A brief history of Religion in the Waimakariri District

The first Christian teacher in the area was Taawao, who had learnt Christian beliefs from Wesleyan missionaries in the North Island.  He preached to the local Maori, first visiting about 1840.  He was later baptised under the name of Rawiri Kingi.

The Canterbury settlement was intended to be Anglican because of the intimate relationship between the Canterbury Association and the Church of England.  However, immigrants included a number of Methodists, and with the arrival of every immigrant ship their numbers grew.  They were the most determined denomination to reach out to the small farming settlements of North Canterbury.   Presbyterians also gradually established churches in the district, as did the Baptists. The Roman Catholic Church was the last of the major religious faiths to establish a footing in the area.

At Oxford there were many adherents to the German Lutheran faith, but they attended either the Christchurch Lutheran Church or joined other faiths. Both the Plymouth (Exclusive) and Open Brethrens have had a presence in the Waimakariri District since the 1880s, as has the Salvation Army.  Later the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses became active in the area.  In more recent years New Life groups have established their own or leased premises.

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