Kate Sheppard’s life to be celebrated with tour

Pioneering member of the women's suffrage movement Kate Sheppard.

Kate Sheppard’s life is set to be commemorated as a special tour kicks off in the city ahead of Suffrage Day on September 19.

Sheppard was a pioneering member of New Zealand’s women’s suffrage movement.

The tour, which launches on September 15, will include music, a bus trip, a visit to Sheppard’s grave and to the Kate Sheppard Memorial by the Avon River on Oxford Tce.

Project coordinator Diane McCarthy said the tour was “for women, by women.”

“There are many events throughout New Zealand and Christchurch as part of Suffrage 125,” she said.

“Our point of difference is that we are here to celebrate Kate Sheppard’s life through reliving her history.”

The tour will feature several guest speakers, including Public Service Association member Nancy McShane, who will play Sheppard during a suffrage performance.

“From researching Kate’s speeches and life, Ms McShane brings passion from her own political life into the role,” Mrs McCarthy said.

“We all worked with Nancy to ensure her portrayal is authentic and has the look and feel of this radical woman in conservative Victorian times.”

Mrs McCarthy said she had tried to capture Sheppard’s life as accurately as possible, in spite of the damage to some historical sites caused by the earthquakes.

“It’s sad that a third of the historical sites are gone, demolished and redeveloped, pre and post-earthquake,” Mrs McCarthy said.

“But our team has put in hundreds of hours of our own time into this project. From a small core group, we now have new and younger volunteers with skills in social enterprise, social media and web development, who gave us feedback on the trial tour, last week.  Between us, we have over 200 years of making living history.”

The Kate Sheppard Celebration Tour begins on September 15 at 9.45am at the Canterbury Workers’ Educational Association hall on Gloucester St.

•Tickets $25 from www.kate-sheppard-celebration-tourlilregie.com

FAST FACTS

•Kate Sheppard was a pioneering member of New Zealand’s women’s suffrage movement, and the country’s most famous suffragette

•She migrated to New Zealand from the United Kingdom in 1868, and became an active member of various religious and social organisations, including the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union

•In 1887 she was appointed the WCTU’s national superintendent for franchise and legislation, a position she used to advance the cause of women’s suffrage

•She worked to give women the right to vote, and after the Electoral Bill was granted, Kiwi women voted for the first time on November 28, 1893

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