Home to the celebrated leader of the women’s suffrage movement, Kate Sheppard House and gardens have been cared for by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga since late 2019.
Built in 1888, the eight room kauri villa stands on a one acre section, half of the original two acres purchased by Sheppard and her husband Walter in 1887.
Kate became a nationally recognised figure for leading a nationwide campaign for women’s enfranchisement from 1887 to 1893 and as a leader of the National Council of Women working for social reform.
Her Ilam home was where she spent crucial years of the campaign (1888 to 1893) writing articles and letters, organising and sending out pamphlets, preparing speeches and directing women’s organisations throughout New Zealand.
She helped amass three large petitions, the third consisting of 31,872 signatures. This infamous petition was pasted together at her dining table in the Clyde Road home and sent to the House of Representatives in Wellington.
It was in the garden of Kate Sheppard House where the suffragist received the telegram on 19 September 1893 informing her of winning the vote for women. Not only was this a national victory for women, but a world-first achievement, paving the way for women to achieve the right to vote around the world.
As Kate continued to campaign for social reform and women’s rights, she would have hosted leading figures including Margaret Sievwright, Amey Daldy, Annie Schnackenberg, Marian Hatton and Jessie Mackay at the home, walking the gardens, discussing the future of women’s rights in New Zealand.
In 1902 Kate and Walter decided to return home to England and the house was sold on 3 April that year to John Joseph Dougall. Kate’s health deteriorated while in England and, on medical advice, she returned to the milder climate of Christchurch to stay with the Lovell-Smith family at their home, Westcote, on Russley Road.
Today Kate Sheppard House and the extensive gardens are undergoing updates to ensure the property can be used for future generations, celebrating Kate’s life and achievements.
Due to safety restrictions placed on the number of people we are able to host inside the house at any one time, self-guided tours are available at set times. One hour self-guided tours start every half hour between 10am with the last session at 3.30pm. Please book your session online at https://www.eventbrite.co.nz/e/kate-sheppard-house-self-guided-tour-tickets-131553226241.