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New Zealand

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New Zealand, formerly described as a colony, has, since September, 1907, by royal proclamation, been granted the style and designation of “Dominion”, the territory remaining, of course, as before under British sovereignty. It consists of three main islands (North Island, South Island, sometimes also called Middle Island, and Stewart Island) and several groups of smaller islands lying at some distance from the principal group. The smaller groups included within the dominion are the Chatham, Auckland, Campbell, Antipodes, Bounty, Kermadec, and Cook Islands, along with half a dozen atolls situated outside the Cook Group. The total area of the dominion—104,751 square miles—is about one-seventh less than the area of Great Britain and Ireland. The quantity and quality of the grazing land available has made New Zealand a great wool, meat, and dairy-produce country. Its agricultural capabilities are very considerable; its forests yield excellent timber; and its mineral resources, though as yet but little developed and not very varied in character, form one of the country’s most valuable assets. Volcanoes, one of which, Ngauruhoe, the highest cone of Mount Tongariro, was in active eruption in 1909, and a volcanic belt mark the center of the North Island. In the North Island also is the wonderland of the boiling geysers—said by geologists to be the oldest in the world, with the exception of those in Wyoming and Idaho—and the famous “Hot Lakes” and pools, which possess great curative virtue for all rheumatic and skin diseases. An Alpine chain, studded with snow-clad peaks and mantled with glaciers of greater magnitude than any in the Alps of Europe, descends along the west coast of the South Island. In the South Island also are the famous Otago lakes (Wanaka, Wakatipu, Te Anau, and Manapouri) of which the late Anthony Trollope wrote, “I do not know that lake scenery could be finer”. The southwest coast of the island is pierced by a series of sounds or fiords, rivaling in their exquisite beauty the Norwegian and Alaskan fiords; in the neighborhood is a water-fall (the Sutherland Falls) over 1900 feet in height. Judged by mortality statistics the climate of New Zealand is one of the best and healthiest in the world. The total population of the dominion on December 31, 1908, was 1,020,713. This included the Maori population of 47,731, and the population of Cook and other Pacific islands, aggregating 12,340.

I. CIVIL HISTORY.—Tasman discovered the islands in 1642 and called them “Nova Zeelanda”, but Captain Cook, who surveyed the coasts in 1769 and following years, first made them known. The colony was planted in 1840 by a company, formed in England and known first as the New Zealand Company, afterwards as the New Zealand Land Company, which with auxiliary associations founded successively the settlements of Wellington, Nelson, Taranaki, Otago, and Canterbury. New Zealand was then constituted a dependency of the Colony of New South Wales (Australia), but on May 3, 1841, was proclaimed a separate colony. A series of native wars, arising chiefly from endless disputes about land, began in 1843 and ended in 1869, since which time unbroken peace has prevailed. A measure of self-government was granted in 1852, and full responsible government in 1856. The provincial governments created by the Constitution Act were abolished in 1876, and one supreme central government established. The Government consists of a governor, appointed by the crown, and two houses of Parliament—the legislative council, or upper chamber, with members nominated by the governor for life (except those nominated subsequently to September 17, 1891, after which date all appointments are for seven years only), and the house of representatives with members elected triennially on an adult suffrage. The first Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives (1853-60), the late Sir Charles Clifford, was a Catholic, and his son, Sir George Clifford, one of New Zealand’s prominent public men, though born in the dominion was educated at Stonyhurst College, and has shown his fidelity to old ties by naming his principal New Zealand residence “Stonyhurst”. There are a number of Catholic names in the list of past premiers, cabinet ministers, and members of Parliament who have helped to mould the laws and shape the history of the dominion. The present premier (1910), the Right Hon. Sir Joseph Ward, P.C., K.C.M.G., is a Catholic, and out of a legislative council of forty-five members five are Catholics.

The prominent feature of the political history of the past twenty years has been the introduction and development of that body of “advanced” legislation for which the name of New Zealand has become more or less famous. The mere enumeration of the enactments would occupy considerable space. It must suffice to say that, broadly speaking, their purpose is to fling the shield of the State over every man who works for his livelihood; and, in addition to regulating wages, they cover practically every risk to life, limb, health, and interest of the industrial classes. It should be mentioned that there is no strong party of professed State-Socialists in the dominion, and the reforms and experiments which have been made have in all cases been examined and taken on their merits, and not otherwise. Employers have occasionally protested against some of the restrictions imposed, as being harassing and vexatious; but there is no political party in the country which proposes to repeal these measures, and there is a general consensus of opinion that, in its main features, the “advanced legislation” has come to stay. In 1893 an Act came into force which granted the franchise to women. The women’s vote has had no perceptible effect on the relative position of political parties; but it is generally agreed that the women voters have been mainly responsible for the marked increase in recent years of the no-license vote at the local option polls. Elections are quieter and more orderly than formerly.

II. THE MAORIS.—The New Zealand natives, or Maoris, as they call themselves, are generally acknowledged to be intellectually and physically the finest aboriginal race in the South Sea Islands. Their magnificent courage, their high intelligence, their splendid physique and manly bearing, the stirring part they have played in the history of the country, the very ferocity of their long-relinquished habits, have all combined to invest them with a more than ordinary degree of interest and curiosity. Of their origin it can only be said, broadly, that they belong to the Polynesian race—ethnologists have tried to trace a likeness to the Red Indians of North America—and according to tradition they came to New Zealand about twenty-one generations ago (i.e., about five hundred and twenty-five years) from Hawaiki, an island of the Pacific not identified with any certainty. After being robbed and despoiled by the early white civilization and by trader-missionaries, tardy justice has at length been done to the native race. Today the Maoris have four members in the House of Representatives and two in the legislative council, all men of high lineage and natural orators. Until recent years it was supposed that the Maoris were dying out, but later statistics show the contrary. The official figures show that the Maori population fell from 41,993 in 1891 to 39,-854 in 1896, increased to 43,143 in 1901, and further to 47,731 in 1906 (last census year).

III. THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN NEW ZEALAND.—The first Catholic settler in New Zealand was an Irishman named Thomas Poynton, who landed at Hokianga in 1828. Until ten years later the footsteps of a Catholic priest never pressed New Zealand soil. Poynton’s brave and pious wife, a native of Wexford County, took her first two children on a journey of over two thousand weary miles of ocean to be baptized at Sydney. Through Poynton’s entreaties for a missionary the needs of the country became known, first at Sydney and next at Rome. In 1835 New Zealand was included in the newly created Vicariate Apostolic of Western Oceanica. In the following year its first vicar Apostolic, Msgr. Jean Baptiste Francois Pompallier, set out for his new field of labor with seven members of the Society of the Marist Brothers, which only a few months before had received the approval of Pope Gregory XVI. On January 10, 1838, he, with three Marist companions, sailed up the Hokianga River, situated in the far northwest of the Auckland Province. The cross was planted in New Zealand, and the first Mass celebrated in the house of the first Catholic settler of the colony. Irish peasant emigrants were the pioneers of Catholic colonization in New Zealand; the French missionaries were its pioneer apostles. Four years later (in 1842) New Zealand was formed into a separate vicariate, Msgr. Pompallier being named its first vicar Apostolic. From this time forward events moved at a rapid pace. In 1848 the colony was divided into two dioceses, Auckland with its territory extending to 39° of south latitude forming one diocese, Wellington with the remaining territory and the adjoining islands forming the second. (See Diocese of Auckland.) Bishop Pompallier remained in charge of Auckland, and Bishop Viard, who had been consecrated his coadjutor in 1846, was appointed administrator of the Diocese of Wellington, which was entrusted to the Society of Mary. By Brief of July 3, 1860, Bishop Viard ceased to be coadjutor and was constituted first Bishop of Wellington. In 1869 the Diocese of Dunedin, comprising Otago, Southland, and Stewart’s Island, was carved out of the Diocese of Wellington, and the Right Rev. Patrick Moran who died in 1895 was appointed its first bishop. His successor (the present occupant of the see), the Right Rev. Dr. Verdon, was consecrated in 1896. In 1887, at the petition of the Plenary Synod of Australasia, held in Sydney in 1885, the hierarchy was established in New Zealand, and Wellington became the archiepiscopal see. The Most Rev. Dr. Redwood, S.M., who had been consecrated Bishop of Wellington in 1874, was created archbishop and metropolitan by papal brief, receiving the pallium from the hands of the Right Rev. Dr. Luck, Bishop of Auckland. The same year (1887) witnessed the erection of the Diocese of Christchurch. The first and present bishop is the Right Rev. Dr. Grimes, S.M., consecrated in the same year. Ten years later New Zealand, hitherto dependent on Australia, was made a separate ecclesiastical province.

Some idea of the rapid growth of the Catholic population, both in numbers and in activity, may be gathered from the following figures. In 1840, when New Zealand was declared a colony, the number of Catholic colonists was not above 500 in a total population of some 5000. Eleven years later they numbered 3472 in a total population of 26,707. At the last Government census (1906) the Catholic total had amounted to 126,995. The total population of the dominion (exclusive of Maoris), according to the same census, was 888,578, so that the Catholic population is slightly over one-seventh of the whole. Today (1910) the estimated Catholic population of New Zealand is over 130,000, with 4 dioceses, 1 archbishop, 3 suffragan bishops, 212 priests, 62 religious brothers, 855 nuns, 333 churches, 2 ecclesiastical seminaries (comprising 1 provincial ecclesiastical seminary and 1 ecclesiastical seminary for members of the Marist Order), 2 colleges for boys, 32 boarding and high schools, 18 superior day schools, 15 charitable institutions, and 112 Catholic primary schools. According to the “New Zealand Official Year-Book” for 1909 (a Government publication) the total number of Catholic schools in the dominion is 152 and the number of Catholic pupils attending is 12,650. New Zealand has added one new religious congregation (the Sisters of Our Lady of Compassion), founded in 1884 by Mother Mary Aubert, to “Heaven‘s Army of Charity” in the Catholic Church. Under the direction of their venerable foundress the members of the order conduct schools for the Maoris at Hiruharama (Jerusalem) on the Wanganui River, a home for incurables, Wellington, and a home for incurable children, Island Bay, Wellington. The order has quite recently extended its operations to Auckland.

The ordinary organizations of the laity, as usually found in English-speaking countries, are well and solidly established throughout the dominion. For benefit purposes New Zealand formed a separate district of the Hibernian Australasian Catholic Benefit Society. Thanks to capable management, due to the fact that the society has drawn to its ranks the ablest and most representative of the laity, the organization is making remarkable progress. On January 30, 1910, the membership was reported at 2632; the funeral fund stood at £7795:2:2 (nearly $40,000) and the sick fund amounted to £12,558:5:0 (over $62,000). The Society of St. Vincent de Paul was probably the earliest lay organization established in New Zealand, a conference formed at Christchurch in July, 1867, by the Rev. Fr. Chastagner, S.M., being the first founded in Australasia. In almost every parish there are young men’s clubs, social, literary, and athletic; in connection with these a federation has been formed under the name of the Federated Catholic Clubs of New Zealand. In 1909 a Newman Society, on the lines of the Oxford University Newman Society, but with wider and more directly practical objects, was inaugurated by the Catholic graduates and undergraduates of New Zealand University. As the number of university men amongst New Zealand Catholics is now very considerable, the new society promises to prove an important factor in the defense and propagation of the faith.

IV. MISSIONS TO THE MAORIS.—From the outset, the conversion of the native race was set in the forefront of the Church‘s work in this new land. When the Marist Fathers, having been withdrawn to the Diocese of Wellington, left the Diocese of Auckland in 1850, they had in that part of the North Island 5044 neophytes. In 1853 there were about a thousand native Christians in the Diocese of Wellington. Homes and schools for native children were founded by the Sisters of Mercy at Auckland and Wellington; and in 1857 the governor, Sir George Grey, in his official report to Parliament, gave high praise to the Catholic schools among the Maoris. Up until 1860 the Maori mission was most flourishing. Then came the long-drawn years of fierce racial warfare, during which the natives kept their territory closed against all white men; and the Catholic missions were almost completely ruined. They are being steadily built up once more by two bodies of earnest and devoted men, the Marist Fathers in the Archdiocese of Wellington and Diocese of Christchurch, and the Mill Hill Fathers in the Diocese of Auckland. The progress made during the last twenty-five years may be gathered from the following summaries. (a) The Archdiocese of Wellington and Diocese of Christchurch (districts: Otaki, Hiruharama, Raetihi, Wairoa, and Okato) have about 40 stations and 19 churches, served by 7 priests. There are also 4 native schools; 1 highly efficient native high school, maintained by the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions; and 1 orphanage, conducted by the Sisters of Our Lady of Compassion. The total number of Catholic Maoris is about 2000. Several very successful conventions of Maori tribes have been held in Otaki since 1903. At the last (held in June, 1909), which was attended by His Grace Archbishop Redwood, the institution of a Maori Catholic magazine was decided upon and has since been carried out. (b) The Diocese of Auckland (districts: Rotorua, headquarters of the provincial of the mission, Matata, Tauranga, Hokianga, Okaihau, Whangaroa, Whangarei, Dargaville, and Coromandel) has 57 stations and 22 churches, served by 16 priests, of whom 9 are wholly and 7 are partly engaged on the Maori mission. There are 4 native schools conducted by the Sisters of St. Joseph. The total number of Catholic Maoris is about 4000. Throughout the three dioceses the Maori population is extremely scattered, and the missionaries have frequently to travel great distances. As the deleterious influence of Maori tohungaism (belief in wizards and “medicine-men”) is on the wane, and the rancorous feelings engendered by the war are now subsiding, the prospect in this distant outpost of the mission field is most hopeful and promising.

V. EDUCATION.—Primary education is compulsory in New Zealand; and of every 100 persons in the dominion at the time of the census of 1906, 83.5 could read and write, 1.6 could read only, and 14.9 could neither read nor write. As mentioned above, New Zealand became a self-governing colony in 1852. Each province had its separate legislature and the control of education within its borders, and most of the provinces subsidized denominational schools. The provincial legislatures were abolished by the Acts of 1875-6, and one of the early measures (1877) of the centralized New Zealand Government was to abolish aid to denominational schools and to introduce the (so-called) national system known as “free, secular, and compulsory”. From that day to this the entire public school system of New Zealand has remained, legally, purely secular.

From the first Catholics have protested against the exclusion of Christian teaching from the schools; and they have refused, and continue to refuse (unless where forced by circumstances) to send their children to schools from which their religion is excluded. As in other countries, so here, Catholics have shown the sincerity of their protest by creating, at enormous and continual sacrifices, a great rival system of education under which some 13,000 Catholic children are nurtured into a full and wholesome development of the faculties that God has bestowed upon them. With scarcely an exception, Catholic primary schools follow precisely the same secular curriculum as that prescribed under the Education Act for the public schools; and they are every year inspected and examined, under precisely the same conditions as are the public schools, by the State inspectors. The cost of carrying on the public school system is not derived from any special rate or tax, but the amount is paid out of the Consolidated Fund, to which Catholics, as taxpayers, contribute their share. Catholics are thus subjected to a double impost: they have to bear the cost of building, equipping, and maintaining their own schools, and they are compelled also to contribute their quota of taxation for the maintenance of the public school system, of which, from conscientious motives, they cannot avail themselves. New Zealand Catholics have never asked or desired a grant for the religious education which is imparted in their schools. But they have urged, and they continue to urge, their claim to a fair share of that taxation to which they themselves contribute, in return for the purely secular instruction which, in accordance with the Government program, is given in the Catholic schools. Their standing protest against the injustice so long inflicted on them by the various governments of the country, and their unyielding demand for a recognition of the right of Christian taxpayers to have their children educated in accordance with Christian principles, constitute what is known, par excellence, as “the education question” in New Zealand. It is unhappily necessary to add that of late years, for no very obvious or adequate reason, Catholic agitation on the subject has not been so active as it once was; and unless a forward movement is made, the prospects of success for the cause, on behalf of which such splendid battles have been fought and such heroic sacrifices have been endured, are exceedingly remote.

VI. LITERATURE AND CATHOLIC JOURNALISM.—There is no New Zealand literature in the broad and general acceptation of the term. The usual reason assigned is that so young a country has not yet had time to evolve a literature of its own; but perhaps an equally important factor in producing and maintaining the existing condition of things is the smallness of the market for literary wares, in consequence of which New Zealand writers possessing exceptional talent inevitably gravitate towards Sydney or London. In general literature the one conspicuous name is that of Thomas Bracken, Irishman and Catholic, author of several volumes of poems, which have attained great popularity both in Australia and in New Zealand. Amongst scientific writers, notable Catholic names are those of the late W. M. Maskell, formerly Registrar of New Zealand University, and the Very Rev. Dr. Kennedy, S.M., B.A., D.D., F.R.A.S., present Rector of St. Patrick’s College, both of whom have made many valuable contributions to the pages of scientific journals and the proceedings of learned societies.

As usually happens in countries that are overwhelmingly Protestant, by far the greater portion of the purely Catholic literature that has been published in New Zealand is apologetic in character. “What True Free-masonry Is: Why it is condemned”, published in 1885 by the Rev. Thomas Keane, is a detailed and extremely effective treatment of the subject. “Disunion and Reunion”, by the Rev. W. J. Madden, is a popular and ably written review of the course and causes of the Protestant Reformation. One of the most learned and certainly the most prolific of the contributors to Catholic literature in New Zealand was the Very Rev. T. Le Menant des Chesnais, S.M., recently deceased. His works include “Nonconformists and the Church“; “Out of the Maze”; “The Temuka Tournament” (a controversy); a volume on “Spiritism“; “The Church and the World”; etc. The last-named work, published only a few years before the venerable author’s death, was very favorably reviewed by English and American papers. A notable addition to the Catholic literature of the dominion has been the recent publication of three volumes from the pen of the editor of the “New Zealand Tablet”, the Rev. H. W. Cleary, D.D. These works, “Catholic Marriages”, an exposition and defense of the decree “Ne temere”, “An Impeached Nation; Being a Study of Irish Outrages”; and “Secular versus Religious Education: A Discussion”, are thorough in the treatment of their respective subjects and possess value of a permanent character. A modest beginning has been made towards the compilation of a detailed history of the Catholic Church in the dominion by the publication, a few months ago, of “The Church in New Zealand: Memoirs of the Early Days”, by J. J. Wilson.

The history of Catholic journalism in New Zealand is in effect the history of the “New Zealand Tablet”, founded by the late Bishop Moran in 1873, the Catholics of this country having followed the principle that it is better to be represented by one strong paper than to have a multiplicity of publications. From the first the paper has been fortunate in its editors. In the early days the work done by its revered founder, in his battle for Catholic rights, and by his valued lay assistant, Mr. J. F. Perrin, was of a solid character. The prestige and influence of the paper was still further enhanced by the Rev. Henry W. Cleary, D.D., who made the “New Zealand Tablet” a power in the land, and won the respect of all sections of the community not only for the Catholic paper but for the Catholic body which it represents. In February, 1910, Dr. Cleary was appointed Bishop of Auckland, and was consecrated on August 21 in Enniscorthy cathedral, Co. Wexford, Ireland. It is safe to say that there are few countries in the world in which, in proportion to size and population, the Catholic press has a higher status than in New Zealand.


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