Kōrero: English

Whārangi 11. Religion

Ngā whakaahua me ngā rauemi katoa o tēnei kōrero

Church of England

The Church of England (the Anglican Church) brought Christianity to New Zealand through the Church Missionary Society, and in the person of chaplain and magistrate Samuel Marsden. Another Englishman, George Augustus Selwyn, appointed bishop of New Zealand in 1841, prepared the constitution for an autonomous branch of the church in New Zealand. The proposed structure, which still largely endures, included dioceses and parishes, Māori churches, schools for Pākehā and Māori boys and girls, and theological colleges.

From the beginnings of settlement, the Church of England was, numerically, the strongest denomination in the Pākehā population (about 43% of the non-Māori population were members in 1901). By drawing many of its clergy from England, the New Zealand arm of the church maintained close links with its English counterpart. It served as an important channel through which English moral and social values were transmitted. The Anglican Church did not, however, remain a cultural refuge for the English in the same way that the Catholic Church functioned for the Irish. This was partly because the English were so dominant, and partly because the Anglican Church included significant numbers from other places, especially Ireland.


The English were diverse in their religious practice. From the outset of settlement a significant number belonged to the dissenting churches. Methodism arrived in New Zealand with the missionary Samuel Leigh in 1822. The denomination became numerically more significant in New Zealand (10.8% of non-Māori in 1901) than at home, partly because of its strong support among the Cornish and among some Midlands farm migrants, especially those from Lincolnshire.

Baptists and others

The Associated Churches of Christ and the Baptist Church, which had grown rapidly in early 19th-century England, established their first New Zealand congregations in the predominantly English settlement of Nelson in 1844 and 1851 respectively. In 1901, 2.1% of non-Māori were Baptists.


New Zealand’s early Jewish community was largely of English origin. Its most prominent member, Julius Vogel, as treasurer and premier, vigorously promoted New Zealand’s economic development.

Nonconformist influences

The influence of the Victorian evangelical and nonconformist churches was especially apparent in the reform movements which emerged from about 1880. English women, including Mary Müller and Mary Colclough, played a prominent part in the early development of feminism in New Zealand. Annie Schnackenberg, one of the founders, and Anne Ward, the first president of the New Zealand Women’s Christian Temperance Union, had also been born in England. Members of the English-born nonconformist clergy, among them John Archer, Moses Ayrton, John Crewes, Leonard Isitt and Thomas Taylor, contributed significantly to the early development of socialism in New Zealand.

Me pēnei te tohu i te whārangi:

Terry Hearn, 'English - Religion', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/mi/english/page-11 (accessed 21 June 2024)

He kōrero nā Terry Hearn, i tāngia i te 8 Feb 2005, updated 1 Mar 2015