An analysis of the influence of religion and of religious movements upon the course of New Zealand history since 1814
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The aim of this thesis, explained more fully in the introductory chapter, is to discover and to discuss the occasions, events and movements in the history of New Zealand, which have been influenced by religious motives, prejudices and ideals. The writer has emphasized not so much the proof of a definite succession of causes and effects, but rather the discovery and the demonstration of several broad trends, through which the influence referred to has affected various phases of development in New Zealand from about 1814. In this field of historical research perhaps wore than in any other, there is a danger of passing unwarranted moral judgments upon the actions of historical characters. It is difficult to form a moral judgment upon the actions and beliefs of individuals and groups, which no longer exist, except perhaps in the memories of an older generation. It involves a knowledge and understanding of the spirit of the age under consideration, which could be attained fully only by one who was quickened by the same ideals and thrilled by the same emotions as moved those who are the subject of one's study. In such a research as this, it must also be constantly borne in mind that the religious motive was seldom, if ever, the sole cause of any event, and only occasionally was it the most important one. Briefly summarised, the scope of this thesis includes a short introductory chapter, enquiring into the relation between religion and history; a brief account of the main religious movements in Great Britain which affected the development of New Zealand, with which is associated a consideration of the religious aspect of Maori life up to 1814; the temporary and permanent influence of the missionary movements on the Maori people and on the introduction of British authority up to 1840; the place of religion in the life of the early colonists, and its influence on colonial affairs up to 1870; the relation of religion to the political, social educational and general development from 1870 to 1905; the relation of modern conditions and modern trends of thought in religion to the contemporary influence of religion upon the people, and a discussion in this light, continuing the theme of the preceding section as far as 1955; and finally, a brief review of the influence of the Jews in New Zealand in relation to the main theme. This makes seven chapters in all, followed by several appendices, including a map illustrating the geographical aspect of the work. The consideration of the sources of the information used brings us to the main difficulty. There is no dearth of information relevant to the main topic, but much of this is only incidentally treated in the various works. The main difficulty concerns the criticism of the sources. There has been no general work on the history of religion in New Zealand; there are detailed church histories, none of them very recent in date, such as the works of Jacobs and of Purchas on the Anglican Church, of Morley and of Williams on Methodism, of Dickson on Presbyterianism, of Wilson on Roman Catholicism, and so on. But these are denominational histories, valuable for their purpose, but open to criticism by the student of the religious influence on the development of New Zealand. These works, so far as they are relevant have been considered mainly in relation to the queries: “Is this matter concerned with the influence of religion?” “Does this evidence treat New Zealand as its unit?” Purely local events have been included only when they affect the history of New Zealand as a whole, as in the case of the South Island ecclesiastical settlements or the “Pai Marire” movement, or when they illustrate the geographical distribution of the influence of a religious body, as the details in Father Poupinel's letter on Roman catholic mission stations in 1864. The most valuable source referred to in connection with the early part of the work is Professor J. R. Elder's volume of the “Letters and Journals of Samule Marsden”, supplemented by his second work on “Marsden's Lieutenants”. The former work presents Marsden's letters and journals in an easily accessible form, so that the writer was able to appreciate the motives of the early missionary, and to acquire an understanding of the growing success of missionary work, as well as the realization of some inadequacies. Reference was also bad to contemporary writers and to the works of others on this period, but none was found quite so valuable as the work of Elder. For a critical analysis of the missionary influence, recourse was had to Martin's “Missionaries and Annexation in the Pacific”, a small volume which presents a viewpoint independent of religious prejudice. For the periods after 1840, apart from church histories and such biographies as that of Selwyn by Curteis, no works deal exclusively with religious topics. The general histories such as that of Rusden and the Australasian volume of the Cambridge History, of the British Empire were considered from two aspects: first, their attitude towards the religious bodies in the country: secondly, their attitude towards such problems as native policy, in the solution of which the religious factor was an important one. The Canterbury and Otago settlements were treated also in the light of the ecclesiastical conditions in England and Scotland, as outlined by standard historians. Of the social, educational and political movements of the later decades of the century, and of more recent times, each has its own distinctive literature. Cocker and Murray have edited a history of the prohibition movement; the Bible in schools League has issued many pamphlets, whose evidence has been carefully and critically considered in preparing the sections on the relation between religion and education. The parliamentary records give some indication of the trend of opinion as the decades pass. The more recent pronouncements of denominational leaders and thinkers have also been considered, when the section on the relation of religion to modern inventions (for instance, wireless) and the labour problem was being framed. For the chapter on the Jews, insight into the question was gained by the perusal of the results achieved in the research of Miss Violette F. Balkind, and the general information was gathered from many sources. The other main difficulty has been the maintenance of an unbiassed and interdenominational viewpoint. The denominational histories, besides being criticised had to be correlated, and the general religious attitude on any particular question bad to be evolved from the study of several different views. The only way of arriving at an interdenominational attitude has appeared to be the rejection of any feature not common to the majority of views considered. Any view quoted which is not that of the majority is definitely stated to be so. It is sometimes necessary to quote the viewpoint of a single church body, especially when this body has been the precursor, in whose steps the other religious bodies have followed. An example to illustrate this is the case of the prohibition movement up to the founding of the New Zealand Alliance in 1886. The writer has to acknowledge the courtesy of many friends who have directed him to sources of information, and of others who have given time to the discussion of problems with him; especially, mention should be made of the Hon. L. M. Isitt, M. L. C., who not only granted an interview, but supplied several useful items of evidence in the form of pamphlets on the question of religious instruction in state schools; of Mr. J. Malton Murray, who extended similar courtesy with regard to the prohibition movement; of the Christchurch “Press”, who assisted in locating information; and of the Rev. M. A. Rugby Pratt, who made available the minutes of past Methodist conferences for the verification of several obscure references to the relations between that denomination and the prohibition movement.