Celebrating women’s suffrage and Upper Clutha feminism

Jude Battson, community board member, and number-eight-wire sheila is one of the women featured in Skirt Tails the Sequel | Jude Battson

The Wānaka Women’s Suffrage Committee are looking forward to the launch of their new book Skirt Tales the Sequel. On July 28, the committee will be holding the private launch at Cinema Paradiso. 

Jenny Moss, one of the committee members, reflected that “1993 in New Zealand was the centennial year for women's suffrage in our country. Celebrations were held throughout New Zealand. As part of her role as recreational officer for QLDC, Liz Hall was asked to organise centennial suffrage celebration activities in the Upper Clutha. Liz put a call out for women interested to form a committee for this. Several activities were organised, including the planting of three white camellia in Wanaka Station Park which are now fully grown with an information board alongside.”

Moss said that the committee was inspired to write a book. “Phyllis Aspinall came up with the idea we should record the life stories of local women to be published as a book. We publicly invited families to submit stories. These stories included many women from early settlers, but not exclusively. It took us two years to bring this book to fruition. Thanks to The Upper Clutha Historical Records Society this book is now in its third edition.”

Skirt Tales the Sequel will feature the stories of many more local women, said Moss. “2018 was the 125th Anniversary of New Zealand Women's Suffrage. Our committee of five… felt it was important to continue the legacy of [Phyllis Aspinall’s] idea. The Upper Clutha is a far more populated place now with many amazing women. We decided we would approach women who we believed represented a sample of women who have contributed to our community in a variety of ways… One woman describes herself as having to become 'a number  -eight -wire sheila.'”

Moss also reflected that it was very important to the committee that these newer stories be heard, saying, “Through these women's stories we learn much about the past life of our community.” She also encouraged future generations to remember this sentiment, “We are also issuing the challenge for a new committee to record the stories of current local women in future publications. We have a growing number of fine young women [succeeding] in diverse fields. 2043 will see the 150th Anniversary of New Zealand Women's Suffrage.”

Skirt Tales the Sequel will be available in print after the private launch on July 28th. 

View edition 984 of the Wānaka Sun here.


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