Kate Sheppard

Kate Sheppard

A Leader of our Past

Born: March 1847, in Liverpool, England

Died: 13July 1934 in Riccarton, Christchurch

Early life

  • She was born in Liverpool, but raised and educated in Scotland.
  • Her parents were Jemima Crawford Souter and

Andrew Wilson Malcolm.

  • Her name was Katherine Wilson, but she was known as Kate.
  • After her father died in 1862, Kate came to New Zealand in 1869 with her mother and other family members.   They arrived at Lyttelton in February 1869.
  • Kate married Walter Allen Sheppard, a storekeeper and Christchurch City Councillor, on 21 July 1871, when she was 24 years old.

Adult life

  • They had one son, Douglas, born in 1880.
  • She joined the Christchurch branch of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in 1885.
  • Kate became the leader of the fight to win the right for women to vote in elections. She organised petitions to Parliament asking for the right to vote for women and persuaded Sir John Hall, a leading member of Parliament, to support them.
  • She wrote a pamphlet called Ten reasons why the women of New Zealand should vote to support the campaign.
  • Despite the defeat of the suffrage bills in Parliament in 1888, 1891 and 1892, Kate continued the campaign for the vote, using public meetings and letters to the newspapers to gather support.

  • Her last petition to Parliament had nearly

32,000 signatures on it.

  • On 19 September 1893 women were finally given the right to vote in elections.
  • When the next general election was held ten weeks later, 65% of New Zealand women over 21 voted. New Zealand had become the first country in which all women had the right to vote.
  • She later travelled overseas to England and America to help the campaigns there.
  • In 1895 she became the editor of the first newspaper in New Zealand to be owned, managed and published only by women. It was called the White Ribbon.
  • She established the National Council of Women in April 1896 and continued to argue for women’s rights, especially the right for married women to have control of their own money.
  • Walter Allen Sheppard died on 24 July 1915.
  • In 1925 Kate married William Sidney Lovell-Smith, an old friend and supporter of women’s suffrage.
  • Kate Lovell-Smith died at her home in

Riccarton on 13 July 1934.