25 new stories of trailblazing New Zealand women

Palaeontologist Joan Wiffen, transgender icon Carmen Rupe, politician Tirikatene-Sullivan, and writer Margaret Mahy, some of the women whose life stories have been published on the DNZB.

This week we’re publishing 25 new biographies of women in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography (DNZB), to celebrate the 125th anniversary of women winning the right to vote:

Anderson, Amy Mona writer, rural memoirist

Bailey, Rona political activist, dancer, teacher

Bartlett, Patricia Maureen social morality campaigner

Blumhardt, Vera Doreen educator, potter, arts administrator

Clay, Marie Mildred teacher, developmental and child psychologist, literacy researcher

Donley, Joan Elsa midwife, home-birth advocate

Edmond, Lauris Dorothy poet and writer

Locke, Elsie Violet activist, writer

Mahy, Margaret May children’s and young adult writer

Paul, Joanna Margaret visual artist and writer

Raymond, Cherry broadcaster, journalist, feminist

Rehu-Murchie, Erihapeti researcher, health, human rights, and environmental campaigner

Rickard, Tuaiwa Hautai Kereopa (Eva) woman of mana, community leader

Rimmer, Eva Marion paraplegic athlete, disability rights advocate

Rupe, Carmen Tione drag queen entertainer, sex worker, entrepreneur

Sturm, Jacqueline Cecilia short-story writer and poet

Szászy, Miraka woman of mana, educator, leader

Te Atairangikaahu Korokī Te Rata Mahuta Tāwhiao Pōtatau Te Wherowhero Māori queen

Tinsley, Beatrice Muriel astronomer

Tirikatene-Sullivan, Tini Whetu Marama politician, fashion icon, wahine toa

TuiSamoa, Agnes Rosa social worker, community advocate

Wallace, Georgina Catriona Pamela Augusta judge, lawyer

Wark, Elizabeth Cecilia (Betty) community worker

Whitehouse, Davina actor, producer, broadcaster

Wiffen, Joan palaeontologist

These women came to prominence in their fields between the 1940s and the 1970s. It would be impossible for any group of 25 women to capture the complexity and variety of the lives of New Zealand women, but we hope this group will reflect some of the diversity of experience. It would be hard to find two more contrasting lives than those of social morality campaigner Patricia Bartlett and transgender sex worker and nightclub entrepreneur Carmen Rupe. The rest run the gamut from writers to judges, community workers to scientists, broadcasters to athletes, activists to actors.

The new entries have been written by subject experts, including Barbara Brookes, Sandra Coney, Tessa Duder, Margaret Tennant, Rebecca Priestley, Roger Robinson and Jill Trevelyan. The entries, which collectively amount to more than 50,000 words, include over 200 images, videos, and sound recordings, many drawn from private collections and not previously published. We plan to have te reo Māori translations of the entries relating to Māori subjects available in early 2019.

This is the first substantial group of new biographies to be released since 2011, as I discussed in my November 2017 Signposts blog. It is the beginning of an ongoing publication programme, in which we aim to publish at least 20 new biographies each year on an ongoing basis.

This week we are also launching a new-look DNZB homepage, reflecting the DNZB’s renewed vigour and focus on the future. We hope you enjoy it, and look forward to sharing many more New Zealand lives with you in the years to come.

3 comments have been added so far

  1. Comment made by Claudia Orange || September 19th, 2018

    A suffrage Day winner – to release 25 new biographies with images attached on this 19 September 125th anniversary. Warmest congratulations to the authors who produced these biographies and to the small DNZB team,web supporters and others at MCH who achieved such work in such a short time and with such limited resources. Onward to more from the DNZB please!

  2. Comment made by Randolph Hollingsworth || September 23rd, 2018

    Great way – and a wonderfully diverse list of women – to celebrate the history of NZ women’s suffrage.

  3. Comment made by Simon Hay || September 25th, 2018

    Hi, Thanks for the good work. I’d love to see an entry on Kāterina Te Heikōkō Mataira (1932-2011) at some stage, too–hopefully she’s on your radar. Thanks!

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