In 2020, in consultation with Ngāi Tūāhuriri, the property at 83 Clyde Road, Christchurch, was given the name Te Whare Waiutuutu Kate Sheppard House, in reference to the Māori name of the Okeover Stream bounding the northern side of the land parcel and in acknowledgement of the layers of values of the place that has become recognised for its famous first occupant, the leader of the women’s franchise movement, Kate Sheppard.
Tuahiwi is the home of Ngāi Tūāhuriri and has played a vital role in Ngāi Tahu history. The takiwā (district) of Te Ngāi Tūāhuriri Rūnanga centres on Tuahiwi and extends from the Hurunui to the Hakatere River and inland to the Main Divide. Nearby the famous Kaiapoi Pā was established by the first Ngāi Tahu ancestors when they settled Te Wai Pounamu. Kaiapoi Pā was the major capital, trading centre and point from which further penetration of the South Island occurred so the area is a genealogical centre for all Ngāi Tahu whānui (descendants). Kaiapoi Pā was established by Moki’s elder brother Tūrākautahi who was the second son of Tūāhuriri, hence ‘Ngai Tūāhuriri’ is the name of the hapū of this area.
Along with whakapapa (genealogy), mahinga kai is the main axle upon which Ngāi Tahu identity with the natural environment revolves. Mahinga kai (literally meaning ‘working the food’) refers to the sustainable gathering of food and resources, the places where they are gathered and the practices used in doing so.
The vast network of wetlands and plains of Kā Pakihi Whakatekateka o Waitaha/Canterbury Plains is inherently important to the history of its early occupation. The area was rich in food from the forest and waterways. Major awa (river) such as the Rakahuri (Ashley), Waimakariri, Pūharakekenui (Styx) and Rakaia were supplied from the mountain fed aquifers of Kā Tiritiri o te Moana (Southern Alps). Other spring-fed waterways such as the Ōtākaro/Avon River meandered throughout the landscape. The rivers teemed with tuna, kōkopu, kanakana and īnanga; the wetlands were a good supply of wading birds and fibres for weaving, food and medicine; with the forest supplying kererū, kokopa, tūī and other fauna as well as building materials. In 1879 at Kaiapoi, Wiremu Te Uki, stood before the Smith-Nairn Commission and declared: ‘We used to get food from all over our Island; it was all mahinga kai. And we considered our island as in a far superior position to any other, because it is called Waipounamu, the greenstone island; the fame thereof reaches all lands’. Ara tawhito (travelling routes) crossed over the landscape providing annual and seasonal pathways up and down and across the plains and in some cases skirting or traversing the swamps. Permanent pā sites and temporary kainga were located within and around the Plains as Ngāi Tahu established and used the mahinga kai sites where they gathered and utilised natural resources from the network of springs, waterways, wetlands, grasslands and lowland podocarp forests that abounded along the rivers and estuaries.
The area now occupied by Ōtautahi/Christchurch has always been a food gathering space – its water and rich soils meant an abundance of birds and fish gathered in seasonal rounds by Waitaha, Ngāti Māmoe and Ngāi Tahu’. The Ōtākaro/Avon River is named after the tipuna, ‘Tākaro’. It is the iconic spring-fed river that flows through Christchurch into Te Ihutai (the Avon-Heathcote Estuary) and was an important part of the interconnected network of traditional travel routes, particularly as an access route through the swampy marshlands of Christchurch. The mouth of the Ōtākaro was a permanent mahinga kai, and the river supported numerous kāinga mahinga kai, with foods gathered including tuna (eel), inaka (whitebait), kōkopu (native trout), kanakana (lamprey), waikōura (freshwater crayfish), waikākahi (freshwater mussel), tuere (blind hagfish), and pātiki (flounders). A variety of birds were also harvested on the river, including pūtakitaki (paradise ducks), pārera (grey duck), raipo (New Zealand scaup), tataa (brown duck), and pāteke (teal). On the banks of the rivers, plant-based foods such as aruhe (bracken fernroot) and kāuru (root of the tī kōuka) were also gathered.
Māori names for places and water courses in Canterbury, including those recorded by various observers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, sometimes have slight differences or interpretations. In 1910, Thomas Green (Tame Kirini) of Tuahiwi recorded, ‘O’Taakario is the name of the Avon, the norths branch is Wairarapa, the middle branch is “Nga Waimaero” the southern branch is “O’Rangiopāoa”. Or in Ngāi Tahu dialect O’Rakipāoa, the k being substituted for the NG. Otautahi is the name of a place on the bank of the Avon. The Maoris calls Christchurch Otautahi it is known to them by that name (about the market place)’. Ōtākaro is often referred to as ‘the place of play’ – Ō (of place) Takaro (engage in single combat, wrestle, play, sport). ‘In its lower reaches it was called Ōtākaro (a place to play) or Ototere (swamp) and Wainoni (winding water)’.
W.A. Taylor recorded the headwater branches of Ōtākaro/Avon River with the following names: Wairarapa (glistening water); Waimaero (this is the Waimairi, deep water channel or water of the barbarians); Wai iti (small water); Wai utu utu (water lifted up) and the Haere roa (long wanderer) is the main branch to Avonhead. Taylor noted the tributary to the last-mentioned at Ilam being called the Ota takaro and the Māori name of the area that became Upper Riccarton was Rakipaoa.
Herries Beattie, in his 1945 publication Māori Place Names of Canterbury, also discussed the Upper Riccarton area, recording that Rangipaoa is the southern branch of the Avon, flowing past Riccarton House, and is sometimes spelt Raki-paoa or Rangi-paowa, meaning smoky sky. O-hika-iti (the place of Hikaiti, who may be a historical character or allude to a deity controlling the tides) is said to be at Fendalton, north of Dean Bush, while in the vicinity east of Waimaero Stream was Te Pohu-raki-nui (the breast of the great sky). In Beattie’s notes, Wai-rarapa (flashing water, or sudden gleam of water) was the north branch of the Ōtākaro/Avon River and at Upper Fendalton was Hika-huruhuru (hika meaning falling and huruhuru meaning hair or feathers). The three branches, Wairarapa, Waimaero and Rangipoea, are ‘joined by a few insignificant creeks’ and the united stream is called the O-takaro (sport, play). In a second list, Beattie records the name Orakipaoa – ‘an old cultivation on the stream of the same name on the south side of the old Wai-a-te-rua-ti Pa’, and above the pā the stream was called Paomoki.
Beattie notes that in 1935 Mr A.H. Carrington had collected Māori place-names and adds further, slightly different information to state that there were four (not three) tributaries on the Avon. He further names Wai-utu-utu as a tributary, omits Rakipaoa, and gives the Māori name of Christchurch’s site as Otautahi. Beattie detailed further, ‘A Māori said to me, “The Waimaeroero, the Wai-utu-utu, and the Wairarapa join at Carlton [? Riccarton] and the combined stream runs up into the Avon. Wai-ma-ero-ero means ‘Spirit Stream,’ because it is named after a spirit people”. The Maeroero are usually termed “wild men of the woods,” and are associated with remote hills and dense forest as a rule, and this is the only indication I have of them having been on the site of Christchurch.”
Wai-utu-utu was later named the Okeover Stream and is shown in Beattie and Taylor as being meaning ‘dip up water’ or ‘water lifted up’. A University of Canterbury study in 2015 considered the characteristics of Wai-utu-utu/Okeover Stream. Anecdotal evidence suggested that the stream flow previously was much larger than it is now in the twenty first century, with one local recalling that he had to use a rowboat to cross the stream in the 1950s.
Detail from W.A. Taylor’s Christchurch waterways map with red arrows pointing out Clyde Road and Wai utu utu in the vicinity of what is now 83 Clyde Road, Ilam
The brothers William and John Deans were the first permanent Pākehā pioneers to settle on the Canterbury Plains in 1843 and they gave Ōtākaro the new name of Avon River, after an Avon River in their homeland of Ayrshire, Scotland. W.A. Taylor noted that on the Deans’ Māori lease, 6 December 1846, Riccarton is shown as Putaringamotu. Also known as Riccarton Bush and Deans Bush, Pūtaringamotu is a rare surviving remnant of indigenous forest on the plains.
1850 saw the planned arrival of Canterbury Association settlers to Christchurch, all of whom were eager to procure land. Under the auspices of the Canterbury Association, the site of Christchurch had been surveyed into town and rural sections which were allotted to the settlers. Land to the north and west of the Deans’ estate was subdivided into rural sections using the Wairarapa, Waimairi, and Avon waterways as primary natural boundaries. In 1851, the two largest rural sections taken up were located west of the surveyed town of Christchurch, with the Deans brothers retaining their land as Rural Section 163 and John Charles Watts Russell selecting 500 acres west of Riccarton as Rural Section 12, this becoming known as the Ilam estate. In 1873 Watts Russell sold three acres of his Ilam estate for the formation of the part of Clyde Road between the Avon River and Waimairi Streams. John Watts Russell died in 1875 and two years later Alfred Creyke married his widow, Elizabeth, and in 1880 the Creykes subdivided and sold off much of the land previously in the Ilam estate. This included various land parcels along Clyde Road. In 1887 Walter Allen Sheppard purchased one of the subdivided land parcels, two acres at 83 Clyde Road, and he and his wife, Kate, and son, Douglas (then around seven years old), moved to a new house they had built there around 1888. This place, the Sheppard’s home, became the key space where Kate carried out significant activity that contributed to New Zealand becoming the first country to enfranchise women.
Kate Sheppard’s life prior to moving to Clyde Road
Born in Liverpool on 10 March 1847, Kate was the second daughter of Scottish parents, Jemima Crawford Souter and Andrew Wilson Malcolm. Named Catherine Wilson Malcolm, she preferred to be known as Kate or Katherine. The family, which grew to five children, lived in London, though for much of the time Andrew served away in the military. He died aged 42 of delirium tremens in New Mexico in January 1862. Time was spent with relatives in Dublin and Kate also enjoyed a period staying in Nairnshire with her maternal aunt Hamilton and her husband William Barclay, a minister in the Free Church of Scotland who espoused the support of worthy causes. Like her siblings, Kate held strong religious convictions and benefited from a very good education. If the family was aware of the cause of Andrew’s death, it would have been a traumatic first-hand lesson in how alcohol can blight lives. Marie, Kate’s elder sister, met and became engaged to George Low Beath, a draper in Dunfermline who migrated to Melbourne and then travelled to Christchurch where he established a successful drapery business. Marie journeyed out to marry him, the wedding taking place in Christchurch on 6 February 1867. Their tales of life and opportunities in Christchurch inspired Jemima and her other four young adult children to join them. Sailing out on what transpired to be the last successful voyage of the Matoaka, the family reached Lyttelton in February 1869, shortly before Kate’s twenty-first birthday.
The family settled into the life Christchurch offered and Kate became actively involved in church life. Through family friends, including George Beath, she met Walter Allen Sheppard (1836-1915), a prosperous businessman twelve years her senior. Born in Bath, Somerset, England in 1836, Walter had emigrated to the Victorian goldfields in Australia around 1853-1854, where he became involved in a timber company in Ballarat. He eventually moved to Christchurch where he worked as an accountant for merchants Gould and Miles before purchasing the business with partner George Piercy under the name Sheppard and Co. He was interested in local affairs and served on the Christchurch City Council in 1868. On 21 July 1871 Kate and Walter were married at Kate’s mother’s home in Cashel Street by the Reverend Habens of the Trinity Congregational Church. They first lived in Madras Street, between Peterborough and Kilmore Street, close to the city centre and not far from Mrs Malcolm. The couple enjoyed a quiet, refined life with cultural and social activities to the fore. In March 1877 Kate and Walter left for England to visit relatives, returning in April of the following year which coincided with the first attempt to get a bill to allow women’s suffrage through the House of Representatives, although Kate was not involved at this stage.
By the time Kate and Walter’s son, Douglas, was born on 8 October 1880, Kate would have been aware of moves to promote greater equality. Jemima Malcolm died, aged 59, in June 1881. Kate’s circumstances as the wife of a man of means enabled her involvement in activities outside the home. She attended morning art classes at the Canterbury College School of Art in 1882 and 1883 alongside others of standing, such as Samuel Hurst Seager and Margaret Stoddart, and by the mid-1880s was active in the Riccarton Choral Society. Her early activities at Trinity Congregational Church included giving her time to church visiting, teaching Bible classes and fundraising. In the mid-1880s, when the Trinity Ladies’ Association was formed, Kate became its very involved secretary, developing valuable organisational skills in this role. She also worked to set up the Young Women’s Christian Association (Y.W.C.A.), by the end of the 1880s becoming a member of the management committee.
The evils associated with the consumption of alcohol concerned many people at this time, including Kate, her family and the wider circle of her friends. In the United States and in England temperance groups had been established to promote control of liquor. The visit to Christchurch in 1885 of an American temperance missionary, Mary Clement Leavitt, brought about an emphatic change in Kate’s life. During Mrs Leavitt’s two weeks in the city, she spoke daily at well attended public meetings to promote New Zealand’s establishment of a Women’s Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.). These meetings were fully reported in newspapers. Mrs Leavitt’s eloquent deliveries in a calm and rational manner made her message convincing - it was not just the need for abstinence that she advocated but also that women should be acknowledged to be an integral part of humanity, entitled to the freedoms enjoyed by men.
Involvement with the W.C.T.U. brought new challenges to Kate who first worked on a petition to ban the employment of barmaids and the sale of intoxicants to children. It is possible that it was this aspect of the Union’s work that initially captured her interest, but from its 1886 annual convention the W.C.T.U. formally resolved to work for women’s suffrage. Their belief was that with women able to vote, prohibition would be achieved. By this time there were W.C.T.U. branches throughout New Zealand. The branches organised themselves into departments led by superintendents. In Christchurch, Kate began as Superintendent for Relative Statistics and her sister Isabel May led the Department of Hygiene, later taking over the national leadership of this area. Kate later said, ‘it was the fact of being hampered and hindered in various departments of work that led me to so ardently long for a vote’. At the beginning of 1887 Kate was elected the W.C.T.U.’s Superintendent for Franchise and Legislation, a national and local position, which she held for the next 13 years. Although she was at the helm of the suffrage movement during these crucial years, the movement had been preceded by efforts of others.
Early Efforts in Women’s Suffrage in New Zealand
As early as 1843 Alfred Saunders and William Fox advocated ‘Woman Suffrage’. From Nelson, Mrs Mary Ann Müller, under the pen name of ‘Femmina’ (also ‘Femina’) had been publicly advocating for votes for women since 1869, publishing in the Nelson Examiner and issuing a pamphlet entitled ‘An Appeal to the Men of New Zealand’. In 1877 politician Dr James Wallis moved in Parliament ‘that the same political rights and privileges should be granted to women as to men’. He had support in the house from William Fox, Sir Robert Stout, Sir John Hall and Alfred Saunders. Despite this support, the first attempts made to get a bill to allow women’s suffrage through the House of Representatives in 1878 and 1879 were unsuccessful, in part because it was argued that women themselves did not want the vote. In 1881 Dr Wallis introduced a Woman’s Franchise Bill – which proposed women aged 21 and over who owned freehold estate to the value of £25 could be eligible to vote - but, although it passed its first reading, it was not progressed.
Te Whare Waiutuutu Kate Sheppard House - Kate’s crucial years at the helm of the suffrage campaign
Kate described how involved she was in the cause: ‘I have served an apprenticeship to the Franchise … it was in 1887 that I really started work, and ever since that time I think I must have given more time to Suffrage work than many men give to their business’. 1887 is notable for Kate – at the start of the year she had been elected national franchise superintendent for the W.C.T.U. Later that year, in November 1887, Walter Sheppard purchased, for ₤400, a two-acre (.81 ha) section on Clyde Road for a new home for the family. At the time the location, some three miles (4.8 kilometres) from central Christchurch, was considered to be rural. Kate’s siblings, Isabel May and Frank Malcolm had both relocated to the area in 1883, each building substantial family homes on six-acre blocks of land on Clyde Road that they purchased from Alfred Creyke’s subdivision. Kate’s other sister, Marie Beath, lived just a short distance away on Riccarton Road. The Sheppards would have come to know the area very well before they purchased their own two acre block adjacent to the larger property of Kate’s brother Frank and his family on Clyde Road in 1887. There is even some evidence to suggest the Sheppards may have lived in the area before purchasing the two-acre block.
The Sheppards home at what is now 83 Clyde Road was comfortable and stylish but not grand. It had a drawing room, dining room, four bedrooms, study, hall, kitchen and bathroom. On the grounds were a tennis lawn, a small fruit garden and stables with three stalls, loose box, harness room and man’s room.
In nineteenth century New Zealand, a women’s domain was largely in the home. Unsurprisingly, this is where Kate carried out much of her work – planning, writing, hatching plans and communicating with key individuals in the campaign, especially over the years of most intense struggle for women’s suffrage from 1888 to 1893. It was from her comfortable home (and, from 1890, the W.C.T.U. tea and coffee rooms in Manchester Street) that Kate carried out her increasing range of work for the W.C.T.U. In 1888 Kate wrote her first one page leaflet, Ten Reasons Why the Women of New Zealand Should Vote. It reads as follows:
Ten Reasons Why Women Should Vote
1. Because a Democratic Government like that of New Zealand already admits the great principle that every adult person, not convicted of crime, nor suspected of lunacy, has an inherent right to a voice in the construction of laws which all must obey.
2. Because it has not yet been proved that the intelligence of women is only equal to that of children, nor that their social status is on a par with that of lunatics or convicts.
3. Because women are affected by the prosperity of the Colony, are concerned in the preservation of its liberty and free institutions, and suffer equally with men from all national errors and mistakes.
4. Because women are less accessible than men to most of the debasing influences now brought to bear upon elections, and by doubling the number of electors to be dealt with, women would make bribery and corruption less effective, as well as more difficult.
5. Because in the quietude of home women are less liable than men to be swayed by mere party feeling, and are inclined to attach great value to uprightness and rectitude of life in a candidate.
6. Because the presence of women at the polling-booth would have a refining and purifying effect.
7. Because the votes of women would add weight and power to the more settled and responsible communities.
8. Because women are endowed with a more constant solicitude for the welfare of the rising generation, thus giving them a more far-reaching concern for something beyond the present moment.
9. Because the admitted physical weakness of women disposes them to exercise more habitual caution, and to feel a deeper interest in the constant preservation of peace, law, and order, and especially in the supremacy of right over might.
10. Because women naturally view each question from a somewhat different standpoint to men, so that whilst their interests, aims, and objects would be generally the same, they would often see what men had overlooked, and thus add a new security against any partial or one-sided legislation.
In essence, the message was the absurdity of franchise for men, while women along with children, criminals and lunatics were excluded. This was in an age when women were increasingly the employers of men who could vote while they could not. It also indicated that women’s vote would allow for greater focus given to social issues.
As well as being the place where Kate spent time writing, the Clyde Road house was where notable people in the suffrage movement – politicians, family and friends - visited Kate and where many decisions were made. While there were many women of considerable ability throughout the country who devoted time and energy to gaining new members, public support for their objectives and taking practical steps to achieve their aims, Christchurch and Canterbury were particularly fortunate in the calibre of their Union members and supporters. Mrs Emma Packe, first president of the W.C.T.U.’s Christchurch branch soon became president of the National Executive, supported by Christchurch women who were treasurer and secretary. Kate, Isabel May and Ada Wells held posts as national superintendents. Ada Wells, another key person in the suffrage movement, worked closely with Kate, who valued her fervour, efficiency and organising ability. William and Jennie Smith (from 1908, the Smith surname was changed to Lovell-Smith), whom the Sheppards socialised with through choir and church as well as W.C.T.U, had a family printing business which printed the W.C.T.U.’s leaflets and pamphlets. This material was distributed widely and given out at meetings as reminders of the campaign’s aims and message.
Politicians Alfred Saunders and Sir John Hall played major political and advisory roles. Alfred Saunders, a close friend of Walter Sheppard’s, and a frequent visitor to their home, had been committed to women’s franchise for many years and may well have first drawn Kate’s attention to the subject. A gifted orator and passionate activist for temperance and universal suffrage, he had a lengthy career in politics and public affairs. It was his position in the House of Representatives that later enabled him to become one of Kate’s most important and active supporters and advisors during the crucial years of the suffrage campaign. Kate also knew prominent politician John Hall’s support for women’s suffrage was well established and she approached him in 1888, asking him to be the women’s parliamentary advocate, which he readily agreed. Among the other men of influence were the key local prohibitionists, Rev. Leonard Isitt and Tommy Taylor, a later member of the House of Representatives.
Kate now frequently left home to travel to different parts of Canterbury and beyond, often accompanied by her younger sister, Isabel. She began an intensive programme of addressing meetings and smaller groups, initially reading papers she had prepared and gradually, as she was so favourably received, gaining confidence to speak less formally. Kate brought many on side through her able communication skills and personality. Reports in papers indicated approval and sometimes surprise over her lucidity and gentle manner, as there had been frequent negative comments about some raucous, shrieking women who promoted the franchise cause. Kate always dressed in elegant fashionable clothes, her appearance adding to her status as a refined lady of personal charm with a worthy message to impart. She was effective because she was not a shrieking eccentric without well-reasoned arguments.
In 1887 two petitions requesting franchise were signed by over 350 people. In April 1887 the ‘Female Franchise Bill’ was introduced by Sir Julius Vogel and John Ballance (likely also strongly influenced by Sir Robert Stout) – which was ‘for females possessing the same qualifications, rights, and privileges as males’ - but despite its second reading, in May 1887, being carried 41-22, this Bill was dropped.
Kate understood that large petitions could convincingly demonstrate the force of women’s feelings and over the following years worked tirelessly to acquire more impressive numbers of signatures. Through 1888 she established a close relationship with Sir John Hall who became the leading campaigner for women’s suffrage in the House of Representatives during this time. Although his home base was at Hororata (Terrace Station) he had a town house in Christchurch, allowing them to meet, though their communication was also by letter. Saunders, though of lesser status in Parliament than Sir John, was a very active lobbyist and provided Kate with much support. Apart from work getting petition signatures Kate continued with endless meetings, organised the distribution of leaflets she wrote, contributed frequent items to newspapers and worked with other W.C.T.U. members in practical ways to keep social issues to the fore. An example was the provision of tents at public events like Agricultural and Pastoral Shows providing tea with refreshments as alternatives to the liquor stalls and to publicise the franchise campaign. The leaders of franchise in the W.C.T.U. through the country were instructed to take all opportunities to publicise women’s franchise and always respond when letters on the subject appeared in local papers.
In 1888 two petitions seeking the enfranchisement of women with 800 signatures were sent to the Legislative Council. In 1891, despite eight petitions with over 9000 women’s signatures being sent to the House of Representatives, the Suffrage Bill introduced by Sir John Hall and supported only in the House of Representatives was defeated in the Legislative Council. This defeat was in spite of an impromptu petition by Mrs Ballance and others from the Ladies’ Gallery to counter opponents’ declaring women didn’t want the vote. The Electoral Bill giving franchise to women that was introduced in 1892 by John Ballance was abandoned because of an impractical amendment allowing for postal votes for women (to avoid woman being hassled at polling booths).
In 1892 other franchise groups were established, notably the Women’s Franchise League (formed in Dunedin in 1892, with Marion Hatton as president, then Auckland, and in 1893 Wanganui, Napier and Ashburton) and the Women’s Institute (formed in Christchurch, also in 1892). These valuable allies worked alongside the W.C.T.U. for the same cause of women’s suffrage, coming from different angles. As Kate said in 1893, the Women’s Franchise Leagues ‘naturally reached many which the Women’s Christian Temperance Union could not.’
The year 1893 was busy and anxious for the suffragists. Sir John Hall had advised Kate that large numbers of signatures on petition forms were essential and she rallied everyone she could into the task of taking the forms around. The labour involved in collecting these petitions was immense, and meant, in the absence of trams and motor cars, trudging from door to door in intervals between household duties’. This organised campaign to gather signatures was mirrored in other parts of the country. In Otago, the record 7,088 signatures gathered was attributed to the harmonious working of the local W.C.T.U. superintendent with Marion Hatton of the Dunedin Franchise League. Kate Sheppard remained at the helm of the women’s franchise effort. As the signed pages came in, from her Christchurch home she compiled them for dispatch to Wellington. On 13 July 1893, the Press reported that just that week, the Franchise Superintendent of the W.C.T.U. forwarded to both houses of Parliament, the Women’s Franchise Petition, with no fewer than 25,570 signatures attached which were collected from the various centres throughout New Zealand, and that more were to follow.
The Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives 1893 shows that there was a total of 13 petitions that made up the monster petition – by far the largest was that of ‘Mary J. Carpenter and 25,519 Others’, 270 metres long, which was the one pasted and sent through from Kate Sheppard on 13 July 1893 – she reported that she was expecting at least another 1500 more signatures to be forwarded that week, anticipating that Sir John Hall would hand them over.
When Sir John Hall presented the 13 separate petitions to the House of Representatives on 11 August 1893, he noted that they contained the signatures of 31,872 women, almost a quarter of the voting age European female population. The ‘monster’ petition was indeed impressive, by far the largest petition presented to any Parliament in Australasia to that date, and the Electoral Bill allowing women’s suffrage was passed by the House of Representatives and then by the Legislative Council.
There was still concern, however, and in September 1893 Kate wrote an open letter to the Governor General, ‘on behalf of the 31,000 women whose petition I had the honour of forwarding to Parliament’, urging immediate assent to the enfranchisement of the women of the Colony. With relief for the suffragists, this was signed by the Governor, Lord Glasgow, on 19 September 1893. The pen with which it was signed was presented to Kate and, at her request, was placed at the W.C.T.U. Headquarters in Wellington to be ‘a relic of a fight in which the Union bore so brave a part.’
Kate’s excitement at the victory was clear: ‘The news is being flashed far and wide, and before our Earth has revolved on its axis every civilised community within the reach of the electric wires will have received the tidings that civic freedom has been granted to the women of New Zealand.’
Hot on the heels of the victory, in October 1893 Kate was interviewed at her home by reporters for two separate publications. A reporter for the national temperance magazine, The Prohibitionist, visited Kate at her Clyde Road house, succinctly identifying her work executed from her property: ‘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.’
Later in the same month, at her house Kate was interviewed for an article in The New Zealand Graphic, and a full-page piece was dedicated to the history of the suffrage movement and where things might head now that women had just been granted the right to vote. Extracts of this first-hand account provides an insight into Kate’s persona as well as her own perspective of her role and working with others: ‘Mrs Sheppard, the wife of Mr W. A. Sheppard, a gentleman well known in Canterbury for many years past, has not an atom of the woman’s rights style about her. Seen in her pretty, pleasantly situated residence at Fendalton it is somewhat difficult to realise that this graceful, tastefully-attired woman, who possesses such rare tact as a hostess and places you so completely at your ease, can be the one who has had so much to do with political tactics during the last few years. … In public speaking Mrs Sheppard has a pleasant, clear, though not powerful voice, and, better still, she has not a trace of the mannerisms that are so usually acquired by women who attempt to open their lips in public’. The article goes on to quote Kate directly at length: ‘… In 1887 I was appointed by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union as Franchise Superintendent for New Zealand, and have retained that office, through re-election year by year, ever since. … Under the Women’s Christian Temperance Union auspices meetings have been held, an enormous quantity of literature has been circulated, and literary and debating societies have been induced to discuss the question. The petitions circulated by the Union have done more to educate the mass of women than anything else. The last one was signed by over 31,000 women. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union organisation is splendidly officered for such work. Each branch has its own local superintendent of Franchise, and with these I, as New Zealand’s superintendent, have corresponded, and the interest has spread. I have corresponded with Australia and America, and also with the English Champions, Mrs Fawcett and Miss Helen Blackburn, secretary of the League. Two years ago Franchise Leagues were started in Auckland and Dunedin, and during the present year in Wanganui, Napier and Ashburton. These really owe their existence to the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, having been organised by its members.’
Victory for suffragists in New Zealand helped those struggling for freedom in other countries. As an American woman in Melbourne wrote to Kate when the bill was passed: ‘Your long … earnest effort is finally rewarded, … which means so much not only for you and the women of New Zealand, but for women everywhere on the face of the globe. It will give new hope and life to all women struggling for emancipation, and give promise of better times and an approaching millennium for all the down trodden and enslaved millions of women not only in so called Christian countries, but in India and the harems of the East.’
Following celebrations, work continued. There was a new challenge, to ensure that women would enrol before rolls closed in six weeks’ time and would vote in the election scheduled for 28 November 1893. Kate’s words of encouragement for women to vote resounded for years to come: ‘Do not think that your single vote does not matter much. The rain that refreshes the parched ground is made up of single drops. If our women earnestly resolve to vote for none but good member and good objectives, there will be such a moral uplifting of politics, such as the English nation has never seen’. The participation by women was satisfying, with 65 per cent of women over the age of 21 voting. There was little noticeable impact of their voting, no evidence as opponents had suggested of women being assaulted at polling booths or children being left unattended.
In December 1893 Kate was elected president of the Christchurch branch of the W.C.T.U. and was also kept busy responding to requests for information and advice from women seeking enfranchisement in other countries. In mid-1894, with Walter and Douglas, she left for a two year visit to England. Walter let their Clyde Road house for the two year duration, his advertisement detailing features of the place: ‘containing eight rooms, kitchen, &c., bathroom, laboratory, hot and cold water service. The house is well built and convenient. The stable has three stalls, loose box, harness room, man’s room, &c., concrete floor throughout. There is a good tennis lawn and small fruit garden.’
While away in England, Kate was in much demand as a speaker, and she gave frequent interviews which were reported favourably. After meeting with Kate in 1894, a reporter for the Nottinghamshire Guardian (UK) wrote, ‘New Zealand deserves to be called the land of political experiments. Its rulers, with a boldness which would startle even many Democratic English politicians, are passing into law measure after measure of radical reform. Among other changes, universal suffrage was last year conferred on adult women, married as well as single, irrespective of property qualifications. The lady who has done more than any other to secure for Antipodean women the right to go to the poll, Mrs K.W. Sheppard ... Mrs Sheppard is the very opposite of the bogey “advanced woman,” held up to frighten reformers. Handsome, well-proportioned, and with the glow of health in her cheeks, she is a good representative of the Colonial woman at her best, strong physically and mentally. If ever New Zealand should have a female Premier, I should not be surprised f the subject of this interview fills the post.’
While abroad, Kate was appointed editor of the New Zealand W.C.T.U.’s monthly journal, The White Ribbon, as soon as it was established in May 1895. Douglas attended the newly established school at Bedales in Sussex.
Kate suffered health problems while in England and when she returned to New Zealand in January 1896, she still needed time to recover. Nevertheless, she continued on as editor of The White Ribbon and was soon heavily involved in the Canterbury Women’s Institute. In April 1896, a convention of women’s organisations, promoted by the Canterbury Women’s Institute, was held in Christchurch’s Provincial Council Chamber, with delegates including women from all over the country from women’s institutes, women’s political leagues, southern cross league, W.C.T.U. and franchise leagues. The first time in history that enfranchised women had gathered together on affairs of the State, the convention declared themselves the National Council of Women of New Zealand. Kate was elected as its first president, and office-holders being other suffrage movement heavyweights - Anna Stout, Wellington, Marion Hatton of Dunedin, Margaret Sievwright of Gisborne, Annie Schnackenburg of Auckland, and Ada Wells and Wilhelmina Sheriff Bain, both from Christchurch.
Kate’s most active years as a political leader continued until 1902. Through her speaking and writing she emphasised the need for women to make use of their role as citizens to promote broad ranging social reform. Specific objectives were the repeal of the Contagious Diseases Act 1869, economic independence for married women, government reform and women’s rights for guardianship of children, then regarded as their father’s legal property. Health, dress reform, general education and education against alcohol, women’s legal disabilities and equal wages for women were the subject of her articles and pamphlets. She said that woman should be equal with man, and he his helpmate, taking from the church’s litany that ‘All that separates, whether of race, class, creed, or sex, is inhuman, and must be overcome’.
Kate’s home at Clyde Road continued to be her key operating space. As was typical for the time, some staff were employed to assist at the Clyde Road property. There was a general servant for the house and a man for the horses and grounds. They are likely to have had other domestic animals such as a cow, and it is known that Kate had an exotic pet parrot, grey with a red tail, because she reported it missing from Clyde Road in 1901. Emily Wallis, whose signature appears directly underneath Kate Sheppard’s in the 1893 Women’s Suffrage Petition, is understood to have been a live-in maid from around 1893 until 1896. A ‘man’s room’ on the property appears to have been part of the stables. Horses on the property would have provided a form of transport pulling gigs.
Kate was also one of New Zealand’s early female cyclists, cycling for recreation and transport. She was a committee member of the first all-women’s cycling club in Australasia, the Atalanta Cycling Club, established in Christchurch in August 1892. In July 1895, the cycling journal, The New Zealand Wheelman noted ‘Mrs Sheppard is an enthusiastic cycliste and dress reformer and has been a subscriber to THE WHEELMAN from its first number’.
The turn of the century brought changes for the Sheppards personally. Douglas had qualified for matriculation in connection with examinations for the New Zealand University in 1899 and he then embarked on a course of study as an engineer. By late 1901 the Sheppards decided to sell their Clyde Road property, with the intention of moving to England.
Kate’s life at 83 Clyde Road ended on 3 April 1902, with the sale of the house that had seen so much activity. An extensive list of household contents advertised to be sold in March 1902, in anticipation of Kate leaving the district, gives a good impression of the place, identifying not only the high quality furniture, ornaments, curtains and carpets that were at the place, but also naming the nine rooms that made up the house: drawing room, dining room, four bedrooms, study, hall, kitchen.
Despite the advertised intention for Kate to leave the district, she changed her mind, staying on in Christchurch after the Clyde Road house and contents were sold. She purchased a new amount of made-to-order furniture and quality effects for a smaller place in the central city - with dinner service and tea sets sufficient to suggest she continued to host visitors - but all these contents were then sold when Kate eventually did leave Christchurch in July 1903 to join Walter who appears to have left for England some months earlier, in late 1902. In England, Kate continued to help the suffrage cause there by writing to various papers in refutation of unsound arguments and incorrect statements. She reported from London that Walter and Douglas were both well and that she attended national conventions there to agitate for the suffrage. Kate’s health, on the other hand, was not the best and she deteriorated while she was in England and was advised to spend winters elsewhere. She and Walter returned to New Zealand in November 1904, with Kate moving in with William and Jennie Smith and their family at their home Westcote on Russley Road, Yaldhurst, on the outskirts of the city. Walter returned to Bath but he came back to Christchurch regularly, stating that he felt at home in both New Zealand and England.
In 1907 Kate wrote the pamphlet, ‘Woman Suffrage in New Zealand’ which was published in London by the International Woman Suffrage Alliance for readers in England and other countries still struggling for the franchise and providing testimonials to show how women’s franchise in New Zealand was working well and leading towards to a greater interest in social and humanitarian issues. Also in 1907 Kate was part of a deputation, with Mesdames Williamson and Wells, to the acting premier (Hon W. Hall-Jones) advocating for subjects of special interest to women – mothers having legal guardianship of their children, the principle of equal pay for equal work, economic independence of married women and amending the clause prohibiting women from occupying seats in the House of Representatives. Kate is recorded as saying that ‘although women had enjoyed the franchise for many years, they had so far gained very little of what they considered they had a right to expect. She asked that the Acting-Premier should assist in securing the legal recognition of the co-guardianship of the father and mother in dealing with children…’ Over time, Kate’s activities had lessened although her interest and involvement only gradually decreased as she saw the later advances for women. She continued high profile roles within the W.C.T.U., such as the New Zealand Superintendent for Legal and Parliamentary, for many years.
When Walter was back in Christchurch for three months in 1907, Kate stayed with him in rooms on Park Terrace and then the corner of Rolleston Avenue and Armagh Street. Walter returned to England in January 1908, while Kate made the same journey two months later. In Edinburgh, she attended the marriage of her son, Douglas, to Wilhelmina Sievwright, daughter of Gisborne-based high profile franchise campaigner, the late Margaret Sievwright, in June 1908. The couple had one daughter, Margaret Isobel Sheppard, born in 1909, but sadly Douglas died in Glasgow the following year, aged just 29. Walter’s will prepared in 1911 made special provision, not only for his wife Kate (Catherine) but also for his daughter in law, Wilhelmina and granddaughter, Isobel, for the rest of their lives. The will also names William Sidney Smith as his friend to be one of the executors of the will. In 1915 Walter died in England, aged 79.
In Christchurch, Kate contributed financially to the building of a new house for the Lovell-Smith family on Riccarton Road in 1920-1921, living there until her death. In 1925, the year following Jennie Lovell-Smith’s death in 1924, Kate married William. He died some four years later in July 1929 and when Kate herself died on 11 July 1934, her husbands, son and only granddaughter had predeceased her.
Following Kate’s death, the editor of White Ribbon stated ‘… whenever the story of the Woman’s Franchise Movement is told the name of Kate W. Sheppard will be honoured’ and, in appreciation, Jessie Mackay recalled that ‘Kate Wilson Sheppard [was] a name that rang throughout New Zealand like a trumpet call forty years ago’ and stated that ‘the story of work like hers is a heritage to New Zealand, above all to New Zealand women’. At the same time, Mackay recognised that the work of women like Lady Stout, Mrs Hatton, Mrs Daldy and Mrs Schnakenberg – and many others – shouldn’t be forgotten in the franchise story. This recognition of the work of others is something that Kate also acknowledged in her lifetime.
The Clyde Road property – owners after the Sheppards
When the Sheppards sold their Clyde Road property in April 1902, the purchaser of the house was John Joseph Dougall, a prominent barrister and solicitor who served on the Christchurch City Council and became Mayor from August 1911 until May 1912. He lived here with his wife, Harriet, and their four children and for a time the property was known as ‘Waimairi’. Early twentieth century alterations undertaken by Dougall transformed the style of the house from its original Traditional villa to that of a Transitional villa that remains today. The exact date of this work is not known, possibly it was around 1903-1904, shortly after the Dougalls took over possession of the property or perhaps in late 1912 after Dougall took out another mortgage on the property. After John Dougall’s death in 1934, the place was inherited by his son Leslie who followed his father’s profession. After a family ownership of 37 years, Leslie Dougall sold the property in 1939 to Helen Nicoll, wife of Harry Nicoll, a merchant from Ashburton.
83 Clyde Road was the Nicolls’ town house (Penscroft in rural Ashburton was their other residence) and it was used by them and at least some of their adult children for town visits and entertaining. In August 1944 they sub-divided the eastern part of the section into five lots. Lot 5 contained the original house but the adjacent Lot 4 remained in the same ownership in the Certificate of Title.
Most of Lot 4 was then sold, leaving the section as it is today when it was purchased by Reginald Lionel Warren, a marine engineer, in July 1947. Captain Warren became the South Island director of the New Zealand Shipping Company and lived at 83 Clyde Road with his wife, Betty, and their three children. A Warren family photograph album shows what the house and garden was like during the seven years that they lived in the house, between July 1947 and March 1954, providing insight into changes made by this time.
In 1954 the Warrens sold to William George Weigel, a commercial photographer and it has been suggested that he replaced the timber doors from the hall into the two front rooms with large glass doors so that a large space could be created. It appears that he did not live in the house for long, as the newly-weds Dr and Mrs Allison had moved in to 83 Clyde Road by the end of 1954.
The property was transferred into the ownership of Dr Anthony Allison in January 1956 and he lived there with his family for around 30 years. Further alterations were carried out during this time, including new doors and alterations to the porch on the north elevation side. It was during the Allisons’ occupation that slate was added to the north and eastern parts of the roof.
In December 1985 Andrew and Julia Everist became the owners, and from 2009 it became solely the property of Julia Burbury (formerly Everist). The Everists put considerable effort into making the garden a show place and they made changes to the kitchen area, extending it to the west and installing a new bay window in the late 1980s. The property was used for occasional functions such as weddings and funerals, especially from 2012, given the loss or inaccessibility of many churches as a result of the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. The house itself suffered some damage in those earthquakes and was repaired in 2015 and 2016. Work was primarily remediation of the foundations, wall and ceiling lining repair and reconstruction of the chimneys above the ceiling to their original aesthetic form in lightweight plaster construction. In January 2016, a large historic oak tree at the northern part of the property came down in extreme winds, knocking down native vegetation growing on the island in the Waiutuutu/Okeover Stream. The remnant of the oak’s trunk has been sawn out to create a rough seat.
Recognition of Kate Sheppard
While numerous individuals worked hard for women’s suffrage, Kate’s key part in the successful campaign that led to women being given the vote was recognised at the time, and for years later. In 1905 Sir John Hall summed this up: ‘To no one was the success which crowned our long struggle more attributable than to Mrs Sheppard and her colleagues for the judgment and the tenacity of purpose with which they worked to influence public and Parliamentary opinion. But for their perseverance, as well as their moderation, the opposition which was offered to the enfranchisement of women would have been very difficult to overcome.’
In his later years, Sir Joseph Ward recalled, ‘I can speak from personal knowledge, as I was in Parliament from the beginning of the crusade headed in the country by Mrs K. W. Sheppard, until it became law. … I am of the opinion that it is to the rare ability, fortitude, tact and unwearing persistence of this lady, with the active assistance of many women of all classes, that the women of this country secured the parliamentary vote as soon as they did.’
Reinvigorated recognition of Kate Sheppard
The significance of Kate Sheppard and her role as a major figure in the campaign for women’s suffrage in New Zealand was once again brought to the fore in the early 1990s, leading up to the 1993 centenary celebrations of the enfranchising Electoral Act. It was around this time (1991-1992) that Kate Sheppard’s image first appeared on the New Zealand ten dollar note – and it remains on this banknote to this day.
Also in the early 1990s, the Christchurch Heritage Trust installed a plaque at the entrance gates to the property at 83 Clyde Road.
The Suffrage Centennial Year of 1993 saw hundreds of memorials established or recognised, appearing in a variety of forms, including remembrance gardens, parks, trees, works of art, sculptures, hangings, murals, paintings, plaques and buildings throughout the country. Many of these places were directly named after Kate Sheppard. Unveiled on 19 September 1993, Margriet Windhausen’s bronze Kate Sheppard National Memorial, situated beside the Ōtākaro/Avon River on Oxford Terrace, Christchurch, commemorates Kate and other leaders of the suffrage movement - Helen Nicol, Ada Wells, Harriet Morison, Meri Te Ti Mangakahia and Amey Daldy, as well as Learmonth Dalrymple, Marion Hatton, Lily Kirk, Janet Plimmer, Annie Schnackenberg, Margaret Sievwright and Anna Stout.
In 2008 Kate Sheppard featured on a commemorative postage stamp produced by New Zealand Post. More recently she has been reflected in other ways, for example, in the naming of Kate Sheppard Place in central Wellington and in the use of her image to replace the usual ‘green man’ at some pedestrian crossing lights surrounding parliament in Wellington, installed in 2014. In 2015 a punk-rock musical, That Bloody Woman, was written by Luke Di Somma and Gregory Cooper. Based on an interpretation of the life of Kate Sheppard, it charts the suffragism struggle in New Zealand and its opposition by Richard Seddon. The musical was commissioned by Christchurch Arts Festival and premiered there in August 2015, subsequently touring the country to sellout crowds and rave reviews.
Another major round of commemorations took place in 2018 for the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage and numerous events occurred around the country at this time. Called Suffrage 125 it was another opportunity to remember the suffragists and what they fought for and reflect on women’s rights in the twenty first century. In particular, it has been the impetus for the creation of a new range of publications, celebrations and performances, in relation to Kate Sheppard as well as other key players in the women’s suffrage movement. This includes exploration of other Women Suffrage activists, recognising that there were many people working tirelessly throughout New Zealand. Their stories illustrate key tactics and differing priorities as they fought for the vote and equality in both Māori and Pākehā realms.
When the house at 83 Clyde Road was put up for sale late in 2018, the New Zealand Government saw it as an opportunity to purchase it on behalf of the people of New Zealand. The transfer of the property to Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga took place in 2019, and over 2020 and 2021 it has been adapted to a visitor destination to celebrate Kate Sheppard’s life and achievements, the suffrage movement and its legacy of social change. A structural remediation project was followed by the development of an exhibition conveying layered stories and timelines in the front four rooms of the house. On 15 December 2020 the house was officially opened by Prime Minister, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, who hoped that ‘it would be an ongoing source of inspiration into the future and a place for “scheming and plotting”’.
Other historic places associated with Kate Sheppard
Other buildings in Christchurch linked with Kate Sheppard have become smaller in number due to loss and damage following the Canterbury Earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. Still standing is the house ‘Midway’, 7 Middleton Road, Riccarton, where Kate lived in her later years, from 1921 with the Lovell-Smith family until her death in 1934 (Not Listed but scheduled as a heritage item on the Christchurch District Plan). The former Tuam Street Hall (later known as the Odeon Theatre), where Kate held meetings and which was a polling booth during the first election when women voted, survives only as little more than a façade following quake-related demolition of most of the building (List No. 3140). The building that formerly housed the Women’s Christian Temperance Union tea and coffee rooms, 129 Manchester Street, Christchurch has been demolished. The Canterbury Provincial Government Buildings, Durham Street, Christchurch (List No. 45), where the W.C.T.U.’s annual convention was held in 1891 and where the National Council of Women was established in 1896 with Kate as its founding president, remain standing but were badly damaged in the 2010-2011 earthquakes and have been mothballed, awaiting future repair.
Te Whare Waiutuutu Kate Sheppard House is located on Clyde Road, which links Riccarton and Fendalton Roads, two major routes extending from central Christchurch to the west. The environs of Clyde Road when the house was built was semi-rural and later a quiet suburban area. The neighbourhood has since been changed by the dominating presence of the University of Canterbury that started developing its campus on the former Creyke estate in the late 1950s.
Te Whare Waiutuutu Kate Sheppard House is on the west side of Clyde Road, with the property’s western boundary abutting the University of Canterbury campus grounds. The northern boundary is the Okeover Stream (Waiutuutu). Within the stream is a small island, at least part of which is man-made, accessed from the property by a short timber footbridge. The presentation to the street is of mature trees and planting behind a large macrocarpa boundary hedge which conceals the house from view from the street and provides a private setting. Obscured by the hedge, a post and rail timber and wire fence along the front of the property has a later paling fence built on top. Timber entrance gates at the north-east quadrant of the property lead to a curving shingled driveway which passes through a canopy of trees, including mature London Plane and Western Red Cedar, through to an apron at the east facing frontage of the house.
In October 1893, a visiting reporter gave a good description of the Sheppards’ ‘sylvan retreat’ of a property: ‘Situated by the side of a pretty rippling brook, three miles from the City of Christchurch, surrounded by trimly-shaven laurels and tall shrubberies, the charming residence of the now well-known leader of the Womanhood Suffrage movement, seems a fitting abode for the enjoyment of luxurious ease and quiet content, rather than the focus of political effort.’
Although both the house and grounds have been modified a lot since that description of 1893, when one enters the property, the term ‘sylvan retreat’ remains appropriate. The house and lawns are surrounded by mature trees in an attractive garden setting. The ‘trimly-shaven laurels and tall shrubberies’ described in 1893 are no longer principal features and instead there are mature trees, under planted with smaller shrubs and flowering plants through which footpaths wind northward to the Okeover Stream/Waiutuutu (‘the rippling brook’) and to the south-east where a tennis court provides an open vista from the house’s principal façade. The house is sited in the south-western quadrant of the one-acre (4046 square metres) section, now half the size of the plot Walter Sheppard purchased in 1887 with an area to the south being subdivided from it in 1944.
The house and its changes
The house is a single storeyed timber villa, built on concrete foundations, with narrow cover bevel-back weatherboard exterior cladding, large bays windows, and a pitched roof containing projecting gables and decorative brick chimneys. A wide verandah is located at the eastern front entrance and at points along the north and west elevations. The roof, which has a central gutter, is covered in slate on the north and eastern visible sides and corrugated steel elsewhere – both claddings are a replacement of the original corrugated iron roof covering.
An understanding of the nature of changes is informed by physical evidence, that is, the archaeology of the standing building, with limited aid from documentation or early photographs. Analysis suggests that in its original form, at the time of construction for the Sheppards, the house was a flat fronted villa with a hipped main roof with central gutter, and a lean-to verandah to the east-facing front façade. It was subsequently altered, in the early twentieth century, to its existing Transitional bay villa form, and it is possible that the exterior cladding was changed at this time. Beneath the eaves of the main roof were modillions which have since been removed, though the facing boards remain. The main entrance door originally faced east, exposed to the easterly wind. The hallway was extended into the verandah to enclose an entrance porch with the door orientated to face north.
Typical of late 1880s Traditional villas, the house has a central hallway with principal reception rooms either side leading to bedroom and services wings at the rear. It had eight rooms (nine counting the hall), with the public living and reception rooms at the front either side of the hall and separated from the private parts of the house to the rear with a decorated plastered archway. In 1894 Walter described the house as containing eight rooms, including kitchen and bathroom. Later, in 1902 when the house was for sale, the rooms were stated as being Drawing Room, Dining Room, four Bedrooms, Study, Hall and Kitchen.
Construction evidence seen within the roof space and from investigations of the foundations provides clues to the plan form of the rear bedrooms. The form of the roof(s) over the west side of the house is not clear, but the hipped roof forms with centre gutter of the main roof indicate that the projection of the north bedroom wing roof was a hipped or gabled secondary roof. The kitchen ancillary rooms may have been a lean-to with a rear service porch. Inspection of the sub-floor foundation walls and roof spaces has determined the positions of original foundation walls and fireplaces beneath the floors and the extent of the original main hipped roof of the house.
Following the early twentieth century alterations, the form of the house is of a bay villa with verandahs and projecting gables on the east and north façade, although the verandah does not return, that is it is discontinuous stopping into the side of the original north bay window. Typical to the Transitional villa style, the verandahs are now an extension of the villa’s principal roof.
Investigations of the two front rooms’ foundations show that the bay windows to the north and south façades are part of the original construction. They are interesting for their rounded horns and because their sashes extend down to floor level. Other bay windows in the east and north gable additions show Arts and Crafts style influences with casement windows and square plain leadlight panes to the upper sashes. Steps remaining under the floor of the extended bedroom wing indicate where an exterior door was located at the west end of the north façade.
The house has a twelve-foot (3.6 metre) stud, with ceiling cornices and central roses in the principal rooms. There are two back-to-back fireplaces and chimneys to the two pairs of front rooms and there was an additional fireplace or range (later removed) in the kitchen at the rear of the house. The fireplaces in the bedroom west of the dining room (‘bedroom 4’) and the sitting room/study have been modernised, possibly at the time of the early twentieth century alterations. Their original villa style mantles and surrounds were replaced with unadorned Arts and Crafts influenced brick fire fronts with a plain timber mantle.
Interior lath and plaster wall and ceiling linings remain in places throughout the house, particularly in the front reception rooms. Building works undertaken in 2020 revealed remnant scraps of wallpaper, notably in the bedroom west of the dining room (‘bedroom 4’), where the first wallpaper was a yellow chrysanthemum pattern, most likely from the time of the Sheppards’ occupation of the house. One of the remnants has been retained for display and that same wallpaper pattern has been recreated in that room where it was found.
The early twentieth century alterations included extended out the bedrooms at the west end of the north elevation, including the addition of a gabled bay to create a much larger bedroom, and a partly enclosed verandah accessed off the study. Perhaps at this time too, an ensuite from the larger bedroom (bedroom 1) was created by extending into the north verandah and a three-light dormer window was added above that verandah. The hipped roof was extended with a flat roof section inserted at ridge level maintaining the overall height of the original roof.
An interpretation of the original Traditional villa footprint of the plan overlaid on the plan of the house as it exists in 2021 (Tony Ussher). This is based on physical evidence seen on site and from written documentation. The yellow shaded areas show what is thought to be the original footprint and the verandah is shaded brown.
Another phase of alterations took place in the late 1980s. In circa 1988-1989 the kitchen space was extended to the west and the original kitchen modernised. These alterations, designed by Kerry Mason of Warren and Mahoney Architects, replaced the lean-tos in this area. The extended space included a family room opening to new verandahs either side extending along the west side of the house. The roof of the new western verandah is an extension of the principal roof and returns around the north-west corner in the form of a pergola framed structure. A free-standing outbuilding was extended and re-roofed to integrate it to the house – previously used as a laundry, from 2020 this room functions as a staff office.
Also in circa 1989, the western bedroom wing was further altered with the relocation of interior partitions, changing the proportions of the rooms, and the extension of the bedroom 3 to the south encroaching to connect to the extended kitchen/family room wall. French doors were installed in the two west facing bedrooms opening onto the added west verandah. In 2010, bedroom 4 and adjacent pantry were altered to provide a bedroom suite with ensuite.
The Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 damaged the chimneys and they were then deconstructed to the ceiling level and rebuilt in lightweight plaster construction on timber framing, with the flues being reinstated as steel flues. The floor and substructure also required repair and some particle board patching was added to the tongue and groove flooring (this is covered by carpet). The slate, which had been second-hand when installed by the Allison family in around the 1970s, was replaced with new slate sourced from Wales following the earthquakes.
Adaptation by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga in 2020
During 2020 Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga undertook repair, restoration and adaptation of the house that required a change of use and associated statutory upgrades for the proposed uses to convert the house into a visitor attraction. The structural integrity of the building was also enhanced through investigation and remediation.
The front four rooms and hallway, containing the most intact heritage fabric, were converted to a high-quality visitor attraction with exhibition displays. These rooms were restored to preserve and highlight original features, while also acknowledging the continuity of occupation in the home by retaining some later modifications. Replica period fabric was given a contemporary twist as part of the interpretation approach. For example, the Victorian-era wallpaper in the dining room is imprinted with signatures from the suffragists’ 1893 petition.
The rear bedroom wing and kitchen/family room that had retained little authenticity had partition walls removed and were adapted as a space for talks and gatherings. Disabled persons’ access was provided by an addition to the north verandah and alteration to the entrance porch, and the 2010 ensuite installed in the original pantry was altered to provide an accessible toilet.
The property today is approximately half of the original Sheppard two-acre land parcel. Features include the entrance gates at the northern end of the road frontage hedge, three notable trees (London Plane, Red Western Cedar and Golden Ash), curving driveway, an artesian bore, and the Okeover Stream/Waiutuutu. There is a small island in the stream, reached by a small timber footbridge – this island is at least partially man-made and contains old bricks as well as soil. The tennis court in front of the house has Astro turf covering added in the 1980s but it was previously grassed. The rectangular swimming pool at the north-west corner of the property was constructed by the early 1960s and its brick pump and changing sheds were added later in the twentieth century. The provenance of the elderly but modified timber garden shed, located in the south-west corner of the property, has not been determined.
The garden shed is an early out-building and may have been part of the original out-buildings on the Sheppards’ property. The shed is elderly with shiplap and rusticated weatherboards, monopitch corrugated iron roof, and with fixed windows. It is extensively modified internally with gib board linings, particle board and MDF window dressings and finishing profiles. The rear wall is flat fibre cement sheet. Doors are ledged and matched. Apart from this shed, no other out-buildings or structures remain from the period prior to the 1944 subdivision.
The entrance timber entrance gates have chamfered edges, cross bracing and panels of diagonal and upright timbers below a central rail. They may belong to the late nineteenth century, as their style is similar to gates seen in a pattern book of circa 1882, and their chamfered edges bear similarity to the original bay windows in the house, or they may belong to the early twentieth century.
The fabric and the arrangement of the gates has been modified in part. The northern opening gate is a later addition, in the location of where the smaller pedestrian gate (now attached to the south post of the wider main gate) previously appears to have been.
1903 - 1904
East facing main entrance door replaced by the present porch window; new entrance made to open to the north under the shelter of the verandah. ikely that changes were made to the kitchen and bathroom around this time.
1950 - 1970
Further changes made to kitchen and other amenities. Internal timber work painted white at this time.
In front of the main bedroom on the north a Pergola was inserted on the same plane as the verandah which was extended along the complete western frontage. The smaller bedroom was enlarged and given spacious windows and doors accessing the verandah. The kitchen was refitted and a large living/dining area extended from it.
additions and alterations to give Transitional villa appearance
ensuite provided to main bedroom (bedroom 1) by extending into north verandah (dormer added above porch at this time?)
1958 - 1960
north porch alterations
1950 - 1960
Changes to kitchen (range and interior walls removed and a Crittall steel window was installed in the south wall). Swimming pool built. Oil fired boiler and central heating system installed in hallway.
lean-to that was attached to the west wall of the kitchen extended to the west
Demolished - Fire
small fire in kitchen area (reinstatement, architects H. Henning-Hanson)
1988 - 1989
Bedroom 3 extended, enclosing space at the original rear porch door; rear lean-to replaced by family room addition; kitchen space extended to the west and modernised– the extended space included family room opening to new verandahs either extending along west side of the house. (NB floorboards for family room addition reused from Y.M.C.A. Chapel while the kitchen floorboards came from cutting out a central portion of the original floor of the front dining room). Free standing out-building extended to connect to the house and reroofed. Paling fence built atop earlier post, rail and wire fence at the site of street front macrocarpa hedge.
dormer above north porch removed
2020 - 2021
repair, restoration, adaptation of rear rooms to create event space; access ramp at north-east corner of house; damp-prevention concrete infill added sub-floor
Timber (including Kauri), corrugated steel, slate
25th February 2022
Report Written By
Dictionary of New Zealand Biography
Dictionary of New Zealand Biography
Fogarty, Philippa. ‘Wells, Ada 1863-1933’ and McGibbon, Ian, 'Saunders, Alfred 1820? - 1905', both updated 22 June 2007, and Malcolm, Tessa. ‘Sheppard, Katherine Wilson 1847-1934’. Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, updated 16 December 2003. URL: http://www.dnzb.govt.nz
Te Wai Pounamu, The Greenstone Island, Wellington, Aoraki Press
Gavin McLean, 100 Historic Places in New Zealand, Auckland, 2002
J Morrison, The Evolution of a City Christchurch: Christchurch City Council, 1948.
Sarah E W Penney, Beyond the City: The Land and its People, Riccarton, Waimairi, Paparua, Christchurch, 1977
Historic Places in New Zealand
Historic Places in New Zealand
Devaliant, Judith. ‘Fighting for the Vote’ in Historic Places in New Zealand, March 1993, New Zealand Historic Places Trust, Wellington.
Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
‘PROHIBITION’, from An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, ed. by A.H. Mclintock, originally published in 1966, updated 18 Sep 2007. URL: http://www TeAra.govt.nz/1966/P/Prohibition/en
Pauline Bennett, et al. Living with the past: historical buildings of the Waimairi District, Waimairi District Council, Christchurch, 1983.
Judith Devaliant, Kate Sheppard: a biography: the fight for women’s votes in New Zealand: the life of the woman who led the struggle, Penguin Books, Auckland, 1992.
Brian Molloy (ed.), Riccarton Bush : Putaringamotu : natural history and management, Riccarton Bush Trust, Christchurch, c.1995.
Patricia Grimshaw, Women’s suffrage in New Zealand, Auckland University Press, Auckland, 1972.
Margaret Lovell-Smith, Plain Living High Thinking: the family story of Jennie and Will Smith, Pedmore Press, Christchurch, 1995.
Rachel McAlpine, Farewell Speech, Penguin, Auckland,1990.
Gordon Ogilvie, Pioneers of the plains: the Deans of Canterbury, Shoal Bay Press, Christchurch, 1996.
Prohibitionist, Women’s Christian Temperance Union, Christchurch, Wellington.
One page from 7 Oct 1898 provided from the Christchurch City Council records for 83 Clyde Road.
Looser, Freida, Fendall’s Legacy: A History of Fendalton and North-West Christchurch, 2002
Simpson, Clare S. A Social History of Women and Cycling in Late-Nineteenth Century New Zealand, PhD Thesis, Lincoln University, 1998.
Smith, William Sidney, Outlines of the women’s franchise movement in New Zealand, 1905.
A fully referenced listing report is available from the Southern Regional Office of Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.
Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.
Archaeological sites are protected by the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014, regardless of whether they are entered on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero or not. Archaeological sites include ‘places associated with pre-1900 human activity, where there may be evidence relating to the history of New Zealand’. This List entry report should not be read as a statement on whether or not the archaeological provisions of the Act apply to the property (s) concerned. Please contact your local Heritage New Zealand office for archaeological advice.