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Light box illuminates local history

October 1, 2019

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Light box illuminates local history

Tin Tacks Corner in Onehunga is the new home to a new public artwork, a free-standing light box which runs from an off-grid solar power system. The artwork will change during the year and will display stories of the Onehunga area using local artists.

The current artwork, Femmina, is by Lisa Crowley, an Auckland-based interdisciplinary artist with a strong interest in the history of photography. Her work focuses on “retrieving female voices from Aotearoa’s suffrage history.”

Femmina borrows its name from feminist, Mary Anne Muller, who wrote the first pamphlet arguing for women’s right to vote in 1869. She asks, “How long are women to remain a wholly unrepresented body of the people?”

Our suffrage history dates back to the late 19th century. In September 1893, New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world, in which women were given the right to vote in parliamentary elections. Other democracies, including Britain and the United States, did not give women the right to vote until after WWI. New Zealand’s world leadership in women’s suffrage became a central part of our revolutionary image and helped set the trend for other countries. This achievement was the result of the efforts by suffrage campaigners, led by Kate Sheppard, whose hard work, and contribution to NZ history, is acknowledged on the $10 note.

An even more familiar name will be Elizabeth Yates, not only was she a local, but she was elected as mayor of Onehunga in November 1893, just months after NZ women led the world by voting in election for the first time. She was a strong supporter of the women’s suffrage campaign and was the first woman to vote in the Onehunga electorate in the general election.

The light box will give people a chance to learn more about our history, especially as it will be updated throughout the year. It will be illuminated between the hours of 6am and 11pm every day.