A big year for women in New Zealand politics

As we wind down towards the holiday season, we wish all our Women’s Rights Party members a happy and relaxing time with your friends and families.

Happy Holidays from the New Zealand Women's Rights Party 2023

This has been a big year for women in New Zealand politics and we have been an important part of that with the founding of the Women’s Rights Party, 130 years after the women of New Zealand won the right to vote and 40 years since Sandi Hall founded the last such political Party. Then, women were fighting for an end to discrimination, for affordable childcare and equal pay, and to end violence against women. Who would have thought that in 2023 we would be facing the same challenges!

However, in the last five years or so, the gains for women have been further eroded. Our sex-based protections have been undermined by a powerful lobby that excludes women in the name of “kindness” and “inclusivity”. We have lost our right to speak up for women; we have been cancelled in academia, in our unions, and the mainstream media. We saw on 25 March in Albert Park when Kellie-Jay Keen came to New Zealand for two “Let Women Speak” events that we could not rely on the Police to protect our rights as citizens to assemble and to speak.

We formed the Women’s Rights Party the following week to protect the rights of women and children, and to bring greater public awareness to threats that include lifelong harm to our children. Many of us came from political parties that betrayed women. Labour and Greens MPs rolled their eyes and treated submitters on the self-sex ID Bill and Conversion Practices Bill with complete disdain. When Labour women tried to limit gender reassignment surgery to those over 18, we were prevented from putting our amendment to the Labour Party Conference last year. And an amendment for more public toilets for women and children was defeated because it was “code for transphobia”. There was to be “No Debate” as transgenderism rolled along through our education system, through our health system, through the public service and NGOs!

So we set out to give women and men an option on the ballot in the 2023 General Election to vote for a political party that would shine a light on what it means when “gender identity” trumps hard-won rights to protect women and children.

The First Step Was To Establish Such A Party.

The founding committee of 20 women developed a Constitution and a Policy Platform, and we set out to sign up 500 members that we needed to register as a Political Party. We started out by collecting memberships on paper forms and saving the members’ $5 fees till we could set up a bank account. That turned out to be a nightmare of bureaucracy and in the meantime, we were grateful to a member for use of a business account she had with weekly reporting on transactions.

On 9 May we went live with our website which meant new members could sign up on line. But the providers who support on-line payments all turned us down because we were not a registered political party, so members still had to deposit their membership fees and donations into our bank account. This was a problem as the Electoral Commission required us to prove we had 500 financial members, and they made us go through both bank accounts and identify everyone’s transactions line by line.
Around that time a small group of us reclaimed Albert Park, sharing our experiences of 25 March, which was an amazing healing experience. We left messages in chalk on the floor of the rotunda. At that stage we had 64 members.

Rapid Membership Growth

On 24 June we held our inaugural Conference at the Loaves and Fishes in Wellington where we approved the Constitution and the Policy Platform .

Tania Surt and I were elected as co-leaders. That evening we celebrated reaching 250 members – halfway to our goal!

With just one month to go to meet the Electoral Commission deadline, we got a huge boost when Sean Plunket interviewed us on the Platform. I said we needed another 100 members and while I was talking to Sean, he read out an email from someone who said “399 now”. The texter had just joined up. That day, we signed up 70 new members and by the next day, we had reached the 500 goal!

On 13 July we submitted 550 names of financial members who were eligible to vote and on 28 August, the Electoral Commission advised us that we were a registered political Party with a registered logo that would be on the ballot paper in every polling booth in the country. Our application had been publicly notified and only one person had objected.

The Grand Tour

We decked out our campervan as a Women’s Rights billboard and toured the North Island from 18-26 August, running meetings in Whangarei, Warkworth, West Auckland, Central Auckland, South Auckland, New Plymouth, Whanganui, Wellington, Masterton, Napier, Rotorua and Tauranga. We did an action in Palmerston North and later ran a meeting in Hamilton.

The following week we set off for the South Island where we held meetings in Blenheim, Christchurch, Ashburton, Timaru, Oamaru, Dunedin, Invercargill, Wanaka and Nelson.

At the end of this, and after eight regional meetings where we elected regional co-ordinators to the new Women’s Rights Party Council, we were proud to announce our List of 12 exceptional women candidates for the upcoming General Election. Every Party vote cast for the Women’s Rights Party on 14 October was a vote for these candidates no matter where you were around the country. After special votes were counted, 2511 women and men had voted for the Women’s Rights Party.

We held election activities around the country in markets and in Christchurch, members leafletted outside the Press Leaders’ Debate. We wrapped purple, white and green ribbons around lampposts in the Dunedin Octagon and on trees and fences as we went around the country. Members put our election signs on their fences and waved signs during peak traffic in New Plymouth and other towns and cities.

Wellington and Auckland members celebrated Suffrage Day on 19 September dressed in Suffrage clothes and offering passers-by cake (with leaflets). A TV1 crew filmed us in Midland Park in Wellington and we had run-ins with very aggressive trans activists outside the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and in the grounds of Parliament where we accused of “appropriating women’s rights”.

Building A Team

With the planned visit of Kellie-Jay Keen to Auckland, Tania Sturt stepped down as Women’s Rights Party co-leader (Tania is KJK’s representative in New Zealand and ran the highly successful Let Women Speak Justice event in Auckland in September). We elected Chimene del la Varis as our new co-leader. Chimene is our regional co-ordinator for Northland and West Auckland and has previously stood as a Green Party endorsed local body candidate so she brings political experience to her role.

Chimene is a journalist with experience in radio and has produced three editions of the podcast “The White Camellia”, all of which are available on our website. Check out her latest edition here: . Her previous edition focussing on women’s suffrage in Aotearoa can be accessed here: Marking 130 Years of Women Voting in Aotearoa (womensrightsparty.nz) and here is the link to Chimene’s first White Camellia podcast: White Camelia Podcast: When Inclusion Means Intrusion.


We ran a digital advertising campaign in all six of our largest cities to persuade younger voters (18-39 years of age) to give us their Party vote after a Curia Poll question we commissioned showed that 49% of this age group would consider giving us their Party vote. The digital campaign highlighted our younger List candidates MacKenzie Clark, a tertiary education student and “Let Women Speak” star, and Marnie Fornusek, former NZ champion whitewater kayaker and Save Women’s Sports campaigner. Here is MacKenzie Clark at the Let Women Speak Justice event on 20 September:


Through your generous support, we raised $12,000 which we spent during the Election campaign on advertising and election materials. We now have a merchandising page on our website so you can order and pay on-line for our t-shirts, tote bags, and our unique hand-knitted scarves. There are also fliers and small cards we have produced to leave in cafes, libraries, and other places. We are also selling our rosettes, which you can keep as an historic reminder of our first Election campaign.

Sadly because of the passing of a candidate during the General Election, a by-election in the Port Waikato electorate was held on 25 November. I stood as a candidate. We delivered 5000 fliers as well as putting up election hoardings. There were a couple of candidate meetings attended mostly by NZ Loyal Party members who were very much on board with the issues we are raising, but have a host of other issues on their agenda. We attracted some attention in the mainstream media on Radio NZ Morning Report, TV1 News, Q&A and the Nation, plus two more interviews on the Platform. After special votes, we got 188 votes of 18,318 votes cast with 14,023 votes for the sitting MP Andrew Bayly. This was a big increase over the 29 Party votes for the Women’s Rights Party in the General Election and shows the value of standing electorate candidates, which we aim to do in the 2026 General Election.

Since the Election we have continued to highlight the Women’s Rights Party issues with media releases which we promote on fb and X (Twitter). We called for an enquiry into use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones with children suffering from gender distress.

We supported the United Nations #NoExcuses campaign to end violence against women with a media release.

We welcomed initiatives in the Coalition Government Agreements that have shed light on the capture by gender ideology on public policy and law making. The NZ Herald is reporting today that the Government is to act on protecting women’s sports.

We are also supportive of initiatives that will potentially address concern about the promotion of gender ideology in schools, noting that there is much to be said about age-appropriate education around consent, bullying and harassment, social media and so on. Further, we don’t see a place for organisations such as InsideOut in our schools!

We have also been fighting a battle against Wikipedia which allows editing changes by trans activists that cast us as “transphobic”.

We submitted to the UN Periodic Review on behalf of the Women’s Rights Party.

Thirty of our midwife members and their colleagues sent a letter last week calling on the Coalition Government to reign in the Midwifery Council which has released a new Scope of Practice for midwives that fails to mention women and babies. Watch this space for more action on this issue in the New Year!

We have called on the Coalition Government to repeal self-identification for determining sex on the birth certificate in the Births, Deaths and Relationships Act 2021 on the basis that this encourages a belief that a man can change his sex at will and enter women’s spaces without being challenged. We will continue to campaign around this issue in 2024, including lobbying MPs.

We are working on policy relating to prostitution reform in light of the failure of the New Zealand model of decriminalisation to protect women and girls. We will be consulting with you as members as we develop this and other policy areas.

If you are on the member-only fb group, you will have seen articles posted by members on many of these issues. If you can’t access this, it may mean you are not yet a member of the member-only fb group. To request to join, click on this link.

You can also follow us on X @WRP_NZ and our public fb page.

We are taking a break now over Christmas and into the New Year. We are planning fundraising events and a Council policy retreat in February/March, followed by a round of regional meetings and then our Conference which will be in June. We are looking forward to your participation and continued support.

Happy Holidays!

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