If you have visited the Kāpiti Women’s Centre or walked past you may have noticed the shady green Suffrage Garden surrounding the house.
The public are welcome to view this garden, established in 1993 to mark the centenary of Women’s Suffrage and honour all those courageous women who ensured New Zealand women were granted the vote on 19 September 1893, celebrated each year on that day.
The garden was designed to symbolise the journey made by women arriving on New Zealand’s shores; beginning with their first sighting of land, disembarking at the estuary and continuing up the river to its source represented by a water spring in a grove of trees. The land was planted with many indigenous trees and shrubs attracting birds to their fruit and flowers – a red beech tree bears special memory to Clare Barrett. Greeting visitors at the entrance is a wrought iron archway created by Brendan Nolan. The sculpture of a reclining woman protectively holding a child, watches over visitors and was carved by Caroline Beaufort out of a massive slab of Hinuera stone from Matamata.
The tranquil garden we enjoy today is the result of a concerted community effort, initiated by the Women’s Electoral Lobby, involving many donations and years of hard work by dedicated women, and men. The Women’s Centre maintains the Garden and recently applied to the Council to grant the garden Heritage Status, to protect the Garden’s beauty and historic significance to Kāpiti and honour Women’s Suffrage in New Zealand.no