Meri Te Tai Mangakahia

Meri Te Tai Mangakahia, Maori suffragette supreme

Meri Te Tai Mangakahia, Maori suffragette supreme








the one you

don’t always learn about

in American school systems,


Meri Te Tai was born during the throes (yes, I mean throes)

of Queen Victoria’s reign,

a time of imperialism and insult

to many cultures,

including the Maori,

of which Meri belonged.

Yet Meri was like,

“No, I don’t think you can repress us, Queen Vicky.

(Appellation my phrasing)

Please, back away,

and let us do our own thing.”


as Meri was lobbying for women’s rights,

 her husband, Hamiora Mangakāhia,

who was also working for the rights of the Maori,

was elected Premier of the Maori Kotahitanga Parliament,

which worked to “promote unity of the Maori people”, as noted by Te Ara,

the Encyclopedia of New Zealand history.

Now that her husband was in power at the forefront

of their cause,


Which, really, should have been a non-cause,

seeing that

their belief in social justice

is really a question of


and the lack of it

during HRHarmfulness’ reign


Meri had a door in

to speak in front of the Parliament.

And when she did,

Meri orated phenomenally

during a pivotal Kotahitanga Parliament session,

the first woman to do so.

On May 18th, 1893,

speaking of not only

women gaining suffrage,

but also the opportunity

to vote and sit in the Parliament,

Meri went “a step further

than the contemporary aims of the

European suffrage movement”.

Her speech,

‘So that women may receive the vote’,

voices the sentiment,

“[M]any male leaders […] have petitioned the Queen concerning the many issues that affect us all, however, we have not yet been adequately compensated according to those petitions. Therefore I pray to this gathering that women members be appointed. Perhaps by this course of action we may be satisfied concerning the many issues affecting us and our land. Perhaps the Queen may listen to the petitions if they are presented by her Maori sisters, since she is a woman as well.”

Meri continued to fight for Maori, and women’s rights,

though the remainder of her life has few decidedly known facts,

as she kept out of the public eye

after her  oration.

She most likely joined political groups, and women’s welfare committees,

and (definitely) an executor and trustee of her husband’s estate.

Her daughter Mabel Te Aowhaitini,  “is thought to have been the first Maori to gain the postgraduate diploma in public health nursing in 1939” (Te Ara, reference listed below)

Exactly four months and a day after Meri’s speech,

September 19th, 1893,

the Governor of New Zealand,


signed the Electoral Bill,

thus denoting

the crystalline understanding that

Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia

and her allies had rewritten

world history.

Extremely Helpful Resources


Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia,

and New Zealand Women’s Suffrage::

Te Ara, The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

NZ History, New Zealand History

‘So that women may receive the vote’ (Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia, 1893)

{Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia image courtesy Wikipedia}


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