Topic: Rereātea - Midday News

Influential wāhine added to prestigious NZ biography dictionary

By Jessica Tyson

To celebrate Suffrage Day, 25 of New Zealand's most influential women have been added to the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.

Māori wāhine honoured include Dame Te Ātairangikaahu, land rights activist Tuaiwa (Eva) Rickard, health researcher and Ngāi Tahu leader Erihapeti Rehu-Murchie, transgender icon Carmen Rupe and politician Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan.

Group Manager Delivery Tamsin Evans says, "Activists Mira Szászy and Tuaiwa (Eva) Rickard fought for Māori and indigenous causes at home and abroad.  Māori queen Te Ātairangikaahu was one of the most beloved figures of her generation.”

The biography describes Rehu-Nurchie as "a long-serving member and president of the Māori Women’s Welfare League, and an acclaimed researcher in the area of Māori women’s health.

“She also served on the Human Rights Commission and in a wide variety of other public positions.  An accomplished actor, singer and orator, she also composed waiata and poetry.”

Evans says the biographies contain more than 50,000 words, over 200 images, videos and sound recordings.

“Many of these were drawn from private collections so have not been published before.”

The DNZB contains biographies of more than 3,000 people who shaped New Zealand culture and history.

The 25 new biographies are:

  • Former Māori queen Dame Te Ātairangikaahu
  • Health researcher and Ngāi Tahu leader Erihapeti Rehu-Murchie
  • Land rights activist Tuaiwa (Eva) Rickard
  • Transgender icon Carmen Rupe
  • Politician Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan
  • Writer Mona Anderson
  • Activist Rona Bailey
  • Social morality campaigner Patricia Bartlett
  • Potter and educator Doreen Blumhardt,
  • Reading recovery pioneer Marie Clay
  • Midwife Joan Donley
  • Writer Lauris Edmond
  • Activist and writer Elsie Locke
  • Children's writer Margaret Mahy
  • Artist Joanna Paul
  • Broadcaster Cherry Raymond
  • Paraplegic athlete Eve Rimmer,
  • Writer Jacqueline Sturm
  • Activist and leader Mira Szászy
  • Astronomer Beatrice Tinsley
  • Community worker Agnes TuiSamoa
  • Judge Augusta Wallace
  • Community worker Betty Wark
  • Actor Davina Whitehouse
  • Palaeontologist Joan Wiffen