Talk by Hilary Stace (Wellington, 5 December 2018)

Come hear Hilary Stace as she looks back at some of the influential women who fought for social, political and economic justice in New Zealand.

A century before Jacinda Ardern became Prime Minister an earlier generation of left-wing feminists paved the way for those who followed. They were the first generation to vote, although for many their first vote came after immigration to New Zealand. This group of women:

  • helped found the Labour Party
  • lobbied for the right to stand for Parliament (finally won in 1919)
  • fought for social justice
  • stood for election to boards and committees, and
  • ran community and voluntary groups.

All while supporting their men including during wartime imprisonment, and eventually into the First Labour Government. They were involved in all aspects of the Labour movement although political power at the highest levels was largely denied them.

Janet Fraser, wife of Prime Minister Peter Fraser, was one example. An early member of the Wellington Hospital Board, she was one of the first women JPs, encouraged Peter’s interest in the arts, was influential in bringing the Polish refugees to New Zealand and hosted a visit by her friend Eleanor Roosevelt.

She was also Peter’s Parliamentary gatekeeper and partner in decision-making. This presentation will look at Janet Fraser and some of her Wellington socialist friends.

About the speaker

Past careers working at the Turnbull Library and the Dictionary of NZ Biography provided opportunities for Hilary Stace to pursue her interests in feminist history and politics. She is also a researcher on disability issues and her PhD was on autism and public policy.

Date: Wednesday, 5 December 2018
Time: 12:10 p.m. to 1 p.m.
Location: Te Ahumairangi (ground floor), National Library, corner Molesworth and Aitken Streets, Thorndon