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CHAPTER 23. Protestantism in Australia, New Zealand and Oceania to the Present Day

Ian Breward

Subject Religion

Place Oceania

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405157469.2003.00026.x


Protestantism in Australia and New Zealand has been predominantly British in ethos, with significant variants in Oceania. American impact has grown since the 1950s. Civic, confessional and evangelical variants must be noted. British occupation of New South Wales in 1788 saw the beginnings of Protestantism in chaplaincies to convicts, officials and settlers. Despite differences, Protestants combined in educational, evangelistic and philanthropic activities, united by evangelicalism, hostility to Rome (a dominant theme in Protestantism until the 1970s) and optimism about missions to the peoples of the Pacific and Asia. Samuel Marsden planted Church Missionary Society workers in New Zealand in 1814, followed by Wesleyans who also worked in Tonga, Samoa and Fiji. Polynesian Protestants outnumbered British migrants until the 1850s, providing hundreds of missionaries to other parts of the Pacific and establishing strong village theocracies. Settler churches depended heavily on Britain for ministers and money, when mineral discoveries and availability of land fuelled migration, and expanded the need for expansion of government. The Treaty of Waitangi (1840) attempted to balance Maori interests and colonization in New Zealand. Aborigines were less fortunate. Many settlers regarded indigenous religion and culture with contempt, as obstacles to Christian civilization. Protestant missionary ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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