Saturday, February 4, 2012

Commemorating Elizabeth Yates

Back in 2009, I posted about Elizabeth Yates, the first woman mayor in the British Empire back in 1893. On February 3, while passing through Onehunga, I came upon two commemorations for this woman. But thought it somewhat odd that they were hidden away in a corner behind the main shopping street (Onehunga Mall), to the side of the church grounds of St Peter's, and on a walkway leading to the local supermarket.

My attention was attracted by one of the old Maungakiekie Community Board signs ...

... and then an Auckland City Council ceramic plaque by a tree. I did wonder if the tree was special in some way. Well, no, it wasn't for the tree ...

First, the sign. Closer examination revealed it was referring to Elizabeth Yates, although with one strange statement: "The event made world news as it was also the year New Zealand women were given the right to vote, and subsequently Elizabeth Yates was the first women [sic] to vote in the general elections, the day before she was elected mayor."

Really?? How on earth did whoever compose the wording for this sign come up with the "fact" that Elizabeth Yates was not only the first woman mayor, but somehow voted ahead of every other woman in the country? Most odd.

The sign was probably erected after the installation of the plaque, which dates from 1993, and also recognises Elizabeth Yates as the first woman mayor.

But it's a pity that these two markers are separated by quite a distance from her actual gravesite, facing Onehunga Mall.

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