Named Nova Zeelandia by Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1642 after the Dutch province of Zeeland, New Zealand is an island nation some 2,100 km (1,300 miles) off the southeast coast of Australia. Tasman was the first European to see the islands. Thinking it was an extension of a southern continent as yet undiscovered, Tasman didn’t sail around New Zealand and never discovered that it is a totally different set of islands.
New Zealand consists of two main islands—North Island and South Island—and numerous smaller ones. Polynesian Maori were the first to discover and inhabit it around A.D. 800. In 1769 British explorer and cartographer James Cook sailed to New Zealand and claimed it for the United Kingdom. He was the first to map the entire coastline and anglicized the name to New Zealand.
In 1840 the Maori signed a treaty giving sovereignty of New Zealand to the British Empire, which allowed them to retain some territorial rights. Later that year the first British colonial settlement was organized. However, the British and Maori had trouble coexisting and a series of land wars on North Island started in 1843. The Maori eventually conceded defeat in 1872. Territorial rights remain a key issue in New Zealand as the government tries to ease longstanding Maori resentments. Even though New Zealand gained its independence from Great Britain in 1907, the British monarch—Queen Elizabeth II—is recognized as the country’s head of state.
New Zealand’s isolation from the rest of the world gives it a unique flora and fauna that draw tourists from around the world. Spectacular glacier-carved mountains and lakes as well as beaches and thermal springs attract visitors. Its economy is considered one of the 10 freest in the world. This island nation has immense renewable resources and uses hydropower for much of its electricity.
Adventists in New Zealand
English, Maori, Sign Language
Christian 53% (Anglican 15%, Roman Catholic 12%, Presbyterian 11%, Methodist 3%, Pentecostal 2%, Baptist 1%, other Christian 9%), other 4%, none or unspecified 43%
ADVENTIST TO POPULATION RATIO
* General Conference Office of Archives and Statistics, 145th Annual Statistical Report
The first Adventist arrived in New Zealand in 1885 when American missionary Steven N. Haskell spent a few months on North Island. He started a small group of Sabbathkeepers in Auckland and Kaeo before heading back to Australia. A year later Haskell visited Kaeo on his way to the United States and baptized 15 people. That same year evangelist and future General Conference president A. G. Daniells held a series of meetings under a tent in Kaeo and baptized another 15 people.
Edward Halsey, a baker trained at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, arrived in 1900 from the United States to make health foods for a health home in Christchurch on South Island. What started out in a woodshed attached to the house as a small operation turned into Sanitarium Health Food Company, a major health food company that operates today in both New Zealand and Australia. The company is wholly owned by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and is the major producer of breakfast products in Australia. It has three manufacturing plants, 150 products, and 1,700 employees.
Most New Zealanders consider themselves Christian but most seldom attend church; more than a quarter of the population practices no religion. The Adventist Church has 11,213 members, or one Adventist for every 373 people. There is still much to be done to reach this country.