The insubstantial pageant : is there a civil religious tradition in New Zealand
Thesis DisciplineReligious Studies
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis is concerned with the concept of 'civil religion' and whether it is applicable to some aspects of New Zealand society. The origin, development and criticism of the concept is discussed, drawing on such scholars as Robert Bellah and John F. Wilson in the United States, and on recent New Zealand commentators. Using material such as Anzac Day and Waitangi Day commemorations, Governor-Generals' speeches, observance of Dominion Day and Empire Day, prayers in Parliament, the role of Norman Kirk, and other related phenomena, the thesis considers whether this 'evidence' substantiates the existence of a civil religion. The difficulties that confront any attempted analysis of a civil religion are discussed, with some reflection on the usefulness and applicability of the concept in current New Zealand society. The conclusion is reached, that under the terms of the study area, the suggestion that a civil religion currently exists in New Zealand is not soundly based on the evidence available.