New Zealand - (Ocenania)

Information about New Zealand

270534 square kilometres
Anglican 24%, Presbyterian 18%, Roman Catholic 15%, Methodist 5%, Baptist 2%, other Protestant 3%, unspecified or none 33%
Christian (%)
Protestant (%)
Reformed (%)

Christianity came to New Zealand when in 1814 Rev. Samuel Marsden, Church of England chaplain to the British settlement in Sydney, preached on Christmas Day in that country. In the following two decades the Church of England, the Methodists and the RCath began mission work among the Maoris. In 1840 the British Crown signed a treaty with many Maori chiefs. In the following years migrants from Europe, mainly from the British Isles, began to arrive in the country in growing numbers. Also arriving were settlers who were Ref, Presb, and Congreg; they formed settler churches and did not carry out missions to the Maori. There has never been an established church in New Zealand; the state was always secular. In the 19th century denominational rivalry could at times be intense over issues like temperance and the place of the Bible and religion in schools. Toward the end of the century other denominations such as Bapt, Brethren, Quakers, and the Salvation Army founded congr. The Seventh-Day Adventists made their entry in 1924, and the Assemblies of God started in 1927.
In the early 20th century church union negotiations began among Congreg, Meth, and Presb. At a later stage they also included Angl. But these did not ultimately lead to union — though there are in New Zealand almost 150 union congr. Many Christian activities are carried out ecumenically. The National Council of Churches, founded in 1941, was the first such Council in the world.
After World War II new immigrants, especially of Dutch origin, entered the country. An important development was the changing status of the Maori population in the churches’ life. In 1945 the Presbyterian Church set up Te Hinota Synod (Maori Synod) to regulate its own affairs. In 1973 the Methodist Church set up a separate Maori division. The first Angl Maori bishop was consecrated in 1928, though it took 50 years for him to achieve full diocesan status; the RCath appointed their first Maori bishop in 1988.
The role of women has changed considerably. The Congregationalist Church was the first to ordain women (1951). Now all Prot churches practice women’s ordination. The first Angl woman diocesan bishop was consecrated in New Zealand.




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