Te Whare Waiutuutu Kate Sheppard House

83 Clyde Road, Ilam, CHRISTCHURCH


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Te Whare Waiutuutu Kate Sheppard House at 83 Clyde Road, Christchurch, built around 1888, was the home of pioneering New Zealand suffragist, Kate Sheppard, the nationally and internationally celebrated heroine at the helm of a long campaign that met success in 1893, making New Zealand the first country in the world to secure the right for women to vote in national elections. The name Te Whare Waiutuutu Kate Sheppard House references both the stream bordering the north side of the property, Waiutuutu (Okeover Stream) - one of the headwater branches of the Ōtākaro/Avon River which was an important part of the interconnected network of traditional travel routes for Waitaha, Ngāti Māmoe and Ngāi Tahu – and its direct association with the leader of a movement that involved tens of thousands of other New Zealanders agitating for women’s suffrage. The villa was Kate’s family home from 1888 to 1902, crucial years when she undertook nationally significant work. Here activities were planned, speeches were prepared, and she wrote a vast number of letters, pamphlets and articles, all aimed to assert the message of women’s right to vote and to have greater equality within society. It was here, too, that Kate put together the three large suffrage petitions – the last being the ‘monster petition’ of 1893 which eventually totalled over 31,000 signatures when it was presented to the House of Representatives by Sir John Hall and led to the passing of the landmark Bill. Numerous people throughout the country were active and instrumental in the franchise campaign, but it was Kate, the genteel but persuasive Franchise Superintendent of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.), working largely from her domestic space at Clyde Road, who was and is acknowledged as being at the helm of the movement and remains to this day the recognised face of the campaign. Te Whare Waiutuutu Kate Sheppard House has aesthetic, cultural, historical, social, significance of value and overall is of outstanding national significance. Throughout the nineteenth century the position of women in New Zealand and their role in society gradually underwent change, as they increasingly united to voice their need for a greater degree of equality in both public and private life. Motivated by a strong sense of fairness and duty of care to all, guided by her strong religious beliefs and informed by her own life experiences, Kate championed the vote so that women could be involved in decision-making to make the world a better place. The suffrage campaign was the result of immense effort from women and women’s rights supporters - individuals and organisations - throughout the country. Notable visitors who met at Kate’s home to discuss tactics and activities include key politicians Sir John Hall and Alfred Saunders and other Cantabrians (including Kate’s own siblings) who devoted years of their lives endeavouring to advance the rights of women. Within weeks of women’s suffrage being successfully won, a reporter for the national temperance magazine, The Prohibitionist, visited Kate at her Clyde Road house, writing ‘from this sylvan retreat have issued thousands of letters and telegrams, and hundreds of thousands of leaflets, pamphlets and reports, all bearing upon and urging the granting of citizenship to the women of New Zealand. From this spot, too, were issued the petition-forms to be signed and returned, and after being coiled into ponderous rolls to be used to strike with dismay those stubborn legislators who insisted that women were not in earnest about the Franchise. Verily I am treading upon classic ground.’ Although the house and grounds at the Sheppards’ Clyde Road property have changed since Kate resided there, the description of it being a ‘sylvan retreat’ remains apt. The presentation to the street is of mature trees and planting behind a boundary hedge which conceals views of the house from the street and provides a private setting. Timber entrance gates provide access to a shingle drive which curves through the trees to an apron at the east facing frontage of the single storeyed house and a tennis court. Physical evidence suggests that, in the time of the Sheppards, the house was originally a flat fronted Traditional villa, modernised by the subsequent owner in the early twentieth century to that of a Transitional bay villa and later further extended to the west. At the south-west corner of the property is a much modified single storeyed shed with some rusticated timber cladding, potentially a remnant of one of the outbuildings from the Sheppards’ time. Success with suffrage was a giant step towards greater equality for women, and Kate’s efforts in this regard continued through the following decade (while still living at Clyde Road) and beyond. In 1896 she became the founding president of the National Council of Women – sometimes called the Women’s Parliament – whose issues covered in the first four years included marriage, divorce and the economic independence of women, parental responsibilities and equal pay for equal work. In 1902 the Sheppards’ sold the Clyde Road property and since that time it has had a succession of owners – the families of Dougall, Nicoll, Warren, Weigel, Allison and latterly Everist/Burbury – and changes were made to the house and garden over time. The main changes to the house were made in the early twentieth century, giving it a Transitional villa appearance incorporating Arts and Crafts features. The roof form was altered, and an original verandah lean-to roof was replaced with a verandah extending from the principal roof form. In 1944 the original two acre land parcel was subdivided, such that the parcel containing the house remained on the one acre northern half and at least one outbuilding remained on a small parcel adjoining to the south-west. Changes made in the third quarter of the twentieth century included the addition of slate to north and eastern faces of the roof, alterations and extensions to the west and south-west side of the house and construction of a swimming pool at the north-western corner of the property. In 2019 the property was purchased by the New Zealand Government and is now operated by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga as a heritage destination open to the public, to recognise the significant activities Kate Sheppard carried out at this place, and to continue to tell the story of women’s rights and social reform.

Kate Sheppard House, Christchurch | Rebecca Claridge | 01/12/2020 | Heritage New Zealand
Kate Sheppard House, Christchurch | Rebecca Claridge | 01/12/2020 | Heritage New Zealand
Kate Sheppard House, Christchurch | Rebecca Claridge | 01/12/2020 | Heritage New Zealand
Kate Sheppard House, Christchurch | Rebecca Claridge | 01/12/2020 | Heritage New Zealand
Kate Sheppard House, Christchurch | Rebecca Claridge | 01/12/2020 | Heritage New Zealand
Kate Sheppard House, Christchurch | Rebecca Claridge | 01/12/2020 | Heritage New Zealand
Kate Sheppard House, Christchurch. Kate W Sheppard in England ca 1904 | G F Jones & Son | Sheppard Collection, Canterbury Museum, Reference 19XX.2.2046.



List Entry Information


Detailed List Entry



List Entry Status

Historic Place Category 1


Able to Visit

List Number


Date Entered

12th December 2010

Date of Effect

5th May 2022

City/District Council

Christchurch City


Canterbury Region

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 5 and Pt Lot 4 DP 12421 (RT CB490/7), Canterbury Land District, the building known as Te Whare Waiutuutu Kate Sheppard House thereon and the associated outbuilding located on Pt Lot 4 and the front gates. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the List entry report for further information). The present garden setting has largely been created by recent owners and, while forming part of the general extent, in itself it is not an element of the List entry. The garage, swimming pool, the current Astro turf tennis court and its pavilion, all fall within the extent but are not elements of the List entry. While the large macrocarpa hedge is a notable feature at the front of the property, its age will require replacing with a hedge in the future.

Legal description

Lot 5 and Pt Lot 4 DP 12421 (RT CB490/7), Canterbury Land District

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