New Zealand

[map of New Zealand] Parlimentary democracy in the South Pacific Ocean; dominion of the British Empire; popullation 4,000,000. The first Catholic in New Zealand was Thomas Poynton, an Irishman who settled in Hokianga in 1828. In 1835 New Zealand formed part of the newly erected Vicariate Apostolic of Western Oceanica, and in 1836 its first vicar Apostolic and seven Marist Brothers arrived. Catholic colonization was begun by Irish peasants and evangelization by French missionaries. In 1842 New Zealand constituted a separate vicariate, and in 1848 it was divided into the two dioceses of Auckland and Wellington. The Diocese of Dunedin was formed from part of the Diocese of Wellington in 1869, Wellington was raised to an archiepiscopal see in 1887, and the same year the Diocese of Christchurch was created. Ten years later, New Zealand, formerly subject to Australia, was made an independent ecclesiastical province. From the beginning, the Church was striving to convert the native Maoris. When the Marists retired from the Diocese of Auckland to that of Wellington in 1850, there were over 5000 neophytes. By 1853 the Diocese of Wellington included about 1000 native Christians, and homes and schools had been founded. The Maori mission flourished until 1860, the beginning of the racial war in which practically all the Catholic missions were destroyed. The work of the Marists, and the Mill Hill Fathers, who are gradually restoring the missions, is most promising.

Ecclesiastically the country is governed by the archdiocese of the dioceses of and the See also,
New Catholic Dictionary

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