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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.



Elections and Appointments

The Primate and Archbishop is elected by General Synod after nomination by the bishops. The nomination must be confirmed both by clerical and by lay representatives. If, after a second nomination, no election is made, the senior bishop, other than the bishop of a missionary diocese, becomes Acting Primate until General Synod elects a Primate. Provision was made by General Synod in 1952 for the Primate and Archbishop to have an assistant bishop. The Archbishop presides at meetings of the General Synod and meetings of the bishops, and is authorised to exercise all such powers of a Metropolitan as may be defined by General Synod. Such powers, however, have not yet been defined and his jurisdiction is, therefore, restricted to the diocese of which he is also bishop. The first Primate and Archbishop was the Most Rev. Churchill Julius (1922–25), Bishop of Christchurch, followed by the Most Rev. A. W. Averill (1925–40), Bishop of Auckland, the Most Rev. C. W. West-Watson (1940–51), Bishop of Christchurch, and the Most Rev. Reginald H. Owen (1952–60), Bishop of Wellington. The present occupier of the office is the Most Rev. Norman A. Lesser, Bishop of Waiapu, who was elected in 1961. Prior to 1922 there was a Primate without the title of Archbishop, the holders of this office being the Right Rev. H. J. C. Harper, Bishop of Christchurch (1869–89), the Right Rev. O. Hadfield, Bishop of Wellington (1890–93), the Right Rev. W. G. Cowie, Bishop of Auckland (1895–1902), and the Right Rev. S. T. Nevill, Bishop of Dunedin (1904–19).

The bishop of a diocese is chosen by the diocesan synod, but it may delegate its right of selection to others. The bishops of the province are called upon to state whether they have reason to disapprove of a nomination and, before the person nominated to be bishop is advised, his nomination must be confirmed by the standing committee of each diocese or by the General Synod if in session. The Consecration of a bishop-elect must take place within the Province of New Zealand. There is also provision for the appointment of assistant bishops and such appointments are made on the nomination of the bishop of the diocese.

Each diocese has a board of nomination which deals with the appointment of vicars, of whom there are over 300 assisted by about 100 other clergy. The board consists of the bishop as chairman and two priests elected by the clergy and two laymen elected by the laymen of the diocesan synod. When a vacancy occurs in a parish, the board of nomination and nominators elected by the vestry of the parish meet together and nominate a priest to the bishop to become vicar. Appointments to parochial districts as distinct from parishes are made by the board of nomination without any representation from the parochial district. The vicar of a parish can only be removed therefrom for an ecclesiastical offence and upon a decision of some competent tribunal constituted by the General Synod, but the licence of the vicar of a parochial district can be revoked by the bishop with the consent of one-half of the other members of the board of nomination.

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