Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia
Digital Illustration, 2020
Meri Te Tai was a campaigner for women’s suffrage in New Zealand,
a suffragist who inspired future generations of Māori women.
Meri Te Tai was of Ngati Te Reinga, Ngati Manawa and Te Kaitutae.
Family tradition suggests that Meri Te Tai was well educated. She is said to
have studied at St Mary’s Convent in Auckland, and was an accomplished pianist.
She later addressed the parliament on her motion – the first woman known to have done so. During her speech, she urged that women should not only be allowed to vote, but also to sit in the Māori parliament as members.
Many Māori women owned land in their own right and were entitled to have
their say in decisions affecting them. There were Māori suffragists who helped
pave the way for women winning the right to vote in Aotearoa.