Volume 79 1970 > Supplement: Religion in Atene, by Pieter H. De Bres, p 1-92
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Memoir No. 37
Supplement to The Journal of the Polynesian Society
Religious Associations and the Urban Maori


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E ngaa taangata o Atene, i ngaa mea katoa ka kite ahau he aahua nui kee too koutou wehi ki ngaa Atua maaori

(Acts 17:22)

To my wife Leni

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This is an abbreviated and revised version of an M.A. Thesis presented to and approved by the Department of Anthropology of the University of Auckland in 1966. It describes the relationship between the Maori and a number of religious associations.

Apart from J. Mol's account 1 no comprehensive report has been published about the relationship between the Maori and existing religious associations. This study, though primarily based on field research, has made use of documented material found in monographs on certain religious groups, of references in various books on Maori society, past and present, and of brochures and articles dealing with the religious life of the Maori.

It is based on research in a particular area, but I am convinced that many of the findings apply not only to Maori situations in other urban areas, but also to Pakeha religious life in New Zealand today. For the completion of this study I owe much to Dr I. H. Kawharu, who supervised the writing of my thesis and to Dr John Harré, who aided me with the revision and edited the manuscript for publication.

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The Area

In this study I discuss the religious life of the Maoris in a suburban area of New Zealand which I shall call Atene, the Maori name for Athens, a city which in classic times was renowned for its religious diversity.

The part of Atene where most Maoris live covers little more than two square miles. Of approximately five thousand dwellings, close to one tenth are occupied by Maori families. The majority rent their homes from the State Advances Corporation and others have bought them with the assistance of Government loans. Most dwellings date from the time when the Government developed the area as a residential district some fifteen years ago. Many Maori families made use of the opportunity to move from the often dilapidated and overcrowded inner city dwellings to the better suburban environment as soon as homes were available. In recent years a number of multi-storey flats have been built in Atene, but a relatively small number of these have been allotted to Maori families. The size of the average Maori family and the Maori preference for a house with some garden are factors which might explain this situation.

Field Work

My field work was spread over a period of just under three years. The sample, which comprises the households providing the most complete data, represents approximately half the Atene Maoris.

During the first two years, when I was engaged in social work in the area, I limited my research mainly to “observations”, though I often discussed religious subjects with the people I met in the course of my work. I attended funerals, weddings, birthday parties and other family gatherings. I accompanied local groups to larger gatherings outside Atene, particularly to meetings of the Ratana Church. A visit to the Mormon centre near Hamilton assisted me to appreciate the significance of this religious group for the Maoris. I attended a number of local Maori and “integrated” church services and missionary activities. In the third year I resorted to more formal and structured interviews aiming at “depth”.

Apart from the help I received from the local clergy, who willingly provided me with statistical material and with whom I discussed some of my observations and findings, I have depended exclusively on Maori informants, some of whom, including Maori clergymen, verified my information and helped me to interpret it, though no one but myself can be held responsible for my findings.

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I have defined “Maori” as “anyone who considers himself or herself to be a Maori no matter what the amount of Maori blood may be”. 2 I follow J. Metge in the use of “Maori” and “Maoris”. 3 Maoris as a plural form is common usage in New Zealand, particularly when referring to a relatively small number of individuals, e.g. Maoris associated with the Mormon Church. “The Maori” is used in the plural to refer to the Maori people as a whole. “Pakeha” is used to refer to a New Zealander of European stock.

In this study I have not adhered to the traditional, somewhat subtle distinction between Church, denomination and sect. I have grouped them together as “associations” and taken the three categories as more or less interchangeable.

I take “religion” to include both an interaction with the religious object and an interaction with human beings. 4 However, in this study I am concerned only with the second aspect and more particularly with “the study of relationships which exist between historical religions and society, which include the influence which religion has upon and its significance for society, and the influence of society upon religion”. 5

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In Table 1 are listed the religious groups which are active in Atene, the number of parishes of the various groups and of their centres of worship.

The number of full-time clergy in Atene, counting only those who are not responsible for pastoral work beyond it, is usually fifteen. A number of people offer voluntary and/or part-time service to the religious group to which they belong. The Mormon Church, the Ratanas and the Brethren have no full-time, ordained ministry and work entirely on a voluntary basis. The pseudo-religions (Hau Hau and Scientology) have no “religious” leaders in Atene.

Table 2 shows the distribution of the Maori households in Atene among those Churches to which a considerable number belong. Included in this table are the percentage of each religion in relation to the total Maori population in Atene and, as a comparison, the New Zealand percentages.

The percentages are, generally speaking, consistent with the census figures of 1961. Such differences as do occur may be caused by the migration pattern, the activities of certain Churches or merely by chance. The largest deviation is in the Church of England figures.


I have taken a family as being affiliated to a religious group when it was the only or the main religious affiliation of the household. In certain cases it was difficult to establish this affiliation, because a number of people, who belonged to one religious group, had retained some loyalty to a group with which they had been associated before. In their own opinion they then belonged to two religious groups. Another difficulty was that some Maoris were reluctant to state their religion, a response which does not appear to be uncommon. Although few Maoris claim to have no religious label (in the 1961 Census 0.52% are recorded as having no religion), a rather high percentage decline to nominate a specific religion (13% in 1961 as compared with 5.02% in 1926). J. Metge and J. Molu 6 have suggested that this can be explained on the one hand by the Maori distrust of Pakeha questionnaires and on the other because they may adhere to religions which are not recognised by law. Mol also hypothesises that this may reflect the fading interest in institutional religion and a decreasing link between Church membership and social respectability. I have not found any specific facts to support the latter

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Church Number of Parishes Centres of Worship
Church of England 4 5
Roman Catholic Church 3 3
Methodist Church 2 2
Church of Latter Day Saints 1 1
Ratana Church 1 (home services only)
Maori Evangelical Fellowship 1 1
Baptist Church 1 1
Brethren Church 3 3
Assemblies of God (Pentecostal) - -
Salvation Army 1 1
Presbyterian Church 4 5
Seventh Day Adventist Church 1 1
Church Number of Households Area Percentage New Zealand Percentage
Church of England 59 23.82% 30.61%
Roman Catholic Church 50 19.31% 17.15%
Methodist Church 20 7.76% 7.55%
Mormon Church 19 7.36% 7.29%
Ratana Church 45 17.82% 13.14%

hypothesis. There was a certain initial reluctance to state their religion, particularly among the older Ratanas. Ratana informants told me that until recently it was quite common for Maoris to hide their affiliation to the Ratana Church from Pakehas, but that at present many are proud of their belonging to a Maori religion.

As with most people, the religious affiliation of Maoris in Atene is usually determined by birth. Families have for generations belonged to the same Church. This is, as far as the older established Churches are concerned, to a large extent due to the practice of infant baptism. Another kinship determinant of religious affiliation is when children are transferred from one household to another on a temporary or permanent basis (with or without making arrangements for legal adoption) and fosterparents promise to bring a child up in the faith of his parents. For this reason one may find a Mormon child in a Roman Catholic home or a Ratana child in a family affiliated to the Church of England.

Affiliation to a specific religious group, however, may also be brought about by joining after “conversion”. A fundamentalist group like the Maori Evangelical Fellowship places emphasis exclusively on this aspect.

The Maori usually remains loyal to the Church in which he has grown up or with which he has associated himself later in life, but his concept of religious affiliation is liberal. On numerous occasions I heard remarks like, “It's all the same anyway”, “all Churches preach the same God” and “I go to all Churches”. The apparent explanation of this attitude is that frequently “back home”, in the Maori village where they grew up, ministers of the various Churches used to visit the community, and the community, rather than individuals or sub-groups of the community, attended the services they conducted. However, it appears to me that there is a deeper cause related to the way the Maori conceives religion.

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In his Religion, Society and the Individual, J. M. Yinger relates a statement of D. Eisenhower: “Our Government makes no sense without religious faith and I don't care what it is”. 7 Eisenhower referred to the “three great faiths” of the United States: Protestantism, Roman Catholicism and the Jewish Faith. This does not mean that they are all the same, but that they express the same thing in affirming the spiritual ideals and moral values of the American way of life. On that occasion Eisenhower emphasised religion as the foundation of society.

Perhaps unconsciously the Maori feels the same and expresses this in his own, often unsophisticated, way. It does not really matter to which Church you belong. To many it is even irrelevant whether or not they participate in the activities of the Church, but there is the recognition of the fact that, ideally, religion is the foundation of their society.

This attitude may also account for a number of changes in religious beliefs and practices in Atene and for different affiliations among those who had been brought up in the same tradition.

Table 3 shows those changes in religious affiliation which I was able to record. I do not suggest that these are the only changes that occurred, but they give an indication of the mobility among the various groups. The change-over to the Ratana Church is particularly interesting because these changes took place in recent years and were not dependent on a personal relationship with the founder.

Table 3 also suggests that the fundamentalist groups grow mainly at the expense of the Church of England.

Although change in religious affiliation may be religiously motivated and based on personal emotional experience, referred to as “rebirth” or “conversion”, more frequently the causes of change are of a different nature. I recorded the following life story of an elderly lady in Atene:

“I was christened in the Methodist Church, but after my mother had died and my father re-married we became Anglicans because our step-mother belonged to that Church. I married an Anglican, but when the

Church Direction of Change Number
Church of England to Mormon Church 1
  to Brethern Church 1
  to Pentecostal Church 1
  to Maori Evangelical Fellowship 2
Roman Catholic Church to Methodist Church 1
  to Ratana Church 2
  to Pentecostal Church 1
Ratana Church to Methodist Church 1
  to Roman Catholic Church 2
  to Mormon Church 1
  to Maori Evangelical Fellowship 1
Methodist Church to Mormon Church 1
  to Roman Catholic Church 1
  to Scientology 1
Mormon Church to Ratana Church 3
Lutheran to Ratana 1
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Ratana Movement started, our family joined. We believed that Ratana was a prophet sent to found a religion specially for Maoris. But one day an aapotoro asked us for money to help pay for an overseas tour for a Ratana party. 8 He told us that every family should pay thirty shillings. It was during the slump and we had thirteen children to feed. It was still ‘before Nash’. 9 I told the Ratana minister that I couldn't afford the money, but would try to pay something later. He said: ‘The people who give are like cream, those who don't are like water’. I was very upset and when at that time a Methodist Maori minister visited us, I decided to go back to the Methodist Church. Some years later two Mormon elders visited us. They offered to teach us at home. We liked them. It was something new. Some of our family joined, others were not interested. One of my children married a Presbyterian, a son went with his wife to the Baptist Church, some of the others stayed Methodist. I became a Mormon and stayed in that Church for years. I suppose, their religion is all right, but I was never really happy there. When I came to live in Atene, a nice Pakeha Methodist minister called and once again I went back to the Church of my birth. I do not attend church every Sunday. Sometimes I go, but I believe that you can be a good Christian without going to church.”

In this statement we find many reasons of change, most of them more sociological than theological: (a) marriage; (b) the attraction of a Maori religion; (c) belief in prophetism; (d) financial commitments to a religious group; (e) a Maori minister; (f) a new thing; (g) pastoral care and teaching at home; (h) adjustment problems; (i) the friendliness of a minister. It is also interesting that the woman retained a loyalty to the Church of her birth to which she ultimately returned. From the cases which I recorded it was evident that marriage was the most frequently occurring cause of change.

Apart from those already mentioned, the following additional motivations seemed important: (j) transport to church functions, (k) faithhealing and (l) fear of superhuman sanctions. A member of the Ratana Church told me that she was born a Roman Catholic and went to the Convent when she was a child. But during the early years of her marriage to a Ratana they had a lot of trouble and sickness. Friends told them that a blessing could never rest on a religiously divided home. “So”, she said, “I joined my husband's Church . . . we have never had any trouble since”.


Although a number of religious associations are to be found in Atene it is convenient to group some together. The categories, which are discussed separately in this chapter, are as follows:

  • (1) The older established churches, comprising the Church of England, the Roman Catholic and the Methodist Churches;
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  • (2) the Church of Latter Day Saints or the Mormon Church;
  • (3) the Ratana Church;
  • (4) the fundamentalist Churches;
  • (5) the marginal religious associations.

I shall discuss the various categories separately and then assess their sociological significance. I have added some explanatory notes to describe the special significance or distinctive characteristics of certain religious groups.

1. The Older Established Churches

(a) Church of England (Church of the Province of New Zealand)

The Church of England has been working in Atene from as early as the eighteen forties. At present there are four Anglican parishes.

Although the total number of Anglican Maori households 10 was approximately one hundred and twenty, only one hundred and seven were known to the local priests, and only seventy three households appeared on the roll of the Anglican Maori missioner who visited in Atene. In these figures a number of religiously mixed families is included. The percentage of Anglican Maoris was 23.8% of the total Maori population of Atene and this was 6.8% lower than the average for New Zealand. I have no explanation for the difference.

Table 4 shows the extent to which the Maoris took part in church activities. Only three parishes are listed in this table because Parish IV is marginal, covering a part of Atene where few Maoris resided and the small number of Maori attenders was due to this fact. Parish I was far less central than Parish II and HI and consequently has smaller numbers. It is interesting to compare II and III, both of which had an almost equal number of Maori households within their bounds. In almost all activities the number of Maoris actively involved in parish life was much higher in Parish II. The fact that a Maori culture group was attached to this Church indicated that a greater interest was taken in Maori society, but it was also significant that in Parish III the Maori Mission appeared to be more active than in Parish II. While we may assume that the baptisms and confirmations included people from the whole area, regular Maori services were held only in the Parish III church, and home services were, as a rule, also concentrated in that area. This suggests that the presence of the Maori Mission in a parish has an adverse effect on Maori participation in the parish Church. For this reason the Pakeha clergymen favoured Maori services less than did their Maori counterparts.

(b) Roman Catholic Church

The Roman Catholic Church commenced work in Atene in 1845, initially centred in Parish II (see Table 5). The other two parishes were established in 1956 (I) and 1957 (III).

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(Approximately one hundred and twenty households)
  Parish I Parish II Parish III Maori Mission
A. General        
Number of priests 1 1 2 1
Number of members (over 13 years of age) 7 25 25  
Church attedance (households)        
(a) regular (weekly) 2 8 1  
(b) occasional 1 1. in Church 2 1 8 8 8 (Parish III)
2. in homes 3       3 to 4
Baptisms 4 3 18 21 18
Confirmations - 15 3 13
Weddings 5 - 2 4 1
Funerals - 1 no record 2
B. Special Activities        
Sunday School 3 25 12 -
Bible Class 3 6 2 -
Confirmation Classes 3 5 - -
Bible Study and Prayer Group - 8 - 3
Young Wives 2 3 2 -
Women's Club - - 5 -
Youth Club 2 - - -
Maori Culture Group (weekly) - 30 - -
C. Leadership        
Layreaders - - - 2
Vestrymen - - - 1
Church Committee - - 1 -
Leaders Women's Organisations - 1 1 -
D. Church Schools - 1 1 -
1   Monthly or less.
2   Monthly.
3   Weekly.
4   The figures of baptisms, confirmations, weddings and funerals comprise those of the past two years only.
5   Parish II: both radically mixed; Parish III: two racially mixed.

There were approximately one hundred Roman Catholic households in Atene. This was 19.3% of the Maoris in Atene, which was slightly higher than the New Zealand average (17.2%). The reason for this difference may be the presence of three Roman Catholic churches with convents, which make Atene a preferred residential area for Roman Catholic Maori families.

The local parish rolls had listed one hundred and seven Roman Catholic Maori households, but this figure included a number of religiously mixed families. The Maori Mission had no up-to-date record of the Maori families in Atene.

Table 5 shows a high degree of Maori participation in church life in Parish I as compared to Parish II. It is possible that the explanation lies in the fact that the Parish I priest had had previous experience with Maoris (in the East Coast area), and also in the fact that the church was built at an opportune time when the major influx of Maoris into

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(Approximately one hundred households)
  Parish I Parish II Parish III Maori Mission
A. General        
Number of priests 1 3 1 1
Number of members over 13 years of age   (Not separately recorded)    
Church attendance (households)        
(a) regular (weekly) 12 4 4 -
(b) occasional 6 18 - - -
(c) Maori services - - - 6 (outside that area)
Baptisms 7 39 23 - -
Confirmations 29 16 2 -
Weddings 4 3 - -
Funerals 3 4 - -
B. Special Activities        
School of religion and Catechism 8 373 - 4 -
Men's Holy Name Society 4 - - -
Women's League 6 - - -
C. Leadership - - 1 woman -
D. Church Schools        
(a) Primary 18 17 10 -
(b)Secondary 4 10 4 -
6   Mainly for baptisms, weddings and funerals.
7   Both figures include 2 adult baptisms.
8   Age group 5-14 (meets weekly).

Atene took place. Maoris living within the parish bounds took part in voluntary labour programmes which gave them a greater sense of belonging. I found that in Parish I most rites (baptisms, weddings, funerals) were performed by the parish priest, while in Parish II the Maori missionaries officiated more frequently. It appeared more than a coincidence that the degree of participation in parish activities was lower where more emphasis was placed on Maori services conducted by Maori missionaries, either Pakeha or Maori. This is not evident from the table as Maori services were no longer held in Atene at the time of the survey. They were discontinued early in 1966 when a Roman Catholic Maori Centre was opened. Approximately six Parish II households travelled six miles every Sunday to attend a Maori service there.

(c) The Methodist Church

There were two Methodist parishes in Atene, each of which had a full-time minister, but the boundaries of Parish II extended well beyond the area. This parish was established during the end of the 19th century while Parish I is of recent origin.

The number of Methodist households in Atene was approximately forty, which was 7.8% of the total number of Maori households and correlates with the New Zealand average of 7.6%. Almost all these homes were known to the Methodist Maori Mission, including a number of religiously mixed households so that their actual roll was higher. The

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(Approximately forty households)
  Parish 9 I Parish II Maori Mission
A. General      
Number of ministers - - 1 minister 10
      1 deaconess
  1 1 1 part-time
Number of members over the age of 13 4 - no area record
Church attendance (households)      
(a) regular (weekly) - 2  
(b) occasional 2 4  
(c) Maori service - - 4-5
Baptisms - - no area record
Confirmations - - no area record
Weddings 1 - no area record
B. Special Activities      
Sunday School 1 10 no area record
Bible Class - - no area record
Confirmation Class - - 8
Bible Study and Prayer Group - - 6
Maori Culture Group - - 25
C. Leadership - - no exact record (group leadership)
D. Church Schools - - -
9   The order of the parishes is, as in previous tables, not chronological but based on geographical situation.
10   Each of these workers covers a much wider area than Atene.

local parish officials had little knowledge of those Maori households which did not attend their respective Churches.

Table 6 shows the pattern of participation in parishes and mission. From this table it can be seen that Parish I had four Maori members. Two of these attended the church services bimonthly and the other two did not attend at all. Only one child attended the local Sunday-school and no Maoris took part in other church activities.

Parish II had no Maori members. The minister informed me that he had no Maoris under his pastoral care because the Methodist Maori Mission claimed a responsibility for Maori members of the Church. It almost appeared as if there existed a cleavage between church and mission within this parish. The attitude of the local Maoris was somewhat ambivalent, but the fact that in Parish II some households attended the Pakeha services and ten Maori children appeared on the Pakeha Sunday-school roll, may indicate a desire for more participation.

The Maori Mission was very active in this part of Atene. Monthly bilingual services were conducted in Parish II church by mission workers, in spite of the fact that they were attended by only four to five households. In addition, home services were conducted on the occasion of baptisms, funerals and family gatherings. The Maori minister was assisted by a Pakeha deaconess, who conducted Sunday-schools in some homes, and by a part-time Maori worker. Exact figures of attendance and frequency of services were not available and it appeared that there was not a very - 14 regular pattern in the work. The Maori Culture Group which met weekly in Parish II church hall, was conducted by the mission and operated completely independently of the local parish.

Common Characteristics

When we compare the Church of England, the Roman Catholic and the Methodist Churches we can see that in all cases Maori missionaries work alongside the Pakeha parish priests, some times co-operating, sometimes in competition. There exists, in each case, some correlation between the intensity of the mission work and the degree of participation of the Maoris in the local parish. The degree of participation is highest in the Roman Catholic Parish I and the Church of England Parish II. It is lowest in the Methodist Church.

Maoris take little part in church organisations and clubs. This is not only due to the fact that in Atene the Maoris, as a rule, do not mix socially with the Pakehas, but also because of the Maoris' dislike for groups segregated on the basis of sex. In Maori society there is a strong preference for co-operation of both sexes in local and regional committees.

Even though baptismal rites are generally asked for, it is a striking fact that in each of the Churches the contact with the junior age groups is limited and almost negligible in the fourteen years-old and over group. The Church of England Parish II, the Roman Catholic Parish I and the Methodist Parish II show the highest figures, but they are low when we consider that the approximate number of young people under fifteen, belonging nominally to these three Churches in Atene, is six hundred and fifty.

2. The Mormon Church (The Church of Latter Day Saints).

The Mormon Church has been working in Atene for many years, but its main development has taken place since World War II concurrently with the Government housing schemes. The present chapel is post-war and considerable extensions of the building were completed in 1965.

The total number of Mormon Maori households in Atene was approximately forty. This represented 7.4% of the local Maori population, which is consistent with the New Zealand percentage of 7.3%.

Even though the Mormon parish area extended beyond Atene, 11 Table 7 shows clearly a deeper involvement in church activities than was found in any of the older established Churches.

H. Davies has described the Mormon Church as a “bizarre religious Society”. 12A Maori missionary with a number of years of experience said to me: “I do not consider that the Mormons have anything particularly to offer to the Maoris. I have not found anything in Mormonism that should appeal to them”. Neither of these statements does justice to this religious association. There is sufficient evidence that Mormonism provides a meaningful way of life to a large number of people, including many

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Number of ministers only voluntary workers
Number of members over 13 no area record
Church attendance regular 16 (households)
occasional 6 (households)
Maori services not held
Baptisms no area record
Weddings no area record
Funerals 6
Special Activities  
Mutual Improvement Society (age group 12-26) 20
Maori Culture Group (sub-group M.I.S.) 20
Women's Relief Society (welfare group) 15
Pre-evening-service Prayer Group 12
Leaders of “Special Activities ” 12
Voluntary Church service abroad 1
Church Schools  
Number attending Mormon secondary schools 10

Polynesians. And, as far as the Maori is concerned, in spite of the fac that Mormonism in recent years has grown only through natural increase and conversions are less frequent, the Church of Latter Day Saints still holds its own, which is more than can be said for most of the other religious groups

There are a variety of reasons for the appeal and success of Mormonism among the New Zealand Maoris.

J. G. Laughton makes reference to an historical reason. mormonism was established at a time when the British were not popular among the Maoris. “In those days it was a good talking point for the Mormon missionary that he was not British”. 13

There are also theological reasons. The Mormons have incorporated in their theology in Maori religious concept Io, believed by many to be the supreme God of the ancient Maori. The Io myth, which has become part of the belief of the Mormon Maori, proves to him that the ancient Maori had a conception of God similar to that of the Israelites. This does not only suggest that the ancestry of the Maoris is rooted in the Bible, but it also gives lustre to the Maori past. The Mormon view of death as only a temporary separation of the deceased from the living (“we will meet again”) is also important to the Maori. The study of genealogies (weakapapa) received a new meaning because it offered an opportunity to incorporate the ancesors into the Church through baptism for the dead. Other reasons are ecclesiastical, being related to the nature of the Mormon Church. The Mormon Church is a family Church, an aspect of church life not present to the same extent in the older established Churches. Children take a full part in the services and even receive the sacrament of Communion. The elements of “bread and water” (symbolising wine) are received by all age groups.

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But not less important are the sociological reasons. The Mormon Church has been able to give the Maori a “sense of belonging” in a fuller sense than have the older established Churches. In reply to a question from a fellow member of a Protestant Church: “Why do the Mormons ‘get’ the Maoris”, a Maori stated: “All are catered for . . . the Maori likes the feeling of belonging”. 14 In the Mormon Church the rank-and-file Maori can achieve the highest office and it appears that leadership is highly valued among the Maori members of this Church. Polynesians do not suffer from the same disability as the Negroes who cannot hold office because of their race. Also important to the Maori is the strong emphasis on the principle of equality and the possibility of fraternisation. One of my informants said to me: “We like the Mormon Church because we can fraternise there with people of all walks of life. In the Church we have people with higher education and influential positions, workers and middle-class people, but we all call each other ‘brother’ and ‘sister’.” Mormonism is in many ways compatible with aspects of modern, particularly urban, life which are important to the Maori: self-discipline, hard work, health, recreation, progress. The emphasis falls on this-worldliness. It is a concrete religion, leading through the world of the concrete to the world of conceptions.

Finally, it must be acknowledged that there is much truth in J. Mol's statement: “Its unabashed use of most up-to-date management techniques together with the unhesitant application of sociological and psychological findings and personnel techniques in its social organisation is responsible for the Mormon Church's success”. 15

3.The Ratana Church

The Ratana Church has had a branch in the city from the very beginning of the movement, but their numbers have increased considerably through the migration of the Maori population to urban areas during the past twenty-five years.

17.8% of my sample (that is forty-five Maori households) belong to this Church. This is slightly above the New Zealand average of 13.1%. The probable reason for this difference is that a relatively large number of the local Maoris came from strong Ratana areas. The total number of Ratana households in Atene is approximately ninety. It was difficult to obtain the exact number because there is no “parish roll”. This is partly due to the fact that this Church welcomes those who come to their activities, but make little effort to get in contact with others with the aim of activating them. The concept of a “parish” can hardly be used for this Church. A group of ten families, most of which were linked by kinship bonds, formed the nucleus of the Ratana Church in Atene and services were conducted in their homes in turn.

The activities of the Ratana Church in Atene were limited (Table 8). Some families, however, worshipped outside Atene, mainly for kinship reasons. The presence of a number of “apostles” or Ratana ministers

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Number of ministers (a) registered apostles (aapotoro rehita) 3
  (b) spiritual apostles (aapotoro wairua) 1
  (c) assistant curates (akonga) 1
Number of members over 13 year of age no record
Church attendance (a) weekly 5-6
(b) occasional 10
Baptisms no area record
Weddings no area record
Funerals no area record
Special Activities  
Church Youth Club 35
Independent Culture Group 12
Komiti Haahi (Church Committee) all active members
See General. In addition, there are some “sisters” (awhina), e.g. assist with religious rites like Baptisms and “Psalmists” (Roopu Raupo waiata) who form the choir.  

does not indicate that weekly services were conducted at different places. The apostles either all shared in one service or one or two of them would sometimes be officiating in neighbouring districts.

“In 1918 the indigenous Maori religious movement which arose around the person of Wiremu Ratana, the nationalist faithhealer, swept through the Maori communities and made a profound impression and changed the religious allegiance of a vast number of Maoris. Here was something that broke abruptly through the traditional allegiances with the Pakeha missionary Churches—a Maori religious movement with deep psychological appeal to the Maori mind, with a lure of nationalism and the promise of the redress of the wrongs suffered by the Maori people”. 16With these words J. G. Laughton describes the origin of the Ratana Church.

The Ratana Church is a typical example of a group founded in a period of the breaking up of old customs, a situation which caused confusion and required an adjustment to new and alien ways of life. This phenomenon is not, of course, unique to New Zealand or to the Pacific. It is particularly common in Africa, as B. G. M. Sundkler describes in his Bantu Prophets in South Africa. The adjustment cults in New Zealand are attempts to provide, on the one hand, a means of resisting Pakeha encroachment, and, on the other, a means of cultural identity. The Maoris realised that the God of the intruders had entered into their world, and could not be ignored. Yet, as they wished to maintain their own identity, they needed also to retain contact with the gods of their ancestors. These movements have been called “Mischreligionen”, a mixture of various religions involving a search for the new, as well as a desire to preserve the old.

I have selected the term adjustment cult in preference to protest group because initially the Ratana Movement as a religious group did not directly arise out of a conflict related to theological issues, cult or church organisation. It was a group which emerged spontaneously within existing Churches. The protest aspect came later.

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In order to understand the Ratana Church and its present trends we must remember the conditions under which it originated and the fact that it was a form of accommondation to a new situation. The scene was set for the appearance of a prophet, a man of special gifts, who lived in close communion with and felt himself to be the mouthpiece of the Deity, and at the same time was able to appeal to the people; not primarily to the upper strata of society, but to the rank-and-file. The impression Ratana made was such that not only during his lifetime, but also after his death, he was the centre of a religious group, even to the extent of becoming an object of worship himself. This religion became a unifying force during a critical phase of Maori history when dissatisfaction was felt with the Pakeha world and subsequently with Pakeha beliefs, while at the same time Maori traditional society was breaking down and traditional beliefs were weakening. C. G. Homans has said: “Society does not dissolve without a struggle, but provides antibodies to check the rot. The reaction often takes religious forms”. 17 The Ratana Movement is an example of this: an adjustment cult, a Maori religion for the Maori people.

Some people have suggested, and to some extent rightly, that the Ratana faith has little content and therefore may soon prove unsatisfactory. But is the fact that the Ratana faith is simple and uncomplicated really a sign of weakness? Could it not rather be a sign of its strength? The Islam scholar H. Kraemer called Islam a “shallow religion”, poor in religious contents and not coming to grips with problems of the world, of man and of God. 18 It has no elaborate teachings on sin and salvation, it does not answer questions. It is not only shallow but also less original than any other religion, as it is a mixture of Jewish and Christian elements. “What then is the secret of its strength?” he asks. He points out that Muhammad's most important deed was to form one congregation out of fighting tribes. In a Maori context, we would say to establish kotahitanga, unity. Muhammad's most important contribution, sociologically, was to gather this oemma, or congregation, under a prophet. Being a Muslim is primarily a social characteristic, the belonging to a religious-political group, rather than the expression of a personal religious attitude. What one has to think and believe is all given and it is all given in a very simple formula. Much of this applies also to the Ratana Church. One informant reacting to my question asking what she taught her children about the Ratana faith answered: “I teach my children about the ‘Matua, Tama, Wairua-Tapu, Ngaa Anahera Pono me te Maangai’, that is, about the ‘Father, Son, Holy Spirit, the Faithful Angels and the Mouthpiece’ (Ratana).”

The Wider Community

Students of Maori society are well aware of the preference of Maoris for large gatherings or hui. It is therefore not surprising that the Hui Topu of the Anglican Church, the annual larger gatherings of the Methodist Church, the Mormon “stake” or district conferences and other larger - 19 meetings of this Church, and hui organised by the smaller groups, are all well attended. However, in Atene this was particularly so with the Ratanas. I would suggest that one of the structural features of this Church is that the wider community is of greater importance than the local parish.

The nature of general Ratana gatherings which took place lends support to this hypothesis. On four occasions in one year a substantial group from Atene went to large gatherings of the Ratana Church. Three of these were annual events, and one was held on the occasion of a visit of the lady president of the Ratana Church.

Of great importance are the two Ratana remembrance days. On the 8th of November the Ratana Church commemorates the day in 1918 when T. W. Ratana became a Divine Healer and Mouthpiece of God and Man. All faithful Ratanas in Atene took the day off work to attend a large gathering held approximately ten miles from the suburb. This hui included services, discussion of Church business, and competitions in which cultural groups from a large area competed for highly treasured cups and other trophies. It was of interest that a member of the Ratana Church in Atene had composed an action song for this special day in which the Ratanas were encouraged to be loyal to their Church and were promised the peace and blessing of God. I also observed that a number of non-Ratanas, some of whom were active members of other Churches, participated in the ceremonies.

A second gathering took place on the twenty-fifth of January (often referred to as “the 25th” as the 8th of November is often called “the 8th”). On this day the Ratana Church commemorates the birthday of the founder and the opening of the Ratana temple in 1928. A group of at least seventy people from Atene travelled a distance of nearly three hundred miles for this gathering, held at Ratana Pa, the Ratana village. The temple and the place where Ratana first saw his vision play an important role in the lives of his followers. The temple is still the symbol of the faith. It is the place where people feel close to God. One member of the Ratana Church in Atene confided to me: “When I have to take an important decision I go to the Ratana temple to pray”. People claim to have had special religious experiences while attending meetings at the pa, and particularly in the temple.

Observations at these meetings have convinced me that we should place more religious importance on these days of remembrance than some writers have suggested. This applies particularly to the January hui, which may last up to four days. Services are held every morning and evening, but in particular the service held on the morning of “the 25th” is a great occasion. The whole atmosphere in the pa reflects the importance of the day. As soon as the colourful procession of all Ratana officials in their bright hues, headed by the brass bands, begins to move, all noise in the pa is suppressed, all trade stopped, and the crowds, usually some thousands, watch in reverence. Approximately a thousand people flock into the church; the others remain outside. The best Sunday clothes, worn on this great day, are the outward sign of inward respect. D. P. Ausubel misjudged the religious atmosphere and misrepresented the actual hap- - 20 penings when he wrote: “The service is conducted in Maori, but hardly anyone pays attention to it or assumes a reverent attitude; the droning monotone of the minister can scarcely be heard above the crying of infants, the brawling of older children, and the loud conversation and occasional snores of the adult worshippers”. 19 This statement shows neither respect for nor understanding of the Ratana way of worship.

The third annual event is the Ratana Youth Conference. The Youth Movement, which has an active branch in Atene had the following objectives printed on the programme of a convention which I attended:

  • “(1) to assist, preserve, maintain and educate our young people in the principles of the Ratana Church Established of New Zealand;
  • (2) to promote good fellowship and understanding amongst all young people;
  • (3) to promote and encourage leadership;
  • (4) to foster organised entertainment and sports;
  • (5) to foster and maintain Maori language, cultural activities, arts and crafts;
  • (6) to encourage our young people into the appreciation of dress, hygiene and good conduct.”

This organisation is entirely Maori, and this appears to be the major attraction of the movement. But also the colourful blazers, shirts, sashes and attractive badges have their special appeal.

The interest of the younger people is focused on the “great days”. Culture groups are less active and may even go into recess during the period of the year when no remembrance days or convention is in sight, but they suddenly come to life again when the important gatherings draw nearer.

During the Youth Convention I observed a great variety of activities. Some of these were of a strictly religious nature, particularly the main service on the Sunday, which included an address by the lady president of the Church, a sermon in Maori by a Ratana minister and some baptisms. The religious items on the agenda included also periods of instruction in the principles of the Ratana faith and the history of the Church. Business meetings were held to discuss the various activities of the Youth Movement and to decide on next year's meeting for which several applications were submitted. The more social side of the conference included an impressive opening parade in which brass bands, marching girls, hockey teams, football clubs, basketball teams and culture groups took part, all dressed in spotless colourful blazers with sashes and badges. Cultural competitions and talent quests took place during the convention. A novelty was a debutantes ball. Approximately seventy people from Atene travelled one hundred and forty miles to this conference.

Two other larger gatherings took place during my field work. In 1965, coinciding with the annual Youth Convention, over ten thousand Ratanas made a pilgrimage to Te Rere of Kapuni in Taranaki. This is the historic place where the founder of the movement used to deliver his famous - 21 sermons to the people in the early days. He had foretold that the moorehu 20 would gather at that particular time and place. This gathering was the fulfilment of this prophecy.

The second gathering was a visit of the lady president, the late Puhi-O-Aotea Ratahi, to the city of which Atene forms part. A thousand people attended this meeting. All received a remembrance card, specially printed for the occasion and carrying the signature of the head of the Church and a summary of her presidential address.

A Church gathering of more limited size is the July Synod which is attended mainly by Church officials, particularly by the “apostles”. This is the time when Church policy is discussed, remits for the January meeting are prepared and guidance is given to apostles in regard to the conduct of services and Church administration.

These examples illustrate amply the great emphasis on the larger gatherings in the Ratana Church and the orientation of the members to the wider community rather than to the local parish.

4. The Fundamentalist Religious Associations
The United Maori Mission and the Maori Evangelical Fellowship

During the first period of field work the United Maori Mission was active in Atene. This is a fundamentalist group which initially was engaged solely in the running of hostels for Maori adolescents in the cities, but then extended its work to establishing Sunday-schools and Bible-study and prayer groups. A Bible-study group in Atene was attended by four or five women only, but the Sunday-schools catered for approximately sixty children.

The work of the U.M.M. was taken over by the Maori Evangelical Fellowship, which is a more institutionalised form of this mission. The change-over in Atene had initially an adverse effect on the attendances due to changes in personnel, inefficient transport and changes in the times and location of the meetings. Soon church services were added to the existing activities. I attended two services of this group at an interval of a year. The first service was attended by only seven people, but the second by thirty, including fifteen adults, twelve children under thirteen and three teenagers. In spite of the fact that some came from outside Atene, this was clear evidence that the group was growing. With the exception of one or two Maori phrases and a Maori hymn, these services were conducted in English.

The Maori Evangelical Fellowship is a most inward-looking group, the members of which are very much concerned with their own “fellowship”, and with their own personal salvation. They are very “religious”, but have little interest in social redemption. It is an exclusive group and co-operation with other religious associations never extends beyond groups to whom they are related theologically. Together with the Baptist Maori Fellowship, united evangelical hui are held, usually at a marae (Maori community assembly ground), some forty miles from Atene.

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Their larger public meetings, “rallies” or “crusades” as they often call them, have strong emotional overtones. Converts give testimonies in which they relate their personal salvation, and evangelists make “appeals”. I recorded at one of their meetings the following “invitation”: “Come now forward and accept Christ. This is your opportunity, this may be your last opportunity. You may get killed in an accident on the way home or die before the day breaks”. Musical instruments used to accompany the choruses sung by the congregation as well as solos or duets, assist to create the desired atmosphere. During my field work a major “crusade” was held in Atene, but this met with very little response on the part of the local Maoris.

Another characteristic of this group is a form of religious fanaticism which, because of over zealousness for the Church, not seldom leads to neglect of children, causes rifts in family relationships or breaks the unity of a kinship group.

In some further respects this group is distinctly different from the older established Churches. When in 1959 this association was founded at a conference, convened by Maori Christians, it was unanimously agreed that the spiritual needs of the Maori people could best be met by the forming of Maori churches or fellowships and that these should be self-governing, self-supporting and self-propagating. This means that the Maori Evangelical Fellowship is an entirely Maori Church. This is a major attraction of the group, for as a member of the Church of England said to me: “I go there because it is Maori”. The members of this group disapprove of the method of the older established Churches which have a Maori section or mission. L. Pope has repeatedly made reference to the fact that the Negroes in the previous century withdrew from mixed Churches rather than accept segregated status within them. 21 The Maoris of the Maori Evangelical Fellowship explained to me that they are against the methods of “integrated segregation” as this means that they are still under Pakeha control.

The Baptist Church

The Baptist Church is situated in the centre of Atene where there is a high density of Maoris. The Baptists have been working in Atene since 1947. Prior to his present appointment the minister of this Church was engaged in Maori Mission work. The Baptist Church has only one Maori member, who, however, takes a full part in almost all Church activities. Four Maori and three part-Maori families are on the parish mailing list and three of these attend the Baptist Church approximately quarterly. The Sunday-school has four Maori children and two Maori teenagers attend the Bible class.

The only Maori activity within the church building is the Sunday-school anniversary of the Maori Evangelical Fellowship.

The close contact and co-operation with this organisation accounts for the lack of special work among the Maoris by the Baptist Church itself.

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The Brethren

There are three “Bible Chapels” in Atene. Among the three of them they have twenty Maori children attending their Sunday-schools and six adults attending their youth organisations. Maoris are welcomed “when they come”, but one of the leaders informed me: “We feel that the Maoris tend to feel more at home and are more responsive when they are among their own people and we do not locally have the personnel with the necessary training and aptitude for the work.”

The Brethren Maori missionary, a Pakeha with great fluency in the Maori language, covers a very wide area and is unable to visit regularly in Atene.

The fact that these Churches have their own official missionary and that other fundamentalist groups work in the area, has no doubt contributed to the lack of more efforts to establish contact with the Maoris in Atene.

The Assemblies of God or Pentecostal Church

J. Irwin wrote, with reference to the Pentecostal Church: “It seems to me that the Maori listeners respond more readily because they find an emotional setting more akin to their own”. 22 There was no evidence of this in Atene. Three different Pentecostal groups have been working in Atene in recent years, but they have met with very little response. Reasons given by some of my informants for joining this group were the emphasis on faithhealing in the Pentecostal Church and their disagreement with the “code of conduct” in the other Churches, which do not include a strong condemnation of drinking and smoking.

The closest Pentecostal services are held approximately one mile from the centre of Atene. They are conducted in English, but occasionally a Maori hymn or prayer is included in the liturgy. Only two or three people from Atene attend Pentecostal services regularly.

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army commenced work in Atene some years ago but has no Maori members. It combines with the other Churches of the fundamentalist group in large-scale activities like crusades and rallies. Some contacts with Maori young people were established through a “coffee-club” conducted in the church building.

(5) The Marginal Churches
The Presbyterian Church

The Presbyterian Church comprises 23.8% of the population of New Zealand, but according to the 1961 Census only 2.4% of the Maoris belong to this Church. In the city of which Atene is a suburb this percentage is only 1.5. The following factors have contributed to this situation.

Historically the Presbyterian Church commenced mission-work among the Maoris much later than the other Churches. As the other Churches were by then well established in most Maori districts, the Presbyterian - 24 Maori Mission was restricted in its choice and had to limit its activities to the King Country, the Taupo district, the Urewera Country and Northern Hawkes Bay and in all these areas work had already been carried out among the Maoris by others.

A second factor is socio-economic. I observed that in Atene the Presbyterian Church was felt to be even more a typical middle-class religious group than the other older established Churches. One informant told me that she had been taught that “the Presbyterian Church was only for the rich”.

In the third place the migration pattern has proved to be an impediment to the formation of a Presbyterian Maori group in Atene and other suburban areas of the same city, because people from the Presbyterian Maori Mission area more frequently migrate to surrounding smaller cities or to larger centres in other parts of the country. In 1962 I conducted an extensive survey of the Maori Presbyterian work in the city of my research and it appeared that the then 12-year-old Maori parish had only thirty members, fourteen of whom were Pakehas, and of the remaining sixteen only four attended church services regularly or took part in any other church activities.

In the fourth place the customary traditional loyalty to the Church of birth and the kin group was against the growth of the Maori section of the Presbyterian Church. Some informants told me how their kin relationships had been disturbed after they had joined this Church under a certain pressure. They either ceased attending church altogether or returned after some time to their original religious group. The extensive hostel work, controlled by the Presbyterian Church, has hardly affected the membership of this religious group.

In Atene there were four Presbyterian parishes, served by four full-time ministers and one deaconess. There were five centres of worship. No Maori adults attended any of these churches and, in total, eleven Maori children attended Presbyterian Sunday-schools, while one boy was a member of a Boys Brigade company. A Presbyterian Maori Mission worker worked in Atene but he limited his activities to counselling and social work. No Presbyterian Maori services had been conducted in Atene over the previous five years and prior to that only very rarely.

The Seventh Day Adventist Church

The Seventh Day Adventists opened a “Health and Welfare Centre” in Atene in 1966, aiming mainly at social work. An after-hours telephone service was planned to help people who needed spiritual and moral support. They intended also to conduct courses on matters like health, hygiene and budgeting. A “five day stop smoking plan” was in preparation. Services and Sabbath school were conducted on Saturdays.

No Maori members had joined this Church even though there were one or two Maoris in Atene who claimed to be “Seventh Days”.

I found among the Maoris a positive as well as a negative attitude towards this group, mainly dependent on previous experiences. Some had learned to appreciate this Church because of the work done for - 25 younger people in their home towns, but particularly among the Ratana people I found strong resentment. This could be traced back to a mission post of this Church in a district from which a substantial number of the Atene Ratanas came, and where the Seventh Day Adventist Church had caused a split in the kin community when some joined this new group.

This association exerts a certain amount of influence through colportage activities by means of which Bibles and other religious books have found their way into a number of Maori homes.


J. E. Ritchie describes the Hauhau or Paimarire religion as follows: “A religious fanaticism marked by extreme excitement and aimed at the elimination of the Pakeha from New Zealand territory”. 23 It was founded during the difficult post-Waitangi years in the last century and was a development largely due to anti-English feelings. The Maoris wanted to do away with everything English and have, not only their own king and their own land, but what constituted the strongest bond of union among them, their own religion. Hauhauism was at that time primarily a political movement. We therefore referred to it previously as a pseudo-religious group. “The Hau-hau superstition,” wrote Selwyn, “is simply the expression of an utter loss of faith in everything that is English”. 24 I encountered only one or two Maoris in Atene who belonged to this group.


Ringatu is the least urbanised of all religions and it is therefore not surprising that there are few Ringatus in Atene. Those who belonged to this group in their home village and wanted to be associated with a religious group in the city, seemed to prefer to link up with one of the older established Churches.

The Ringatu Church was founded by the Maori prophet Te Kooti Rikirangi at the end of the 19th century but it was not until 1938 that this group was organised according to a constitution, which established it as one of the legally accepted Churches of New Zealand.

The Absolute Established Maori Church (Rapana Church)

This group was founded in 1941 by Te Aka Rapana, a retired serviceman who could no longer subscribe to the political activities of the Ratana Church. His followers comprised mainly dissatisfied Ratanas. They developed their own moral code: liquor, gambling, use of bad language, fighting, football, films, undesirable books were all taboo, but smoking and dancing were permitted. They formed their own community and established a local school. This Church was founded at Te Tii (Bay of Islands) but its present headquarters are in Tinopai.

Several people in Atene claimed a past association with this Church, but after their migration to the city they had either ceased attending church altogether or joined other Churches.

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This is a pseudo-religious or marginally religious group which to some Maoris in Atene had become a meaningful substitute for a Church. Persistent efforts by a few Maori members of this group attracted a very limited number of disenchanted urbanised Maoris. As one of their leaders has formulated it: the scientologists claim “to work towards a world in which men cheerfully and willingly work together as fully free individuals able to co-operate towards the increased understanding and improvement of themselves”. 25


It appears that the efforts of the Churches to attract Maori members have met with only scant success. This is strongly supported by the data in the tables when account is taken of the fact that Atene has approximately five hundred Maori households, comprising two thousand and seven hundred and fifty people. It becomes even more striking when consideration is given to the very limited contact which has been achieved with the approximately sixteen hundred people under twenty years of age, and more particularly with the nearly four hundred teenagers in Atene.

Of importance is the fact that Maori society in Atene is amorphous; that is, it is a conglomeration of people from various tribal areas which are often not, or only distantly, related. If kinship and religious ties of substantial groups coincided prior to coming to Atene, this no longer holds in the new environment.

On the other hand it is legitimate to ask whether the religious associations, most of which claim to transcend tribal and even racial divisions, have made any contribution to the cohesion of Maori society in Atene.

The answer to this question is “no” when account is taken of the disruptive effects of religion in its various institutionalised forms. The older established Churches as well as the smaller groups not only display the disunity of what ideally is claimed to be “one body”, by their mere existence as separate groups, but also often display a certain amount of rivalry and competition. Moreover, even within certain religious associations sub-groups may compete, as occurs in the cleavage between Mission and Church. More serious perhaps is the disruption caused by Mormonism with its divergent theology and opposition to traditional Maori customs like the tangi (funeral wake). Membership of this Church is more likely to disturb family relationships than is the case with any of the other larger religious groups. In Atene the Mormons form, generally speaking, a group of their own.

The Ratana Church also isolates part of the Maori society in a religious group and is thus a potential cause of disruption not only within Maori society itself, but, being an exclusively Maori group, it also isolates the Maori from the wider society.

Similar disruptive effects are caused by the fundamentalist and marginal groups though due to their limited numbers, on a much smaller scale.

This, however, does not mean that the religious associations of Atene - 27 have made no contribution of social significance. Through the Churches, and in particular the Mormons, a number of Maori families have found a new “sense of belonging” in the urban environment, which is initially experienced as alien, sometimes even hostile. The effective policy of “integration” of the Mormon Church has provided an antidote to the social disorganisation experienced by the urban Maori migrant. J. Mol suggests, very much to the point, that the same thing is done by other denominations, although in their case it is done “not on an integrated, but segregated basis”. 26 In spite of other aspects mentioned above, the Ratana Church remains sociologically important for the same reasons. It is entirely Maori, and in a society which is subject to erosion, the Ratana people have found in their Church, an institution which gives them a new sense of belonging. This is accentuated by the fact that through their local Church, they are linked with a larger body to which only Maoris belong and with whom they meet at the annual festivals and other hui. The Ratana Church has a primary meaning for its own members, but it is also the rallying point for members of other Churches, who are longing for Maori fellowship and seek satisfaction for their gregarious needs. In the city the Ratana Church has remained strong 27 and continues to play an important role in the lives of a substantial group of people. It remains a unifying force in the area under review.

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Proposition: The Maori as a “religious being” has his own distinct forms of religious expressions, rooted in traditional Maori beliefs, but signs of the erosion of these are becoming apparent.

“It would be misleading to imply that the New Zealanders are a religious people—some of them go to church when they are christened, many when they marry, and more when they die. The prevailing religion is a simple materialism. The pursuit of health and possessions fills more minds than thoughts of salvation” 28 Assuming that Keith Sinclair in this quotation includes Maori and Pakeha when he speaks about New Zealanders, we find here little support for the hypothesis that the Maoris are a “religious” people.

P. J. Downey on the other hand wrote in Landfall: “It is my personal view that New Zealanders are still basically a religious, are indeed a specifically Christian people. In terms of personal commitment to forms of specially religious life, and in financial sacrifice to maintain institutionalised religion in the Churches, New Zealanders show a high degree of religious concern”. 29

I am inclined to side with Sinclair rather than with Downey. Many people may be called “Christian” because they have retained Christian values, which have been absorbed and internalised, and certain forms of Christian idealism may be manifest in the culture and habits of the people, yet they are not practising Christians in any formal sense. Moreover, the Churches are not full on Sundays, sacrificial giving is by no means general and religious life is very often superficial and purely traditional. The data in Chapter 1 have indicated that for the Maori, traditional Western forms of religious expression are found only to a very limited extent.

What does “being religious” mean? What criteria do we use, what is our “index” of religiosity? Church membership? Attendance at church services? The number of buildings? Financial contributions? Theology? All these criteria have been used to measure people's “faith”, but, however important they may be to the religious institutions themselves, they are of marginal importance in the relationship between man and the superhuman and the corresponding relationship between members of a religious association. Nor are they significant in assessing the degree to which an individual's relationship to society is shaped by his religion. Furthermore, if we applied these criteria to the Maori, our only conclusion would be that he is almost completely areligious.

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This fact has not always been recognised, not even by Maoris themselves. W. P. Naera states: “For the majority of Maoris today being religious is a rather casual matter . . .” Naera defines “religious” as taking the spiritual aspect of the Church seriously; that is, church attendance, relying on priests for personal advice, observance of healing rituals and avoidance of worshipping with sects. He concludes that, “For the majority of Maoris today, institutional religion functions mainly as a traditional method for securing baptism, for being married, and for preparing to die. Religion to these serves the purpose of sacred insurance”. 30

J. Wach has pointed out 31 that there are different ways to be religious, to know and worship God; for the area of expression between man and man even the narrowest religious fellowships show differences. The group as well as the individual will be religious in its own way. By applying solely traditional Pakeha criteria Naera overlooks that the Maori too has his own way of expressing himself religiously.

In order to understand “the Maori way” I refer to an article on Maoritanga by J. G. Laughton: “The very central feature of Maoritanga is the religious nature of the Maori. The whole ancient Maori life turned upon the poles of religion. Nothing was undertaken without resort to the appropriate karakia 32 and religious observances”. 33 He points out that the community life of the Maori was built round the “concept of the divine” and that the retention of a vital religion was as necessary to the survival of Maoritanga as the Maori language, the Maori arts and crafts, and the Maori sense of community. If this is true, where is the evidence to be found?

The following forms of religious expression are typical of, if not unique to, the Maori although they do not of course constitute a complete record of Maori religious expressions.

First there is the tangi, the Maori funeral wake, which has remained a largely religious ceremony. People, who may never partake in religious activities otherwise, become actively engaged in religious observances and on occasions make personal contributions. On one occasion I observed at a tangi that some friends of the family who had no church affiliations sang Maori hymns when they paid their respects to the deceased because it had meaning to them and this was what he would have liked them to do.

The Maori is inclined to incorporate religious phrases, often quotations from the Maori Bible, while exchanging greetings, verbally or in writing. A typical Maori custom, found in all churches, is to say prayers before going on a journey and the trip may be interrupted for another few moments of karakia or worship. I have observed buses and cars arriving at Ratana Pa. The passengers went to the temple to say their prayers of thanksgiving prior to going to their sleeping quarters or to the dining room. I have had passengers in my own car who, during the journey, read prayers from the Ratana Service Book.

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Important items on the agenda of larger gatherings are the services at night and, frequently, also in the morning. One of the highlights of the annual commemoration of the Treaty of Waitangi is the commemoration service. This perhaps is not exclusively Maori but whether gatherings are held on remembrance days and have some “religious” significance or are of a “secular” nature—like meetings called to discuss land matters, sports functions, leadership conferences—religious rites are always incorporated. On one occasion I observed that on the evening preceding some hockey competitions all the people assembled for a religious service as soon as the various teams had arrived. Elsdon Best informs us that in Maori myths the arts of pleasures are attributed to certain mythical beings, who are credited with having introduced all forms of games and pastimes. 34

It is understandable therefore that even practices of action songs and war dances (haka) are frequently opened with prayer. During my fieldwork I attended a course in Maori etiquette. The tutor would never omit opening and closing prayers, even though this course was conducted under the anuspices of a Department of University Extension. The marae etiquette appeared to be particularly sacred (tapu) to him. W. Rosevear relates how religion was associated with woodcraft and speaks of the feelings of awe in regard to Maori carving. When F. A. Bennett said to the Maori carver Te Wheore Poni, wgi was painstakingly carving a piece of wood in an almost inaccessable position in St Faith's Church, Ohinemutu: “Don't trouble to carve that piece, no one will see it anyway up there”, he received the answer: “Don't you know ‘He’ sees it”. 35

Raymond Firth speaks of religion in Tikopia as a “permeating system”. 36 This may be said also of traditional Maori society, which has not lost its impact completely on the modern Maori. The Maori never separated the sacred and the profane. He did not isolate religion. As Best has said: “The state in which we ourselves are now living in which many persons pay no attention whatever to religion, would have been quite impossible among Maori folk”. 37

Does this still apply? My observations suggest that it does to some degree. Maori meetings, whether they are of the local Maori Welfare League, of a tribal committe or of regional Maori councils as well as the gatherings mentioned above, still have religious acts incorporated. They express the belief that every aspect of life has religious significance. On the other hand it is evident that erosion is taking place. I have attended meetings conducted by members of the younger generation which were not opened with prayer and gatherings where all religious ceremonies would have been omitted had not an elder interfered at the last moment because their omission meant to him a lack of respect for Maori traditional observances. Though it is evident that the Maori has a deep respect for “things religious”, it cannot be denied that there are signs of religious decline.

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The Church Service

Proposition: The Maori is not favourably disposed towards participation in traditional church services, or other public and formal religious activities held at specific times and at a fixed place.

The frequency of attendance of church services is usually taken as a main criterion of the intensity of church affiliation. W. W. Schroeder and V. Obenhaus make the distinction between internal and external reasons for church attendance. 38

Internal or subjective reasons for attendance are: duty or obligation to attend church; personal benefit; the mixed type—you should and you must go. External or sociological reasons are: custom or habit and friendship.

The same authors suggest reasons for non-attendance. This is significant for our study of Maoris and religious associations, because 90% of the Maoris who belong to those Churches which stress this criterion, namely the Church of England, the Roman Catholic and the Methodist Churches, do not attend the weekly church services.

The most important internal reason for non-attendance is indifference. Indifference denotes a preference to engage in other activities, e.g. the playing of Sunday football. External reasons are: illness, trips and obligations to entertain guests.

The internal reasons as well as the external reasons of those who do attend Pakeha services are not likely to be different from those of their Pakeha counterparts and the emphasis differs according to the Church to which they belong. Both the Pakehas and the Maoris who go out of a sense of duty are more strongly represented in the Roman Catholic Church, while the factor of personal benefit is more predominant in the Church of England and in the Methodist Church. The mixed type is found in each of these religious groups. However, there are certain additional aspects which specifically apply to the Maoris.

Firstly, there is a certain amount of bewilderment on the part of the Maori who goes to a Pakeha church. J. E. Ritchie has suggested that the Maori becomes whakamaa, embarrassed, shy or distressed, in a social situation where he does not feel at ease. Ritchie called this the greatest social barrier to the free entry of Maoris into Pakeha clubs and organisations, indeed to a thorough integration with New Zealand life in general. 39

In the second place, there is a social barrier erected by the Pakehas, which is effective even though it is not deliberate. The Pakeha standard of dress may make a Maori conscious of his or her clothing. One Maori, who possibly would not only have been unable to afford, but also would probably have felt uncomfortable in “collar and tie” justified his aversion to “church clothes” with a Maori proverb, which, according to him, read: “If my soul is dirty why should I put on clean clothes?” Some Maoris confided to me that Pakehas did not want to sit next to them in church or—the other extreme—had a patronising attitude, treating them with condescension and benevolence. I was told by Mormon Maoris that even their Church was not completely free of this.

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The third factor is related to Maori values with respect to the family. The Maori moves in public more as a family unit than as an individual. Whenever Maori meetings are held, whether during the day or at night, children are usually present in considerable numbers. The Pakeha Church, as represented in the older established Churches to which we have seen almost 50% of the local Maoris nominally belong, adhere to a tradition which includes, on most Sundays, a separation of the various age groups, dividing the family among church, Bible-class and Sunday-school. More than one informant stressed his resentment of this Pakeha religious custom.

A fourth factor is the passivity of the worshipper in most Pakeha services. H. M. Wright has recorded that the missionaries found the Maoris liked religious services in which they could participate—more chants, responses and more emphasis on singing. 40 A. T. Ngata confirmed this when he pointed out that it was in keeping with the Polynesian genius to act and respond in chorus and that the early missionaries adopted their form of worship to conform to this custom. 41 In a recent study W. P. Naera writes (with reference to the early missionary activities in the Bay of Islands): “Church of England services in Paihia adopted more chants and responses, and emphasised singing.” 42

A fifth factor is the Maori concept of time. The Maori has adjusted himself in many respects to “Pakeha time”. To the Pakeha, time is something solid, fixed, definite and to which all other activities must be geared, while “Maori time” is a “plastic medium that flows round and adapts itself to the activities of the day. The Maori time for anything is when you are ready for it”. 43 The Maori does appreciate some recognition of his concept of time.

In the previous chapter reference was made to the obvious lack of communication between the Church and Maori youth. This may be rather surprising when we consider that Maori young people apparently do not have the same problems as older Maoris. In many cases they have grown up in a “Pakeha world” and English is their main language. Informants suggested several reasons for non-church attendance of younger people. In the first place the Maori parent does not want to use force with respect to religion. This is partly out of a sense of fairness—parents who do not attend church themselves feel that it is unfair to send their children—but it is also in line with the generally permissive attitude the Maori has to the upbringing of children.

In the second place, even the younger generation has a strong feeling that the Church is “Pakeha” and those who attend for a while withdraw for this very reason.

In the third place, as in adult society, socio-economic reasons play an important part. Frequently coming from larger families of the lower income group, that is from a different social level than most Pakeha members, they feel uncomfortable. This appeared to be also a reason for the low degree of involvement in youth organisations. Some informants - 33 suggested that, contrary to some activities like football, most types of Pakeha youth work are inconsistent with Maori temperament.

Pakeha clergymen, who either had some knowledge of the Maori language or made use of Maori-speaking people, either Maoris or Pakehas, and incorporated “something Maori” in their services to identify themselves with Maori society, have met with a more favourable response as regards church attendance.

Apart from the Mormon Church, which disfavours the use of the Maori language in church services, all other main religious groups conduct Maori or part-Maori services at regular intervals. It is the members in the forty-and-over group particularly who prefer a Maori service. When I asked whether the language was an important factor with respect to this preference, an affirmative answer was given only by the elderly people whose English was inadequate to grasp religious concepts in this foreign language and who had still a deep emotional attachment to their native tongue.

A far more important factor is that occasional Maori services provide a means of meeting together as Maoris. They maintain a socio-religious bond that might otherwise be lost. People like to be identified as a race and these services are important for those who value highly their separate identity.

Two other aspects of the Maori services add to their popularity. In the first place, the opportunity for whai koorero (speechmaking), after the service. This offers an opportunity to discuss “things Maori”: cultural activities, forthcoming hui, etcetera.

The second aspect is the communal meal. G. Laurenson wrote: “The place of the fellowship after the religious service is one that Pakehas need recognise as a strong Maori feature. To meet for worship in a sacred building, and then scatter immediately and to go home without some partaking of food together, is foreign to the Maori spirit. This has some links in Maori thought (although not always consciously) with the older ideas of the use of cooked food to remove the tapu after sharing in a religious ceremony”. 44 I note this as an interesting observation which, however, appears to me part reality and part ideal. I have attended Maori services in the city and in the country, some in traditional Maori areas, where no social function followed. On the other hand, I have attended Methodist as well as Anglican services which were followed by a “cup of tea” and whai koorero.

This discussion seems to suggest that Maori services are everywhere well attended. Nothing would be less true in Atene. Table 9 shows clearly that Maori services in Atene do not receive much support. This becomes even more evident when we consider that these services are held only monthly.

There are various reasons for this situation. One contributing factor, though not the most important, is that the Churches have abandoned a type of service which appeared to appeal to the Maori in the early days of contact. I found little or no difference in form between Pakeha and

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Church Number of Households Regular Occasional
Church of England 59 8 4-5
Roman Catholic Church 50 6 no data available
Ratana 45 6 10
Methodist 20 5 6
Mormon 19   no Maori services
Smaller Groups 19 3 2

Maori services in Atene. The minister's monologue was predominant in both and participation of the congregation was reduced to the very minimum. The form of worship at the Maori service was usually identical to that of its Pakeha counterpart in the same religious association. The Maori Evangelical Fellowship used Billy Graham choruses, the Anglican service included the Creed, but not always chanted. Even the Maori Ratana Church had very few responses and at the larger gatherings of this group hymns played by the brass bands, and a choir item, had taken the place of congregational singing. The degree of participation was highest in the Roman Catholic Maori service.

In the second place the Maori services do not appear to have the same appeal as in the not very distant past. A. J. Metge recorded as one of her findings that “Maoris in Auckland preferred to attend services conducted in Maori by Maori ministers and to belong to Maori branches of church organisations” 45 and, “Maoris came from all over Auckland to attend services in Maori”. 46 This suggests a considerable attendance. If this was the case then, the situation in urban areas has changed. Maoris have adjusted themselves more to city life, other interests and involvements in secular associations have increased since they have been in the city for a longer period. Whatever other explanations may be advanced, the hypothesis that the Maori minister and “Maori Church” has a decisive effect on Maori church attendance is no longer tenabl, however important the personality of the Maori minister and a Maori approach may be in an urban situation.

It is possible that there is one underlying reason for the lack of attendance at both types of services. Best wrote: “There was no regular system of public worship among the Maori, no regular attendance of any sacerdotal function. The Maori had no sacred days, no temples, no public worship or prayer”. 47

So far our evidence is that the Maori does not attend the Pakeha service and that his interest in the Maori public service is diminishing. Is there then in Maori society a form of worship which meets A. T. Ngata's demand with reference to the Church service? “The Maori is not irreligious, but church-going and worship do not grip him and hold his attention. The Maori would prefer something more conformable to Maori patterns and Maori standard”. 48

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In Atene meaningful worship was found on three occasions. Almost all informants, even those who attended “Pakeha” services regularly said that they preferred the home service to the public service. However, not all Churches favour this kind of worship. The Mormon Church does not allow it apart from the household service or family hour conducted on a weekday night in loyal Mormon homes. The Roman Catholic Church does not favour home services either but will allow them in case of funerals. The Pakeha clergymen of the Church of England accepted them with mixed feelings and sometimes unofficial baptism and communion services were held, organised by the Maoris themselves. The Maori missioners conducted home services in the area. The Methodist mission placed a great emphasis on these home services which, as in the other Churches, were conducted in Maori. Motives for a home service preference included the following: worship with a kinship group or neighbours, the informal and friendly atmosphere, the security of one's own home where one can do things one's own way (e.g. use guitars) and take the initiative oneself; it is easier to have a kai (meal) following the service prepared in a haangi (earth oven) in the backyard. Weddings as well as baptisms, funerals and communion, were preferred at home if the Church concerned allowed it.

There was one occasion on which all Maoris, if able to do so, would attend services. This was at ceremonial functions on the home marae: a tangi, an unveiling, the opening of a meeting house or a tribal meeting. At home he has his turangawaewae, a standing place for his feet, and it is there that he finds fellowship in the community to which by descent he belongs. He participates naturally in the religious ceremonies which are an indispensable part of these functions. On such occasions the specific Church attachment of the officiating clergy is not significant.

A third kind of service which appeared to draw a large number of people was the Anzac Day service, especially held for the Maori Battalion. Two Anzac Day services which I observed during my fieldwork were attended by large crowds of Maoris. In reply to a question, I was told that the attendance at these services was a form of identification with those who had fallen on the battlefield and taking part was considered to be a tribal duty. According to one of my informants, the importance of this day and the desire to worship then was also in line with the Maori preference for attending services “when the need is greatest, when he feels lonely, or in time of bereavement and trouble.”

John Harré has made the following comment on Anzac Day: “Perhaps our most important indigenous religious ceremonial is the Anzac Day ceremony. It is coincidental that this is associated with Christianity. From the sociological point of view it has immense importance . . . It is a memorial cult which mobilises more people into a ritual expression of togetherness than any conventional observance. This is because it is meaningful in New Zealand society. It is related to a time of suffering which brought unity, and its continuation is brought about by our necessity to justify in some way the waste of life and the personal tragedies which have resulted from two world wars”. 49 The author writes this with - 36 reference to the Pakeha society, but it applies equally to the Maori and helps to interpret the interest of the Maori in Anzac Day services.

This interest of the Maori in a different kind of worship: incidental, irregular, with a special purpose in mind, with more play and offering more opportunity for his own initiative, is consistent with my proposition that the Maori is not favourably disposed towards participation in traditional church services or other public and formal religious activities at specific times and at fixed places.


Proposition: Baptism in Maori society is primarily a social custom, rather than an act of faith or a means of becoming affiliated to a specific religious association.

In this section I discuss infant baptism as distinct from adult baptism. The latter is practised only in the fundamentalist associations, while the former is the norm for the main religious groups.

The Mormons have a rite of blessing newly-born children and baptise a child at the age of eight following a period of instruction. The Ratana Church follows the practice of the older established Churches. In Atene baptism is more universally observed than any other religious rite.

To a limited group baptism is an exclusively religious rite motivated by a genuine consent to the doctrines of the Church. In some cases fear of supernatural sanctions plays a role. One informant told me. “ have been taught that, if you are not baptised, you won't go to heaven when you die”. To another group it is also a religious rite, but motivated by tradition rather than by faith. “It is the proper thing to do!”

W. P. Naera, describing Maori attitudes, makes reference to the baptismal practices in earlier years of New Zealand history. “The Maoris believed that, once baptised, they were presumably free from the wrath of the white God”, and further, “There was also a degree of mana in baptism: it gave the Maori, who had it a certain esteem.” 50 This points to the religious as well as to the social significance of this rite. I found only one case where baptism was disapproved of, but postponement of baptism due to urban life was not infrequent. In the country areas children of the various families were presented for baptism whenever a minister conducted services at the marae. In an urban situation, as in Atene, it was not so easy. More initiative was required of the people concerned. Moreover, the Pakeha environment of the city church with its own modes of behaviour often discouraged the Maori from immediate action. As one mother told me: “I don't know the vicar and I don't know how to go about it here”.

While making allowance for religious or traditional ecclesiastical motivations, I would suggest that baptism is primarily a social custom, which has received an important place in Maori society and is linked closely with the kinship system. It is a ceremonial act which takes place preferably at the home marae of the kinship group, but increasing urbanisation frequently prevents parents from giving effect to this preference.

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Maoris have become more conscious of the value of money, and the loss of wages through absence from work, as well as travelling expenses, forces parents to have their children baptised in the city. However, the emphasis on the kinship group remains and baptism at home is strongly preferred to baptism in a church building. Frequently there is also a strong preference for baptism by a Maori clergyman, though I found that it is realised and accepted that this request cannot always be met. The fact that baptism was a kinship ceremony was emphasised by the circumstance that not only were relatives, near or remote, living in the city invited to the function, but also grandparents from “home” were asked to be present and, if need be, their fare was subsidised by the parents of the child. A social function, including a haangi, was an integral part of the occasion. Not unlike in Pakeha society, though in a different way, the religious significance of baptism appeared to be completely overshadowed by the social event itself.

Though birth remains a main determinant of religious affiliation and baptism in the Church of birth is a frequent occurrence, I observed a number of examples of “deviant” behaviour where children were baptised in a different Church from that of their parents. This may be explained as follows.

In the first place it often resulted from the already mentioned home-marae baptisms when the visiting minister, whatever Church he belonged to, was asked to perform the rite. I met one family who had four children baptised in the Church of England and four in the Methodist Church.

Sometimes mere convenience led to deviant behaviour. A Ratana informed me that three of his children were baptised in the Methodist Church. This happened during the war. “There was no Ratana apostle in our area and they told us that the Methodist Church was closest to the Ratanas”.

Sometimes baptism in another Church was the result of pressure from the side of missionary agents. In one family I was told: “We had three of our children baptised in our own Church, the Church of England. A Presbyterian Maori missionary, who had heard that our youngest had not been christened, talked us into having the child done by him. We agreed, What's the difference anyway?”

Another system of the lack of appreciation of the religious meaning of baptism and the attitude of relative indifference as regards the Church by which this rite is performed was the very limited number of Maoris in Atene who became communicants of the various religious organisations, particularly of the Anglican and Methodist communion. J. G. Laughton suggested that there is a misconception among Maoris that baptism in infancy constitutes full membership and that as a result the communicants' roll is small compared with the baptismal roll. 51 Even though the Methodists in Atene recognised the value of this explanation, the hypothesis found little support within the Anglican communion. I attribute this phenomenon to a sheer lack of understanding of the religious meaning of each of these two so closely related religious rites, interpreting confirmation - 38 as confirming the faith into which one has been baptised in infancy. This situation underlines the significance of baptism as a social custom rather than an act of faith. With respect to confirmation and becoming a communicant, in Atene there was a tendency similar to that mentioned with respect to baptism, namely that circumstances, including the attendance at Church boarding schools, not infrequently had led to a change in religious affiliation—conformity to the reference group proved more important than a specific religious tie.


Proposition: The opportunity to achieve status is a significant aspect of belonging to a religious association.

A religious leader is a person in whom religious interest is high and who is concerned about its meaning for others. Although the Maori leader is “neither born nor made”, 52 yet in Maori society, rank, dependent on chiefly or rangatira descent, which included receiving formal marks of respect, was and still is important. However, as Metge has pointed out, 53 these marks of respect are at present also given to others and among these are the religious leaders, who often have a high status in the community and in their kingroup. In Atene I found ample evidence of both. In various homes I saw photos of clergymen relatives, Maori and Pakeha, who had been working in the home districts of the people or of ministers with whom a family had been associated for many years. While speaking about their relatives, people would soon mention their brother, uncle or cousin who was a priest or a minister and one informant claimed proudly that he had three relatives in the ministry. Maori ministers, visiting Atene in the course of their duties were held in the highest regard and spoken of with respect.

Although ambition to achieve status by occupying such a privileged position which carried with it a certain mana or superhuman power was probably not a determinant of religious affiliation, nevertheless the opportunity membership of a religious association gave for leadership, was clearly important. Membership became the stepping stone to a position of prestige. This did not mean, however, that everyone could become a leader, as training, individual and social maturity, knowledge of Maori traditions and language and an understanding of the Pakeha way of life were important criteria. Apart from subjective motivations and standards set by the religious associations, another important aspect of Maori leadership within the Churches is that it helps to develop what H. Kraemer has called internal church history: 54 to aim at a religious movement and development rooted in the people themselves, i.e. training of a Maori ministry at the highest possible level.

Religious leadership may take various forms. In the first place there is the charismatic leader, who exerts his influence by virtue of personal gifts (charisma), which are often—but not always—made manifest in miracles and revelations. The second type of leader is the priest, defined by Weber - 39 as the leader “who lays claim to authority by virtue of his service in a sacred tradition”. 55 The third type is the prophet, the purely individual bearer of charisma, “who by virtue of his mission proclaims a religious doctrine or divine commandment”. 56 Each of these types is found in Maori society though they may not always be clearly distinguished.

Names of many Maori prophets have been recorded, Ratana, a charismatic leader as well, being the most influential one in recent times. The priest-type of leader is found in the minister or priest in the older established Churches and partly in the Ratana Church but there the “charismatic” aspect is usually more prominent. The Maori Evangelical Fellowship emphasises the charismatic aspect while the Mormon Church leader represents a mixed type.

In the older established Churches in Atene, including their Maori sections, leadership was limited to a total of one lay preacher, two lay readers, a Sunday-school teacher and one or two people serving on church committees. Most noticeable was the contrast with the Mormon Church and the difference is partly a matter of church structure. The hierarchical church structure of the Mormon Church offers a great number of members a place of a certain importance and the satisfaction of some form of leadership. As no special training is required for those who hold office in the Mormon Church, opportunities for leadership in Atene were readily available to the local Maoris. It was also significant that in the Church of Latter Day Saints there was less Pakeha competition for leadership roles.

The leadership in the Maori Evqangelical Fellowship is entirely Maori. The taking up of a position of leadership by a non-Maori must be agreed to by the National Council. One of the aims of this association, according to the constitution, is the creation of Maori leadership. This group therefore offers opportunities for leadership which are not present to the same extent in the older established Churches where Maoris have to compete with Pakehas. In the Maori Evangelical Fellowship the qualificactions for pastors are not further specified tha that they must be “born-again Christians”. In practice, however, a number of their leaders have undergone some form of training at a Bible Training Institute. In Atene local leadership was developing, but so far the community had been dependent on the services of a part-time pastor from outside, who conducted Sunday-school, stimulated week-day activities and visited the homes.

The Ratana Church depended entirely on local leadership, which comprised three apostles, one spiritual apostle and one “curate”. As in the Mormon Church and Maori Evangelical Fellowship no special training is required to achieve the “higher” positions, though a knowldege of Ratana's teachings and of the history of the Church is an important criterion. Ambition to get higher up in the hierarchical system once the first position of leadership had been attained, was obvious. The akonga (curate) aimed at becoming an aapotoro wairua (spiritual apostle) and ultimately an aapotoro rehita (a registered apostle) who conducts baptisms and officiates at weddings. Leadership is highly valued in the Ratana Church for religious - 40 as well as sociological reasons. Wearing a beautiful garb on Sunday gives a sense of importance which is a compensation for living in a kind of environment which often causes frustrations and dissatisfaction. People incapable of achieving status within the society at large are often able to gain status in their own church organisations.


Proposition: Faithhealing, which has been a prominent feature of Maori religious life is unlikely to retain any importance in the future.

“We must consider religion and sickness as more or less one matter because the Maori regards them as integral aspects of one and the same phase of Maori belief and behaviour. The Maori regarded prayer as an integral part of the treatment for sickness, because he thought sickness was caused by spirits as a punishment for violation of tapu or customs. This was especially so with the kind of sickness he called, ‘Maori sickness’. Prayers, as employed by the Pakeha priest apparently succeeded in controlling the spirit and the Diety. So it was natural that the Maori should take over this technique and use it to control his own spirits”. 57

One would thus have expected the development of a new tradition with an emphasis on faithhealing within the older established Churches. In fact, I found very little evidence of thus, but faithhealing in Atene did receive prominence in three of our categories of religious associations: the Mormon Church, the Ratana Church and the fundamentalist groups.

In regard to the place of faithhealing in the Mormon Church one has to remember that health of the body is a central concern in Mormonism, valued for itself and also as a necessary means of accomplishment and progress in the present life. For this reason liquor, tobacco, coffee and tea, which are believed to harm the body, are excluded from the Mormon diet. The Mormon Church has no specialists who act as faithhealers, but the elder head of the family exercise the “blessing ordinance” and attaining this responsibility is an inducement for becoming an elder, whose office includes this charisma. He thus replaces the tohunga, the Maori elder with personal charisma who was resorted to in case of sickness. Erik Schwimmer has pointed out that in the Mormon Church the ordinance of blessing of the sick has replaced traditional tohungaism and thus the Mormon elder has replaced the Maori tohunga. The Mormon Church emphasises, however, that the blessings are given in addition to, not instead of, medical treatment. 58

Faithhealing in the Ratana Church is mainly associated with the personality of the founder. In the early twenties Wiremu Ratana made triumphant tours around New Zealand practising faithhealing and preaching against the superstitions of tohungaism. He took possession of many objects which had been regarded with supersition because they were associated with dead ancestors: articles of clothing, walking sticks, greenstone objects, carved artefacts, etcetera. These are still kept in the museum or “bogyhouse” at the Ratana Pa.

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Ratana's activities were followed with much interest by the established Churches and initially ministers of those Churches co-operated with him. The Rev. Piri Munro, said: “I think Ratana is being used to free the native mind from the influence of Maorinism and tohungaism.” 59 He saw his mission as a means to combat spiritism, at the bottom of much of their sickness. H. W. Williams in his booklet Ratana recorded part of one of Ratana's addresses: “Have you been to a tohunga? Will you give that up absolutely? Are you knowingly holding on to some sin in thought and action? Give that up, believe in God. Pray in faith and I will pray for you”. 60

This shows that Ratana did not claim his healing powers to be a personal attribute though this is not always clearly understood by his followers. He considered himself only a medium, as was confirmed by one of my informants in the following statement: “When I was twenty-one I was very sick. I saw the doctor but that didn't help. Then I went to Ratana. He said to me: ‘Have Faith in God and you will get better’. I prayed very often and my health improved. After some months, however, I slackened my efforts. When I went back to Ratana he said: ‘Have faith in God and you will be healed. But remember, there are two fellows. One is Ratana, he points to God. Listen to him. The other is Hatana (which means Satan), he pats you on the back and says: “Listen to me”, but . . . he shows you the wrong way.’.”

In Atene various other people claimed to have been healed from incurable diseases by Ratana. Even among those who had not known him personally some had an unshakable faith in his healing powers and recent healing experiences at Ratana Pa are still attributed to the influence of his personality. Healing rites performed in the Ratana Temple and a pilgrimage to the Ratana Pa itself were considered to be of great importance. I observed how sick people were carried into the temple and one man from Atene, who had been unable to walk properly for a number of years, left his walking stick behind in the Ratana Pa, confident that his pilgrimage to the sacred places and the prayers offered there had cured him of his disability.

Many Ratanas in Atene believed that the gift of healing was handed down by Ratana to one of his followers, the Ratana “doctor”, who attended to patients on his journeys and at Ratana gatherings.

I observed the public “healing” of a young adult with a sore heel. The “doctor” divined the cause as bad relationships between the person concerned and his employer and after prayers had been said the patient departed in the faith that the ill had been cured. By the rite of prayer the patient regained his confidence after the psychological cause of the disability had been revealed and after an exhortation to improve relationships.

Like Ratana himself, the Ratana “doctor” does not discourage his patients from seeking medical aid. By my observation rather the opposite is the case.

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Wiremu Ratana restricted his healing activities to Maoris only. He felt sent to his own people. But the healing—by letter—of Fanny Lammas of Nelson, a lady who had been suffering from an enlarged heart, lung trouble and spinal weakness, enhanced his fame and the story of her healing is frequently related to emphasise his charisma. The supporting frames, used by Fanny Lammas, are kept in the “Museum” at Ratana Pa. The Ratana “doctor” does not restrict himself to Maoris only.

Faithhealing was also prominent among the Pentecostals. In Atene this was stimulated greatly by an American Pentecostal faithhealer, who preached in the district some years ago. Healing services were conducted in churches as well as in homes and these included the rites of “laying on of hands” and prayer. Some claimed to have been healed through prayers of members or leaders of the Maori Evangelical Fellowship.

However, even though faithhealing had much appeal to the Maori in the past and is still important to a certain group at present, it did not appear to have much appeal to the younger generation. No real Maori faithhealers have appeared since Ratana and the Maori practitioners (tohunga) appeared to be more a last resort to some adults. Most Maoris in Atene sought advice from trained medical practitioners rather than from the tohunga, the colour therapist or diviner, with the same exceptions as occur in Pakeha society.


Proposition : Notwithstanding the favourable attitude of the religious associations towards integration, the success has been very limited as Pakeha attitudes have promoted segregation and Maori withdrawal, and strengthened the position of exclusively Maori Churches.

When the Treaty of Waitangi was signed Captain Hobson took each chief by the hand and said:“He iwi tahi taatou”, that is, we are now one people. This, however, did not alter the fact the “we” remained still “two” in spite of being united under one Government. Among the possible patterns of relationship (assimilation, segregation, pluralism, symbiosis or integration) the last form was adopted as the most desirable one even though the concept was not always clearly defined, particularly as distinct from assimilation. Integration is still the official policy of the New Zealand Government and also the fashion in most religious communities. Yet the official policy of the Churches has not prevented the development of certain forms of segregation.

Bishop E. A. Gowing was reported to have said at the Auckland Diocesan Synod in 1965: “Maori and Pakeha could come together in worship and part of the service could be in Maori. People should not segregate”. 61 Bishop Gowing did not mean segregation as an “enforced segregation of racial groups”, that is, enforced by law, as we find in South Africa, but a de facto segregation caused by the established tradition to worship separately. Through the building-up of self-contained Maori units a kind of “apartheid” has been created, which could lead to hardening of racial divisions and a deeper separation of Maori and Pakeha at - 43 the local level, even though they may be together at higher levels as at synods, conferences and assemblies. P. Kotsé, in a book, which, in his own words, is “an attempt to make a contribution to bringing about a sympathetic and scientific discussion on South African race relations in the light of Scripture” makes the significant observation that when in South Africa the Dutch Reformed Church decided at its synod that “black” and “white” should have separate places of worship, this was accepted hesitantly and not without being challenged. Some members suggested that this separation was against the teachings of the Church and could lead to “apartheid”. 62 This is what actually happened and it even received a theological substructure. Bishop Gowing, if I understand him correctly, warned against this danger, which seems to be imminent, even though the Churches have repeatedly made statements that this segregation is only a temporary measure. “The ultimate aim, of course, is the gradual working together towards the time when there is a true integration of two self-respecting strands of Church life”. 63

How do we define integration? J. G. Laughton, in an unpublished address, defined the concept most concisely as follows: “Integration means that each race shall bring the treasure of its inheritance into the common society for the enrichment of the whole”. This does not mean that all people will be moulded into one undifferentiated mass, racially and in other respects, but it removes the barriers to freedom and equality and therefore opens a way to mutual acceptance, as it removes injustice. According to A. H. Reed, Sir Peter Buck took the same line when he stated that “integration” means neither extinction nor absorption so complete as to make them (that is the Maori) lose their identity. 64 A fuller definition is given in “A Maori View of the Hunn Report”: “Integration is the combination of the Maori and the Pakeha peoples of the nation into one harmonious community in which each enjoys the privileges and accepts the responsibilities of their common citizenship, wherein there are no racial barriers, and wherein with mutual understanding and respect each race is free to cherish its cultural heritage, and in this way the best elements of both cultures may be united to form the pattern of future New Zealand society”. 65 What is the situation in Atene as regards integration?

Let us look first at the majority group, the Pakehas. It is essential that we make a clear distinction between expressed ideals and the attitudes which people really hold. The ideal, that is what the Churches officially stand for, is invariably in favour of integration in the true sense of the word.

In Atene the attitude of its members as manifested in their behaviour deviated considerably from this ideal pattern. Some tried to ignore all racial differences. The “we are all New Zealanders” attitude. A second group of Pakehas glorified Maori culture to the extent of taking an almost negative attitude towards their own culture. A third group covered feelings of racial superiority under a mantle of good will and friendliness - 44 using emotional expressions like “I love the Maoris”. It was apparent in Atene that, if integration were ever to be achieved, these and deeper underlying racial attitudes had to change.

Clifford Hill in his West-Indian Migrants and the London Churches says: “Not the hearty handshake or the ‘come in brother attitude’, but what he does want is to feel accepted in the same way as the other members of the congregation”. He wants to feel that he has a right to be there. In Maori terms, that he has turangawaewae in the Church, a “standing place for his feet”, and hereditary rights. He wants to have recognised that he has his part to play in the worship and the life of the Church. He hates patronage. “He wants to feel wanted”. “We need less sympathy, more understanding, the West Indian Negro suggests”. 66

This feeling of not being fully and genuinely accepted is the reason why even a number of “integrated” Maoris, who want to be loyal to their Church, still deep in their hearts feel that it is a “Pakeha Church” and not theirs. In Atene they often referred to this relationship to the “Pakeha Church”.

There was a slight difference with respect to the Roman Catholic Church in Atene as appears to be the case elsewhere. The Roman Catholic Church presents itself more as the universal Church, the Church of the human race. There is no less longing for congeniality but, as Lister Pope has said: “The centrality and objectivity of the Mass elevate worshippers to a common plane, and Catholic Churches seem to have fewer marginal social events than Protestants do”. 67 In spite of this, local Maoris in Atene still referred to the Roman Catholic Church as a “Pakeha Church”. The only Church which was an exception in this respect was the Mormon Church, which placed a strong emphasis on the unity of all believers irrespective of ethnic origin. It has already been pointed out that in the Mormon Church there was a deeper sense of belonging and greater acceptance. Mormons in Atene never referred to the local Mormon Church as a Pakeha institution. This, of course, is consistent with its ethnic membership, because in New Zealand most Mormons are Maoris and of the remainder a considerable number belong to other Polynesian groups.

The Maori in Atene expressed physically his reaction to the Pakeha attitudes in three different ways. In the first place he did so by emphasising that the Church should continue separate work among the Maoris. In this they were strongly supported by most Maori mission workers. Following John Lafarge S.J. In his “Patterns of Segregation” I choose to call this policy “compensatory segregation”. 68 It supports the maintenance of separate institutions at the lower levels of the Church, considering that this is the only means under existing circumstances by which the Church can provide facilities for a minority. It is felt that this is a necessary alternative to complete neglect. This reasoning initiated the Anglican, Methodist, Roman Catholic and Presbyterian missions which worked in the area. Some Maoris in Atene suggested to me that a less willing acceptance of this - 45 situation, combined with a more positive reaching out from the side of some local Churches, who have little or no contact with Maori society, would influence this pattern in the long run and be a positive step in the direction of real integration.

The second reaction was Maori withdrawal. Several informants told me: “The Maori does not want integration”, “The Maori is interested in Maoritanga, in his language, his art, his community, his religion, his land and not in integration”, “We do not want to lose our identity, we do not want to lose our Maori heritage”. This is the well-known fear that “the kahawai be swallowed by the shark”. Here I found the explanation for the fact that the Maoris often expressed a preference for a Maori Church, entirely under Maori control, a channel for expression of their views and emotions, for the achievement of status and the development of leadership. This was an important factor in the growth of the Maori Evangelical Fellowship in Atene, a group free from Pakeha control and yet not entirely exclusive, as the Pakeha worshipper was welcomed by the Maori majority group.

The third reaction in Atene, or rather a consequence of the given situation, was that the position of the purely Maori Churches was strengthened, particularly that of the Ratana. It was Ratana's ideal that, within the larger structure of New Zealand society, all Maoris should form a separate racial group bound together by their ancestry, common interests, the Maori language, and a religious faith. 69

The policy of integration has thus met with very limited success apart from the more or less forced assimilation in the Mormon Church. The Churches introduced a form of “compensatory” segregation as an emergency solution with the ultimate aim of creating integrated Church communities. However, in Atene it appeared that this policy was widening the gap between the races rather than narrowing it and that Maoris, because of Pakeha attitudes, were inclined to withdraw and congregate in Maori Churches.

Unity, Tolerance and Union

Proposition: In Maori society the social function of religious associations takes precedence over their religious function and theological conceptions.

I propose to discuss in this section three concepts which are significant for contemporary religious developments in Maori society in its relationships to general trends in national religious developments. It has already become clear that the Maori who has grown up in rural Maori districts (and this applies to the majority of the Atene Maoris) is socialised in such a way that he has a distinct attitude towards religious denominations. This has an effect on his attitude towards religious rites like baptisms and church services.

P. W. Hohepa informs us that in Waima Roman Catholics attended activities organised by the Methodists and joined in with them in services and hymn singing. The Methodist Church was the “oldest” religion and had always had Maori clergy. This Church was therefore part of the - 46 community and had a place in the ordering of co-operation amongst the majority of community members. 70 J. E. Ritchie observed a similar phenomenon of the sharing of members of various religious groups in services in Rakau. In Atene I found strong evidence that this attitude had persisted in an urban environment on ceremonial occasions.

I observed a local Maori elder and church-attending member of the local Anglican community actively taking part in a Ringatu service, when a group of members of this Church, to whom he was related by kinship bonds, visited the city. On the occasion of the opening of a memorial chapel near Atene, Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Methodists, Ratanas and Presbyterians all took part in one religious service, thus symbolising the unity of the local Maori community. When a prominent Maori elder died, Maori clergymen of the Anglican, Presbyterian and Ratana Churches performed the burial rites jointly without feeling or causing embarrassment. On the contrary, this expressed the unity of the Maori race.

How is this phenomenon to be interpreted? A. T. Ngata suggested that the Maori in his religious expression is trying to find out “the fundamental element beneath the superficial differences between sects and rituals, and believes consciously in a sort of a ‘universal religion’ and a unified God for the entire world, a religion that stresses allegiance to God above all other loyalties”. 71 I have no reason to disbelieve the genuineness of Ngata's statement and accept that this represents his own deepest convictions, but I cannot accept it as a valid generalisation. I also disagree with another observation which he noted as an “interesting and significant” tendency: “In recent years a form of tolerance between Maori members of different Churches or religious cults has become a pronounced feature of Maori social life”. Even though the last part of this statement is factual and correct, and applied similarly to Atene, I suggest that his use of the concept “tolerance” is inapt.

H. Kraemer defines “tolerance” as “an active concept”. “It pays respect to and leaves room for other convictions precisely on the basis of one's own firm conviction. In the last resort it springs from the conviction that in the world of the spirit genuine sincerity can only be born in complete freedom”. Kraemer then argues that the primitive world knows nothing of this kind of tolerance, but rather of an “easy-goingness” and “elegant indifference”, more of a passive than of an active nature. “This ‘easy-goingness’ underlies their so-called tolerance”. 72 This is a type of “tolerance” which does not derive its principles from religious conviction, but is rooted in a deep feeling of community responsibility.

There are two points here which are of importance for our discussion. In the first place the notion of “tolerance” as “easy-goingness” which is precisely what I observed in Maori society in Atene. In the second place the closing phrase that this “tolerance” is rooted in a deep feeling of community responsibility. This means that behind the forms of social co-operation amongst Maoris that have been described above there is no - 47 evidence of “religious toleration” but a priority of solid institutions: the family, the household, the sub-tribe (hapuu), the tribe or the Maori people as a whole, over differences in religious affiliation and religious beliefs.

This leads me to a third concept, that of union. The Maori has taken a lively interest in the movement towards Church union among the major New Zealand Protestant Churches in recent years. The Maoris belonging to these Churches denote this movement, of which they are part, through the Maori section of the National Council of Churches, as whakawhaanaunga, that is “making into one family”. One often hears expressions like “denominations don't mean a thing to us”. This is not surprising as they are considered to be Pakeha inventions that have been superimposed on Maori society. Looking at the problem from this angle the appeal of union to the Maoris is understandable. However, Church union, according to the Pakeha, can be achieved only when there is an agreement on basic doctrinal issues. These come far less to the fore in the Maori mind. As a consequence, the concept of union is much broader to the average Maori in spite of efforts, made within the Maori section of the National Council of Churches, to carry the customary co-operation to a deeper level as was done in an undated document “A Further Statement on Unity”.

The Maori concept of union refers basically to all Maoris whether they are Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, Baptists, Ratanas, Mormons or Ringatus and they visualise a much wider union than the corporate union of the Churches which is at present being negotiated. A senior Maori minister made the following statement: “In my opinion union is linked with the unity of the tribes and includes all religions, also Mormon and Ratanas”. At the same meeting of the Maori section an educated Maori layman said: “There are different channels to God. The Christian is not the only one and I am sure that the Almighty won't mind how we worship Him.” Without querying the sincerity behind these statements, they show that the Maori is inclined to think in terms of a union which extends well beyond that which is visualised by the Churches at present. It also explains a certain degree of impatience among the Maoris. Thinking in terms of the achieved unity in Maori society, as the times of warring tribes has long passed, statements like this: “Church union has alread ytaken place among the Maoris”, and “We are waiting for the Pakeha to catch up with us”, are to be expected.

The Church is seen as primarily a social institution and the religious function is subordinate to the social. Moreover, Maori and Pakeha appear frequently to be operating at completely different levels in religious matters and communication is not made easier by the different ways of using basic concepts. Because the two races speak on different wavelengths, what appears to be an advanced position as regards Church union may in fact have a negative effect on future union developments.

Old and New Religious Concepts

Proposition: Maori traditional beliefs, either independently held or amal- - 48 gamated with the Christian religion, continue to represent meaningful religious expressions.

In a paper “the Inter-ethnic Society in New Zealand”, J. E. Ritchie has said: “Even the tribal idea of God is dead” 73 presumably referring to traditional Maori beliefs. In Atene I found that a number of traditional beliefs were taken very seriously. We cannot dispose of these by just calling them “primitive superstitions”. H. Kraemer's warning with reference to the Moslem of West Java applies equally with reference to Maori beliefs: “We must be aware of the fact that we are speaking of what is sacred to others”. 74

The evidence I found of a persistence of traditional beliefs was threefold. In the first place I became aware of the meaning of the Maori Gods to the Maoris in Atene. On various ceremonial occasions I listened to the traditional chants in which the names of the Maori Gods were repeated. In reply to a question directed at a highly educated member of the Anglican Church asking him what he believed of this, the answer was: “I believe every word of it. To me these Gods are real. They represent to me ‘God’ in a higher sense”. During my field work several other informants confirmed this. I found further evidence on the occasion of the opening of a meeting-house attended by a great number of people including several Maoris from Atene. This “Maori” ceremony held at daybreak, prior to the official opening with an interdenominational church service, was not performed in disrespect to Christianity, but it was “the lifting of the tapu”. This ceremony included ancient chants and the invocation of Tane, the god of the forest, to remove his spirit from the timber so that people could use the house without fear of evil consequences. After the ceremonies had been completed those present stepped across the threshold.

In the second place I refer to the tangi ceremonial as I found it observed in Atene, particularly the tapu of the graveyards. No one would happily leave the cemetery without some form of cleansing ceremony. Also included in the funeral ceremonies was the takahi whare, the tramping of the house, that is, to walk through the whole property where a person had died or lain in state, wailing, weeping and saying prayers. The younger people in Atene were taught by their elders to observe these customs. How deeply rooted they are in Maori life was evident from the fact that the Mormon Maoris in spite of the fact that their Church had opposed the traditional tangi for many years, still observed these customs and took part in its ceremonial, though they assured me that it did not have the same religious value to them. They simply wished to conform to the group.

In the third place I recorded a number of cases where reference was made to phenomena of nature, which had a meaning to the Maori as they denoted activities of superhuman beings. When in 1966 Queen Salote of Tonga died in Auckland, the thunderstorm at that time announced the death of a great chief. A Maori elder, and an officebearer of a Christian Church, said to me, when we were caught in a thunderstorm on a journey - 49 to a hui: “You'll see in the paper this week that an important chief has died”. Sylvia Ashton-Warner wrote that the sky darkened and lightning and thunder accompanied the procession when the casket containing the body of Maharaia Winiata was taken back to the Judea meeting-house at Tamateakaiwhenua. 75 The rainbow in its various positions is either a good or a bad omen. A young, educated Christian Maori in Atene told me that he would be frightened if a fantail were to come near his room. A whirlwind, I was told, meant a warning of death. Questioning a number of informants on the value they placed on these old beliefs, several replied: “I am a Christian, but I still believe this. These are signs from God, given to the Maori”.

Schwimmer reports from the Ngati Wai territory in the North, that one of the features to have survived there was the belief in guardian animals, deities who have entered a specific member of an animal species and are named after an ancestor of the hapuu whose members it is their function to protect and from whom human beings derive their mana. 76 I did not find any evidence of this in Atene.

Besides the persistence of typical Maori beliefs through the interaction between Maori religion and Christianity, Christian concepts received a Maori slant and certain Maori traditional concepts were incorporated in Christian beliefs. The best example of the latter is the use of the concept Io, still believed by many to be the supreme God of the ancient Maori. I have referred to this already in connection with the Mormons, but I found that members of other Churches also related Io to the Christian God. According to A. T. Ngata, students of the Maori School of Learning (Te Whare Wananga), where traditional Maori beliefs represented an important part of the curriculum, did not see in the fundamental doctrines of the new religion anything that differed violently from the teachings of the higher forms of their own beliefs. 77 Similarly, a number of present-day Maori Christians advance the theory that the unity of both beliefs is found in the Io concept.

The concepts of heaven and hell introduced by the missions, appeared to occur in the religious world of the Maoris in Atene. A. M. Wright asserts that the ancient Maori had no fear of death, because he had no fear of the hereafter. He records a sermon preached to a dying Maori, which refers to the Maori concept Te Reinga, the abode of the departed spirits: “Those who do not believe in Christianity, are the Devil's sergeants here, and will be slaves in Te Reinga where they will dwell in fire for ever and ever: and it is impossible for the tongue to describe the pain and torment which they will endure. Those who believe in the Great God, will be taken to Heaven and it is impossible for the tongue to describe the happiness which they will enjoy there for ever”. 78

The belief of the early missionaries was that the Church could only properly exist against the patterns of culture and morals as they existed in England and therefore breaking down the native culture was a pre- - 50 requisite of the adoption of the new religion. However, at the same time the missionaries being forced to translate their message into Maori used Maori concepts and thus introduced Maori traditional religion into Christianity. The result was that the content of religious concepts changed as Christianity was superimposed on Maori religion. The old Maori form of baptism, the tohi rite, was identified with Christian baptism, and so a traditional rite was preserved in a new form. 79

Maori Christians were taught to say prayers before and after meals, but they received a specific Maori meaning. As some informants suggested, they were associated with the tapu concept. A prayer before the meal was meant to make the food sacred (whakatapu), the closing prayer to make it common again (whakanoa).

Schwimmer has pointed out that some of the behaviour of Maoris is intelligible in terms of Maori conceptions and other behaviour in terms of “new” religions, which were superimposed on the Maori way of life. Many others can be explained if one assumes a dialectic between the two systems and the taking up of intermediate positions. Schwimmer refers here to death customs, comparing the traditional conception of death, the unrestrained wailing at funerals with the prayerful funeral service. 80 This has to be kept in mind when one studies Maori religious behaviour, as it accounts for a number of phenomena in religious life. It is not unusual to hear this referred to as syncretism, but I consider that this term has been more usefully employed to denote the conscious co-ordination of different religions as well as the organic growing together of religions, their views and their practices into a unity. 81 Even though the adaptation of Christianity to the indigenous Maori religions by the missionaries was partly conscious, I suggest that the concept of amalgamation, denoting the mixing or combining of elements from both Maori and Christian traditions, expresses this process more adequately.

Sociologically the meeting of the old and the new is significant, because it became a contributing factor in the emergence of new religious groups. The missions thus functioned as “midwife” at the birth of new indigenous churches. Names of prophets like Te Ua Haumene, the founder of the Pai Marire or Hau Hau movement, Te Whiti, Te Kooti, the founder of the Ringatu Church, and Ratana, are associated with these groups. In all the associations we meet strong Maori features like healing, belief in omina dreams, and visions. Thus traditional beliefs continue to have a meaning to the Maori in Atene and beyond.

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Memoir No. 37
Supplement to The Journal of the Polynesian Society
Religious Associations and the Urban Maori

PART 2: PAGES 51-92


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Proposition: In Maori society religious loyalties are easily overshadowed by kinship loyalties, 82 though religion sometimes has a disruptive effect on kin relationships.

“In all societies, ours included, the basic norms of the group, among which the norms of kinship behaviour stand high, are closely linked with religious beliefs and the worship of the ancestors, the founding fathers who passed on the social norms to the living generations.” 83

This certainly holds true of traditional Maori society. As the traditional integration between religion and society has, to a large extent, broken down, so too has the relationship between kinship and religion. Moreover, outside pressures have split the one-time homogeneous society and produced a kind of a religious pluralism, which has affected social relationships. Efforts to restore the unity of society, with religion, in a new form, as its basis, have failed, as we have seen in the description of the Ratana Movement and of other religious sub-groups.

The Effects of Religion on Kinship

In Atene the household, comprising father, mother and children, but sometimes extended by some temporarily or permanently attached kinsfolk is the basic kinship unit. Several informants emphasised the importance of religious unity within the household and indicated the significance of religion as the basis of family life and of worshipping together. The households which took part in religious rites—that is, those who belonged to the “in-group” of the various religious associations—usually said morning prayers on waking up, or anyway early in the morning. This is in line with traditional Maori custom, if we accept as generally valid E. Best's information that any ritual performance of any importance as a rule took place early in the morning. The same author offers us the following explanation of this practice: “It was an old belief that they were more effective when carried out with an empty stomach”. 84

It was usually the head of the household who conducted these prayers, but other members, including children, often participated. Informants told me that family prayers were usually said in Maori even when Maori was no longer the language of the home. Like morning devotions, evening family worship comprised sometimes only prayers, but often included a - 52 reading and the singing of a Maori hymn, accompanied by guitar. In some instances a brief discussion on a religious subject was included.

These devotions were characteristic of the loyal members of all Churches, even though the forms differed. The Ratanas did not include Bible-readings in such religious rites and depended mainly on the small Ratana Service Book. Roman Catholics used formal church prayers. The Bible was commonly used by Protestant groups. Family devotions received strong emphasis in the Mormon Church where they included blessing at meals and laying on of hands in cases of sickness. Prayers were usually impromptu and spontaneous. The importance of the Morman “family hour” is clearly expressed in the foreword to the 1966 “Family Home Evening Manual”, addressed to the “parents in Zion”: “One of the most urgent commandments the Lord has given to parents is to teach their children to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, . . . to pray, and walk rightly before the Lord.”

During my field work I was invited to a “family hour” in a Mormon home. The mother, who of the parents was the more loyal Mormon, conducted the devotions and study. The children took part by reading the Bible references and by answering questions. Included also were the singing of a hymn from the Mormon Hymnbook and special prayers for the president of the Church.

Family prayers in Maori homes were also said whenever a minister of religion visited the family, but Maori clergymen confirmed my suspicion that the observance of family prayers in Atene was not as regular as it used to be.

A typical characteristic of the Maori households in Atene was the phenomenon of “multi-affiliation”, that is, that various religious affiliations occurred within one and the same household and this included in some cases the older established Churches, as well as Mormons, Ratanas and fundamentalists. There were households in which as many as five religious groups were represented. Informants maintained that this religious diversity did not interfere with family relationships and was not a cause of dissention, indeed they frequently shared each other's religious activities. Generally speaking, J. E. Ritchie's statement that “diversity does not mean that the family is unable to operate as a social unit in religious matters” 85 was true for Atene. This, however, did not mean that religion was never a disintegrating factor within the household. Religion did sometimes prove to be a disruptive force, doing harm to kinship ties, as could be expected when new forces bring about the formation of new groupings within the traditional society, and as a consequence interfere with existing sociological ties. Some husbands objected to their wives' religious observances, and quarrels about baptism occurred when spouses had different religious loyalties. A mother whose daughter had turned “Seventh-Day” said to me: “My daughter tells me that she is closer to God since she joined that Church, but I say, ‘It's a nuisance.’ Before, she always did the lawns for me on Saturdays, but Saturday is now her holy - 53 day. I don't want her to do the lawns on Sunday, because that's the day of the Lord.” The disruptive effect sometimes extended beyond the smaller family group effecting wider kinship ties, and isolating the household concerned.

Fewer conflicts arose when members of the same household belonged to different groups of the National Council of Churches, whether this was Church of England, Methodist or Presbyterian. They increased when the Roman Catholic Church, or one of the fundamentalist associations, was involved. Tension was not evident when one of the marriage partners or a member of the household belonged to the Ratana Church, but a high incidence of conflicts occurred when Mormons were involved. Mormon leaders confirmed that this kind of conflict was common in their Church.

One occasion when religious conflicts showed up was on marriage. Joan Metge states that “a Registry office ceremony was symptomatic of opposition from parents or of religious divergence between the two sides.” 86 This was true of Atene where the Registry wedding was definitely a last resort. If the religious affiliation of one of the partners was strong, his or her Church would be chosen. If the religious affiliation of both partners was weak, convenience was the most important criterion for the choice of an officiating minister. Church regulations restricted Church of England clergymen and as a consequence Roman Catholic priests, Presbyterian or Methodist ministers were asked to conduct weddings of religiously mixed unions between Mormon and Ratana people, Mormons and Ringatu, or Church of England and Ratana. Wishes of the kin group were taken into consideration and frequently the availability of a Maori minister rather than church affiliation determined the choice.

Children born of religiously mixed unions usually followed the mother if she had a strong religious tie, but, in fact, very few of the religiously mixed households took part in any religious ceremonies at all. Of our sample of two hundred and fifty-nine, I recorded forty-three as religiously mixed. Thirty-five of these never attended any church, five attended occasionally and only three regularly.

Table 10 shows the pattern of mixed unions in Atene, and Table 11 shows the incidence of mixed marriages within the various religious groups. In both cases only those groups with a substantial number of Maori members have been listed.

The Effects of Kinship on Religion

“The congregational type of religion is connected with urban groups. This is the consequence of the natural recession in the importance of blood groupings”. 87 This hypothesis contains a great deal of truth, but it is less applicable to Maori society than to those groups which Weber had in mind.

It was evident that on occasion religious unity was analogous to kinship unity. Religious groups were not necessarily kinsfolk, but sometimes such groups took the place of kinship groups. In one instance a

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(Sample: two hundred and fifty-nine households)
  Churches Number
Church of England Roman Catholic 9
Church of England Methodist 1
Church of England Mormon 3
Church of England Ratana 6
Roman Catholic Church Ratana 6
Roman Catholic Church Methodist 1
Methodist Mormon 1
Methodist Ratana 1
Mormon Ratana 3
Churches Mixed Marriages Homogeneous Marriages
Church of England 19 59
Ratana 16 50
Roman Catholic 16 45
Mormon 7 19
Methodist 3 20

family refused—on religious grounds—to make use of the assistance of kin for shifting house on a Sunday, the only day the kin-group was available and a truck could be provided free of charge. The church-people took over and made it possible for the family to move on the Saturday. The spiritual tie functioned as a pseudo “blood” tie.

However, kinship ties continued to have a great effect on religious behaviour in Atene. Some families belonging to the Ratana Church would travel ten miles to a kin group service rather than worship in Atene with neighbours. When an officiating minister was a relative, close or distant, the kin group might attend his service whatever his religious group.

In some instances a change of religious affiliation was as much a kin group as an individual matter. A Ringatu of middle age, who wanted to join another Church, made a long journey to discuss this matter with his parents and when his father did not agree, he felt that he could not take the step. A Maori clergyman informed me that when he had decided to apply for admission to a theological college, he first went home to discuss the matter with his grandfather and with his mother (his father had died) and to ask their consent, in spite of the fact that he was well into his twenties.

In fundamentalist circles, great concern was shown to “save” kin members as is illustrated in the following example: “After my conversion I first worked at my husband and now I am trying to get my mother and sister along.” Religious re-integregation of the kin group was sought after.

It is evident that various forces play a role in the relationship between - 55 religion and kinship. The most outstanding feature and characteristic of the Maori in Atene was the “unity in diversity” or as a Maori proverb reads: “There may be quarrels in the family, but peace is soon established”.

At the same time it should be noted that, though the association of religious observations with kin meets a need of the urban Maori, it is a meagre substitute for the much deeper integregation of religion and kinship in the traditional Maori society of pre-European days or in the early contact period.


Proposition : The Churches have made substantial contributions in the field of Maori education and in return have benefited themselves by receiving devoted leaders and supporters of their religious groups, but change is imminent.

Home, Church, School

When discussing the relationship between religion and education, it is appropriate to consider three different aspects. In the first place, children are exposed to religious influences in their own homes and the religious affiliation of the home determines to a large extent religious behaviour later in life. M. Argyle writes: “There can be no doubt that the attitudes of parents are among the most important factors in the formation of religious attitudes. The situation at home is important for the child's identifying itself with the beliefs of the parents”. 88 He further points out that harmonious or less harmonious relationships have an effect as well, and that the child tends to adopt the mother's faith when parents hold differing beliefs. As a rule there is also a correlation between the strength of religious teaching at home and other means of religious instruction, chosen by the parents for the child. A headmistress of a Roman Catholic primary school in Atene stated: “the religious impact of the school is strengthened if the atmosphere at home is strong for a start”.

In the second place, religious education is provided by the religious associations in the form of Sunday-schools, Bible-classes, church services or other educational church activities which do not fall within these categories. Methods differ in the various Churches. It has been asserted that “family Churches”, in which church service and Sunday-school are combined, and parents attend with their children, retain children longer and more join the Church. The success of the Mormon Church supports this hypothesis.

Thirdly, as an extension of the general educational programme of the Churches, ministers and laymen conduct classes at the public schools under the “Nelson system”, which provides for a maximum of thirty minutes religious instruction per week. In Atene the minister's association controlled this activity.

In the following discussion I restrict myself to Maori educational institutions, but it is important to remember that the aforementioned - 56 aspects of Christian education are contributing factors to religious behaviour, and that it is difficult to assess the interaction between these and the religious education received at schools under the control of religious groups.

The Roman Catholic Church and the Mormon Church have placed the greatest emphasis on church schools although the Ratana Church established a primary school in the early days of the movement, controlled by a komiti kura (school committee), and recognised by the Department of Education. In 1933 this school was taken over by the Department and registered as “Ratana Native School”. The Ratanas in Atene and beyond have placed less emphasis on post-primary education than most other religious associations.

The increased facilities for education at State schools and the growth of the Maori population have resulted in a lower percentage of Maoris attending the Maori church secondary schools. However, most of the colleges have held their own with intermittent periods of dwindling numbers. During the period of my fieldwork, the Presbyterian Church conducted a fund-raising campaign for the extension of Turakina college. People in Atene were asked to take part but the local Maoris showed very little interest. This Dominion-wide appeal failed due to lack of response.

The contribution of the Churches in the field of education has been recognised by educational authorities. Mr D. N. Jillet made the following statement at a conference of Maori students: “Maori colleges have a fine tradition of service to the Maori people. Most of their distinguished leaders have been educated at one of these schools”. 89

  Roman Catholic Church of England Mormon
Primary 45 - -
Secondary 10 2 4

In Atene there was no special Maori school, but as Table 12 shows, a certain number of Maori children attended church schools outside the suburb, either as boarders or as day pupils. In the early days of contact, Atene had a Church of England primary school, but this institution was “secularised” after the Education Act 1877, which provided free education as a charge of the State. The Roman Catholics never accepted the divorce of religion from education. In Atene there were two Roman Catholic primary schools, while seven Roman Catholic secondary schools were within reach; but only one of these schools was a Maori college. Of the four Mormon secondary school students, two were at the Mormon college in Hamilton, two at colleges abroad.

The parents' choice of school did not always correlate with the religious affiliation of the family concerned. In the case of the Roman Catholics - 57 and the Mormons, the primary motive was always the quest for religious education, but for the other Churches the motives varied considerably. I recorded the following reasons, ordered in accordance with the emphasis placed on them by my informants: controlled environment, discipline, record of academic achievement of a school, prestige, tradition, the example of great leaders who had been pupils at the school, availability of special courses (particularly Maori language, culture and tradition) and religion. Kinship (the school having been attended by relatives) and economic reasons (lower fees of the better endowed schools) also played an important role.

The Effect of Religion on Education

In traditional Maori society there was a close link between religion and education. Maori mythology tells of the god Tane journeying upwards to the twelfth and highest Heaven, to obtain from the Supreme God, lo, three baskets of learning for the use of men on earth. One of these baskets contained prayers and ritual, another, peace and love, and the third, skills and knowledge. In Te Whare Wananga, the Maori school of learning, the occult lore was transmitted through these baskets, which Tane had obtained. The teachings of the tohunga, the spiritual leader, who understood and controlled the world of the spirits, were an important aspect of the education of the chief.

Even though it was not for this reason, it was in line with Maori tradition when the missionaries provided an educational programme in association with their new religion. When we look at the aims of some of these schools we see clearly the intention of the missions.

St Stephen's college, founded in 1848 by Bishop Selwyn, was established as “a school for religious education, industrial training and instruction in the English language for the children of both races in New Zealand.” 90

Turakina Maori Girls' College founded in 1905, “was born out of concern for the disastrously high Maori death rate and, in particular, out of concern for the appallingly high infant mortality of the race. The college was established with the aim of training a group of the womanhood of the race to make homes in which hygiene and health and happiness obtained and, most of all, that they might make homes permeated by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ”. 91

The aim of the Te Whaiti Nui a Toi Agricultural School 92 was to train fully equipped Christian citizens with a competent knowledge of the use of land and its kindred crafts, and tried to create a Christian atmosphere, giving religious instruction at family devotions, while on Sundays the boys attended the services of the local Presbyterian church.

Summing up, we find that these schools were founded to promote religious education, industrial training, training in the English language, integration and responsible home-making. The same applies to the educational institutions of other Churches.

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At the time of my field work the Department of Education recognised ten Maori secondary church schools, some of which, however, were not entirely Maori, as they had opened their doors to a number of Pakeha pupils and to some from other parts of the Pacific. Of these schools four were Roman Catholic, three Anglican, one Methodist and two Presbyterian. The Presbyterian agricultural college has since closed down. The Mormon college at Hamilton attracts a considerable number of Maoris, correlated with the percentage of Maori members of this religious group. Some Churches also run church hostels for secondary school students and apprentices.

The Effect of Education on Religion

Almost all informants agreed that the schools make an impact on the religious behaviour of their pupils later in life. Several old pupils emphasised that they were more receptive to religious influences when the institution was a Maori school. There was a deeper sense of belonging. A similar positive appreciation was shown by girls who had boarded at secondary school church hostels. Social influence is usually greater when an institution constitutes a reference group and in some cases social pressure had changed the religious affiliation of the students. Two informants told me that their school was always referred to as a Roman Catholic school and they felt that they, as pupils of the school, wanted to be identified with the group and belong fully. In these cases the attendance at a church school had initiated a change of religious affiliation. This was reported as one of the reasons why the Mormon Church places such great emphasis on the Hamilton College as a missionary institution. The church schools of all denominations have been particularly important as recruiting places for Maori clergy.

The reactions were completely different among those who had lived in church hostels for Maori apprentices. Expressions like, “I hated the fact that religion was rammed down our throats”, and an aversion to the pressure to attend services of a particular Church were evidence of their less responsive attitude. A mission leader assured me that church-run hostels provided a pre-disposition for Christian experience but in Atene I found that the effect of these institutions was rather negative with respect to religious interests.

More important perhaps was the observation that in Atene the attitude towards Maori church schools was changing. Some informants, who had attended church schools themselves, were emphatic in their statements that they would not send their children away from home, that they preferred co-education, that the standard of State schools was often higher, that they wanted “integration” and, last but not least, that they were inclined to take a broader view of education than they believed was offered in church schools, which were denoted as “conservative” and “old-fashioned”.

A similar point is made by Paul Tillich, 93 the “school” to which - 59 he refers may not correlate with our church institutions. However, as some church schools are inclined to make general education subordinate to the religious aspect, this article is relevant to our situation. Tillich suggests that the future of the church schools will depend on what the effect of church education will be on the present generation of pupils in a changing world. He points out that the church school is dependent on a small section of the religious life, a special denomination or a special religious group. It does not represent the spirit of the society as a whole. Therefore its life can fall into a state of isolation, a concentration on itself, its traditions and symbols. He then continues to explain how a pupil, who is inducted into the reality and symbols of a special denomination or confession through the community of the school, normally comes to a point at which he doubts, or turns away from, or attacks, the reality of the symbols into which he has been inducted. Living in a world hardly touched by the traditions which have come to him, he inescapably becomes sceptical, both from a religious and a cultural point of view. He feels that there is conflict between a more humanistic orientated education, with an emphasis on the development of all human potentialities, individually and socially, and the emphasis on induction into a set of practical and theoretical symbols. He suggests that Christian education places too much emphasis on answering questions which have not been asked. “These words are like stones, thrown at them from which sooner or later they must turn away”. In his opinion the educator must be aware of the existentially important questions in the minds of his pupils. A primitive liberalism with respect to the religious symbols must be transformed into a conceptional interpretation without destroying the power of the symbols. “The conquest of liberalism without the loss of symbols is the great task for religious education”. 94

This reflects some of the underlying feelings in regard to church schools among the more educated Maoris in Atene, and provides an additional reason for an unfavourable view of religious instruction in general. Church schools may therefore have a negative effect on religion.

Pondering on the present, however, should not make us lose sight of the basic proposition that the church schools have made a notable contribution towards society by educating young Maoris and equipping them better to take their place in their Church and in the community at large. A. T. Ngata wrote “ . . . on the whole the religious exercises and the secular instruction accommodated under one roof continues to exercise an abiding influence on the lives of the future leaders of the Maori race. To this element may be ascribed the maintenance of the influence of the orthodox Churches among large sections of the Maori people”. 95

Perhaps Ngata would have phrased this statement differently today, but even now this influence would certainly be less without the church school-trained Maori clergy.

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Proposition: The segregation of religion and conduct, to a large extent due to the European way of life, combined with the migration from rural districts to the towns, contributes to the disintegration of Maori society.

To discuss the relationship between religion and conduct would have been incongruous in traditional Maori society. “The ancient Maori was used to thinking of religion and the civil law as one”. 96

The tohunga took an important part in the control of behaviour, exerting, as ritual leader, great influence through religious sanctions. In the Maori community religion took the place of what the Pakeha calls “civil law” as a restraining and controlling force. When Christianity arrived and clashed with Maori customs such as polygamy, concubinage, slavery, utu or the vendetta, and most of all cannibalism, customs which were deeply interwoven with the whole Maori way of life, belief became separated from practice. Christianity was thus experienced as a religion of a completely different kind. More confusion was caused when Pakehas were found to be involved in doctrinal quarrels, sectarian rivalries and intellectual interpretations. 97

Among its many other effects, increasing urbanisation has accelerated the divorce of religion from daily life. The migrants to the city have been called the “disenchanted” and migration has caused frustration and subsequently led to crime and prostitution, thus causing social disintegration. J. E. Ritchie is certainly right when he objects to the suggestion that monogamy is being supplanted by serial polygamy in the modern industrial environment, but on the other hand urbanisation is frequently a prime cause of serious domestic difficulties. Some, as Ritchie further suggests, hold the view—which he himself calls “irrational and oversanguine” and as such not acceptable—“that crime and similar social disruptions are a built-in price which must be paid for the advantage of urban industrial participation and that Maori crime is a product of a transient situation which will become worse before it becomes better, but that it will become better sooner or later”. 98

What is the relationship between religion and conduct? While some sociologists have asserted that crime is very low among people who have no religion (assuming that such people exist) others have maintained precisely the opposite—that the cause of crime is to be found in the lack of religion. 99 Dostojewski has said: “If there is no God and no absolute value, everything is permitted”. 100 However, there appears to be a general consensus that there exists some kind of an association between religiosity and morality, although it seems fair to suggest that it may not be explicit religion which controls man. The nihilist, who may totally reject current beliefs, is not necessarily immoral and the decently living self-sufficient bourgeoisie may be either hot or cold to values of a religious nature, but both groups have internalised moral - 61 values, which often have their origin in religion. The Report of the Special Committee on Youth Delinquency in Children and Adolescents states: “Consensus of opinion before the committee is that there is a lack of spiritual values in the community. This is not merely because the majority of people do not go to church, but because of the general temper of society and standards of morality. Most people would affirm some sort of belief in God, but are unable to relate it to their daily lives”. And “the recent disclosures in the Hutt Valley indicate largely nominal church affiliation in most of cases under review”. “The Church is a major contributor towards the development of moral character”. 101

A French authority on criminology, Lombrose, emphasises that religious fervour helps to combat and overcome crime and immorality. 102

J. M. Yinger has summarised the logically possible relations between religion and morals and arrives at four categories:

  • (1) Morality is an inseparable part of religion;
  • (2) Religion and morality are inseparable and identical; it is wrong to draw a distinction between moral life and religious life;
  • (3) Religion and morals are unrelated;
  • (4) Religion and morals are closely related, but they differ in their emphasis on morality as the “senior” artner; religion supports morality and gives fresh emphasis to it. 103
The Effects of Religion on Conduct

Generally speaking no special efforts were made by the Churches in Atene to influence conduct apart from what was achieved in the normal course of pastoral work and teaching. This means, in fact, that only a limited group was subject to this influence. However, the different approach to conduct in the various religious associations was significant.

The Mormons placed a strong emphasis on morality. Obedience to the ordinances of the Church, which included the disapproval of liquor and gambling, besides other restrictions which are part and parcel of the Mormon ethos and the expression of good behaviour, is important to achieve “deification”. Th. O'Dea is correct in saying that some underestimate the contribution Mormonism has made to character formation and the moral life of the people, 104 and this is one reason why Mormonism provides a meaningful way of life to many Maoris. One of their members said to me: “Before we became Mormons we were heavy drinkers and we even gave beer to our children. We have changed our lives completely and for this we must give credit to the Mormon Church.

The fundamentalists also stressed Christian conduct and referred especially to drink, gambling, smoking and de facto marriage relationships. A member of the Pentecostal Church said: “Before my conversion the whisky bottle was my ‘God’. Our house was a devil's den. Then I got right off the satanic habits of drinking and smoking.” Life among this - 62 group is, to a great extent, controlled by the hope of salvation. This belief in salvation as a kind of a process, already casts a shadow before it in this life. The person who has become a Christian is “born again”, that is, he undergoes a sudden transformation of his life and this must be manifest in his way of living. The great emphasis on the individual and the intensely personal character of the religion of this group—which includes the moral welfare of the individual—overshadows the interest in social redemption, that is, moving out of one's own group to uplift society.

The constitution of the Maori Evangelical Fellowship contains explicit rules concerning discipline. It states that cases of alleged misconduct shall be investigated by the pastor and the deacons and, adhering literally to biblical rules, 105 they have to be discussed first with the people concerned and, if no satisfactory solution can be found, a subsequent discussion of the issue at stake is held in the presence of two or three witnesses and ultimately by the Fellowship (the congregation) as a whole.

Little can be said about the older established Churches. The Roman Catholic Church as well as the Church of England and the Methodists preach “innerweltliche Askese”, that is, they advise against the use or rather unrestricted use of alcohol (but not of tobacco), discourage gambling and certain forms of amusement, but they have no specific sanctions to support this. During my fieldwork one effort was made by an independent group, which called itself the “Council of Temperance Education, Maori Section” to attack the problems of liquor consumption, but this was not supported by the Churches.

The impact of Christianity on behaviour by the older Churches has sometimes been over-emphasised as is apparent in the frequently quoted story of Taratoa 106, the slain Maori warrior, who is said to have carried a copy of “the rules of the battle”, on which these words were written: “If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink”. 107 This, however, is an isolated case and no indication that the moral standards of the Maori in general were significantly influenced by Christianity.

In the Ratana Church the situation is more complicated. In an article in Landfall Lloyd Geering writes, “Ratana was a great influence for good. His community were noted for their high moral standards and peaceful behaviour”. 108 J. Henderson informs us that Ratana's first action when he assumed religious leadership was to throw all beer out of the house and to smash the telephone over which he had, it is said, operated as a local bookmaker. He preached against drink henceforth. 109

The conditions of membership of the Ratana Movement in the early days were:

  • (1) Absolute faith in the Christian God.
  • (2) Renouncing Maori superstitions.
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  • (3) Baptism and marriage to be sincerely honoured, greater care for children, abstinence from intoxicating beverages, limitation of cigarette smoking, family prayers to be said in every home, tangi to be curtailed.

It would be incorrect to suggest that these rules have been abandoned completely. At the meetings in Ratana Pa and at hui I attended elsewhere no liquor was allowed. The uniformed Ratana police exercised strict control and the standard of behaviour was very high.

On the other hand, as in other religious groups, not all members lived up to the ideal. At present there is certainly no objection to smoking, and the consumption of liquor in hotels or at home is not frowned upon. Even the members of the “inner-group” of the Ratana Church, make their way to the T.A.B. Without any scruples. De facto marriage relationships are tolerated more here than in other Churches and they cannot be explained as a persisting form of “Maori marriage”. B. Biggs informs us that even though in traditional Maori society young women were “permitted great sexual freedom” and “no premium was placed on virginity, adultery involving a married woman was a serious crime”. 110 I found these general observations confirmed in Atene.

The Effect of Moral Conduct on Religion

There was ample evidence in Atene that people who had adopted certain forms of behaviour and realised that these were not in agreement with the teachings of their Church felt that they had to withdraw from participation even before the church courts took action. An ex-member of the Brethren Church told me that, since his legal marriage was broken up and he was now living in a de facto relationship, he could no longer go to church. A Seventh Day Adventist, who had adopted the habit of taking an occasional glass of beer and was most conscious of the fact that his Church took a strong view of drinking, withdrew voluntarily. This conflict was not so strongly felt by members of the older established Churches and of the Ratana Church, as can be inferred from the preceding section. Members of these associations were less aware of this conflict of values. A heavy gambler whose activities were well known to his Church, was a Sunday-school teacher in a religious group which strongly objected to any form of lottery.

On the other hand, moral decline caused a certain degree of concern to some core-members of the Ratana Church in Atene and led to a call for “renewal”. One faithful member of this group said to me, “The liquor is the downfall of the Church”. They felt that “apostles” should lead in abstaining from alcoholic beverages. This attitude is understandable for as Pope writes: “The reaction of religious institutions must be studied, here as elsewhere, by observation of the ministers, as it was through them that the institutions most often became articulate. Their statements and actions may be taken, roughly, as representative of the Churches of which they were taken pastors”. 111

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Another leading man in the Ratana Church—referring to drinking and gambling—compared the present situation in the Church with the days when Moses was on the mountain and the people danced around the golden calf. 112

One of the Ratana people from Atene showed me the holy places at the Ratana Pa. When we were looking at the side-entrance of Ratana's residence he pointed at the shadow of a cross on the panel of the door. This panel, my informant said, has been changed, but the cross reappeared. During this particular gathering, which was not as well attended as previous meetings of the same kind, the cross was leaning over to one side. This was explained to me as a sign of the moral and spiritual decline of the movement.

Religious Affiliation and Crime

In spite of my limited data I refer briefly to the relationship between church and crime in Atene, because the correlation between religious affiliation and criminal behaviour appeared to me of some significance.

When we speak of crime in relation to Maori society it should be remembered that most offences lie in the social and economic field. As economic factors are more prominent in Maori offending than personality disorders. Another characteristic is that, although there is a high percentage of Maori offenders in the younger age group, it is not so high among more mature people. In Atene it was obvious that the crime rate was lower for people who actually took an active part in church activities. 113 Some Maoris were aware of a relationship between religion and crime and repeatedly I was asked to give guidance as to how effective religious education could be achieved, as they felt that this would help their delinquent child.

This is illustrated in Table 13, based on a check of the religious affiliation of Maori offenders over 16 years of age, which I was able to carry out with the co-operation of the Department of Justice. Even though the smallness of the sample precludes firm conclusions, the figures reflect certain trends, particularly the high percentage of offenders among the Roman Catholics and the Anglicans, as well as among those who claimed no religion.

During my field work in Atene there was an outbreak of youth delinquency in which twenty-two Maori children belonging to 14 households were involved in law-breaking activities. Table 14 shows the distribution of these families over the religious organisations. Most of them were rather weak social units and therefore not representative of the area as such. In all cases the affiliation with the respective Churches was only nominal.

Contact with European society and Christianity has disrupted Maori society and so contributed to its disintegration. This has been accelerated by increasing migration to the urban areas which has also taken the younger Maoris away from the control of their elders. It is partly due - 65 of course to the limited contact of the religious associations with Maori society and their subsequent inability to exert a great deal of influence. The positive effect of religion on conduct was therefore observable only in some smaller groups. If it is assumed that the relationship between religion and conduct is one of prime importance (and I would make such an assumption) then this situation is contributing to the lasting disintegration of Maori society.

  C.of E. R.C. Ratana Meth. Mormon Small Groups No. Re. Total
1961 4 3 3 - - 1 1 12
1962 2 - 2 4 - - - 8
1963 8 9 1 2 1 - 1 22
1964 3 4 1 - 2 2 1 13
1965 - 2 1 - 2 - - 5
Total 17 18 8 6 5 3 3 60
Percentage 28.3 30.0 13.3 10.0 6.3 5.0 5.0 -
Area Percentage of Church 22.8 11.3 17.7 7.3 7.3 6.4 1.6 -
Church Number of Familes Involved (total 14)
Church of England 1
Roman Catholic 5
Ratana 5
Methodist 1
Mormon 1
Smaller Groups (UMM) 1

Proposition: While allowing for the fact that language establishes the identity of an ethnic group and that the use of the Maori language has frequently contributed to group cohesion, in the present situation the language has a disintegrating effect on some sub-societal groups of a religious nature and thus a negative effect on religion.

“The language is the shrine of the people's soul, and however much need there may be that people should have a competent knowledge of another language (as is necessary at present) should they lose their own tongue, they have lost the most inward shrine of their being. Maoritanga is the realisation of the value of this most sacred heritage of the Maori - 66 person and race—his language—a treasure of which he may well be proud, the very breath of his soul”. 114

The importance of the Maori language has been stressed in recent years. Maori courses have been introduced at two universities and in Auckland students can now major in Maori Studies for an Arts degree. Maori is also taught through the Departments of University Extension and the availability of better textbooks has increased the teaching of Maori in secondary schools. If the assumption that Maori is a dying language is correct, this death is a remarkably slow process. However, in Maori society the function of Maori language may change. The emphasis may fall more on its ceremonial importance and it may also retain value as a status symbol.

A typical characteristic of the Maori population in Atene was that often people in their thirties and forties were taking a renewed interest in their mother tongue. This was consistent with reports from other areas. Comparatively few children knew Maori but, as long as one of the parents spoke the language, the child usually understood the meaning. Visits of relatives from the rural districts or visits to the home marae extended the children's vocabulary. Knowledge of the Maori language and traditions was highly valued in Atene. Many Maori people would agree with B. R. Kora when he wrote: “I cannot emphasise too much the importance of embracing our language and chants and keeping them Maori, for with their loss, the loss of our identity is inevitable”. 115 Language thus establishes identity within the group and expresses an inner belonging.

The Effect of Religion on the Language

From the early days of contact missionaries have emphasised the importance of the Maori language, and through the years they have made an important contribution to its preservation. An early missionary worker of the Church of England, Thomas Kendall, “is credited with doing the first service of reducing the Maori language to a written form”. 116 In co-operation with Professor Lee he prepared a grammar, which was issued by the Church Missionary Society in 1820. Although various portions of a Maori Bible had been published before, the first full edition of the New Testament was published in 1837, and the Old Testament was completed in 1868. These translations were revised several times. The most recent revision dates from 1958.

Prayer Books in Maori have been published by all the larger Churches. The latest addition was the Maori Service Book of the Presbyterian Church, published in 1933. In addition to the Maori Book of Common Prayer, local publications of the service of Holy Communion were available to the Auckland and Wellington Maoris belonging to the Anglican communion. The booklets containing the Communion service were adapted for the urban Maori and printed in both languages. The - 67 Methodist Church has published “Hymns in Maori and English” which includes some readings and prayers in both languages. The Mormon Church translated the Book of Mormon into Maori during the last decade of the nineteenth century. I found only one copy in Atene. An abbreviated version of the Mormon hymnbook, published by the New Zealand Mission in 1956, includes some Maori hymns. The same applies to the chorus books of the fundamentalist groups. Recently the Maori elders asked the Anglican Church to reprint the book of Common Prayer in Maori, this being in demand for hui. In Atene many people possessed a Maori Bible and Maori Service Books.

The older established Churches have always required of their missionaries a basic knowledge of the Maori language and, until recently, fluency in the language was considered an absolute necessity for workers in rural districts. In exceptional cases, when people felt unable to learn Maori, mission employees without such knowledge were placed in positions for which this was not required, mainly in urban areas. I found that particularly in crisis periods the need for Maori was felt. One girl, who was unable to converse in Maori, asked me on a visit to her in hospital: “Could you say a prayer for me in Maori?”

Recently the need for Maori-speaking Pakeha clergymen has been emphasised because insufficient Maori religious leaders are available and the Maori population had become more scattered. The Anglican Church decided to encourage priests to learn the Maori language as its official policy. 117 In Atene some of the clergymen had mastered a few Maori phrases as a means of identifying themselves with their Maori parishioners.

However much the Churches have done to promote the language, they have taken a conservative view of the spelling of Maori. All church publications in Maori, as far as I was able to find out, were printed in the traditional spelling instead of in the “double vowel” system used by the Auckland University or using the makron as is done in publications of the Department of Education. The question of the spelling was discussed at a meeting at the Turangawaewae Marae, Ngaruawahia, in 1962. This meeting was chaired by an Anglican priest. The Bishop of Aotearoa moved “that the language should be retained as it was in the Maori Bible, revised by the Maori Bible Committee”. 118 The conservative view of the spelling prevailed and this has remained the attitude of most church leaders.

The Effect of Language on Religion

The Maori language has had both a positive and negative effect on the religious organisations. It is positive in that older people maintain that it is the only language they can understand and that a Pakeha service has no meaning to them. Even part-Maori services are objected to by many of the older age group. On the other hand the effect is negative as far as the younger generations are concerned, for instead of facilitating communication the use of the Maori language has become a bar to - 68 communication. The Rev. K. Ihaka has reported 119 that for some years now the majority of the services in the pastorate had been conducted in English and the sermons were always delivered in English.

For many years Mormon elders were renowned because of their knowledge of the Maori language, but their persistent policy of integration has led to a situation in which the use of Maori is considered undesirable. “One faith, one language.” Some Mormon Maoris confided to me that they deplored that Maori was not used and that they read the Maori Bible at home, but this did not affect their loyalty to the Church. At present Mormon elders are required to know only some Maori, such as is used in the exchange of greetings, as a means of identification with the people they visit. Initially the use of the language had a favourable effect on the spreading of Mormonism, but now the non-use of the language appears to promote integration.

Because the Ratana Church, being a solely Maori religious association, uses a Maori Service Book and exclusively Maori hymns, the decreasing use of spoken Maori among the younger generation has led to what is almost a crisis situation. A leading Ratana said to me: “The fact that the Ratana service is still conducted in Maori does not foster the interest of the Maori child in religious instruction and will have far-reaching consequences”. Few Ratana young people attended services regularly, simply because they did not understand them. Because of this language problem the religion had become even a disintegrating factor in some families and wider groupings. The unity of the family as a worshipping unit was broken or parents stayed home with their children, with the result that they ceased to be effective church members.

As the Ratana Church in Atene was becoming aware of this problem, there was a tendency to include some English in the services, particularly the “children's talk”. Intimations at gatherings were given in both languages. As most Ratana ministers were fluent Maori speakers some felt self-conscious about their limited English and were reluctant to use “Pakeha” in public. As a consequence the main emphasis remained on Maori.

The decreasing use of the language in the churches had also made Maori church newspapers and other religious literature redundant. Bible reading notes in Maori, previously distributed by the various Churches, had been discontinued for some years as there had ceased to be a market. A Maori religious magazine Te Waka Karaitiana, which the Presbyterian Church tried to revive, went into abeyance through a lack of interest. The Anglican missioner had discontinued his Maori News Letter which was previously forwarded to Maori homes in Atene. The Methodist Mission used mainly English in their parish publications. The “inner-group” of the Ratana Church subscribed to the monthly magazine Te Whetu Marama which keeps the members of the Church informed about the activities in Ratana Pa, decisions of synod and forthcoming events. Included also are articles on the history of the - 69 movement and material to assist the ministers in the preparation of their Sunday addresses.

The Churches were not unaware of the changes that were taking place with respect to the use of the Maori language, but at the same time they were not always willing to face the consequences. In 1946 Sir Apirana Ngata and the Rev. Paora Tamuera discussed this issue publicly. The latter had stated that he believed that Maori was no longer the language of the Maori people and, while he regretted its passing, he felt that the Church should no longer continue making use of it. Maori, he submitted was rapidly becoming an academic language: it would soon merely be an intellectual exercise for students. It was only common sense, he contended, to conduct services for both races in the one language—English. 120 Ngata was not prepared to sanction the abolition of the Maori language by the Church or by anybody. “Should not our people cling to that which has been handed down to them from their ancestors. It is not the job of the Church to suppress Maori culture or even to attempt to suppress it. There has been far too much of this sort of thing in the past. Your best citizen is the one most loyal to his own culture, one, who, at the same time, acquires that of the Pakeha. There are no more patriotic citizens than those who cling to both”. 121

My own observations would suggest that the Rev. Tamuera underestimated the importance of the Maori language to his own people. The time for a complete change-over had not come at that time and has not come yet. On the other hand Ngata's point of view was as unrealistic as that of his opponent. In his book The Social Sources of Denominationalism H. R. Niebuhr discussed the problem of the use of the language in connection with the ethnic migrant Churches in America and commented as follows: “The Church with its use of the old language, with its conservative continuance of Old World customs, with its strictly racial character, was the most important of the social organisations of the immigrant. In this way an immigrant Church became more a racial and cultural than a religious institution in the New World. These Churches thus created a sort of “racial sectarianism”. The language had become a symbol of prestige”. 122

The situation of the European migrant in the United States and of the Maori in New Zealand are not entirely comparable, but the relationship between language and religion in Maori society may fruitfully be looked at in the light of Niebuhr's findings. The negative effect of the use of the Maori language on religion is becoming more evident.

Table 15 indicates the degree to which Maori was spoken in Atene. The category “Family language” denotes that Maori is the main, but not necessarily the only, language of the home. The category “spoken by parents” denotes that the parents usually speak Maori to each other and frequently to their children, but the children in these families speak and reply in English. The category “spoken by one parent” denotes that

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Church Number of Homes Family Language Spoken by Parents Spoken by Father Spoken by Mother No Maori Spoken in the Home
C. of E. 59 8 19 5 13 14 (4)
R.C. 50 9 15 3 2 21
Methodist 20 12 3 2 - 3
Mormon 19 1 10 - 2 6 (1)
Ratana 45 14 19 4 2 6(8)
Mixed (religiously) 43 3 17 5 3 15

one parent is fluent in Maori, while his or her spouse generally understands Maori. In these families the children have a very limited knowledge of Maori.

The policies of the various Churches seem to be reflected in the language characteristics of the households of the adherents. The high percentage of Maori-speaking households among the Methodists is striking. This may be attributed partly to the fact that a number of these people have come more recently from remote areas, but also to this Church's policy of promoting Maori in the homes. Maori home services were usually taken by Maori-speaking lay preachers. The Mormons who had taken a negative attitude towards the language, make an interesting comparison.


Proposition: Maori values and preferences as well as other aspects of Maori traditional culture, have had a considerable influence on the relationship between Religion and Economics in contemporary Maori society and there is also an unmistakable relationship between the social position of the people and their attitude towards institutionalised religion.

J. M. Yinger has suggested that it is in the distribution of wealth and income that religion has its most significant economic effects. Religious activity everywhere receives a certain share—often a large share—of the wealth of a society. 124 What does the Maori give to religious causes and what modes of giving are congenial to him?

In traditional pre-monetary Maori society this question did not arise, as there were no religious institutions of the kind we know in our society. This does not mean, however, that religion and economics were unrelated. Agriculture, fishing, hunting, fowling and building were associated with magical rites. Some older informants told me that they still use traditional chants when they plant their garden. I found also evidence of new emergent forms which in a similar fashion expressed the relevance of religion to economic pursuits. I recorded a Maori prayer which one of my informants said after putting in his kumaras and potatoes. In English translation it - 71 reads: “I have finished. You are now in the soil. It is up to God to give you His blessing, that your fruit be plentiful”. This informant was a member of a Protestant Church. Others assured me that similar rites were observed by a number of home gardeners in the middle-aged and older groups. The same gardener told me that he would not allow a menstruating woman to come near his garden during the planting season. It is apparent that an advanced stage of technology does not exclude the need for ritual observances by those in whose traditional culture economic pursuits and religious practice were closely connected. Taboos and restrictions may live on even when life is less precarious.

The Effect of Religion on Economics

To what extent did the Churches, to which the Maoris in Atene were affiliated, receive their share of the “wealth” of Maori society ? I have placed “wealth” between inverted commas because I use it in this context as a technical term. In fact there was little wealth among the Maoris in Atene as with few exceptions all belonged to the working-class. Most lived on the average weekly income of this social stratum, sometimes supplemented by seasonal overtime. The economic situation of the families was also affected by the following factors: approximately two-thirds of the Maori population was under twenty-one; most Maoris in Atene had been city dwellers for only a limited period and needed more time to get well established; Maori values had to be taken into account in the preference in purchasing certain goods as well as in contributions to Maori purposes. There was also a difference as regards their economic home background and training in giving. The East Coast people were more used to generous giving than the poorer Northern Maoris.

Giving to the Church may take various forms. A contemporary concept within the Churches is “stewardship” which sometimes includes some form of “pledge system”. Parishoners are asked to sign a pledge card and promise to contribute, if possible, a certain amount to the Church each year. In some cases, as with building programmes, they commit themselves to give a certain amount spread out over a number of years. Where this system is introduced it is emphasised that giving for the Church should be included in home-budgeting. This method has met with a favourable response in certain parishes of the Church of England. As a result a considerable increase in giving was reported from some Maori parishes. A Diocesan Maori Mission Report of the Wellington diocese stated that over the past ten years the contribution made by the Maoris had gone up from £500 to £2,300 and that in addition to this amount £5,000 was raised for the work of the New Zealand Anglican Board of Missions. 125 A similar increase in giving was reported from the Waikato diocese. 126 In Atene, however, in spite of what one clergyman called “glorious exceptions” there was a general lack of organised support. The Methodist and Roman Catholic Churches reported similar experiences.

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There were two religious associations in Atene where the idea of “stewardship” was better received: the Maori Evangelical Fellowship and the Mormon Church. Strong group cohesion, discipline, the spirit of the sect and missionary zeal explain why the Maori Evangelical Fellowship did not have the same problem as the older established Churches. Their constitution included the rule, “that the funds of the fellowship may be raised by freewill offerings, and every member is expected to contribute regularly according to the measure in which he himself has been blessed”. 127 No formal pledge-card system had been adopted, but offerings came close to tithing.

The Mormons have, in their teachings, always placed an emphasis on giving to the Church. They impress on their people that “the earth is the Lord's” and maintained that although property could be rightfully owned by individual owners, the fruits it renders should be used to the common good. Tithing, that is the setting aside of 10% of one's income for the Church, has been adopted as the best method of stewardship. In the Mormon Church, tithing has become a symbol of loyalty to the faith: “By this principle it shall be known who is for the Kingdom of God and who is against it”. 128 Tithing is faithfully adhered to by the inner-group of the Mormon Church. An increasing laxness or preference for other forms of Church support is found nearer the fringe. My Mormon informants in Atene, as far as they belonged to the nucleus of the Church, found this system of tithing most acceptable.

In order to appreciate fully the degree and the mode of giving amongst the Maori we must consider certain Maori preferences for contributing to religious associations. The Maoris of Atene showed great interest in raising money as a group, as a community effort or through social events. Functions like bazaars and sales attracted great interest and in the Ratana Church raising money through socials and dances was common. The Mormon Church accepted a scrub-cutting contract to raise money for church funds and most of those who took part were Maoris. Their efforts provided a net profit of £500.

Giving in kind was preferred to giving in cash. Food, kits and mats were donated for sales and hui, and the local Maoris were always willing to prepare a haangi (Maori oven) as part of a fund-raising campaign.

Raffles for mats, kits, dolls and other items were a common feature at all Ratana gatherings. An Anglican vicar informed me that sometimes “Maori raffles” for church funds were held within his parish in spite of the fact that these did not have the sanction of the Church. The priest of the Roman Catholic parish told me that his Church strongly objected to raffles and gambling for church purposes. The Ratana Church, which never holds collections during church services, raised some money through donations and through the sale of jewellery with Ratana emblems.

The Maori is not likely to take a long view of things in his giving for the Church. As one informant told me: “The Maori will raise money with great enthusiasm and can be very generous, but it is difficult to get - 73 them for long-term planning”. This is consistent with his general reluctance to accept the pledge system method of stewardship. The Maori also wants to see what he is giving for. It had to be something concrete and giving for missions was therefore, generally speaking, not the sort of thing that appealed to him.

One particularly important aspect of the way in which Atene Maoris made contributions to the Church was that they recognised a clear distinction between giving to a Maori cause and giving to a Pakeha cause. This accounted in part for the greater willingness of the members of the Maori Evangelical Fellowship to support their group and was a factor in the response of the Mormons to their predominantly Maori Church. It also provided an explanation for the confidence the Ratanas had in their people in regard to fund raising. Such an attitude can only be understood in relation to the nature of early European contacts particularly in the tensions centred round the acquisition of land. “The suspicion entered the minds of the Maoris that it was part of a deep design upon them; that the missionaries had come first to pacify and make them gentle, to induce them to lay aside their warlike habits, simply in order to open the way for the Pakehas who converted the land”. 129 Plainly speaking, giving for the Church is giving for a Pakeha cause. The Maoris are entitled to receive rather than obliged to contribute! Other evidence supports this hypothesis of the preference for the specifically Maori cause.

When in 1946 the decision was taken to revise the Maori Bible, Sir Apirana Ngata made an appeal to Maori Churches and committees to raise money to defray the expenses of the Revision Committee, and for the first time to make a direct contribution to assist the Bible Society with the costs of publishing the Maori Bible. A widespread response was recorded. 130

After the institution of the Maori Synod of the Presbyterian Church, the Maori moderator of the synod inaugurated a money-raising campaign for a synod meeting-house. However difficult it had proved before to raise money for mission purposes within the Maori parishes of the Presbyterian Church, now the quotas were over-subscribed. 131

During my field work a Maori Catholic Centre was opened in a nearby district. The whole of the Maori population of Atene, irrespective of religious affiliation, took part in fund-raising activities and, in association with other city and suburban areas, almost £30,000 was raised within eighteen months and the building of the centre was able to proceed.

In one of the dioceses of the Church of England, a Maori pastorate was told that, unless the giving increased, the Maori priest would have to be withdrawn from the district. This was in line with the traditional emphasis of the Church of England on the need for self-support of the Maori congregation. W. Rosevear reports that in Bishop Williams' days any district that wanted a minister had to collect money to support - 74 him. After the parish concerned had received word of the possible withdrawal of their priest, the budget was soon over-subscribed. 132 The money was raised by means of “housie”! My informant suggested that the bishop had not sanctioned the method.

The Ratana Church in Atene was confident that the large amount of money needed for the renovation of some, and the replacement of other, buildings at the Ratana Pa, would be contributed by Maoris throughout the country within the next few years.

Another important aspect of the economic behaviour of Atene Maoris was their attitude towards the institution of a “stipendiary ministry”. Raymond Firth wrote, “No payment of goods could be made to the priest for his services as teacher of the ritual. If this were done then the mana or psychic force of the spells would be destroyed by contamination with these things, devoid as they were of tapu, and consequently the magic would be deprived of any power, would fail in its effect, and the sacred matter taught would never carry any weight or prestige with the scholar. Only for imparting of black magic could compensation be exacted”. 133 The Ringatu minister does not receive any payment for his services, 134 and the Ratana Apostles repeatedly stressed in conversations with me that they did not receive any remuneration for their ministerial duties. One aapotoro said: “We are even lucky to get a lift to a wedding or a funeral”. Working expenses are usually reimbursed in kind: petrol and hospitality. The Mormons had no paid clergy either, everything being done in an honorary capacity. To my knowledge no income was guaranteed to full-time workers of the Maori Evangelical Fellowship or to Maori Mission workers of the Brethren Church.

There is more resentment against the concept of the stipendiary ministry than the superficial observer would be inclined to believe. Many found salaried clergymen an anomaly and expressed their disapproval of a man “being paid for saying prayers”. An Anglican churchman said to me, “All ministers should shovel coal or find their bread and butter in some other way and do spiritual work at times suitable. Much of the work now done by the minister could be shared in the Church”. This particular man, who held high educational qualifications, and was at the same time steeped in Maori culture, attended church services in the Pakeha church every Sunday with his wife and family and practised “stewardship”. Yet, deep underneath was this feeling of the old-time Maori that a minister should not be paid for saying prayers. This view was confirmed on various other occasions.

A side-effect of stewardship was that disciplined giving had a wholesome effect on economic conditions in the home. It was pointed out to me that gamblers and drinkers had been induced to reform and to save. So “beer was turned into furniture”. Mormon families particularly were uplifted economically. During a Ratana conference someone said to me: “Look, there are no ‘old bombs’ here. This shows what the Ratana faith has done for these people. Now they can afford good cars.”

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The Effects of Economics on Religion

Weber suggested that the most elementary forms of behaviour motivated by religious and magical factors are oriented towards this world. The ends of religious and magical actions are predominantly economic and rational. But the goals of religious behaviour are successively “irrationalised” until finally otherworldly non-economic goals come to represent what is distinctive in religious behaviour. 135 One may not subscribe to this view completely, but the element of truth in it should not be forgotten. The other-worldly, non-economic goals, introduced to the Maori are at variance with his traditional expressions of religion and this explains partly the present unrelatedness of economics and religion. In traditional Maori society the religious institutions helped to maintain and support the economic system. Apart from the half-yearly festival of the Ringatu, based on Leviticus 23:24, when prayers are said for good crops, little of this is left, beyond the sphere of the family and sometimes it is even restricted to the individual. This, however, does not mean that economic factors have no effect on religious behaviour. I found that the way in which baptismal rites were observed was influenced by economic considerations. The preference for baptisms on the home marae was still present, but the loss of time and wages involved contributed to an increase in the number of baptisms at home or in the local Church. Being whakamaa, unfamiliar with Pakeha customs, and not knowing the minister, were important reasons why a “home wedding” was preferred, but the economic aspect, avoiding church fees, was important too. The change in funeral ceremonial was partly caused by economic pressures: the cost of a hearse for a long distance, the longer time off work and personal travelling expenses, promoted the change-over to local burials.

Economic factors also influenced the attendance at particular services. Travelling expenses had to be taken into account if an individual preferred to worship with kin in a Maori group elsewhere in the city and modes of dress were an important consideration for those who chose to worship in a Pakeha church. This second factor in particular should not be underestimated. Integrated Maoris belonged mostly to the “higher class”. This is consistent with remarks like: “the more educated, the better integrated” and “the lowest class cannot make the grade”. There is an unmistakably close relationship between the social position of a people and their attitude towards religion in an institutionalised form. It is possible to draw a parallel between the rise of the middle class and the leaving of the Church by the workers in England, and the Maori situation. Economic rise of the middle class, which became increasingly religious in its habits, led to a social stratification in which religious and dedenominational lines ran parallel to the economic ones, so that the poor were excluded both socially and religiously. This widened the gulf between the Church and the working classes. The Church was socially unconcerned and so conventionally middle class that the poor could not feel comfortable in it. I would not class the Maoris of Atene as the - 76 “poor”, but the Church in the area and beyond represented a stratum, economically and socially, to which the Maoris did not belong.

Subsequently this economic factor affected the religious behaviour of the Maoris in Atene, by encouraging them to congregate in an exclusively Maori church or to join smaller groups more congenial to them as an alternative to becoming completely dissociated from any church.


Proposition: With the exception of the Ratana Church the relationship between religion and politics is of marginal importance due to the separation of Church and State which has been accepted by Maori society.

The aim of the sociologist of religion with respect to politics is to discover the patterns of relationship between religious groups and political institutions. Traditionally the tohunga, the ritual leader in Maori society, had important political functions. He was involved both in the planning of war-campaigns and in war itself. He also played an important part in the education of the chief and thus exerted indirectly but effectively his power in the political organisation of Maori society. When the Maori became part of a society in which Church and State were separated, he lost this close relationship between religion and politics, though the “King Movement”, founded during the second half of the nineteenth century, still has as its motto: “Te Whakapono, Te Aroha, Te Ture”, that is, religion, love and law. A close association of religion and politics was also revived in the Ratana Church.

The Effect of Religion on Politics

The most important contribution the older established Churches have made to Maori politics is in educating the leaders. In 1896 the Young Maori Party, which became one of the most influential forces in Maori political life, was founded. Its leaders were all past pupils of Te Aute College. Through such leaders the Church still exerts indirectly an influence on politics.

A number of my informants assured me that Maoris also look to their religious leaders for guidance in political decisions which would seem to imply that political choice in Atene was determined by religious affiliation. However, further investigation indicated that a variety of factors, such as kinship, personal knowledge of the candidate and, of course, party policy, influenced political choice. Memories of the past played a part in the decision of older people to vote “Labour”. They often referred to the benefits which this party brought to the Maoris during the depression of the thirties. In spite of the claims of my informants that “the vote was not religious”, there were indications that the religious affiliation of the candidates was taken into account when a political choice had to be made. This was particularly the case in the Ratana Church, where the relationship between religion and politics was more pronounced. “As Ratana felt his healing power declining and his sense of mission in some way deserting him, he set about providing for what sociologists call the - 77 ‘routinization’ of the charisma, providing for institutions which would insure the continuation of his Movement when his own extraordinary personal ascendancy was no more.” 136 He declared the prophetic phase of Maori history (ture wairua) closed, and caused four successors to his leadership to be named, with the utterance “they shall be my body and rule my land” (ture tangata). Ratana thus had a political mission parallel to the spiritual, and he proved to be remarkably successful, for a few years later the four Maori seats in the New Zealand Parliament were occupied by Ratanas. In 1963 one seat was won by a member of the Mormon Church, but it was regained by a Ratana in the by-election of 1967.

The temporary loss of the Ratana seat was interpreted as a sign of maturity in Maori politics, but it is significant that the Ratana affiliation was reaffirmed when the seat was returned to a member of that Church. However, there is a tendency within the Ratana Church to emphasise the religious aspect of the association rather than the political. The Member of Parliament representing Atene Maoris, who had been a leading apostle prior to entering politics, informed me that he did not want to confuse the two issues, and therefore had resigned from the active ministry. This suggests that the separation of Church and State is increasingly accepted by the Ratana people.

The Effect of Politics on Religion

I did not find the Maoris in Atene particularly politically minded, but indifference gave way to live interest when Maori issues were at stake. This became apparent when an Anglican bishop made a statement about the Maori seats in Parliament and came out in favour of abolition. A Maori member of his Church said to me, “The Maoris need their own men in Parliament. The Pakeha is not patient enough to deal with Maori problems and he does not understand them. He cannot sit on the marae and listen to what our old people have to say. He does not know Maori. We need Maoris to listen to us and to take our interests to Parliament. I've told my wife to stop going to that church up the hill if the bishop is against us”.

There are ways in which political ties may affect religious affiliation. In 1964 a former Ratana member of Parliament returned to the Anglican Church. He had been a Ratana representative for a period of twenty years. A special service was held to mark the occasion and the officiating Anglican Maori clergyman was reported to have said that it was natural for the member concerned to assume the Ratana faith in his political life. When he resigned from politics he could return to the Anglican Church. 137

The Mormon Church placed much value on educating their members politically. The discussion of current events was a constant item at the meetings of the Mutual Improvement Society in Atene. On the other hand, this Church refrained from making political statements, and the freedom of the vote was evident.

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The fact that the Ratana Church had throughout its history exerted a great influence on politics did not mean that its religious ethos had much direct application to politics. It would be incorrect to speak therefore of a “Ratana party” guided by religious principles. The representatives of this Church needed and received support from members of other associations to gain the Maori seats. As a result the Ratana Church has proved to be a unifying forcein Maori politics.

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In previous chapters, I have frequently referred to the new urban environment of the Maori. For many years, but particularly over the last thirty, a continual migration of Maoris to urban areas has taken place. In 1936 only 9.4% of the Maoris were living in towns; in 1961 this had risen to 33.3% and now stands at just over 50%.

What is urbanisation? In “The Secular City”, H. E. Cox writes, “Urbanisation means a structure of common life in which diversity and the disintegration of tradition are paramount. It means a type of impersonality in which functional relationships multiply. It means that a degree of tolerance and anonymity replace traditional moral sanctions and long-term acquaintanceships. The urban centre is the place of human control, of rational planning, of bureaucratic organisation—and the urban centre is not just Washington, London, New York. It is everywhere”. 138

Urbanisation produces diversification, a breaking down of ethnic group identity and fragmentation of the extended family. It also brings about a diversification of occupations and an individual's faith is no longer integrated with his economic pursuits. There is a change in the means of production and man becomes merely another tool.

With reference to Maori urbanisation, Canon Rangiihu speaks of the security offered to young Maori people through the guidance of elders and the tribal organisation centred on the marae in the traditional rural areas. Here the Maori had his feet in the soil. His migration to the city left him detribalised and isolated from the security of his communal upbringing in a society that is individualistic. He was then subject to pressures and temptations without the support of his turangawaewae. “A house that stands within the palisades has upon it the dignity and security of chieftainship”. This Maori proverb illustrates the dilemma of the migrant lost in the large city community. 139

Robert Redfield has made the distinction between “folk society”—“Gemeinschaft”—and the urban society—“Geselischaft” The Gemeinschaft comprises a group of people with a certain sense of belonging together, who reside in the same geographic area in which most of their institutional activities are present. Gesellschaft is the opposite, where life is fragmented, and where the personal relationship of the close community has given way to the impersonal urban way of life. Man has become a unit in an industrial organisation, an “organisation man”. In the city the primary - 80 group with frequent interaction between its members and a strong group cohesion has often given way to the secondary group of the associational type, where the personal relationships are usually absent. Man has become primarily a “mass man”. Being socially uprooted he is no longer a communal man, and this often creates a deep sense of loneliness.

This new way of life in the urban area makes man also a pragmatic being who concerns himself with practical or material affairs and has less time and attention for spiritual things. He becomes associated with voluntary organisations like trade unions and sports clubs and, as a consequence, the functions of the religious groups are reduced. Moreover, the Churches have been found not to be geared to assist the migrant in the problems he has to face in the new situation, particularly because the influx of Maoris comprises mainly people from the “working-class”. J. M. Yinger's suggestion that “the established Churches of the city are poorly equipped to give the necessary assurances to a lower-class migrant from a rural area”, 140 apply not only in America, but likewise to New Zealand. For the most part the established Churches are accomodated to the middle and upper classes of the city. The forms of worship, the content of sermons, the activities of the various groups and the patterns of leadership are adjusted to urban members of long standing.

Many new migrants to the city become disenchanted when they discover that the town is not just bright lights and high wages, but routine and dullness, with accommodation available only at excessive rents or not available at all because colour discrimination bars them from living in certain areas. Crime and prostitution and other social problems emerge. People become disenchanted with the Church. The religious institutions are felt as completely irrelevant. The technological metropolis provides the indispensable social setting for a world of no religion at all. It is from this perspective that we look once again at the various religious groups.

Urban Life and the Religious Associations

In addition to the general impact of urban life there are two aspects which are of particular importance with respect to the older established Churches.

Firstly, while the Maori in the rural districts is less dominated by the immensity of Western culture, for the city migrant it becomes overwhelming. As a result he becomes more conscious of his Maoriness and resents Pakeha control more deeply in the Church as well as in the community. D. T. Niles, a Ceylonese, and a leading figure in the World Council of Churches, has often emphasised that Christianity is looked upon by non-Christian Eastern nations as a Western religion, because the large majority of those who call themselves Christians live in Western lands. Western culture and civilisation have their roots in the Christian faith, the resources of the Christian enterprise both in money and in personnel are still largely in the West. The ecclesiastical forms of the Christian faith, as found in the world today, are largely the result of the - 81 history of the Churches of the West, and the role of the Churches of the West is decisive in determining the shape of things. All these factors affect the Maori in his relationship to the Pakeha Church.

Secondly, in the rural areas the clergyman, whether Maori or Pakeha, is closer to the people and more apt to have an approach which is in accordance with the Maori make-up. A. T. Ngata suggested that, as soon as the Church of England departed from the Polynesian pattern, and so became more and more dependent on reference to the printed word and less on the memorised response for which Polynesians were remarkable, then its service became more Pakeha with less appeal to the congregation, and as a consequence groups of Maoris began to drift away from the Church. 141

The Protestant Churches appear to suffer bigger losses in the city than the Roman Catholic Church. “This firmer hold over its Maori people is probably due to factors that are found to produce the same results everywhere: careful discipline, a discouragement of active criticism by the individual and a persistent influencing of the mind from the earliest years”. 142 In the Roman Catholic Church the central power is much greater than in the Protestant Churches which foster a greater autonomy of the individual. 143 Yinger also emphasises this point. “The Catholic Church furnishes its members a fixed dogma, definite rites, and an unchallenged structure of power that can bring a sense of certainty to those in doubt”. 144 This throws light on the devastating statement of Evans-Pritchard that “Protestantism shades into Deism, and Deism into agnosticism, and the choice is between all or nothing, a choice which allows of no compromise between a Church which has stood its ground and made no concessions, and no religion at all”. 145 It is significant that there has been a steady increase of Roman Catholic Maoris. In 1951 the figure was 14.7% of the Maori population and in 1961 this had risen to 17.2%. Together with the Mormon Church this religious association has, comparatively speaking, retained a greater impact on the townsmen than any other religious group.

The Mormon Church, in spite of its present stable membership, is exposed to possible disintegrating forces in the urban area because of the better educational facilities of which Maoris are making increasing use. The Mormons have always promoted education. They have a supreme confidence in man's ability to master his environment and build a good society through knowledge and effort. They intended to use such knowledge in constructing the ideal religious commonwealth, for which they believed the Lord held them as specially consecrated. Little did they realise that in placing their hopes in education they were at the same time creating doubts and uncertainties that, in another century, were to beset the world. Education has created a liberal element within the Church. The liberal must choose between submission and personal - 82 disquietude or apostacy. Some who have been affected by their environment opt for the latter, and receive higher education without the control of the Church. 146

At the time of the study, the conservative, literalist, fundamentalist group controlled the Church and an advancement of liberals into church leadership seemed very unlikely within the next few years. The emphasis on lay leadership, on seniority as a basis of promotion, and selection on bases other than theological learning, as well as control of appointment by conservative members, helps the fundamentalists to keep control. As O'Dea suggests, “the insistence on fundamentalism means that the Church is like a train running down the track without an engineer”. The Church leaders of the Mormon Church are not professionals in the sense of having received a special education involving training in philosophy and theology. This means that the Church has, with few exceptions, no theologically qualified leaders who can guide it in its encounter with modern thought. The Mormon Church does not therefore come to terms with contemporary problems in a contemporary way and this may well affect its future development.

The same applies to the Ratana Church. It has a number of competent leaders, well versed in the history of the movement and fully acquainted with the teachings of the founder, but the lack of trained theological leaders is felt as a weakness even by Ratanas themselves. Moreover, unlike the Mormon Church, this association has hardly any leaders with higher educational qualifications.

The future of the Ratana Church has been queried for a number of years. For example, A. T. Ngata advanced the following hypothesis: “The conditions out of which Ratanaism was evolved will probably lose the intensity of their appeal with the freer adoption of State policies for the special problems of unsatisfied land claims, and if these, or a reasonable proportion of them, should be settled by Parliament as some have already been settled, much of the real foundations of the movement would have gone”. 147 Likewise E. and P. Beaglehole suggested that with the death of Ratana, the absence of miraculous-appearing cures, and the decay of missionary spirit among the Ratana preachers, most of those who were once staunch Ratana members were at that time barely more than members in name—if they were even that—while others had drifted back to the Church from which they came.”


Some of my informants considered the Ratana period as an interim phase which no longer met the needs of the present and had drifted back to the older established Churches. The census figures appear to support this opinion. In 1926 just over 18% of Maoris were Ratana. After a small rise in 1936, the 1960 figure showed a decline to slightly more than 13%. In spite of this, I found the Ratana Church in Atene virile and without any signs of rapid decline. People felt confident that their Church would grow and that the younger people would learn to appreciate the - 83 teachings of Ratana. This was confirmed by members of other Churches. A prominent Anglican layman said to me: “I am sure that they go from strength to strength”. H. Dansey writes: “Ratana looks to the future with more confidence than ever before”. 149 The Ratana faith still seems to add meaning to the life of a large number of people in spite of the fact that some consider that the historical and social functions of Maori religions for racial distinctiveness and for racial renaissance are less relevant today. To those who are not fully adjusted to the society in which they live these emergent transitional forms of religion are a welcome haven.

There are certain aspects of the fundamentalist associations which will always attract people, whether they are Maori or Pakeha: the emotional approach; the simple, uncritical kind of Bible-teaching combined with a defined doctrine and circumscribed way of life; an avenue of escape into the superhuman world; and the prospect of heaven in a frustrating situation. In an urban context this appeal, with its strong spiritual emphasis on “saving souls” is inclined to abstract man from his place in society and his duty to it, and this may limit its following and importance.

Religion—Success or Failure?

“It is often said that there is an inevitable decline in the importance of religion as one moves along the scale from folk—to urban society . . .” 150 These words, reminiscent of Redfield's hypothesis, have proved to hold true for Maori urban society, for as J. E. Ritchie further states: “The infrequency of religious activity and the low level of personal involvement in what activity there is, illustrate the process of secularisation of life, which Redfield regarded as one of the salient features of development along the folk-urban continuum”. 151

Religion has become an area of low concern 152 or, as W. P. Naera suggests, “It is merely a minor aspect of the lives of the Maori people”. 153 It would probably make very little difference to the Maoris in Atene, were Church observances to cease tomorrow. Possibly the community would go its way undisturbed.

In previous chapters we discussed the difficulties the Maori had in adjusting himself, while an accelerating process of disintegration of the traditional order of life took place. This was particularly marked in the field of religion. He could neither drift with the current nor retreat to the discredited traditional patterns of life. Religious disintegration became a fact. Socio-economic barriers provided additional impediments to fuller adjustment. There are also two other aspects, which seem to be significant.

In the first place, A. Luthuli, 154 writing about his own country, pointed out that Church growth among the South Africans was inhibited “because - 84 Christian life was being lived in the midst of the people”, and “they had a chance to inspect and assess it over an indefinite period”. “Pakeha Christianity” has been observed by the Maori for many years and has undoubtedly affected his attitude.

In the second place, H. C. Bredemeyer and R. M. Stephenson have suggested that “religion may be divisive rather than integrative when divergent beliefs consist within the same group”. 155 In Maori society we do not find the “fierce and unreconcilable conflicts” of which the authors of this book speak, but nevertheless Maori society is broken up into a number of small groups, sub-groups, each belonging to different religions. Ritchie is correct in stating that people are not really concerned about these divisions. What actually happens is that the majority of the people have solved the problem by avoiding involvement in religious concerns. 156

“Sociologically religion has failed in New Zealand”, wrote J. Harré in Landfall. 157 There is a great deal of truth in this statement for in spite of the valuable contribution made by religion to New Zealand Maori society, religion has failed as an effective reorganising force in a socially disorganised society. Instead, it has become isolated from the moving forces of society. Religion has not assisted to any extent in the physical integration of the group because it does not provide a symbolic expression of group identity and is not a universal and potent means of controlling the actions of group members within an accepted system of morality and values. Maori society has become disorganised because of the presently existing lack of co-ordination resulting in some aspects of society working against others. It has resulted in a state of social pathology. Religion has contributed little to a social reorganisation in which the various aspects are brought once again into close co-operation. Whether the Churches and religion in general will be able to contribute to a new change and a social movement which will reverse the present trend, was discussed by E. and P. Beaglehole. “The agencies operating at present in the community to which we may look for help in a programme for the social and personal rebuilding of Maori life are the Church, the home, and the school. We feel that little can be expected of the Church”. 158

If this was the conclusion of research in a much less disturbed community than our suburban area, it is likely to apply even more in our case.

Manga Cameron wrote some years ago: “The Maori tends to contract not only out of the community, but also from group obligations such as Parent-Teachers Associations and Church, and escapes from them effortlessly and quite often unwillingly behind the factory walls and the anonymous flats and tenements: in the end he gets out of living touch with neighbour and God, secularised within his own thinking, paganised by the antispiritual texture of industrial society. It happens to every man; it happens more so to the Maori unless he finds himself supported - 85 by his natural groupings and familiar landmarks”. 159 It has been asserted that “the Maori is at heart a ‘religious being’ and religion is psychologically necessary to the Maori.” 160 In this context reference was made to the Maori proverb: “the spiritual things come before the bodily sustenance”. Yet, in a Pakeha society, in which the Maori lives nolens volens, and where his Maoritanga is subject to continuous attacks, where the rate of adoption of the Pakeha way of life is bound to increase, the old values disappear. One may not always detect this immediately as there are a certain number of middle-aged and older people, who represent the Maori to the outside world, to whom this does not fully apply, but research carried out among the younger age groups would, no doubt, confirm this hypothesis.

This does not mean, of course, that all religious values must disappear immediately. All do not suddenly become agnostics. Internalised values remain. On the other hand—and this applies to Atene too—one is not necessarily a more religious and better Christian when one is affiliated to a religious body. I submit that there are the following categories of people:

  • (1) Church people who are affiliated to a Church and take part in its activities.
  • (2) Non-church-going people, who belong to a Church and attend rarely.
  • (3) Non-church people, that is, who have no Church affiliation.
  • (4) Unbelievers.

Those who do not belong to any Church are—statistically speaking—the minimum number of non-believers, but the actual number of unbelieving Church people is much greater than of believing non-Church people. This is of paramount importance in Maori society where different criteria of religiosity are used.


Whatever way we look at it the Maori is now part of a wider society where forces of secularisation are at work turning man's attention away from the world beyond and toward this world and this time.

Religion was the cement of traditional Maori society, when all activities were linked with religious rites. Today the situation is different. J. E. Ritchie's findings in Rakau apply equally to Atene: “Many have lost or are on the verge of losing their religion, to others it has become a ‘spare time thing’, thin in substance of belief and jaded in its vitality”. 161 The author continues with the statement that life in Rakau has become so secularised that it does not seem paradoxical to say that this is the character of religious activity also. Sociological analysis of the religious life of the Maori in Atene has led me to a similar conclusion: there is strong evidence of an increasing apathy in religious matters. The Maori in this technological age does not appear to be much in need of religious - 86 observances. He feels less dependent on the superhuman and relies more on modern science.

As the English philosopher Joad has put it most pointedly:

“The ‘DEUS IN MACHINA’ has been substituted for the ‘DEUS EX MACHINA”. 162


This study, for me only a first step on the path of sociological research, has been written without any pretentions of giving a full treatment of the subject.

I am open to correction and criticism of those who will prove that my hypotheses are unfounded and that conclusions have been drawn too lightly, but the analysis is based on facts which are irrefutable, however disturbing they may be to some readers as they were disturbing to myself.

I have written this book dressed in my sociological suit. When I sit down one day and look at the facts again, dressed in my theological jacket — not necessarily a theological straitjacket — my approach will be different, but the same “hard” facts cannot be denied.

I left for a while the home of my origin, theology, and went on these anthropological and sociological sojournings. It has made me appreciate facts of which I was not aware. This is the contribution sociology can make to the Church of the future, where the sociologist may assist and correct the theologian. I wondered why I had not realised some of these things before. Others may ask this question too, but we do sometimes overlook trends and movements when we are involved ourselves.

The last creature in the world to discover water would be a fish!

aapotoro apostle, title of Ratana Minister
aapotoro rehita registered apostle.
aapotoro wairua spiritual apostle.
akonga learner, junior or assistant minister of the Ratana Church.
anahera pono the faithful angels.
ao hou new age.
aroha love, compassion.
awhina lady assistant in Ratana Church.
haahi church.
haka dance.
haangi earth oven.
hapuu sub-tribe or section of large tribe.
hatana satan.
hui gathering.
hui topu gathering in a body; the annual conference of the Anglican Diocese of Waiapu.
- 87
Io according to Maori beliefs the supreme God of the ancient Maori.
kai food.
karakia spell, incantation, prayers.
komiti committee.
kura school.
koorero to speak, speech.
maangai mouth or mouthpiece.
mana psychic force, authority, prestige.
maoritanga Maoriness, Maorihood.
marae communal assembly place.
matua father.
mea maori things Maori.
moorehu survivor, remnant, Used for the members of the Ratana Church as a group.
paa fortified village or village in general.
paakeha A New Zealander of European stock.
reinga abode of departed spirits.
ringatu the upraised hand, name of Maori sect.
roopu raupo waiata Psalmists, choir, of Ratana Church.
takahi whare a ceremony performed after a funeral to lift the tapu from the deceased's home.
tama son, second person in the Trinity.
tangi Maori funeral wake.
tapu sacred, prohibited, unclean.
tohunga priest, expert. Title of Ringatu minister.
tuuaauhu sacred place.
tuurangawaewae standing place for the feet, place where a Maori can claim hereditary rights.
ture tangata material, secular activities, law of works.
ture wairua spiritual mission, law, teachings, works.
utu return for anything, ransom, reward, price, reply.
wairua tapu holy spirit.
whakamaa shy, diffident.
whakapono faith.
whare waananga school of learning.
whetu maarama five point star, symbol of divine light in Ratana Church.
- 88
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1   Mol 1966.
2   Beaglehole 1946:9.
3   Metge 1964:17.
4   Mensching 1962; Wach 1944:123.
5   Vermooten 1950:134.
6   Mol 1966:39.
7   Yinger 1957:28.
8   I relate this as it was told and have not traced back how much truth there is in this particular statement regarding the Ratanas. An aapotoro, or apostle, is the term of reference for the Ratana minister.
9   W. Nash, New Zealand Prime Minister and after the depression Minister of Finance, brought in the New Zealand social security benefits.
10   In regard to Church attendance I have selected the variable “household” in preference to individuals, because worship as a family is more consistent with the Maori way of life and because it provides us with a more reliable picture of the total involvement of the Maoris in the local Churches. It is often the case that several members of the same family take part in church activities.
11   This explains some inconsistency as regards the members in comparison with the other Tables.
12   Davies 1954:73.
13   Laughton 1961:13.
14   The Outlook July 17 1965.
15   Mol 1966:47.
16   Laughton 1961:20.
17   G. C. Homans 1951:457-459.
18   Kraemer 1938:4.
19   Ausubel 1961:42.
20   The term Moorehu is used for the members of the Ratana Church. It is a biblical concept denoting “rest” or “remnant”.
21   Pope 1942, 1957.
22   Irwin 1965.
23   Ritchie 1963:22.
24   McKenzie 1958.
25   Hubbard, n.d.
26   Mol 1966:47.
27   Metge 1964:207.
28   Sinclair 1959:278.
29   Downey 1966:36.
30   Naera 1963:27.
31   Wach 1961:13.
32   Karakia denotes a charm, a spell, an incantation, an invocation (Best 1924a:192).
33   Laughton 1965:435a.
34   Best 1924a:78.
35   Rosevaer 1960:200.
36   Firth 1964:254.
37   Best 1924a:2.
38   Schroeder and Obenhaus 1964:54.
39   Ritchie 1963:178-9.
40   Wright 1959:150.
41   Ngata 1940:343.
42   Naera 1963:16.
43   Beaglehole 1946:295-6.
44   Laurenson 1964:45.
45   Metge 1964:206.
46   Metge 1964:225.
47   Best 1924a:21.
48   Ngata 1940:370.
49   Harré 1966.
50   Naera 1963 :23.
51   Laughton 1954.
52   Beaglehole 1946:175.
53   Metge 1964:159.
54   Kraemer 1958:21.
55   Weber 1963:46.
56   Weber 1963:46.
57   Naera 1963:26.
58   Schwimmer 1966:5
59   Rongopai, n.d.
60   Williams 1925.
61   Gowing 1966.
62   Kotse 1962.
63   Laurenson 1964:45.
64   Reed 1956:150.
65   Maori Synod 1961:9.
66   Hill 1963:78-80.
67   Pope 1957:123.
68   Lafarge 1947.
69   Henderson 1965:69.
70   Hohepa 1964:128.
71   Ngata 1940:372.
72   Kraemer 1958:172
73   Ritchie 1966.
74   Kraemer 1958:61.
75   Ashton-Warner 1960.
76   Schwimmer 1965.
77   Ngata 1940:335.
78   Wright 1959:151.
79   Naera 1963:10.
80   Schwimmer 1965.
81   Mensching 1962.
82   Ausubel 1961:48.
83   Homans 1951:267.
84   Best 1924a:198.
85   Ritchie 1963:123-4.
86   Metge 1964:191.
87   Weber 1963:96.
88   Argyle 1965:39.
89   Jillet 1965.
90   Dansey 1963.
91   Laughton 1961:39.
92   Founded in 1937.
93   Tillich 1964.
94   ibid 146-7.
95   Ngata 1940:371.
96   Ngata 1940:344-5.
97   Keesing 1928:191.
98   Ritchie 1966.
99   Vermooten 1950.
100   Vermooten 1950:59.
101   Mazengarb 1954:39,10,18.
102   Vermooten 1950:66.
103   Yinger 1957:26-28.
104   O'Dea 1957 Chapter 6.
105   Matthew 18:15-17.
106   Rosevear 1960:65.
107   Romans 12:28.
108   Geering 1966.
109   Henderson 1963:25.
110   Biggs 1960:15.
111   Pope 1942:273.
112   Exodus 32.
113   Department of Justice 1964:13.
114   Rangiihu 1964:11-2.
115   Kora 1965.
116   Laughton and Thomas 1964:15.
117   Church and People, May 1966.
118   N.Z. Herald, May 12 1962.
119   Ihaka 1961.
120   Ramsden 1948:55.
121   Ramsden 1948:55.
122   Niebuhr 1929:222-3.
123   Numbers between brackets refer to racially mixed marriages. Although there were eight racially mixed households in the Ratana group, only six of these did not speak Maori. In the remaining two cases the husbands (who were Pakehas) had learned the Maori language.
124   Yinger 1957:202.
125   McKenzie 1958:19.
126   Church and People, March 1966.
127   Maori Evangelical Fellowship 1960:10.
128   Book of Mormon 1954:212, and O'Dea 1957:197.
129   Mc Kenzie 1958:12.
130   Laughton 1964:30.
131   de Bres 1963.
132   Rosevear 1960:57.
133   Firth 1959:303.
134   Te Ao Hou, March 1963.
135   Weber 1963:Chapter I.
136   Pocock 1965:10.
137   Auckland Star, September 8 1964.
138   Cox 1965:4.
139   Rangiihu 1966.
140   Yinger 1957:167.
141   Ngata 1940:367.
142   ibid:367.
143   Brown 1965:62.
144   Yinger 1957:167.
145   Evans-Pritchard 1962:45.
146   O'Dea 1957:220 ff.
147   Ngata 1940:365.
148   Beaglehole 1946:207.
149   Dansey 1966.
150   Ritchie 1963:121.
151   ibid.:124.
152   ibid.:125.
153   Naera 1963:28.
154   Luthuli 1962:19.
155   Bredemeyer and Stephenson 1962:285.
156   Ritchie 1963:125.
157   Harré 1966.
158   Beaglehole 1946:336.
159   Cameron 1964:18.
160   ibid.:10.
161   Ritchie 1963:121.
162   Smits 1952:76.