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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Taranaki, Hawke's Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts]


In the early days of settlement, State aid, in the shape of land endowments, was granted to the various religious denominations, as they established their churches in the colony, but for many years past Government support has neither been bestowed nor applied for. New Zealand has no established or State church, but of the various denominations the Church of England has the largest number of members and adherents. All the religious bodies of Britain are represented in New Zealand, and throughout the colony the respect they command is universal, while the influence they exert is apparent in public, private, and social life. In every city, town, and village, churches or places of worship have been erected, while in the more remote settlements services are held alternately, by the various sects, in schools or public halls. A spirit of amity and tolerance exists between the Christian bodies, and on questions of public importance joint action is often taken by the clergy of all denominations, who are, in most instances, men of considerable culture, learning, and influence. The Church of the Province of New Zealand, better known as the Church of England, is divided, for working purposes, into six dioceses, namely: Auckland, Waiapu, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, and Dunedin. The Most Rev. Samuel Tarrant Nevill, D.D., of Dunedin, is Primate of New Zealand, and there are six other Bishops, including the Bishop of Melanesia. Meetings of Diocesan Synods are held once a year, and every third year the General Synod meets in one or other of the dicceses. The clergy of the diocese of Waiapu, including the Bishop and native ministers, number forty-nine. The Roman Catholic Church in New Zealand is under the charge of the Most Rev. Francis Redwood, S.M., D.D., Archbishop of Wellington, who has three other bishops in charge of the other centres. The Catholic district of Hawke's Bay, which extends to Pahiatua, is under the care of ten priests. The Presbytery of Hawke's Bay, which includes Gisborne, is divided into thirteen parishes, each in charge of resident ministers. The Methodist Church has six resident ministers in Hawke's Bay, and the Baptist and Congregational denominations each have a minister residing in Napier.

The Diocese of Waiapu, of which Napier is the centre, was formerly part of the New Zealand Diocese, but was constituted a separate diocese in the year 1859. It was bounded on the north by Tauranga, and on the south by Gisborne, and had a population almost exclusively Maori. The meeting of the first Synod was held at Waerenga-a-hika, Turanga, on the 3rd day of December, 1861, when the proceedings were conducted in Maori, Bishop Williams being president. During the Maori troubles, this portion of the diocese suffered considerably from the Hau-hau fanatics, and in March, 1865, the Rev. Mr. Volkner was murdéred at Opotiki. In 1868 the boundaries of the diocese were extended, and the provincial district of Hawke's Bay was taken from the Diocese of Wellington, and added to that of Waiapu, thus extending it to Woodville on the south. The new Synod met at Napier in August, 1872, and included Bishop William Williams (president), Archdeacon W. L. Williams (the present Bishop), the Rev. Samuel William (now Archdeacon), and Mr. J. B. Fielder. Bishop William Williams resigned the see in the year 1876, owing to ill-health, and Archdeacon W. L. Williams, as commissary appointed by the Primate, administered the affairs of the diocese till the consecration as Bishop of the Rev. Edward Craig Stuart, who was elected by the Synod on the 25th of September, 1877. Bishop Stuart resigned his see on the 31st of January, 1894, to take up missionary work in Persia. He was succeeded by Archdeacon W. L. Williams, who was elected Bishop by the Diocesan Synod on the 25th of September, 1894, and was consecrated in the Napier Cathedral on the 20th of January, 1895.

There are three Archdeaconries in the diocese, namely Tauranga, Waiapu, and Hawke's Bay. The two former are vacant, and the Venerable Samuel Williams is Archdeacon of the latter. The Cathedral Chapter consists of the Bishop, the Venerable Archdeacon Samuel Williams, the Rev. Canon F. Mayne (Vicar of the Cathedral Parish), the Rev. Canon C. Jordan (Vicar of Tauranga), the Rev. J. C. Eccles (Vicar of Woodville), and Messrs J. Thornton and J. B. Fielder (lay members). There are also fifty licensed clergy, 145 lay readers, eighty churches, and 150 other places of worship. The churches in Napier are in charge of the Rev. Frank Mayne, M.A., Canon and Vicar of the Cathedral Parish of St. John the Evangelist; the Rev. C. L. Tuke, Vicar of St. Augustine's; and the Rev. Oliver Dean, Vicar of St. Andrew's, Port Ahuriri.