Elizabeth Yates

New Zealand’s first elected female politician was a woman of remarkable tenacity and courage who endured abuse from her fellow councillors and members of the public, mainly because of her gender. Elizabeth Yates served just one year as Mayor of Onehunga in 1894 but her legacy is seen in the increasing numbers of women entering local and national politics in New Zealand. Decades ahead of her time (the country did not get its second woman mayor for another 63 years), Elizabeth disavowed feminist banners and claimed she simply wanted to be a good manager. In this first biography, author Judith Devaliant provides a fascinating account of the circus atmosphere which developed around the Onehunga Borough Council meetings during Elizabeth’s tenure of office, and of the tactics she used to defend herself.

SPECIFICATIONS: Paperback | 210 mm x 138mm | Includes Photographs and Drawings | 160 Pages |

Judith Devaliant was born in Dunedin and grew up in an all-female household. She was educated in Lawrence, Invercargill and Dunedin, graduating from Otago University in 1960 with an M.A. Honours in History. A working holiday in Britain ended with marriage to Lionel, who was a London policeman and is now deputy principal at an Auckland school. Their four daughters are pursuing their own careers in Auckland and Japan. Judith worked as a reference librarian before resigning to become a fulltime writer.

Her first book, Kate Sheppard; A Biography (Penguin) was written for Suffrage Year in 1993. She is continuing her research on Kate Sheppard and other women of that period. She is a keen gardener who enjoys walks along Auckland’s beaches and some gentle hiking.


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