suffrage_petition
Surname: 
Wiltshire
Given names: 
Kate
Given address: 
Taonui Street
Sheet No: 314
Town/Suburb: 
Palmerston North
City/Region: 
Manawatu / Horowhenua
Notes: 

Biography contributed for the He Tohu exhibtion. Information provided by Jenny Robertson, based on research by by David Colquhoun and family information from Laurell Ardern

Kate Rider, the daughter of a British Army private, came from St Pancras, London.  At 19 she met Berkshire-born, 30-year-old railways plate layer, Joseph Lewis Wiltshire on the immigrant ship Pleiades in 1872. They married in 1873 in Christchurch, four months after arriving.

Joseph Wiltshire had been an English long-distance pedestrian (ultra-marathon foot racing for stakes) and he encouraged the petite Kate (44 kg) into competition in New Zealand. She appeared in a snappy costume free of the prevailing restrictions in women’s dress and, with Joseph, did her bit to raise the tone of the sport often associated with rowdy public house betting. It was nevertheless one of the few activities where men and women could openly compete against each other. Kate’s finest achievement was covering 100 miles in Auckland in 1876 making good her advertised status as ‘The Greatest Female Pedestrienne in the World’.

The Wiltshires’ first child Charles, born in 1875, died at four months. The couple went on to have nine more children (2 boys and 7 daughters) born between 1880 and 1905. 

The Wiltshires moved to Marton, opening a hotel there and later to Palmerston North where Joseph ran a small agency advertising theatre acts. It was from Taonui St that Kate signed the 1893 electoral petition. She raised their large family, was a renowned singer and an active member of her church.

Kate married twice more after Joseph died in 1906 and was buried with him in the Terrace End Cemetery in Palmerston North.

Kate Wiltshire is the great- great grandmother of the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand Prime Minister. 


Click on sheet number to see the 1893 petition sheet this signature appeared on. Digital copies of the sheets supplied by Archives New Zealand.

How to cite this page

'Kate Wiltshire', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/suffragist/kate-wiltshire, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 8-Oct-2018

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