75th anniversary of first female MP

Elizabeth McCombs  became New Zealand’s first female MP 75 years ago yesterday, almost 40 years after women first got the vote.

She won a by-election for the Labour Party in Lyttelton after the death of her husband, James, who had held the seat.

Some Labour leaders were not convinced about her candidacy as James had only won by a slender margin in 1931. In the end they had no cause for concern – Elizabeth was elected with an overwhelming majority.

In her time in Parliament Elizabeth tried to keep women’s issues at the forefront, advocating causes such as equal pay. But she had little opportunity to effect change. Labour was then in opposition and she died less than two years later, in June 1935.

Hat tip: No Right Turn

Update: The Hand Mirror has a fuller post here.

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