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Source: New Zealand Parliament

Wednesday 29 July 2020

The Wellington Sculpture Trust, after working with Speaker Trevor Mallard, is to commission a sculpture to celebrate the journey the women of Aotearoa New Zealand made to become Members of Parliament.

The Speaker said today, “I am pleased to see this work be commissioned, and it will mark the contribution made to the New Zealand Parliament by many women throughout the years.”

Sue Elliott, Chair of the Wellington Sculpture Trust notes, the “work is not to celebrate one woman, but the journey of many who fought for the right for women to vote. They did this through incredible hard work and personal sacrifice, as did the inspirational women who first stood for Parliament against the odds.”

Deputy Speaker Anne Tolley says: “The Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians believed that this was an important story to be told within the grounds of Parliament and, more particularly, as we near the 130th anniversary of the franchise for women in New Zealand.

“We approached the Wellington Sculpture Trust to see if they would undertake the commissioning of this important work because of their extensive experience in delivering public works of art in Wellington and the excellence and rigour of their processes.”

“The Trust greeted the concept of celebrating the journey of women to parliament with enthusiasm and have offered to manage the selection, commissioning and fundraising for the work,” Hon Anne Tolley said.

Sue Elliott says, the brief provided to selected artists will ask them to address the narrative of the over 150 women who have become Members of Parliament and all the women whose shoulders they stood on to get there. The artwork will celebrate these women, serve as a learning tool for locals and tourists alike and add balance to the two statues within Parliament grounds which both commemorate former male Prime Ministers.”

“This work is not intended as a statue to commemorate any one woman, but will talk to the mahi of many to get to parliament, including the work of campaigners prior to the 1893 Electoral Act and the women who first stood for Parliament from 1919 with the passing of the Women’s Parliamentary Rights Act 26 years later. The first woman was not elected to Parliament until 1933.

“It is important for us that the work celebrates the bi-cultural nature of the fight to get to Parliament. While many know of Kate Sheppard, less well known are the efforts of wahine Māori such as Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia. A suffragist and prominent Māori women’s rights activist who took the movement a step further in also fighting for Māori women to be eligible to sit in the Māori Parliament, Te Kotahitanga,” Sue Elliott said.

The Wellington Sculpture Trust has established a special Parliamentary Sculpture Advisory Panel for this project to enlist people with specific skill sets.

The panel comprises:

Sue Elliott (Chair) – Wellington Sculpture Trust

Jane Black – Trustee, Wellington Sculpture Trust

Ruth Harley – Trustee, Wellington Sculpture Trust

Julian Ludbrook – Trustee, Wellington Sculpture Trust

Heather Galbraith – Director Postgraduate Studies at the College of Creative Arts Toi Rauwhārangi, Massey University and contemporary art curator, including public art.

Hinerangi Himiona – Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Toarangatira, currently the Principal Advisor Māori on the ‘Preserving the Memory of the Nations’ programme. She worked on He Tohu at the National Library – the exhibition of He Whakaputanga, Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Te Petihana Whakamana Pōti Wahine.

Dr Rebecca Kiddle – Ngāti Porou and Ngā Puhi, Senior lecturer Urbanism in the School of Architecture, Victoria University of Wellington Te Herenga Waka.

Dr Charlotte Macdonald – Professor of History at Victoria University of Wellington Te Herenga Waka, her area of expertise being women’s history.

Sarah Jacobs – Curator, Parliamentary Collection, ex officio.

The Advisory panel will be meeting at the end of the month to draw up the brief which will then be sent to selected artists for initial proposals.

It is hoped the work will be installed prior to the 130th anniversary.


For more information contact:

Sculpture Trust:

Sue Elliott

+64 27 446 2964

Speakers Office:

Jessie Manning

+64 21 872 397