Maori Pa’a

Photo courtesy of Barry Oliver.

Māori Ministry, New Zealand

By Jacob (Jake) Ormsby


Jacob (Jake) Ormsby, M.A. in Theology, MMin (Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia). A New Zealander by birth Pastor Jake has served the church as a pastor, hospital and school chaplain, primary school principal, and teacher throughout Aotearoa/New Zealand. He has authored several magazine and journal articles. He is married to Evelyn with two adult children and three grandchildren. He enjoys outdoor recreation, music-especially his wife's piano playing, being a grandad, and travelling abroad.


First Published: January 29, 2020

When the first Seventh-day Adventist missionaries arrived in Aotearoa, New Zealand, in 1885, the Māori population of around 60,000 people was in decline due to the introduction of European diseases.1 The Māori were already nominally Christianized due to the efforts of several notable early missionaries from other Christian denominations including Reverend Samuel Marsden on behalf of the Anglican Church Missionary Society (CMS) in 1814;2 Samuel Leigh on behalf of the Wesleyan (Methodist) and Henry Williams on behalf of the CMS both in 1823; and Roman Catholic Bishop Jean Baptiste Francois Pompallier in 1838 (although it has been suggested that there were Māori Roman Catholics present before his arrival due to the influence of Catholic seamen, traders, and settlers).3 The Presbyterians arrived in 1848 as settlers, not missionaries, from Scotland, Ireland, and Australia along with Octavius Hadfield of the CMS.4 Mormons William Cooke and Thomas Holden, under the direction of mission president Augustus Farnham, followed in October 1854. The population of missionaries and their families came largely from England (the Anglicans and Wesleyans), France and Ireland (the Catholics), and the United States (the Mormons). The work of these missionaries was taken up and expanded by Māoris such as Piripi Taumata-a-Kura of Ngāti Porou iwi,5 Nōpera Panakareao of Te Rawara iwi, Minirapa Rangihatuake of Ngāti Māhanga iwi, Wiremu Tamehana of Ngāti Hana of Tainui iwi, Hakaraia Mahika of Waitaha and Tapuika iwi and Tamehana te Rauparaha of Ngāti Toa iwi.”6 Together they witnessed the spread of the gospel from Kaitaia to Rakiura/Stewart Island among Māori as it transformed their moral practices, religious lives, and political thinking.7

The Arrival of Seventh-day Adventists

On Tuesday, October 13, 1885, Stephen Nelson Haskell stepped ashore in Auckland. He was the first Adventist minister to visit New Zealand. He had travelled from Sydney on board the S. S. Zealandia. He commenced work by distributing the Bible Echo and Signs of the Times. Through his initial connection with Edward Hare in Auckland and the subsequent baptisms of members of the Hare family of Kaeo, he was introduced to Māori from the local Te-Pohue pā8 of the Ngāti-Uru hapū9 and Ngāpuhi iwi. He preached on the Second Advent, his sermon being interpreted by Joseph Hare. Hare, an Irishman with Scottish ancestry who had immigrated to New Zealand with his wife, Hannah, and family in 1863, and settled in Kaeo, where he was resolute in witnessing to European and Māori alike.10 When Hannah Hare died sometime later, Joseph Hare married Dr. Skinner, a widow who was also deeply committed to the good of the Māori. Hare’s son, Edward, and wife, Elizabeth, saved money for the support of a new minister following Stephen Haskell’s departure for America. Edward Hare also circulated the Bible Echo and Signs of the Times and Bible Readings to local Māori.11

In 1886, Americans Arthur and Mary Daniells accepted a call from the General Conference to join the new mission in New Zealand. Sailing on the ship Alameda, they arrived in Auckland on Sunday, November 14, 1886.12 When they arrived in Kaeo, the first Māori convert, Elirja Shepherd of Ngāti Kahu iwi, was ready for baptism and was added to the membership of the fledgling Kaeo church. Her brothers, Isaac and Moses, were baptized soon after. Isaac led a small group of Sabbath-keepers at Pungairi, near Kaeo until his death in 1898. Moses gave service as a translator and travel guide to those at the Māori mission.

In 1889, Daniells moved to Napier where he joined with Robert Hare to commence a mission outreach in the city and visit Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki, a Sabbath-keeping Māori chief who was born into Ngāti Maru, a hapū of Rongowhakāta iwi, at Pa-o-Kahu overlooking the Awapuni lagoon at Poverty Bay. Te Kooti had established the Ringatu (“Upraised hand”) faith. Although the Sabbath was a doctrine they had in common, Daniells struggled to convince the Ringatu of other Seventh-day Adventist doctrines and no further impact was made on them. According to Dr. Joseph. E. Caldwell and Pastor Edward H. Gates, the Ringatu met for prayers twice every day and four times on Sabbath, lifting their hands as they worshipped as in Psalm 63:4. A bond of sympathy was formed when the Ringatu understood that Caldwell and Gates also kept Saturday Sabbath like Daniells. Caldwell had transferred from the Cook Islands to work among the Māori in 1901. After making arrangements for the revision of a tract on the second coming of Christ already in Māori and the immediate translation of more literature, he left Auckland with Gates to visit Opouriao on the border of “Te Urewera where they were determined to discover for themselves the real condition and needs of Māori before making a permanent settlement.

Caldwell’s and Gates’s second trip was made on horseback from the East Coast of the Bay of Plenty to Raglan on the West Coast of the North Island of New Zealand. Moses Shepherd accompanied them and acted as interpreter. They settled at Kawhia, on the West Coast with the Hill family, who were among the earliest of Daniells’s converts in Auckland. Hill and his two daughters were dedicated to Māori evangelism. Their efforts were focused on conducting Sabbath School and distributing the Māori tracts “The Sabbath,” “Christ’s Second Advent,” “The Way of Salvation,” “The Saint’s Inheritance,” “The Resurrection,” “Tea and Tobacco,” and the book “Christ our Savior” in the vicinity.13 The tract on “Tea and Tobacco” was designed to address the use of tobacco which caused throat and lung diseases among Māori. Sadly, Julia Caldwell died on March 1, 1902, due to health issues and Joseph Caldwell returned to America devastated.

Daniells served as New Zealand Conference president from 1889 to 1891 before illness forced him to Australia. In 1889, he made a plea for the Māori, noting that the Mormons had sent many energetic missionaries from Utah among the Māori so “has not the time fully come for us to make an earnest effort among Māori?”14 Daniells acknowledged the work of a “Sister Nicholas,” a Rarotongan woman who spoke and translated Seventh-day Adventist literature into the Māori language.15 In the early part of 1889, Robert Hare and his wife responded to the plea for earnest effort by conducting a series of meetings in Gisborne, which resulted in a company of believers, mostly Māori, being established in Tolaga Bay. One of the Māori believers, Francis Moore16 of Ngāti Porou, was baptized in the Taruheru River. Moore had assisted E. W. Farnsworth in his Christchurch evangelistic program in 1887 and encouraged the evangelist to visit her home town and consolidate interests in the faith there.17

On November 4, 1893, Margaret (Grannie) Lockwood18 of Ngāti Porou, a Māori midwife from Gisborne and mother of Francis Moore, was baptized by American Gilbert T. Wilson who was living in Hastings. Grannie Lockwood was dearly loved up and down the coast and used her midwifery services in some very difficult circumstances, including riding horse-back into the mountainous regions of Te Ureweras. Lockwood’s last public act was to “cut the ribbon” at the opening of the new Tolaga wharves, an honor in recognition of a noble life spent in service to the community she loved. Another one of her daughter’s, Matilda or “Mattie,” was later baptized and worked for Daniells in Australia as his secretary. She married Australian-born William A. Tulloch, a tailor in Tolaga Bay who along with G. H. Wordsworth worked for the Māori until Wordsworth left.19 Wilson was the New Zealand Conference president from 1893 to 1895 and, during his tenure, he organized the translation of the tract “The Curse of the Liquor Traffic.” This tract was distributed among the Māori because alcohol, along with smoking, was one of the scourges introduced to them by the English settlers.20 In 1894, Hannah Ranginia of Ngāti Porou and Tolaga Bay was baptized by Wilson. Her relatives, including Josephine Glover, were baptized a little later.21

In the South Island-Te Wai Pounamu of New Zealand, Andrew Simpson, a literature evangelist was holding Sunday afternoon meetings at the Omaka Marae near Blenheim. It is not known what influence he had on the local Māori, but a number of years later both Māori men and women took up the literature evangelist work throughout New Zealand.

In 1891, a British naval chef by the name of Everson who had read his way into the Adventist church while sailing the waters of New Zealand, successfully applied for and was accepted as chef at Te Aute College of Ngāti Kahungunu iwi, an Anglican Boys’ College in Hawkes Bay.22 On Saturdays, his absence was noted and caused questions to be raised by some of the boys, in particular sixteen-year olds Māui Wiremu Pita Naera Pōmare of Ngati Mutunga and Ngati Toa and Iti Mikaera.23 Pōmare and Mikaera were baptized after an evangelistic effort in Napier by A. G. Daniels in 1892 and later attended Advnetist schools in the United States and Australia; Pōmare to Battle Creek, Michigan, and the American Medical Missionary College in Chicago; Mikaera to the Australasian Bible School in Melbourne and translation work at the Avondale Press in New South Wales before studying medicine at Queen’s College in Canada. Wilson; Dr. Margaret Caro, an Adventist dentist in Napier; and Ellen G White provided financial support for both boys.24 At a conference in Napier in early March 1893, Church leaders, including A. G. Daniell’s and Ellen G. White, met Pōmare and regarded him as “a very promising young man.” He was encouraged to “become a medical missionary, that he may be the better able to elevate his people.”25 The principal of Te Aute College, John Thornton, had also encouraged his students to read James Henry Pope’s pamphlet Health for the Māori: A Manual for Use in Native Schools. Pope or “Te Popi” was appointed the first inspector of native schools. A fluent speaker of the Māori language, he was well informed in Māori lore and traditions and not only encouraged tribal leaders to support the education of their youth, but also to improve health and sanitation. Pōmare with Reweti Tuhorouta Kohere of Ngāti Porou,26 and Timutimu Tawhai of Te Whānau-ā-Apanui iwi, embraced and shared this message, including their concern for welfare and population levels, with passion and enthusiasm at more than one dozen marae.27

On Sunday, August 6, 1893, Pōmare left Napier aboard the S. S. Takune bound for Battle Creek, Michigan. Upon arriving and consulting with W. W. Prescott, president of Battle Creek College, and J. H. Kellogg, he commenced his studies. From 1893 to 1894, he studied at Battle Creek College, and would later report to the New Zealand government that:

It is not so much the fine culture that we want, as it is the useful and practical knowledge that is needed in the common everyday things of life. The science of the hoe, personal dress, the science of cooking, the nursing of the sick, the upbringing of babies; these are the essentials that ought to be taught in every Maori school in the country.28

Pōmare was also influenced by Booker T. Washington’s emphasis on technical and industrial education, which he believed would fit the Māori for an outdoor life of hard work. After completing his studies at Battle Creek, he was introduced to Kellogg’s emphasis on hydrotherapy, the use of natural remedies, a vegetarian diet, and was given personal tuition by Kellogg himself. So convinced was Pōmare of Kelloggs’s “Gospel of Health,” that he intended to establish a college in New Zealand based on the Battle Creek Institution and the American plan. In that way, he argued, he could “extend the life of my nation many generations if not perpetuate it.”29 In 1895, he commenced his formal medical studies at the American Medical Missionary College in Chicago, Illinois. Pōmare graduated in 1899 and became the first Māori to qualify as a medical doctor.30

Success and Challenge

In 1906, S. M. Cobb, president of the New Zealand Conference, commented at the Island Bay camp meeting in Wellington, that “the Māori work needs attention.”31 In response, William James Smith, the conference secretary, was appointed to lead out in the Māori work assisted by Fred and Nelly Redward, who were both trained nurses. Together they would experience success close to Gisborne and Tolaga Bay with the many sick, both Māori and European, in that region. Their health evangelism efforts endeared them to the Māori who taught them the Māori language.32 Smith also opened a school in Tolaga Bay, but it did not last. He envisioned printing a church paper for the Māori, and with translation assistance from Francis Moore in Tolaga Bay and a printer in Gisborne, the first issue of Te Karere O Pono (The Herald of Truth) was printed in July 1907. Four editions were published and were an instant success as Māori throughout New Zealand and the Chatham Islands enjoyed reading it in their own language.33 Smith was appointed to join the faculty of the new Pukekura Training School which opened its doors in 1908.34 His contribution to the betterment of the Māori was noted, particularly with the good use of Sabbath School offerings given for that purpose in 1907.

When the Redwards moved on after two years of working with the Māori on the East Coast, their places were filled by Read and Lucy Smith. Originally from England, Read Smith had immigrated to Australia where he met and married Lucy. While living in Western Australia, they had become Adventists after which they moved to Sydney to train as nurses at the Sydney Sanitarium, both graduating in 1908. Their health evangelism work for the Māori lasted only two years as Read Smith succumbed to typhoid fever and died on September 3, 1910. He was thirty-five years old.35 Lucy Smith returned to Australia briefly before going back to New Zealand on January 23, 1911, with Pastors Fulton and Hoopes, to take charge of the Waiheke Island Māori School. Unfortunately, apart from the work of Dr. Maui Pōmare for the health of the Māori, the untimely death of Read Smith and Lucy Smith’s decision to move to teaching36 greatly diminished the Church’s medical work among the Māori.

W. R. Carswell and his wife, Janet, lived in Tolaga Bay where they continued the translation and printing of literature in the Māori language started by William Smith. Francis Moore also continued to assist. Carswell moved through a number of East Coast towns and villages including Gisborne, Wairoa, Wanganui, and Waipapakauri in the far North. He worked on a Māori translation of John Fulton’s Bible studies. These were published in 1914 entitled Te Taro O Te Ora (The Bread of Life). In mid-1911, the size of the monthly Te Karere O Te Pono was doubled to eight pages with illustrations included. Avondale Press began to print each issue instead of being printed in Gisborne.37 Although they both returned to Australia in 1911 for Janet Carswell’s medical treatment at the Sydney Sanitarium, Carswell continued to publish the Māori paper until 1914.

Americans Albert and Minnie Chaney were appointed to the East Coast to minister to Māori in 1912, but because of the language barrier they chose to transfer out. They were followed in mid-1913 by Harold and Alice Letts, but again their tenure was brief. In January 1914, Reg and Emily Piper, both New Zealanders who had ministered in the Cook Islands, were called to Māori evangelism on the West Coast and met the Hill family who were still actively engaged in ministering to the Māori in the region.38 Piper then travelled to Taumaranui and visited Pūtiki pā, at the mouth of the Wanganui River before travelling north to the Opapaka pā in Waitomo. After a short journey from Waitomo to Otorohanga, Piper headed to Ngaruawahia by train where he gave away literature including anti-smoking tracts. His visit may have coincided with Māori King Te Rata’s return to Tūrangawaewae marae after his mission to England where he petitioned its monarch to return confiscated land to the Waikato iwi. Consequently, there would have been a large number of Māori in Ngaruawahia at this important time. Piper borrowed a bicycle and peddled to Te Kōwhai, Whatawhata (Omaero and Te Papa o Rotu), and Waingaro marae’. He reached Raglan by launch from Waingaro via the Waingaro River and, with Annie Hill, rode by horseback on a gravel road to Kawhia some seventy kilometers away. It would have taken him no less than ten hours to ride that distance. Upon arriving in Kawhia and visiting local marae (Maketu, Waipapa, and Okapu), he discovered that the Methodists, Anglicans, Mormons, Catholics, Presbyterians, and Baptist were active in the area. This may have caused him to explore other possibilities and he relocated to Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty. Vai Kerisome, a young Niuean lady, offered to assist the Pipers having studied for three years at the Avondale School for Christian Workers in Australia and helped in translation work at the Avondale Press also in Australia. Despite their best efforts, nothing came of the work in Tauranga.

Wilson Mutu of Te Rarawa, Ngāti Whatua, and Ngāti Kahu iwi, first heard about the Sabbath when he was sitting on a bank watching his Uncle Mick clean out some drains on the Vincents’ farm at Tokatoka near Dargaville in 1920. Vincent asked Uncle Mick to get out of the drain because he didn’t want him working on the Sabbath. Wilson asked his Uncle Mick what the Sabbath was and because his uncle could not supply an answer, he went in search of an answer himself. Twenty-seven years later, Wilson met Don and May Davis who were running a small evangelistic program at Ruawai, along with John Mitchell, and he found the answer to his Sabbath question. He was baptized in the Dargaville church before he and his wife, Emarina (Molly) of Waikato and Ngāti Whatua iwi, moved to Kaitaia in 1950. For three years after his retirement, he served on the conference executive committee. The local churches in which he served as an elder and the wider community appreciated his faithfulness and willingness to walk with them as he walked with God.

On April 4, 1932, John H. Thorndyke, an elder of the Dannevirke church, willed a major portion of his estate to the Adventist Church. The money was divided between the work for the Māori and Pacific Islanders. Hubert L. Tolhurst and his wife, Elsmer, returned from Tonga, settled at Ohope, and actively engaged in meeting with local Māori such as the Waterhouse family of Ngati Awa iwi.39 Tolhurst had worked with Thorndyke when he was the minister of the Dannevirke church some years earlier. He met with the Rotorua minister, J. D. Anderson, who drove him through to Taneatua where he met members of the Ringatu church including its secretary, Robert Biddle. A motor car was purchased for Tolhurst in order to improve his ability to connect with the Māori, not only in Taneatua, but throughout the Bay of Plenty.40

In January 1941, W. P. Claus was appointed to Kaitaia to support Pastor Stevens who was the minister to the isolated. Pastor Stevens had baptized the Puckeys who had been introduced to the Adventist Church by their neighbor, Andrew Bell. The Puckeys in turn influenced Mervyn and Ihapera (Bella) Melville who were living in Awanui. Following Bible studies with Pastor Claus, both Mervyn and Bella Melville were baptized in the Awanui River in 1942. Excited to share her new faith with family, Bella Melville introduced Pastor Claus to her father, Chieftain Hoera Joseph Conrad of the Te Aupōuri iwi, and her mother, Ariana Conrad nee Raharuhi, younger brother, Frederick (Niki), and his wife, Kerewai. Bella Melvilles’s three sisters and their husbands, as well as other relatives, began Bible studies.41

In 1943, Claus baptized Frederick (Niki) and Kerewai Conrad, Rahera and Reihana Murray, Henare Conrad (brother to Hohepa), Waiwharangi Conrad, and Ihupango and Tati Kapa in the Kaitaia church. Soon Sabbath Services began in a small tin shed at the back of Hoera Conrad’s farm in Te Kao. This was the first Te Kao Seventh-day Adventist church building. Claus often stayed in the shed while conducting studies in the area. Sabbath Services were held in it even after it had been moved by two work horses up to Rahera and Reihana Murray’s house. In 1944, Claus baptized Akinihi and Hone Tahitahi, along with Raiha and Peter Tahitahi, in the Kaitaia Church. In 1945 he baptized Hera Waitai, and David and Heni Hoto in 1945 in the Ngātihinga stream. Lorraine Conrad, Evelyn Tahitahi, Rachel Tahitahi, Jean Tahitahi, Bob Tahitahi, Emma Hoto, Tira Hoto, Jacob Tahitahi, Mereana Murray, Ata Kapa, Ihaka Kapa, Bella Tahitahi, Joan Conrad, and Ngauma Taurere were also baptized by him in 1947 in the Ngātihinga stream.42

Due to increased membership, former air force barracks were shifted from Sweetwater, with help from Reihana’s bus, to Te Kao and renovated. These newly renovated barracks became the Te Kao Seventh-day Adventist church, the first with an all-Māori membership in New Zealand. It was dedicated on the March 27, 1948, by Pastors Claus and Walter E. Battye, the conference president. Claus was eventually replaced by A. G. Jacobson, a mentor to McLean Campbell who was ordained to the gospel ministry at the 1955-1956 camp meeting at Haskell Park,43 Papakura, Auckland. Campbell was the first Māori minister in the Adventist Church. One of his earliest converts was Bella Nathan or Aunty Bella as she was known by those in her community. When she died, three funeral services were held in her honor, one in the Anglican church, one in the Adventist church, and one on the local Marae. Queen Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu of Waikato travelled from Ngaruawahia for the services.

On January 22, 1943, at a Māori Land Court sitting in Te Kao, Reihana and Rahera Murray filed a petition order to set aside an area of 0.3035 hectares of their land for a church cemetery. On December 18, 1958, it was finally published as a “Māori Reservation for the purposes of a burial ground for the common use or benefit of Māori who are members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.” The name Tutumaiao, meaning a single tree standing out in front, was given by Hoera Conrad. In 1956, Conrad gifted an acre of his land to relocate the church near the main road. With help from Kaitaia church members, including the Coulter brothers, the church was moved to its new site using a team of oxen.44

In 1964, the Te Kao Church school was voted into existence during a Committee meeting held at Haskell Park on January 18, 1964 with G.W Harrington appointed as its sole teacher. Dr. Rosenhain from the Trans-Tasman Union Conference inspected the school which was being held in the back room of the church. On the same day the new prefabricated classroom was delivered by Keith Hay Homes Ltd. On June 13, Pastor Stokes officially opened and dedicated the school to the training of Māori boys and girls in the truth of the Advent message. However, it was forced to close due to a lack of finance in 1979. Its last teacher was Ray Stanley.

Pastors of the Te Kao church from 1943 to 1986 included W. P. Clause, A. G. Jacobson, T. R. Potts, E. F. Giblett, M. Campbell, I. E Trevena, F. A. Benham, B. B. Johnson, G. Smith, W. P. Cook, W.A. Baines, P. Theuerkauf, T. L. Butler, S. Presnall, D. M. Carter, R. J. Lewis, R. Stanley, A. Sergeant and R. Chadwick. In 1986, the church requested that it have its own Māori minister. Ross Chadwick, the minister at that time, supported the request. In 1987, the North New Zealand Conference chose Glass Murray as the first voluntary Māori minister for Te Kao.45 Thereafter, until 2012, Te Kao had its own Māori ministers, which included William (Bill) Murray of Aupouri, Edward (Ted) Rudolph of Te Rawara, and Frank Toa of Taranaki iwi. William Arama became the first Cook Islander to pastor the church in 2013, 2015, and 2016. From 2017-2018, the leadership team with support as required from Kaitaia pastor, Patrick Coogan, led the church. In 2019, Coogan, assisted by Shane Harper of Te Whanau Apanui and Ngati Kahu, pastored both the Te Kao and Kaitaia churches.

As mentioned above, literature evangelism has attracted Māori throughout New Zealand including Mr. and Mrs. Maihi, Anne Matunga, Pearl, Jenny and Doug Mutu, Alex Critchfield, Wanda and Jake Ormsby, Lyle Galloway, Robbie Morton, Sandy Coffin, Muri Curtis, Reg Peterson, Georgina and Jamie Leigh Timoti, Monet King, Iri Marton, John, Pauline and Ian Wallace, Bob Rutene, Henry Griggs, Sue Nicholas, Sally Tipene, Emma Douglas, Eddie and Marea Campbell,46 Thelma Franklin, Andy McCaskill, Rowena and Cedric Brown,  S'tar and Israel Jennings, Jane Langer, Phil Davidson, Chrissy Ingesol and Rachel Stevenson.

In 1982, the Māori Seventh-day Adventist church in Mangere, Auckland, also known as Te Hahi Ra Whitu Mo Te Iwi Māori (the Seventh-day Adventist Church for the Māori People) was planted with conference president, Desmond Hills, and administrators actively supporting the work of Māori evangelism in North New Zealand. Those interested families who had initially started out in a tent on 128 Wyllie Rd, Papatoetoe, were the Murrays, Rutenes, Stricklands, Matungas, Tahitahis, Pokos, Nicholases, Fleschers, Warren Scott, Ruby Morgan, and John G. The pastors from 1987 to 2019 included Neone Okesene (the first Samoan), Calvin Townend (the first Australian), Ray Swendson, Ron Lewis, Mark (Mapu) McNeill of Ngāti Moko hapū and the Te Uenuku iwi, Jake Ormsby, David Tavairangi (the first Rarotongan) and Maika Peehikura of Ngapuhi and Ngāti Te Auru/Ngāti Kaharau hapū. Pastor Ron Lewis, who claims descent from Tamatea Arikinui, the captain of the Tākitimu canoe, was appointed Māori evangelism coordinator for the North NewZealand Conference. The conference also encouraged selected lay Māori men to attend the Longburn Soul-Winning Institute in Palmerston North where, upon completing specialist training, they were presented with the lay ministries certificate designed to give them mana (standing and authority) alongside lay ministers of other churches on the marae. Those presented with this certificate included Bill Murray of Te Aupōuri, Jack Ratu of Ngāti Maniapoto iwi, John Kora, Bill Pehi of Ngāti Uenuku, Wilson Mutu, and Bob Rutene of Ngāpuhi. When Pastor Mark McNeill was called to Australia, he became the first Māori to pastor the Avondale College and Gosford churches, serve as dean of men at Avondale University College, and then assistant director of student services.

During the 1990s, Prophecy Seminars and Bible studies were conducted in Te Kao, Matagirau, and Kaitaia. Visiting American evangelists, including Michael J. Harris, preached and sang on maraes in the area as well as further south in Ngaruawahia, Waikato. An aged-care facility for Māori was opened in Kaitaia as a result of the work of Bill Murray’s six daughters and was dedicated to the health and welfare of Māori geriatrics. In Tauranga, Māori members of the local church supported various speakers, many non-Adventist, on maraes in the area, thus building relationships with other Māori Christians and non-Christians. Kawerau Māori Adventists were actively involved in youth ministry supporting Rotorua’s “Hallelujah Service” and Toi Ora’s Festival concert, featuring the Te Wero Performing Arts School. Two of its youth enrolled with Campus Crusade USA and attended a Fresh Air Funds Camp in New York. Sarah Riley went on to complete a theology degree at Avondale College before pastoring in Christchurch and actively supporting Māori initiatives in the city as she did in Kawerau. Hamilton’s Māori Adventist church was planted under a lemon tree in Frankton by John and Louise King of Waikato, Ngāti Mahuta ō Te Tai Hauārū, and Ngāti Maniapoto hapū along with Bob and Ngapoko Rutene. Ngapoko was of Ngāti Makea, Rarotonga. Focused on a needs-based ministry out of the St. John’s Ambulance hall in Meremere, the church’s personal evangelism leader, Sandy Coffin, sought support from the local community so that together they could help youth and children who were educationally and socially challenged. In Hamilton, the church reached out to family and friends with home-based Bible studies, a video library, a Quit Now non-smoking program, a children’s Friday night live program, and a soup kitchen in a needy part of the city. It was very grateful for the support it received from members of the Hamilton church and its Pathfinders, and Hamilton Adventist school staff, parents and pupils. Its pastors beginning in 1997, included Bryan Vickery, Jake Ormsby, and Mike Falzarano.

In Auckland, Māori Adventist, under the banner of Te Karere o te Rongopai (Hear the Good News) sought to reach out with health programs, funerals, Waitangi Day celebrations, catering services, and Māori-Polynesian festivals. Its leadership team, with Bill Pehi as chairperson, successfully sought financial support from the local North New Zealand Conference. The conference president, Bill Townend, encouraged the development of the Te Karere executive committee to identify needs within the Māori community and provided funds to help meet those needs. Following Townend’s tenure, Pastors Jerry Matthews, Eddie Tupai, and Ben Timothy continued to encourage Māori outreach to their own and would provide some financial support for those studying theology at Avondale College of Higher Education in preparation for full-time pastoral ministry.

Ken Read, director of the Home Health Education Service, initiated the printing and publishing by Signs Publishing Company of a children’s series. This series was first published in France under the title The Aventures de Samy. The text was written by Dr. Jacques Breuil and adapted by Alan Holman. Jean Breuil illustrated the series, which was translated into the Māori language by Te Haumihiata Mason and Heni Jacob of the Māori Language Commission and then made available to Māori schools throughout New Zealand. In the heart of the North Island and at the foot of Mount Ruapehu, a marae at Raetihi has faithfully presented the Adventist message through health and children’s ministry to the Māori, not only in its vicinity, but also as far south as Wanganui and east to Taihape.

In the capital city of Wellington, new Māori minister Jake Ormsby was invited to present on New Zealand’s oldest Māori radio station, Te Upoko O Te Ika (the head of the fish). He was trained by Rangatira47 Henare Kingi of Ngāti Rēhia hapu and Ngāpuhi, to operate the station by himself on a Sunday morning. Originally from Kerikeri, the Kingis lived across from the Skudders who were Adventists. They enjoyed meeting and fellowshipping together. Kingi was recognized for his services to the Māori community by Creative New Zealand in 2006 and honored for his services to Māori and broadcasting in 2019 at Government House where he was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit. Under Kingi’s guidance and mentorship, Ormsby would invite and interview visiting evangelists’ and visitors’ such as Geoff Youlden, Phyl Richards and Dr Carol Ferch-Johnson on a variety of topics before preaching the sermon for the morning. At Ormsby’s ordination to Pastoral Ministry there were radio listeners present including a Mormon Kaumātua48 Mark Te Monita Metekingi of Ngāti Toa, who had become a good friend. As Metekingi lay on his death bed in Rotorua some years later, Ormsby was able to pray with, hongi49 and shake his hand for the last time, both promising to meet up again in the heavenly realms.

Since the year 2000, various ministries have been conducted throughout New Zealand including a prison ministry at New Zealand’s maximum prison at Paremoremo, Auckland, initiated by the Auckland Māori church. The church has also focused on reaching out to children in its neighborhood with Pathfinder and Adventurers clubs, calling the group McDonald’s Kids after the street in which they live. Children’s ministry leader Kimiora Roi reported in 2019 that there were more non-Adventist children attending church than Adventist children.

Tikitiki is a small town in the Waiapu Valley in the Gisborne region of the North Island. It is here that Nolan Timmins planted the Tikitiki fellowship in 2009 and although the group have since moved to Te Araroa, they are committed to building relationships with local Māori who have asked for nothing more than direct answers from their Paipera Tapu50, to their questions and queries. As a consequence, more Māori baptisms have blessed the church. In Hamilton, the Whanau Seventh-day Adventist church, formerly known as the Hamilton Māori Seventh-day Adventist church, baptized Aroha, a Māori lady with roots in the Ringatu faith. Her brother and his wife had become members of the Whanau Church and so were present with other friends and family from Ruatahuna and Rotorua at her baptism.51

With the introduction of Adventist television channels in New Zealand, including Hope Channel, the Māori have responded by attending local Adventist churches. In the Wellington region alone, Māori have been baptized and are making a positive contribution to the local church programs and evangelism efforts of Porirua and Wellington City Community churches. Chrissie Cooper nee Ngaira of Ngāti Porou, attended Avondale College and after completing a degree in theology and pastoring in Christchurch, was commissioned as the first Māori female Adventist pastor in New Zealand. She was invited to teach at the School of Theology at Avondale in 2007, again the first and only Māori, where she lectured in Greek 1A, general studies, and Christian studies. Cooper continues to pastor in Victoria, Australia, but looks forward to the day when she will return to New Zealand to share the love of Jesus with her Māori people.


Caldwell, J. E. “A Letter from Māoriland.” Union Conference Record, May 1, 1901.

Carpenter, Samuel, Alistair Reese, David Moko, and Glyn Carpenter. He marau mo te Rongopai huri ruarautau A Statement for the Gospel Bicentenary, Aotearoa New Zealand. New Zealand Christian Network, August 2014.

Carswell, W. R. “The Māoris and Health Reform.” Union Conference Record, January 11, 1909.

Carswell, W. R. “The Māoris’ Need of Present Truth.” Union Conference Record, November 8, 1909.

Carswell, W. R. “In Memoriam: Read Smith.” Union Conference Record, October 3, 1910.

Carswell, W. R. “The Māori Mission, New Zealand.” Australasian Record, September 28, 1914.

Daniells, A. G. “A Plea for the New Zealand Māoris.” Union Conference Record, May 20, 1899.

Gates, E. H. “Among the Māoris.” Union Conference Record, July 1, 1901.

Goldstone, S. Ross. The Angel Said Australia. Warburton, Victoria: Signs Publishing Company, 1980.

Goldstone, S. Ross. Nothing to Fear. Napier, New Zealand: Max Printing Services, 1983.

Goldstone, S. Ross. “The Māori Work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church: North New Zealand Conference.” Unpublished document, July 20, 1983. Held in the personal collection of the author.

Hill, Annie B. “Māori Gathering in Honour of Their New King.” Australasian Record, March 24, 1913.

Hindson, Mrs. James. “Sister Read Smith.” Australasian Record, February 20, 2011.

Hiroa, Te Rangi, Dr Peter Buck. The Coming of the Māori. Wellington, New Zealand: Whitcoulls Limited, 1982.

“Historical Narrative Summary.” New Zealand Christian Network. 2019. Accessed December 15, 2019.

Hook, Milton. “People of AO-TE-AROA The Adventist Mission to Māoris.” Wahroonga, New South Wales: South Pacific Division Education Department, n.d.

The Incredible Journey. “The Man Who Saved Wellington.” Eternity Media Productions, Ltd. 2019. Accessed December 15, 2019.

Mackenzie, Minnie. “The Māori People.” Union Conference Record, June 15, 1908.

Murray, Errol. “Te Kao Seventh-day Adventist Church Golden Anniversary-First Fifty Years 1943-1993.” Unpublished document held in the personal collection of the author.

Ormsby, Jake. “Mission to The Māori-Kawenia te kopu ki te iwi Māori.” Record [South Pacific Division]. June 26, 1999.

Robertson, John R. A. G. Daniells: The Making of a General Conference President, 1901. Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1977.

Smith, R. “Among the Māoris.” Union Conference Record, January 11, 1909.

Smith, W. J. “Our Māori Mission.” Union Conference Record, December 16, 1907.

Valentine, Gilbert. “An Alumnus of Distinction: Sir Maui Pomare, K.B.E., C.M.G., M.D., M.P.” Adventist Heritage 11, no. 1 (Spring 1986), 40-47.

Valentine, Gilbert. “Maui Pōmare and the Adventist Connection.” In In and Out of the World. Editor, Peter H. Ballis. Palmerston North: The Dunmore Press Limited, 1985.


  1. The author, a Seventh-day Adventist Māori ordained minister has written much of the article from his own personal knowledge and experience gained ministering to his Māori people over many years.

  2. The Home Missionary. Battle Creek, Mich., U.S.A. March 1891 in S. Ross Goldstone, The Māori Work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (North New Zealand Conference). (Hastings, NZ: Compilation, 1983), 4.

  3. Samuel Carpenter, Alistair Reese, David Moko and Glyn Carpenter, He marau mo te Rongopai huri ruarautau A Statement for the Gospel Bicentenary. Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ Christian Network, August 2014), 9.

  4. Evangelist Gary Kent and his production team have successfully produced a television program based on Octavious Hadfield. It was screened on TV2. The Incredible Journey, “The Man Who Saved Wellington,” Eternity Media Productions, Ltd., 2019, accessed December 15, 2019,

  5. Iwi is a tribe.

  6. “Historical Narrative Summary,” New Zealand Christian Network, 2019, accessed December 15, 2019,

  7. Te Ara-The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, p.4. Māori and religion: Māori Christianity. See also Sir Peter Buck: Te Rangi Hiroa, The Coming of The Māori (Christchurch, New Zealand: Whitcoulls Limited, 1949), 454-471.

  8. Pā is a fortified village.

  9. Hapū is a sub-tribe. Ngāti Uru is a sub tribe of Ngāpuhi Iwi (tribe).

  10. Jake Ormsby, “Mission to The Māori-Kawenia te kopu ki te iwi Māori,” Record, June 26, 1999, 6.

  11. S. Ross Goldstone, The Angel Said Australia (Warburton, Victoria: Signs Publishing Company, 1980), 25-31.

  12. Ibid., 52-53.

  13. E. H. Gates, “Among the Māoris,” Union Conference Record, July 1, 1901, 5; W. R. Carswell, “The Māori Mission, New Zealand,” Australasian Record, September 28, 1914, 50.

  14. The author’s great-great-grandfather Gilbert Ormsby was the first Ormsby to embrace Mormonism after two Mormon missionaries knocked on his door in Tauranga.

  15. A.G. Daniels, “A Plea for the New Zealand Māoris,” Union Conference Record, May 20, 1899, 2.

  16. Francis Moore was the daughter of Margaret Lockwood formerly Margaret Moore a much loved and respected Māori mid-wife.

  17. R. Smith, “Among the Māoris,” Union Conference Record, January 11, 1909, 8; W. R. Carswell, “The Māoris and Health Reform,” Union Conference Record, January 11, 1909, 8. See also Milton Hook, “People of AO-TE-AROA The Adventist Mission to Māoris,” Booklet 14 Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Series. 2.

  18. Margaret was the daughter of Robert Espie and Ani Umutopua. She was born in Mawhai in 1839. Robert was a pioneer coast whaler who was born in Ulster, 1811. Margaret’s first husband was Abraham Moore, of Auckland. After his death, she married William Lockwood (born at Rhode Island, United States), and, in 1875, they moved to Tolaga Bay. She died on December 15, 1932, leaving over 100 descendants. See Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z., Victoria University of Wellington Library, 2016, accessed December 15, 2019,

  19. S. Ross. Goldstone, “The Māori Work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (North New Zealand Conference,)” July 20, 1983,

    52. Milton Hook, “People of AO-TE-AROA The Adventist Mission to Māoris,” Booklet 14 Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Series. 2.

  20. E. H. Gates, “Among the Māoris,” Union Conference Record, July 1, 1901, 5.

  21. Ibid.

  22. The author of this article played Ist XV rugby against Te Aute College whilst playing for Rotorua Boys’ High in 1972. He stayed with local farmers living near the school known as “friends of Te Aute.” His team lost against a very determined and highly skilled team.

  23. Māui Pōmare’s mother, Mere Hautonga Nicoll, was the daughter of Kahe Te Rau-o-te-rangi, one of the few women to sign the Treaty of Waitangi. His father Wiremu Naera Pomare was a chief of the Ngati-awa tribe. Māui married Miria Woodbine Johnson. She was the daughter of James Woodbine Johnson of Wairakaia, Poverty Bay and Whepstead Hall, Suffolk, and Meri Hape of Rongo-whakāta and Ngati-Kahungunu of Te Wairoa, Hawke's Bay.

  24. Ibid., 3.

  25. Gilbert Valentine, “Maui Pōmare and the Adventist Connection,” in In and Out of the World, ed. Peter H. Ballis (Palmerston North: The Dunmore Press Limited, 1985), 84.

  26. While at Te Aute, Kohere passed the matriculation and was dux of the college in his final year. He would become an Anglican clergyman, newspaper journalist and editor, farmer, writer and historian.

  27. A marae is a fenced-in complex of carved buildings and grounds that belongs to a particular iwi (tribe), hapū (sub tribe) or whānau (family). It is where Māori gatherings take place such as hui (meetings), and tangi (funerals).

  28. Gilbert Valentine, “Maui Pōmare and the Adventist Connection,” in In and Out of the World, ed. Peter H. Ballis (Palmerston North: The Dunmore Press Limited, 1985), 84-85.

  29. Ibid., 92.

  30. See Pomare, Sir Maui in this encyclopedia.

  31. S. Ross Goldstone, 16.

  32. W. J. Smith, “Our Māori Mission,” Union Conference Record, December 16, 1907, 3.

  33. Ibid, 3. See also Minnie Mackenzie, “The Māori People,” Union Conference Record, June 15, 1908, 7.

  34. Pukekura Training School (Cambridge): 1908-1912; Oroua Missionary College: 1913-1923-move to Longburn, Palmerston North; New Zealand Missionary College: 1924-1966; Longburn College: 1967-1985; Longburn Adventist College: 1986- present. Pukekura translates to“I love the place” or on leaving it “I long for the place.” Oroua translates to oil. A number of Māori have attended LAC as secondary students, and when they were available, first year BA (Theology), and Primary Teacher trainees, since its origins and have remained committed throughout their lives to the sowing of the gospel.

  35. W. R. Carswell, “In Memoriam: Read Smith,” Union Conference Record, October 3, 1910, 8. See also S. R. Goldstone, Nothing to Fear (Napier, New Zealand: Max Printing Services, Ltd, 1983), 70-76.

  36. Mrs. James Hindson, “Sister Read Smith,” Australasian Record, February 20, 2011, 8. See also history.

  37. Hook, 8.

  38. Annie B. Hill, “Māori Gathering in Honour of Their New King,” Australasian Record, March 24, 1913, 4-5.

  39. In 1975-1976, Anne Waterhouse attended Longburn College where she met and later married Robert (Bob) Larsen who served as a pastor and administrator in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

  40. S. R. Goldstone, 54-56.

  41. Ibid., 58. See also Errol Murray, “Te Kao Seventh Day Adventist Church Golden Anniversary-First Fifty Years 1943-1993”

  42. Ibid., 2.

  43. Named after Stephen Haskell, the first Adventist missionary to New Zealand in 1885.

  44. Ibid., 3.

  45. Ibid., 4-5.

  46. In 2019, Marea Campbell was the North New Zealand Regional Team Leader for literature evangelism. Collette Brown was the South New Zealand team leader.

  47. A Rangatira is a leader. A chiefly person.

  48. A Kaumātua is an elder.

  49. Hongi is a traditional Māori greeting in which two people press their noses together and in doing so share the same air between them, symbolizing a spirit of unity. Some may also touch forehead to forehead which symbolizes the sharing of knowledge.

  50. Paipera Tapu are Bibles.

  51. Pastor Michael Falzarano from the Whanau Church reported that a number of Māori in the local community of Hamilton were interested in Bible studies and baptism due largely to family connections within the church.


Ormsby, Jacob (Jake). "Māori Ministry, New Zealand." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Accessed August 03, 2022.

Ormsby, Jacob (Jake). "Māori Ministry, New Zealand." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Date of access August 03, 2022,

Ormsby, Jacob (Jake) (2020, January 29). Māori Ministry, New Zealand. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved August 03, 2022,