapa, history and the power of New Zealanders is now open in the Te Manawa Art Gallery. Its subject is a significant milestone in our nation’s story.

A few years back, Wellington Museum worked with upcycling collective Vinnies Re Sew to create a fabric tribute to the people – mostly women – who worked so hard to win suffrage for women in 1893. This show, Suffrage in Stitches, has been touring the country since the 125th anniversary of this great victory in 2018.

The exhibition features stitched, sewn and embroidered panels, one for every person who signed the 1893 suffrage petition. Among them is Louisa Snelson, “the Mother of Palmerston North”, who was a central figure in the local community almost from the moment she arrived. Together these panels will stretch for three hundred metres through the heart of the Art Gallery.

Suffrage in Stitches is the work of 546 individuals, families and groups from New Zealand and beyond, of all ages and abilities. It’s a celebration of “ordinary” people who came together to achieve an extraordinary thing, and shows how one craft-based idea can connect and bring New Zealanders together from multiple backgrounds, communities and generations.

“The signatories on the petition fought for equality; were part of the first acts of national political activism; had a desire for social justice; and a drive and demand for democracy,” says Vanisa Dhiru, president of the National Council of Women. “Pioneers of their time, their stories and strength continue to be sources of motivation for change today.”

Suffrage in Stitches is developed and toured by Wellington Museum in partnership with Vinnies Re Sew. It will be open in the Te Manawa Art Gallery until 25 July.