New Zealand, The Catholic Church in
NEW ZEALAND, THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN
Located 1,180 miles south of Australia, New Zealand, which forms part of oceania in the southwest Pacific Ocean, comprises two major islands—North Island and South Island, separated by the Cook Strait—as well as smaller islands that include Stewart, Chatham, Bounty, Antipodes, Auckland, Campbell and Kermadec islands. A mountainous region, the islands also contain areas of low plains at the coast. The climate is temperate, although conditions vary throughout the islands. Mild earthquakes are commonplace occurrences and volcanic activity infrequently occurs. Natural resources include natural gas, iron ore, coal, gold and limestone, while agricultural products consist of wheat, barley, potatoes, fruits, vegetables and wool.
The region was discovered and named by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1642. Captain James Cook visited and mapped the area from 1769. New Zealand, which became a British colony in 1840, was granted responsible government in 1856. In 1907 it became a self-governing state in the British Commonwealth. The southern sections were settled systematically from the British Isles, and in recent years the government has made efforts to address the mistreatment of Maori natives during and since the region's colonization. In 1994, the government began paying compensation to Maori tribes whose lands were seized after the Waitangi Treaty of 1840. Approximately 80 percent of the population live in urban areas.
Catholic Origins and Growth. The original people of New Zealand were the Maori, called tangata whenua, or "the people of the land," who inhabited the islands from 800. By the time the first British colonists arrived c. 1800, there were some 100,000 Maori on the islands. British Protestant missionaries began working with success among the Maoris in 1814. By 1830, 1,000 Europeans, mostly of British origin, lived in the region. The Vicariate Apostolic of Western Oceania, created in 1836, included New Zealand and was entrusted to the marist fathers (SM), and Bishop Jean Pompallier became the first vicar apostolic. After Pompallier learned from Bishop John Polding of Sydney, Australia that Thomas Poynton, his family, and about 20 other Catholics were living in the far northwest of New Zealand, he traveled to Poynton's house on the Hokianga. In 1839 he transferred his headquarters to Kororareka, the chief port for whaling ships.
In February of 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi signified the agreement of 46 Maori head chiefs to recognize the suzerainty of Queen Victoria, in return for the preservation of land and tribal rights. Despite the treaty, land was illegally seized from the Maori throughout the next century, leading to the Anglo-Maori wars from 1860–72. Many Maori also lost their hunting and fishing rights, leaving them without a means of support. Meanwhile, French Marists made progress among the Maoris, and by 1843 there were 12 mission stations in the country.
The Vicariate of Western Oceania was divided in 1842 to create the Vicariate of Central Oceania, including New Zealand. In 1846 Philip Viard, SM, was consecrated coadjutor to Pompallier and laid the cornerstone of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Auckland, where Pompallier made his headquarters after Hone Heke's rebellion in the far north (1845–46). Pompallier's differences with Marist superiors led Rome to divide New Zealand in 1848 into the dioceses of Wellington and Auckland. Viard and the Marists were given Wellington, the southern region. In 1850 Pompallier returned to Auckland from Europe with ten clerics and eight Sisters of Mercy from Carlow, Ireland.
From 1859 North Island suffered from land disputes between Europeans and Maoris, followed by warfare in Taranaki and the Waikato. During and after these wars British soldiers, among them many Irish Catholics, were demobilized and settled in the country. The ensuing Hau Hau outbreaks, extending to the east coast, lasted until 1871, when they were crushed with the aid of friendly tribes. The Maori missions went into an almost total eclipse until their revival in 1881 under the Marists in the south and the mill hill missionaries in the north. Bishop John Luck of Auckland (1882–96), an English Benedictine, reorganized the Maori mission in his diocese.
Gold discoveries in 1861, combined with the absence of hostile Maoris, led to the rapid development of Otago and Southland. Many of the numerous immigrants were Irish miners who came from Australia. D. Moreau, SM, founded the Dunedin mission on South Island in 1861. In 1869 Otago and Southland were formed into the
Diocese of Dunedin. The first bishop was Patrick Moran (1869–96), former vicar apostolic of the Eastern District on the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa, who arrived in 1871 with a priest and ten Dominican sisters from Dublin. When Moran encountered strong anti-Catholic sentiments in heavily Presbyterian Otago, he took the offensive. During his episcopate he created a Catholic school system, began construction of a Gothic cathedral and started The Tablet, a Catholic weekly that flourished through the 20th century.
The diocese of Christchurch on South Island received its first resident priest c. 1840 at the French settlement of Akaroa. The town of Christchurch, colonized in 1850 as an Anglican settlement, lacked a resident priest until 1860. Catholics opened their first primary school in Auckland in 1841 and their first secondary school in Northcote, Auckland, in 1849. In 1887 the diocese of Christchurch was created; it included the provinces of Canterbury and Westland, the latter province being transformed by gold discoveries after 1865. John Grimes, an English Marist, became the first bishop (1887–1915). He was notable for his organizing ability and devotion to the liturgy. Besides establishing a good Catholic school system, he completed a new cathedral by 1905. Holy Name Seminary was opened in Christchurch in 1947.
Bibliography: j. b. f. pompallier, Early History of the Catholic Church in Oceania, tr. a. herman (Auckland 1888). p. f. moran, History of the Catholic Church in Australasia (Sydney 1897). a. monfat, Les Origines de la foi catholique dans la Nouvelle Zélande (Lyon 1896). j. j. wilson, The Church in New Zealand, 2 v. (Dunedin 1910–26). f. redwood, Reminiscences of Early Days in New Zealand (Wellington 1922). p. t. mckeefry, Fishers of Men (Auckland 1938). k. s. latourette, A History of the Expansion of Christianity, 7 v. (New York 1937–45) v.5, 7. Sisters of Mercy, Gracious Is the Time (Auckland 1952). m. c. goulter, Sons of France (Wellington 1957). l. g. keys, Life and Times of Bishop Pompallier (Christchurch 1957). v. j. mcglone, Fruits of Toil (Carterton 1957). Bilan du Monde, 2:651–655. Official Year Book of the Catholic Church of Australasia (Sydney 1963–64), annual.
The Modern Church
On Sept. 26, 1907, New Zealand became an independent nation under the British Commonwealth. Under a series of liberal governments from 1891–1911 and again during World War II, the region became increasingly known for its socialist policies and its state-administered education and social welfare programs. In the mid-1970s the government began a program to quasi-nationalize selected parochial and other private schools and in 1984 began a major economic restructuring in an effort to build a globally competitive free market economy. By the 1990s the region entered an economic downturn that resulted in social welfare cutbacks, the end of free education and the end of free socialized health care, although by the end of the 20th century New Zealand boasted a strong international market for its goods and low inflation.
Since the time of its founding in the 19th century and through the 20th century, the Church experienced steady if unspectacular growth. In 1980 the dioceses of Hamilton (carved off the southern portion of Auckland Diocese) and Palmerston North (carved off the northern portion of Wellington Archdiocese) were established, thus creating five dioceses in the country. When New Zealand acquired Tokelau as an overseas territory, these Pacific islands were placed under the Archdiocese of Wellington, but were later made a mission sui juris.
The Effects of Vatican II. In the years following the Second Vatican Council (1962–65) the bishops implemented the Council's decrees. The participation of laity in programs of adult formation, including those of the National Center for Religious Studies, teaching in Catholic schools and in other social support groups, was conspicuous. On the other hand, some felt that Catholics lost a depth of devotion as a result of Vatican II, citing a decrease in Sunday Mass attendance, the lack of regular devotions such as the rosary and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, the increased number of mixed marriages and irregular unions, and the growing indifference of the New Zealand population in general. Some who feared the loss of Catholicism joined local chapters of Catholics United for the Faith, while others joined the St. Pius X Society and were served by priests of that society (see lefebvre, marcel).
After Vatican II the Church entered into a theological dialogue with the National Council of Churches and worked with it on the Interchurch Commission for Immigration and Refugee Resettlement and the Ecumenical Secretariat on Development. From these flowed ecumenical endeavors, often in industrial, prison and other chaplaincies. The Church was a founding member of the new Conference of Churches of Aotearoa-New Zealand in 1987, and established bilateral dialogues with the Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodist churches, as well as annual meetings.
While some changes in the Church were responses to Vatican II, others were the result of a decrease in number of priests and religious, particularly in urban areas. Priests under age 40 were rare by the end of the 20th century and priests under 50 a significant minority. Vocations to the priesthood also fell off to a great degree. Religious shared the problems of old age and scarcity of vocations with the general clergy. Age and the integration of schools removed many from the classroom, and some turned to ministry as pastoral assistants in parishes, counselors, youth directors, visitors of the sick and other apostolates. Several Catholic hospitals closed down, but the involvement of the religious in rest homes for the elderly remained a fruitful and needed apostolate. Over 300 New Zealand missionaries, clergy, religious and lay people worked abroad helping in evangelization, working in the Pacific, as well as Asia, the Americas, and Africa.
The Church and the Maori. A national resurgence within Maoridom dating back to the early 20th century received new impetus after World War II, especially as the Maori became more urbanized and educated. The injustices suffered by the Maori since the Treaty of Waitangi were revisited, and a reinterpretation of that treaty made with the intention of righting legal wrongs, especially with regard to land and fisheries dispossession. The Church remained at the forefront of this movement through episcopal statements and peace and justice commissions, as well as in work done in conjunction with other churches.
The New Zealand bishops encouraged the appointment of the first Maori bishop, Takuira Mariu of the Society of Mary, to a Maori congregation in 1988. The bishops also established a national Maori runanga, or council, with representatives of Maori lay, religious and clergy. The council supported and advised the New Zealand Catholic Bishops' Conference on all matters relating to the pastoral care of Maori people.
Besides the indigenous Maori people, new immigrants added much to the New Zealand Catholic identity. Many immigrants after World War II were European Catholics. In the late 20th century an influx of Pacific Islanders, especially from Samoa, created the need for special chaplaincies similar to those required for other ethnic groups after World War II.
Evolving Church-State Relations. While New Zealand was organized in provinces, most provinces subsidized denominational schools. After the abolition of the provinces in 1876, the central government canceled this aid and organized a national system of free, secular and compulsory schools, in 1964's Education Act noting that while teaching should be of a secular character, religious instruction and observances were allowed in state schools. Under the constitution, Catholic-run primary and secondary schools received no support from the state except for a few fringe benefits. With passage of the Integration Act of 1975 the government integrated financially troubled Catholic schools into the state system, providing staff salaries, equipment, general running costs and maintenance while allowing the Church the freedom to run the schools as they chose. Much effort was put into managing the massive debts contracted to bring over 250 of the country's schools up to the maintenance standard demanded by the state before obtaining the designation of an "integrated school." In addition, lay teachers, now the majority, required formation in theology and spirituality in order to preserve the special character of Catholic schools. Financially sound Catholic schools continued to operate as before.
The government's efforts to socialize the economy and social system led to an increase in unemployment and a reduction of state pensions and resulted in the greatest disparity between rich and poor since the 1930s. In 1993 the bishops questioned the government's economic and social policy in the "Statement of Intent." In addition, the Church worked to alleviate the misery and hunger of many through social agencies and parish foodbanks.
In November of 1986, Pope John Paul II visited New Zealand, receiving a traditional Maori welcome in Auckland, and participating in an ecumenical service in Christ-church. The pope addressed the country repeatedly in the following decade, warning the New Zealand Church to avoid becoming corrupted by modern secular culture. However, the New Zealand Bishops' Conference continued its tradition of liberal positions, in 2000 advocating both contraception use for teens who insisted upon being sexually active and a government plan to grant homosexual couples the same legal rights as married couples. Both positions drew strong opposition from conservative Catholics in New Zealand, as well as from the Vatican.
Into the 21st Century. By 2000 there were 279 parishes tended by 369 diocesan and 250 religious priests. Other religious included approximately 180 brothers and 1,185 sisters, many of whom participated in operating the 192 primary and 47 secondary schools run by the Church, as well as aiding in other social service endeavors. Most numerous among male orders were the Marist Fathers, Marist Brothers, the Redemptorists and the Trappists. Women religious included the Sisters of Mercy, the Congregation of Our Lady of the Missions, and the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart. As the New Zealand Church looked toward the future, its major concerns included the increasing ill effects of a secular society, the incursions made by Pentecostal and other evangelist sects and the treatment of the Maori people. Despite their reported church affiliation, a poll taken in 1997 reported that one fourth of all New Zealanders admitted actively adhering to no religion.
Bibliography: l. g. keys, Philip Viard, Bishop of Wellington (Christchurch 1968). f. mckay, The Life of James K. Baxter (Auckland 1990). j. mackey, The Making of a State Education System (London 1967). e. r. simmons, A Brief History of the Catholic Church in New Zealand (Auckland 1978); In cruce salus; A History of the Diocese of Auckland 1948–1980 (Auckland 1982); Pompallier—Prince of Bishops (Auckland 1984). r. wiltgen, The Founding of the Roman Catholic Church in Oceania 1825–1850 (Canberra 1979).
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