Quakers in Aotearoa / New Zealand
The first Quaker to visit Aotearoa / New Zealand was Sydney Parkinson, a Scottish botanical illustrator who accompanied Captain James Cook on his first voyage in 1768. Quakers were among the first settlers in Wellington and Nelson in the 1840s. Meetings for Worship were established in Nelson in 1842 and in Auckland in 1885. By 1900, the New Zealand Society of Friends had 300 members.
Quakers were known for their concern for the Maori people and their opposition to the use of force.
When, in 1861, Quaker Thomas Mason found himself in a land dispute with a Maori leader, 200 of his sheep were seized in lieu of back rent. In accordance with his Quaker principles, he refused to allow force to be used to regain the flock. A few months later, the sheep were returned. Three years later, all men in the district between the ages of 16 and 40 were ordered to join the militia. Mason and his sons refused and were eventually given exemption.
‘The case has given me the opportunity of stating the reason why Friends refuse to bear arms,’ he wrote,’ and I would hope some good may result.’
Ann Fletcher Jackson came to New Zealand from England with her husband Thomas in 1879. They settled on bush-covered land near Whangarei on the northwest coast of North Island. Between 1886 and 1902, she travelled, on rough roads or by coastal steamer, from Hokiaga harbour on the northern tip of North Island, to Dunedin in the south and was instrumental in establishing a network of Friends throughout New Zealand, and in encouraged the establishment of regular Meetings for Worship in a number of places.
From 1909 to 1905, Quakers ran a hostel in Wellington to enable rural children to attend secondary school. From 1920 to 1968, they ran a co-educational boarding school in Whanganui.
In 1976, the Quaker Settlement at Whanganui (known locally as Quaker Acres) was established at a site near the former boarding school. This is a permanent community, set in 20 acres of farmland. It is currently home to 23 settlers, ranging in age from pre-schoolers to over 70s. Its centre provides residential seminars that are open to all.
Friends continue to support the Maori people’s right to have the Treaty of Waitangi – signed in 1840 between Maori leaders and representatives of the British Crown – honoured. In 1989, they issued a statement acknowledging that: “honouring the Treaty will have implications for our personal and collective lives… it will certainly involve equitable sharing of resources and giving up by Pakeha [non-Maoris] of exclusive decision-making in the institutions of society.”
In 1993, Quakers were officially given the Maori name of Te Haahi Tuuhauwiri. The words roughly translate as ‘the faith community that stands shaking in the wind of the Spirit,’ a name which reflects origins of the word ‘Quaker’, which was an early nickname for Friends who ‘trembled at the word of the Lord.’
Quakers in Aotearoa/New Zealand work in the areas of Peace, Social Justice, the Environment, Treaty Issues and Constitutional Change. Friends have addressed issues including family violence, restorative justice, prison reform and child poverty. Yearly Meeting has issued statements on several of these topics in recent years thereby letting the public know about its thinking. They have also made representations to Parliament on current issues such as immigration, and proposals for constitutional change.
Quaker Peace and Service (QPSANZ) opposes war and violence and works to promote human cooperation through aid and development projects with overseas partners. It awards an annual grant of $ANZ 10k (the Loxley award) to an individual (Quaker or non-Quaker) to allow them undertake any project which promotes understanding of peace, justice and environmental issues.
Since 1989, the Quaker Investments Ethical Trust has provided an ethical savings, investment and loan service in such a way as to reflect Quaker concerns.
An annual Quaker Lecture is given each year at New Zealand Yearly Meeting Gathering