Good evening everyone.
Your Excellencies, Prime Minister, Mr and Mrs Bridges, honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen, good evening – tēnā koutou katoa.
Your Excellency, thank you for your warm welcome to Government House this evening, as well as for hosting me and Harry during our special time in New Zealand.
We are proud to be able to join you tonight in celebrating the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in your country.
The achievements of the women of New Zealand who campaigned for their right to vote, and were the first in the world to achieve it, are universally admired.
In looking forward to this very special occasion, I reflected on the importance of this achievement, but also the larger impact of what this symbolises.
Because yes – women’s suffrage is about feminism, but feminism is about fairness.
Suffrage is not simply about the right to vote but also about what that represents. The basic and fundamental human right of being able to participate in the choices for your future and that of your community. The involvement and voice that allows you to be a part of the very world you are a part of.
And women’s suffrage is not simply about the right to vote for women but also about what that represents.
The basic and fundamental human right of all people – including members of society who have been marginalised – whether for reasons of race, gender, ethnicity or orientation – to be able to participate in the choices for their future and their community.
So bravo New Zealand for championing this right 125 years ago – for the women who well deserve to have an active voice and acknowledged vote, and for all of the people that this effort has paved the way for globally.
We all deeply thank you.
In the words of your suffragette Kate Sheppard, “All that separates, whether race, class, creed, or sex, is inhuman, and must be overcome.”
Thank you all so much.