Tucked in between the South Canterbury Museum and Perth Street, diagonally across from the Timaru Council Buildings, is the beautiful Kate Sheppard Memorial Garden. This was gifted to the City by the Citizens of Timaru to celebrate the centennial of Women’s Suffrage. It was officially opened by Dame Miriam Dell on July 3rd, 1993.
A beautiful little corner of town, providing a quiet and peaceful space for a moments pause and reflection during a busy day. I often notice people sitting on the wooden bench as I pass by, soaking up the sun, enjoying their lunch or just a takeaway coffee with a friend.
There is a path or two running throughout, some well -built Timaru Blue Stone walls and the plantings follow a lavender and white theme. Kate Sheppard has a rather lovely white camellia named after her and I am sure there are some of these dotted among the plantings along with white roses and purple (lavender) is the official suffrage colour. Some fine trees are beginning to become more significant, in particular a beautiful copper beach is just starting to show its form. The garden softens the modern façade of the South Canterbury Museum and the pretty tower at St Mary’s can be seen in the background.
Recently I saw a fantastic Rock Stage Show called ‘That Bloody Woman’ in Christchurch. It was written by Luc De Somma , a New Zealander, detailing the life and story of why and how Kate Sheppard achieved her goal of getting NZ women the vote. It was fantastic way of telling a younger generation about her incredible accomplishment and the many battles she faced.
Dame Miriam Dell was a wonderful person to choose to open the garden, another impressive New Zealander who has been and continues to be at the forefront of women's issues in New Zealand and internationally for over 30 years, promoting women's advancement and equal rights in society.