The Presbyterian Church of New Zealand and Māori Mission


Rutahuna Mission Work, 1932

Please Note : Further information on the Missionaries mentioned on this page may be found by going to the "Register of Presbyterian Minister's" on our Home Page.

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Northern Presbyterian Church : 
1843 to 1901

Manawatu Mission : 1844-1870

1844 to 1870
The Rev. James Duncan was sent out by the Reformed Church of Scotland as the first Presbyterian Missionary to the Māori.  He settled at Te Awahou, known today as Foxton in 1844 and worked among the Manawatu Māori until 1870.  On his death he ordered his daughter to destroy all his personal papers.
Resources :

A large amount of useful material is contained in his very full letters back to the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland (17 letters) which were published verbatim in "The Scottish Presbyterian" (we hold issues from 1844 to 1854).

The published letters of the Rev John Inglis 1845 to 1850 (10 letters) also give a useful background to the mission to the Māori, including the published reports (1845 to 1854) of the Synod Committee on Foreign Missions of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland.

Other useful resources are the papers and diaries of his contemporaries, the papers of Sir Donald McLean, the Rev. Richard Taylor and the Church of the Province of New Zealand – Wellington Diocesan.

Manawatu and Rangitikei Mission : 1870 to 1894

1870 to 1894
The Rev. Abram [Abraham] Honore from the North German [Bremen] Missionary Societies Mission took over from the Rev James Duncan under the auspices of the Presbyterian Church.
Rev Honore had previously worked on Ruapuke Island in Foveaux Strait. He continued his mission work until 1894.
1880 to 1896  Mr. George Milson
1890 to 1895 Mr. Henry Fletcher (Student Missionary).


Most of Rev Honore letters are published in the Presbyterian papers "The Evangelist", published from 1869 to 1879 (click Here for an itemized listing), and "The NZ Presbyterian", published 1879 to 1893. Other references are found in the Māori Missions Committee Minute Book for the Northern Presbyterian Church 1880-1906, and the Proceedings and Reports of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand 1862 to 1901.


Synod of the Presbyterian Church of
Otago and Southland

Ruapuke Island Mission : 1844-1868

1844 to 1868
The Rev. J.F.H. Wohlers of the North German Missionary Society (Morvainian Mission) settled on Ruapuke Island in Foveaux Strait until the population dwindled in 1868 and the mission was transferred to Stewart Island. At this point he came under the jurisdiction of the Synod of the Presbyterian Church.
1868 to 1885 Rev Wohlers remained on Ruapuke and continued a ministry among those remaining on the Island.
1848 to 1868 Rev Abram Honore became assistant to the Rev Wohlers.

Southern Maori Mission :

1869 to 1871
Rev Abram Honore was ordained at Riverton as Missionary to the Māori.  He spent a short time at the Otago Heads.  On his moving to the Manawatu, Mission evangelistic work among the Māori ceased.
1874 to 1890
The position of Māori on Stewart Island was of concern to the Presbyterian Church who approached Sir Donald McLean for financial support to appoint a teacher. With funding approved, Mr Arthur Traill was appointed as teacher and remained in the position until 1890.

Otago Maori Mission: 1862 to 1872

Māori Missionary activity by the Presbyterian Church in the Otago and Southland region began in 1862 with a grant allocated for a teacher to open a school at the Otago Heads. The Rev. J.T. Riemenschneider of the North German Mission was appointed but the position did not remain for long.
1869 to 1872
The Rev. Alexander Blake from the Free Church of Scotland was settled at the Otago Heads as missionary in 1869.  He spent his first months acquiring the language and making periodic visits to Waikouaiti, Moeraki, and the Taieri. Due to his wife’s poor health he retired from his evangelistic work among the Māori and resigned in 1872.


Presbytery of Otago Minute Books, 1854 to 1865.
Presbytery of Dunedin Minute Books, 1866 to 1900
Presbytery of Southland Minute Book, 1865 to 1890
Synod of Otago and Southland, Missions Committee Minute Books (Hyper Link)
Report of Mission work at the ‘Neck’, Stewart Island, 1902
"The Evangelist" Presbyterian Paper 1869 to 1879 (click Here for an itemized listing) 
Published Presbyterian Papers (indexed)


The Presbyterian Church of New Zealand :
1901 to 1956

From 1895 a more serious Presbyterian Māori mission began to be set in place with the settlement of the Rev. Henry Fletcher at Taupo. He proposed a mission station to be developed in the Taumarunui area which resulted in the appointment of the Rev. John E. Ward in 1902 and an assistant, the Rev. James I Monfries, in 1907.

The first Deaconess Sister Alison began work in 1908 first at Taupo then in Taumaranui.  She was followed by a steady stream of Deaconesses who were given responsibility for the many small stations that emerged.

The Presbyterian Māori Mission activity expanded into the Urewera area, Northern Hawkes Bay and Bay of Plenty, on the East Coast of the North Island, where many small but compact mission stations were opened up.

Two significant educational institutions were opened in the early decades of the 1900s.  The Turakina Māori Girls’College was opened by the Hon. J. Seddon in 1905 and the Manunui Māori Boys’ Agricultural College in 1913.

āoaōri boys.  The beginning of the Māori Mission Printery, later known as Te Waka Karaitiana Press, in 1933 added some independence among Māori.

The Rev. John Laughton was appointed Superintendent of Māori Missions in 1933 and acted in that capacity until he retired in 1962. In 1945 the General Assembly set up a Māori Synod ‘Te Hinota Māori’ to begin to take full eesponsibility for the Māori Church in the area.  Its Office is centred in Whakatane and the Marae is at Ohope.

The Synod’s activities went beyond the immediate Tuhoe area with support of young Māori by the provision of hostels in NZ major cities.

1954 Te Hinota Māori moved from its ‘missionary’ status to full independence.

Resources :

The resources for the early North Island work from 1894 are limited but informative.  A fire in the Māori Missions Office in Whakatane in the mid 1930s resulted in most of the records from 1918 being destroyed.

The Collection includes :

Establishment of the Taupo Station , 1893-1902
Establishment of Turangi, 1907-1975
Establishment of Turakina Maori Girls' College, 1904-1907; 1926-1973

Missions Committee Records :

Deaconess College Records

Presbyterian Women’s Missionary Movement and affiliated groups

Personal Papers relating to deaconesses and other workers

Published Material (indexed)

Books and Publications (Hyper Link)

Photographic Images (clickable links) :

1900 to 1920
1921 to 1930
1931 to 1940
1941 to 1950
1951 to 1960


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