Story: Diverse Christian churches

Page 6. Orthodox churches

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Greek Orthodox Church

The Greek Orthodox Church is related to the Russian and other Eastern Orthodox churches. Greek and other migrants from eastern and central Europe brought these Orthodox forms of Christianity to New Zealand from the mid-19th century. In 1910 Russian-born Nicholas Manovitch became the first Orthodox priest based in New Zealand, at St Michael’s Church in Dunedin, the country’s first purpose-built Orthodox church.

Expansion

After the Second World War large numbers of migrants displaced from homelands in the eastern Mediterranean and Europe arrived in New Zealand, adding to Orthodox congregations. In 1970 New Zealand was granted its own Metropolis, or church parish, separate from Australia. Dionysios Psiachas became the first Archbishop of the Holy Metropolis of New Zealand.

From the 1980s further waves of migrants from the eastern Mediterranean and the former Soviet Union enlarged the Orthodox Church. The first New Zealand-born Orthodox clergy were appointed in the early 2000s. In 2016 there were nine Greek Orthodox churches in New Zealand, based around the Archdiocesan Church of St Andrew the First-called, in Miramar, Wellington, and serving around 2,500 church members.

Coptic Orthodox Church

The term ‘Coptic’ comes from a Greek word meaning Egyptian. The contemporary Coptic Orthodox Church is a Christian church based in Egypt (where most of the population is Muslim). It is part of a group of Orthodox churches which also include the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Churches.

Immigrants and refugees from the Middle East and North Africa introduced the Coptic Church to New Zealand. In 1999 Bishop Suriel was appointed the first Coptic bishop for Australia and New Zealand, based in Melbourne. In the 2010s there was a Coptic church in each of New Zealand’s four main centres. St Mary and St Athnasios Coptic church in Christchurch was badly damaged in the September 2010 earthquake.

There were about 411 Coptic Orthodox Church members in New Zealand in 2013.

How to cite this page:

Mark Derby, 'Diverse Christian churches - Orthodox churches', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/diverse-christian-churches/page-6 (accessed 1 October 2020)

Story by Mark Derby, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 20 Apr 2018