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The Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ) is the main Presbyterian church in New Zealandmarker.


The Presbyterian Church of New Zealand was formed in October 1901 with the amalgamation of churches in Synod of Otago and Southland with those north of the Waitaki Rivermarker.

Presbyterians had by and large come to New Zealand as settlers from Scotlandmarker, Irelandmarker and Australia. Dunedinmarker and Waipumarker were Presbyterian settlements, but significant numbers were found in other parts of the country including Christchurchmarker, Port Nicholson marker, and Aucklandmarker. Ministers came with the first European settlers to Wellington, Otago and Waipu, but generally nascent congregations called ministers from Scotland. Missions to the Māori people focused on the Tuhoe people and led to the establishment of Māori Synod, now known as Te Aka Puaho.

Ethnic diversity grew after World War II with the arrival of Dutch and European settlers and more recent Pacific Island and Asian migrants. In 1969 the majority of Congregational churches joined the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand. The word "Aotearoa" was added to the title of the denomination in 1990, affirming the treaty partnership between the indigenous Māori and the subsequent settlers.

Debate over ministers in non-marriage relationships

In 2003, the Church decided to allow ministers in sexual relationships other than marriage. This was overturned in 2004, and in a meeting of the General Assembly of the Church on 29 September 2006, this was confirmed by 230 votes to 124 (a 65% majority). This prevents people in de facto or gay relationships from becoming ministers in the church. It does not apply to people ordained before 2004.

International connections

Breakaway groups

Several groups have broken away from the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand because of its liberal theology. One group under George Mackenzie left in the 1960s and formed the Orthodox Presbyterian Church of New Zealand.

Often confused as a breakaway church is Grace Presbyterian Church of New Zealand, which was actually a group of pre-existing independent churches that united into a new denomination. There is sometimes confusion because the church contains a significant number of former members of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand who have sought a more theologically conservative alternative.


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