Above left: The Thames book launch poster. Right: Dr Bishop holding her new book
The title of the book is Women Mean Business Colonial businesswomen in New Zealand, and retails at $45.
"From Kaitaia in Northland to Oban on Stewart Island, New Zealands nineteenth-century towns were full of entrepreneurial women.
Contrary to what we might expect, colonial women were not only wives and mothers or domestic servants. A surprising number ran their own businesses, supporting themselves and their families, sometimes in productive partnership with husbands, but in other cases compensating for a spouses incompetence, intemperance, absence or all three.
The pages of this book overflow with the stories of hard-working milliners and dressmakers, teachers, boarding-house keepers and laundresses, colourful publicans, brothelkeepers and travelling performers, along with the odd taxidermist, bootmaker and butcher and Australasias first woman chemist. Then, as now, there was no typical businesswoman. They were middle and working class; young and old; Māori and Pākehā; single, married, widowed and sometimes bigamists. Their businesses could be wild successes or dismal failures, lasting just a few months or a lifetime.
In this fascinating and entertaining book, award-winning historian Dr Catherine Bishop showcases many of the individual businesswomen whose efforts, collectively, contributed so much to the making of urban life in New Zealand." Source: Carsons Bookshop
Dr Catherine Bishop delivers a presentation on New Zealand Businesswomen.
Why have a book launch stop in Thames?
Dr Bishop is at present travelling around New Zealand promoting the book and the need to recognise, remember and acknowledge the business women of the pre 1880s in New Zealand.
There are several Thames women featured in the book. Women such as Harriet Corston (Miss Reed) who had Newington House in Brown Street. Mrs Simpson aka Mrs Ah Mow who ran several shops at The Thames.
While there were many women who were primarily based at home carrying out domestic duties, there were many who were businesswomen on the Thames Goldfield. By choice or by default when their husbands died, many of these women ran successful businesses.
Whether it was running a hotel, a private school, a millinery or dressmaking service. The list went on.
A general business list can be found in some early blogs on this site - see if you can spot some women in business.
This list was done nearly ten years ago, before many newspapers were available online - so please note it probably has missed as many as it found! The list above also does not include SCHOOLS or HOTELS, both areas that women featured on at the Thames Goldfield.
A very good point that Dr Bishop stressed was that you can't rely on the wording Miss or Mrs in the business title or proprietor. Bishop gave several examples where only initials were given in the business name and it turned out the owners were women!
Grab a book from the library or purchase one to read. Maybe you will find a relative among the women discussed in the book Women Mean Business Colonial businesswomen in New Zealand.
Above: Caledonian House in Albert Street. There is one 'Woman' shop assistant. While not all women owned businesses, lets not forget those who were employed - dispelling the myth that all women were at home carrying out domestic chores.