Annie Schackenberg devoted her life to social justice.
In early Auckland, Annie Schnackenberg, was a well-known suffragist, campaigning for women to get the vote.
Before that, she became at age 28 the wife of Cort Schnackenberg, aged 52, a Wesleyan missionary at Kawhia in Northland, soon after his first wife Amy died.
Annie became fluent in Te Reo Māori. The Schnackenbergs and their children moved to Raglan. Their home was the first Pākehā place the Māori king Tawhio Te Wherowhero visited after the Land Wars ended.
Cort wrote of Annie that she was “a suitable, faithful and affectionate wife to me… [not just] busily engaged in the duties of a housewife, but in preaching, writing, account-keeping, singing scared music.
“She has ability above the common order – of very essential help to my missionary and ministerial labours, as also in letter-writing – especially spelling and official communications with the government…”
Annie was a founder member of the New Zealand Women’s Christian Temperance Union (working against the effects of alcohol) in 1885. She became National President from 1891 to 1901, and president of the Auckland branch of the WCTU 1889- 1897.
Under her guidance the Auckland WCTU was pivotal in organising the petition which contributed so much to the success of the suffragist movement and the passing of the Suffrage bill in 1893, giving New Zealand women the vote, the first universal franchise in the world.
Historian Sandra Coney writes: “Annie Schnackenberg was outspoken against the infamous Contagious Diseases Act which made legal the compulsory examination of women suspected of being prostitutes. She three times took WCTU petitions to parliament and didn’t mince words… ‘We contend that any law, or Act of Parliament, which interferes with the rights and liberties of women only to make it safe for men to sin, is a disgrace to a community calling itself Christian.’” (In Every Girl - A social history of women and the YWCA in Auckland.)
Annie Schnackenberg is buried in the general section in an enclosure containing other Wesleyan Missionaries and notable people.