- New Zealand
- Christianity was introduced to New Zealand (or Aotearoa) from AUSTRALIA. The first Christian service was held in 1814 by Samuel Marsden, a Church of England minister who resided in Sydney and had been placed in charge of the church's work throughout British settlements in the South Seas. He operated as a representative of the CHURCH MISsionary Society, one of the two early Anglican missionary-sending agencies. Marsden's sermon was immediately translated into Maori, the language of New Zealand's pre-European inhabitants, signaling the church's missionary intent.Settlement began in the northern half of the country, and there the church first established itself. Permanent Anglican work began in 1819, with John Butler as first resident minister. Methodism spread among the early settlers as well. John McFarlane, a Presbyterian, arrived in 1840, the year that Britain annexed New Zealand as a colony.These Christian groups grew and expanded and were joined by additional denominations from the homeland. An Anglican bishop was consecrated in 1841. The first Baptist church opened its doors in 1851. In 1854, New Zealand's House of Representatives announced that it would treat all religious groups equally.Missionaries found some success among the Maoris, who, while accepting Christianity, rejected European cultural patterns. In order to assert their allegiance to traditional ways, some Maori leaders formed independent groups that merged Christian and Maori elements. Between 1830 and 1860, some 20 such movements promoting a charismatic and millennial faith arose, with more following in later decades. Some of these churches were involved in the conflicts over land ownership between the Maori and newer settlers.While the first denominations to arrive have remained the largest in the Protestant community, the majority of church members are scattered among the 50 or more later arrivals. The Ratana Church, a healing church founded in 1925, has become the largest group among Maoris. They established their headquarters in a new holy city, Ratanapa, where a large temple commemorates the church's founder, T. W. Ratana.Pentecostalism emerged rather late, when British healing evangelist Smith Wigglesworth (1859-1947) visited in 1922. In 1924, American evangelist A. C. Valdez Sr. (1896-1988) followed up on the enthusiasm Wigglesworth ignited, and his meetings became the catalyst for the formation of the Pentecostal Church of New Zealand. It soon fell victim to internal disagreements over POLITY; the largest faction is affiliated with the American-based Assemblies of God. Pentecostal growth, largely associated with the Charismatic movement, has accelerated since 1980.Many of the older Protestant churches are members of the National Council of Churches in New Zealand, which is affiliated with the World Council of Churches. More conservative non-Pentecostal groups are affiliated with New Vision New Zealand, which is in turn a member of the Evangelical Fellowship of the South Pacific and the World Evangelical Alliance. Pentecostal Churches have formed the Associated Pentecostal Churches of New Zealand.See also South Pacific.Further reading:■ Brian Colless and Peter Donovan, eds. Religion in New Zealand Society, 2nd ed. (Palmerston North, N.Z.: Dunmore, 1985)■ Allen K. Davidson, Christianity in Aotearoa: A History of Church and Society in New Zealand, 2nd ed., (Wellington: Education for Ministry, 1997)■ James E. Worsfold, A History of the Charismatic Movements in New Zealand (Bradford, West Yorkshire, u.K.: Julian Literature Trust, 1974).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.