About Us

Presbyterian Church Mission Statement

The Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand believes it is called by God to work with others in making Jesus Christ known through –

  • Teaching and nurturing people in Christian faith
  • Loving service responding to human need
  • Proclaiming the gospel
  • Seeking to transform society
  • Caring for God’s creation

These are often referred to in our Church as the Five Faces of Mission.

What is the Presbyterian church?

You can download a booklet on What does it mean to be Presbyterian?

Our Church is made up of the people who find life and hope in Jesus Christ.  They find meaning in the story of Jesus - his birth and life, his teaching and healing, his suffering, death and resurrection. Because their experience of Jesus Christ has shaped their lives, they want to offer that experience to others. The church lives to share with people the life that can be lived when they choose to enjoy God and to invite them to share the satisfaction to be found following the way of Jesus. The Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand makes its distinctive contribution to society, and to its own members, through the life and activity of its parishes. No two Presbyterian churches are the same. But they do have things in common that make them part of the same family. Things like the importance they give to the Bible and the way they share leadership. Presbyterian churches are places where people can experience a spirituality that nurtures them, sustains them, and excites them. The Presbyterian Church has a unique governance structure

Making a difference

Presbyterians are mission-focused people. They're interested in engaging with our society, with other groups and with individuals. The Church has more than 400 congregations with mission programmes that link them to the life of their communities, including:

  • Programmes for young children and their parents and grandparents.
  • Youth programmes
  • Cultural groups and activities
  • Programmes for the elderly
  • Alpha programmes that introduce people to Christianity
  • Holiday programmes for children and young people
  • Hosting community and health groups.

The Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand is also active in mission overseas.

Sharing in Worship

In some of our churches, worship is traditional and formal; in others, services are contemporary and informal. You might encounter: organ music, Pacific islands gospel choirs, contemporary bands, ancient Psalms, café worship, "spirited conversations"...

What is Presbyterianism?

Since their earliest beginnings in 16th century Europe and Scotland, Presbyterian churches have been committed to a number of basic values, which include: faith in Jesus Christ (both personal and corporate); a democratic approach to the structure and governance of the church; involvement in society; a freedom of belief and understanding; and the value of education. Our plan for the future builds on our history. We seek to have a Church made up of "healthy congregations", groups of lively Presbyterians with an outward focus, a sense of direction and an involving and shared leadership.


The Presbyterian Church is part of the wider family of Christian churches. Our emphasis has been on the primacy of God in our lives and our belief that all people are equal in the sight of God. The Presbyterian Church seeks to follow Jesus Christ, who lived 2000 years ago and who, for us, has significant contemporary value. Statements of faith


Our Church is one run by the minister and the elders in partnership. "Presbyterianism" means everybody is involved in decision-making at all levels. Our structure includes groups representing members of the Church. We have a particular partnership with Maori, Te Aka Puaho, and with other cultures including Pacific Island and Asian groups. Presbyterians believe in the 'priesthood of all believers'; the value of each individual. We are committed to a style of leadership that is accountable to and serves the people. Each person's contribution is valued, your ideas count. How is the Church organised?

Involvement in social issues

Whether it's protesting for the rights of women or trying to stop the liberalisation of gambling, Presbyterians don't just sit down on a Sunday and sing. We get involved! Presbyterian Support is the largest provider of Church-based social services in New Zealand. Social Justice

Work overseas

The Global Mission Office coordinates our work overseas. Many of our partnerships with churches and ecumenical bodies date back many decades whereas other endeavours are relatively new. We currently work in partnership with the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar, and have been working in Vanuatu for over 150 years. In 2008, we celebrated the centenary of our mission to the Punjab, India. Our work over the years has focused primarily on education in schools, theological institutions and teaching hospitals over and above the provision of ministry staff. In more recent times we have also been involved in development work as well as mission exposure visits for young people. Read more about our work on the Global Mission pages of this website.


Presbyterians don't agree on everything - you may have noticed that. What is important to us is the way that we treat each other. We seek to make room for all people to be heard. You'll find a wide range of ways of thinking about God, different styles of worship and different cultures in the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand. We reflect Kiwi society, with more than 137 cultures represented in our membership. We have a special relationship with Maori through Te Aka Puaho (our Maori synod), and with other cultures including Pacific Island and Asian groups. Search for your nearest congregation


Presbyterians have always had a commitment to education. The Church was instrumental in the establishment of the University of Otago, New Zealand’s first university. We started the Turakina Maori Girls' School in 1905. Currently there are 14 schools in New Zealand identified as Presbyterian. Find out more about our Church schools. Our own Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership in Dunedin trains prospective ministers and leaders for our Church, and others who are interested in studying theology. 


The history and belief of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand is closely linked to our reformed heritage. John Calvin in Geneva and John Knox in Edinburgh were instrumental in shaping early Presbyterian faith and practice. In this country the Presbyterian Church began as a "settler church" in 1840. Our early history was shaped by Scottish and English settlers wanting to build a better world for themselves and their families. That experience has continued today with post-World War II Dutch and European settlers and more recent Pacific Island and Asian migrants.

Where we're going

New Zealand Presbyterianism today continues the dynamic tradition of our forebears. We've been through a lot in the 160-plus years of our existence in Aotearoa New Zealand, and today we face an environment as challenging as that faced by the early settlers in 1840. Our planning going forward is informed by how our society has changed and how we have to change with it.