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Yesterday, 19th March, was 120 years since Governor Glasgow signed the Female Suffrage Bill into law, and New Zealand women gained the right to vote.

At our kura, we spent a full day studying and learning about this incredible moment in our nation’s history, the work that thousands of women across Aotearoa did to achieve their franchise, and what progress has been made towards gender equality in the political sphere.

Our senior wharekura students – all young women themselves – were very engaged in the lesson and did some fantastic research inquiry about the women’s suffrage movement, and the role of Māori women in particular.  We created, and wore, white camelia paper flowers – the symbol that the women’s suffrage supporters used in their late Nineteenth century campaign.

What was profound for me, was reading the student’s reflections on their learning blogs about how much more perspective they now have about the struggle for women’s rights that their foremothers had, and their insights about how much more there is to do, to address issues of violence, exploitation and discrimination against women and children in our world today.

My hope is that these young Māori women, fluent in te reo Māori and English, will be part of a new movement for ongoing social, political and economic transformation in our country. Its a privilege to be part of their learning journey!

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