Page:Picturesque New Zealand, 1913.djvu/66

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30
PICTURESQUE NEW ZEALAND

and three years later it abolished the property qualification. Now any man or woman who has been a resident of the country for one year, and of his or her district for three months immediately preceding registration, is entitled to vote. Maoris do not have to register.

No reference to the electoral system of New Zealand and the progressive laws which it has made possible would be complete without an acknowledgment of the part taken by women voters. A good percentage of the best legislation in New Zealand is in large degree attributable to the interest and energy displayed by women. The great Seddon, who obtained the franchise for women in his first year as Premier, realized this soon after the measure became law. Mr. Seddon, who pressed for the bill's passage more on account of his late superior's advocacy of its principles than because of his personal approval, also found that the women greatly strengthened his party's position at the first election in which they participated. Yet he had pictured Parliament as "plunging into an abyss of unknown depth by granting the franchise to women."

Evidently woman's suffrage has had no baneful effect on New Zealand. It was obtained without prolonged and bitter dissensions, and without the riotous, disgraceful scenes attending campaigns in its behalf in England. New Zealand's women obtained their victory quietly, and unobtrusively they have enjoyed its fruits; but though they take practically as much interest in politics as the male electors, as indicated by the