Suffrage Day polling booth attracts a steady stream of advance voters to Te Manawa

Sandy Wilde casts her vote on Suffrage Day.
WARWICK SMITH/STUFF

Sandy Wilde casts her vote on Suffrage Day.

A large throng of early voters queued to have their stay before the doors opened at a busy inner-city polling booth on Suffrage Day.

Helen Chong, from the National Council of Women's Manawatū branch, said the lines at Palmerston North's Te Manawa museum on Tuesday began before 10am.

Chong and branch president Janice Viles had set up a table in the Te Manawa foyer to commemorate Suffrage Day and were handing out balloons and congratulations to women as they left the polling station.

On September 19, 1893, thanks to campaigning from Kate Sheppard, Edith Grossman, Meri Mangakāhia and others, New Zealand women were somewhat unexpectedly granted the right to vote in national elections by an all-male parliament, becoming the first country in the world to have universal suffrage.

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Women took advantage of that right for the first time in the general election of November 28, 1893.

"It was a huge step forward," Chong said, as a steady stream of advance voters gave away their two ticks.

"What's pleasing is the number of women who know today is Suffrage Day. It's not necessarily the reason they are voting today, but they do know what day it is."

Rebecca Gommans knew all about the day's significance.

"I was going to vote on Saturday, but when I woke up this morning I thought what a wonderful day to come down and vote."

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Her friend Tracy Torok agreed.

"We were having coffee together, talking about voting for our children's future, representing our views and making them count. Why have an opinion if it doesn't count?" Torok said.

Jill Spicer was another who made a choice to vote on Tuesday.

"It seemed like a really good idea to celebrate a right that was hard won and all too easily taken for granted."

Palmerston North electorate's advance voting venues:

AMP Building, 36 Broadway Ave; Massey University Dining Hall; Summerhill Shopping Centre, Summerhill Dr; Te Manawa Museum, 326 Main St; UCOL, corner Princess and King streets.

Rangitīkei electorate's advanced voting venues:

Ashhurst Library, corner Banfield St & Cambridge Ave; St Paul's Presbyterian Parish Hall, corner Church & Grey St, Feilding; The Father's House, 28 Criterion St, Bulls; St Andrew's Presbyterian Church Hall, Broadway, Marton; Taihape Womens Club, 22 Tūī St, Taihape; Horowhenua District Council, 126 Oxford St, Levin; Lions Club, 8 Park St, Foxton

Wairarapa electorate's advanced voting venues:

The Hub, 23 Gordon St, Dannevirke; Tararua District Council Chambers, 136 Main St, Pahiatua.

 - Stuff

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