An outline history of the Salvation Army in New Zealand
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The historian taking as a subject for investigation the Salvation Army in New Zealand has an almost virgin field in which to work, but one that presents certain peculiar difficulties. The search for primary sources of information is not always easy. The Army system at government and administration provides for nothing analogous to the general assemblies, synods and conferences, complete with recorded discussion (both lay and clerical) and minutes, of some other religious bodies. Apart from an annual statement of accounts, the Army has not adopted, especially in the modern era, any consistent practice of presenting annual published reports of its activities. There was a time in the late '90's and in the first decade of this century when annual reports, particularly of social operations, were freely made available to the public, but for some unknown reason that practice is not now followed. Through the years Salvation Anny Headquarters in this country has been singularly lax in preserving valuable historical material, and apart from “War cry” files, some statistical statements, copies of the international “Salvation Anny Year Book”, a manuscript prepared by Lt. Colonel A. Kirk, and a newspaper clipping book of the '90's, there is very little of value available there. As an illustration of the failure to preserve material, none of the annual social reports published in the late '90's and early 1900's can be found at Territorial Headquarters. Those that have been used in this thesis have been found in the General Assembly' Library, the Turnbull Library and the Hocken Library. By regulation, each corps and social institution is supposed to keep written up-to-date a history book. These books could be a most valuable source of information to the historian, but unfortunately only a few of them provide authentic primary material. It is some compensation to know that today they are being much more thoroughly kept than they have been in the past. I have been informed by Commissioner J.B. Smith and Colonel R. Sandall that International Headquarters, London, possessed voluminous records and reports dealing with New Zealand, but these were almost totally destroyed during the “blitz” of May, 1941. All these facts contribute to the difficulties facing the historian in his endeavour to build his story on a sound basis of research. It will be seen that I have drawn extensively on the files of the Army's weekly publication “The War Cry” for a great deal of factual material. It must be realised that besides being the Army's newspaper, it is also the “Official Gazette” for the notification of appointments, statements of policy and other official announcements, and also presumably serves in lieu of annual reports to keep the general public informed of Army activities. No one realises more than I do, however, that to get a true picture of Army history, one must dig much deeper than the “War Cry” files. As far as I have been able to discover, only two other attempts have been made to write at any length, and with something more than mere journalistic intent, on Salvation. Army History in New Zealand. The unpublished manuscript written by Lt. Colonel A. Kirk of Auckland is to a great extent a compilation of' material from “The War Cry”, but it is very valuable in two respects -first, where he has drawn on his own very extensive experience as an officer from the early 1890's to the present day; and second, where he has been supplied with first-hand written accounts by men and women who have played important parts in Army history. The unpublished manuscript written by the late R.T. Hughson deals only with the Salvation Army in Dunedin, but it is written in an entertaining style, and is drawn almost entirely from the author's very long personal knowledge of the Anny's affairs in Dunedin, and from recollections of the author's father, who was one of the first soldiers of the Dunedin City Corps. The official historian of the Salvation Army, Colonel Robert Sandall, from his experience of 60 years of officership in many parts of the world, and from the documentary sources at his disposal in England, has supplied me with some very valuable material. Interviews with and correspondence from many officers and soldiers in New Zealand have provided much further material, but in the interests of sound scholarship this has had to undergo rigorous sifting. In a thesis of this length it has been impossible to deal adequately with anything beyond general outlines. The aim has been to select those significant events and trends that will give a brief but coherent picture of the development in New Zealand of an interesting religious organisation, and to substantiate that picture with as much sound documentation as possible. One of the snares of religious history is the temptation to partisanship. Having been born and brought up in the Salvation Army, I have had to cultivate a deliberate detachment of viewpoint, and I have also had to remember that the poor observer always finds it treacherously easy to see the things he wants to see. In my accounts of the evangelical and social work of the Army, I have made little mention of the work at other denominations, but I am by no means unmindful of the very extensive and beneficial nature of their activities. The Salvation Army is only a comparatively small sect in the great body of the Christian Church, but in its distinctive way it has made some vital contributions to the religious history and the spiritual life of New Zealand. The recording of those contributions has been the purpose of this thesis.