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.




The controlling body of the province is the General Synod which meets once every two years, although there is provision for meeting more often for special purposes if necessary. The membership of General Synod comprises the bishops of the province, three clerical representatives elected by the clergy of each diocesan synod, and four lay representatives elected by the laymen of each diocesan synod. The associated missionary dioceses are represented by two clergymen and two laymen who are appointed by the bishop in the case of the diocese of Melanesia and by the diocesan synod in the case of the diocese of Polynesia. Each diocese has its own synod which must meet at least every year. These diocesan synods consist of the clergy who hold a licence from the bishop of the diocese and of laymen elected by the various parishes at the annual meeting of parishioners. A diocesan synod is empowered by the General Synod to exercise powers and make regulations for the order and good government of the Church in the diocese, but these may not be repugnant to the Constitution or a canon or regulation of General Synod. Each diocese is divided into a number of parishes or parochial districts, of which there are 128 and 200 respectively throughout New Zealand with 901 churches, while services are taken in 794 other places which are not solely churches. In addition, there are 38 native pastorates which are all in the four North Island dioceses. The affairs of a parish or parochial district are controlled by a vicar's churchwarden and a people's churchwarden together with a vestry elected at the annual general meeting of parishioners. Vestrymen must be communicant members and over 21 years of age, although to vote at a parish meeting it is only necessary to be over 18 years of age, baptised, and on the parish roll. On the whole the clergy and laymen work in close cooperation in the running of the parishes in all matters although the clergy have the general oversight of spiritual ministrations. Laymen, however, assist a great deal with visiting and through the efforts of lay readers, of which there are 854 in New Zealand, services especially in country areas are maintained at regular intervals.