The Methodist Church was founded in England in the 1700s. It was originally called Wesleyan after the founders, brothers John and Charles Wesley.
Methodist missions to Māori
The first Methodist mission in New Zealand was started at Kaeo, in Northland, in 1823. Others were established around the country. The missionaries aimed to convert Māori to Christianity. Later, Māori ministers were trained to work in Māori communities.
The settler church
From the 1840s the New Zealand Methodist Church grew as many Methodist settlers arrived from Britain. In 1858 around 10% of New Zealanders were Methodist.
Methodist churches had many committees and groups, including Sunday school and groups for children, missionary committees, and groups and clubs for women.
The Methodist Church believes in social responsibility, and became a strong part of the temperance movement, which discouraged the drinking of alcohol.
Some Methodists were involved in left-wing politics. Colin Scrimgeour, known as Uncle Scrim, hosted a popular radio programme in the 1930s which encouraged people to support the Labour Party.
Many Methodists were pacifists, and some were imprisoned as conscientious objectors during the Second World War.
The Methodist Church set up institutions such as city missions and children’s homes to help the poor and needy.
Methodist Church in the 21st century
Since the early 1900s the proportion of New Zealanders who are Methodist has shrunk from 10% to only 2.6% in 2013. Many of those are of Pacific Islands ethnicity, as Methodist missionaries were very active in the Pacific Islands.