Skip to main content
Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.


SIEVWRIGHT, Margaret Home


Social reformer and feminist.

A new biography of Sievwright, Margaret Home appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.

Margaret Home Sievwright was born at Pentcaithland, North Berwick, Scotland, on 19 March 1844, the daughter of Jane Law Richardson (née Home), and John, an estate factor. Attracted at an early age to social work she taught in a school for poor children in Edinburgh, trained as a nurse under Florence Nightingale, and joined the campaign of Josephine Butler for the repeal of the Criminal Diseases Act. Emigrating to New Zealand in 1870 she married, eight years later, Stout's barrister partner, William Sievwright, with whom she lived in Gisborne till her death. Margaret Sievwright joined the Women's Christian Temperance Union from its foundation, holding local and Dominion office, and was one of the first women to be elected to a licensing board. A firm advocate of women's rights, she campaigned for women's suffrage, and formed a women's political association in Gisborne in 1893. Three years later she was instrumental in calling together delegates of women's societies to form the National Council of Women, with whose radical programme she was closely associated. She was President of the Council at the time of her death at Whataupoko, Poverty Bay, on 9 March 1905.

Though shy and sensitive by nature, Margaret Sievwright was so aroused by injustice that she undertook social work of all kinds, and her influence spread to feminist groups abroad, where she was an admired figure.

by Patricia Ann Grimshaw, M.A., Auckland.

  • Poverty Bay Herald, 9 Mar 1905 (Obit).


Patricia Ann Grimshaw, M.A., Auckland.