To celebrate 125 years of women’s suffrage in Aotearoa today, Jacinda Ardern edited a special commemorative edition of The NZ Herald. Alex Casey, Madeleine Chapman and Leonie Hayden reviewed her work.
Alex Casey: Happy suffrage 125. Here’s a pic of me extremely excited to be writing the first sentence of this essential review.
Madeleine Chapman: That’s what the Spinoff office looks like moments before I hit publish on a story about KFC.
AC: I gotta admit, it was extremely cool to flick through the pages of NZ Herald and have them look exactly like the daily rag on Themyscira. Never seen such a diverse range of women on the bloody chip wrapper in me life. I’d probably buy the paper more often than once a year if it was like this every day. Can’t it look like this every day???
Leonie Hayden: We owned ourselves in two ways this morning – first by seeing if we could name as many of the women on the front and back cover as possible (a measly 25 for me) and then by doing the suffrage-themed quiz inside (a shameful 4/10). I don’t think it was the intention of the fancy new editor to make me feel dumb and inadequate, but here we are.
AC: I’ve since tried to remedy my shame by reading through the trailblazers timeline and soaking up all the knowledge. Am particularly into Joan Wiffen, the palaeontologist who discovered the first dinosaur bones in New Zealand!! My Ross queen!! But yes, extremely embarrassed to not recognise so many of the women. Even Niki bloody Caro looked like a stranger. Imagine if I said the same about Peter Jackson! I guess… I’m a sexist.
MC: They set us up to fail though by including pictures of women who aren’t famous (YET. I’M SURE THEY WILL BE). Did I very confidently identify Fiona Culliney, crown prosecutor, as “definitely Sarah Walker”? Yes. But they do look very alike. Actually, looking again, maybe it is Sarah Walker. Anyway, shout out Sarah Walker.
LH: The front cover tells me the woman on the left is our first female member of parliament, Elizabeth McCombs. I demand to see Helen Clark’s birth certificate. #truther
MC: I love the photo of Jacinda at work, editing away. If only that’s what the editing process really looked like, rather than 10 Google Doc comments saying “Is this shit? Happy to delete if so.”
LH: Where are the empty lolly packets?
AC: How many times do you think she said “who has capacity?” in the Herald Slack?
MC: And how many times did nobody respond? Smart move by the Herald to take on such a high-level unpaid intern. I wonder how fast she was at transcribing.
AC: I hope it was her editorial decision to put the bra ad right next to the incredibly iconic trio photo of her, Jenny and Helen. As a couple of people around my age have pointed out, it’s actually amazing that we’ve spent a tremendous chunk of our lives seeing these three women in power.
But now I have a guilty feminist question: would Kate Sheppard be more impressed by the three women prime ministers or the fact that in 2018 you can buy a lovely new bra for $10?!? Omg. The Kate Sheppard price no less #truther
MC: Look, I’ll take a Bendon Contour Bra any day. And if a Suffrage Day sale means everything’s $10 then make every day Suffrage Day.
LH: Have you seen the corsets and hardware they had to wear back in the day? Kate would have murdered 20 Suffragettes for a modern-day bra.
MC: Can’t wait to read all about how they took “that photo” in the Weekend Herald. I assume it involved a chair and a camera of sorts.
MC: Full page ad on A6 for an event with four international speakers. All four are men. Now that’s what I call… Alanis Morissette.
LH: I initially thought her editorial was a bit perfunctory, but there’s a longer essay by the PM on page 10 musing on the private lives of the other 25,519 people that signed the petition and weren’t Kate Sheppard. It contains quite a good burn of the NZ Herald, who didn’t reckon her great-great-grandmother, long-distance walker Kate Wiltshire, could walk 100 miles in 1876.
AC: I think she’s got a huge future ahead of her. Can we get her to write for The Spinoff when she’s moping around in her late 60s like all our other ex-PM contributors?
MC: “It’s 4:30am as I write this.” Relatable content. I assume this means I will one day be prime minister and edit the Herald?
AC: Put it on me gravestone. I really do wonder what trailblazer Georgina Beyer would have thought of this hot take quoted in one of the columns: “I’m a feminist from way back, and watching the new wave of young feminists is disheartening. They’ll have you believe that up is down, black is white, and transgender men are women just because they say they are.” Hhhrrrrmmmmmph.
MC: At least that spread was largely occupied by a very good Dame Fiona Kidman extract about fertility and choice. My one question: why is there not more Dame Kidman in the paper all the time? Don’t need to wait 125 years to ask our best writers to share their stories.
LH: Speaking of being on the wrong side of history, this column of letters to the ed by doofus men is very good. I think this is my favourite:
MC: There’s a full page real estate ad proclaiming “Putting the “real” into the industry”. If Jacinda let that atrocity go in when “Putting the “real” in “realty” was right there…
LH: The Herald Homes section is doing some serious heavy lifting. Six trailblazing women in real estate. A profile on Kate Sheppard’s house, which will be selling for the ‘Herstoric’ price of over $3 million.
MC: I think there’s one thing we can all agree on. The word “herstory” should be extinct. It is everywhere in this edition and it’s just not a good word. Use real words!
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AC: I just hope, for this momentous day, snakes will be slithering around going “herssssss”
MC: Sorry, my allergies are flaring up, gonna go take some ‘antiherstamine’. Please only refer to me as Madeleine Chapwoman from now on.
AC: Hey Jacinda, is this shit? Happy to delete if so.
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The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.