New Zealand Conference

Report in the 1909 Magazine

Report published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by J. Cocker

THE Conference this year was held in Auckland, the Queen City of New Zealand, the largest and one of the oldest cities in the Dominion. It is surrounded by beautiful scenery, and its harbour compares very favourably with those of Sydney and Rio de Janeiro, and is certainly superior to the much  raised Bay of Naples. The land round the city is broken and within a radius of ten miles of the city there are no less than forty extinct craters. The Auckland province was the first in which European settlement commenced in this land, and here Christianity was first established, and in this city the representative of the British Sovereign first opened his court and administered British law. In the neighbourhood, of this city Maori and European fought for supremacy. 

In 1849 the Rev. Robert Ward, on Sunday, January 28th, opened a Primitive Methodist Mission in Auckland, and at the first service nine persons were formed into a class. Since then sixty years have passed and considerable progress has been made. To-day there are three circuits in the city with six ministers labouring upon them. There are fifteen churches or preaching places upon the circuits.

The Conference was held in Eden Terrace Church, commencing on January 7th, and was attended by seventy delegates.

The Rev. Robert Raine, who has rendered splendid work as a circuit minister, was elected President, and Mr. H. Holland, lay delegate to the last English Conference, was unanimously-elected Vice-President.

The Church in the Dominion continues to grow, but we require men and money to follow up settlement.

Whilst Conference was sitting we were informed that the Rev. G. Knowles Smith was on his way out to the colony, that the Revs. E. Brady and J.B. Suckling, students from Hartley College, would arrive in March; two candidates for the ministry were employed as home missionaries, with a view to their taking their examinations during the year. Settlement in the colony is progressing, and there is need for aggressive Christian work. An attempt is to be made to raise on behalf of missions during the year an amount equal to four shillings per member with the hope of taking up new territory from the next Conference. 

A good deal of time was given to the consideration of our home missionary policy and the discussion will bear fruit during the year.


Considerable attention has been given to Sunday School work during recent Conferences. The pleasure loving spirit and Sabbath desecration are growing, and strong efforts are being made to secure scholars and retain the members of our Bible Classes. Gratifying success has attended the Cradle Roll Department. The following figures are encouraging:


                                                 1908.          Inc.          Dec.
Schools                                        90             7             
Teachers                                   643           30            
Church members                   513           13            
Scholars                                 5,904         462          
Morning attendance             385           14            
Afternoon                               3,997        367          
Over 14                                      1,045         35
Cat. Classes                                  51                          1
Members under 14                 459                         3
Members over 14                     472                         7
Became members this
year                                                 104                          9
Bands of Hope                            34                           3
Juvenile members               4,416             67           
Adult members                      1,812             65           
Branches of B. and P.
Union                                                27                            2
Members of B. and P.
Union                                              813             21          
Juvenile Miss. Soc.                      12                           
Books                                      10,901         1,131         

Income, £1,509 2s. 10½d.
Outgo, £1,376 1s. 10d.
School property £1,428 6s. 3d; £1,079 4s. 6d.; increase £349 1s. 9d.
Average attendance, 1,522 below the roll number.


Our Church is enthusiastic in its support of the No-License movement.

The Rev. J. Cocker moved :
That this Conference greatly rejoices at the progress made by the No License movement as seen at the recent Local Option Poll, when Reduction was carried in eleven electorates, No License in six more electorates, in addition to the six in which the liquor bars had been previously closed; the Dominion vote for continuance was 189,241, and for No License 223,466, giving a majority of 34,225 in favour of No License. We thank God for this success and pledge ourselves to use our utmost powers from now until the next poll so that an even greater victory may be achieved. We also are of the opinion that achieved. We also are of the opinion that the three-fifths majority is an unfair handicap upon temperance and national righteousness and that it ought to be speedily removed.

The resolution was passed unanimously and with enthusiasm.


At the request of the New Zealand Alliance, the Rev. J. Dawson was liberated from circuit work that he might become the organising agent of the No License party in New Zealand. Our Church has always stood in the first rank as a fighting force against the liquor traffic, and in the Rev. J. Dawson has supplied the No License movement with an ideal leader. For ten years he has been the chairman of the Alliance Executive, and by his level-headed judgment, his tact and geniality, his close attention to detail, his unsparing and boundless energy and continuous labours he has grown into the position of a natural leader of the movement. He has the full confidence of his Church. No man is more highly respected, and had it not been for the enthusiastic support given to the temperance cause by the Church he would not have been set free from circuit work, so greatly have his labours been appreciated, and when liberated it was with the understanding that his services would be so far retained that he would be able to meet in the annual gathering of the Church. He will still be a minister of the Church and take a live interest in its work. He will be a general superintendent, with the Dominion for his circuit, and the Church will reap the benefit of his travels throughout the colony. He has the confidence of the No License party throughout the Dominion, and his appointment will give general satisfaction to the rank and file, and will give an inspiration to the workers. During the next three years much strenuous work must be done so that at the next poll we may be able to thoroughly defeat the liquor party and close the bars.


The report on the church properties showed there were :

Churches                                   77
Houses                                       42
Total cost                      £66,606
Present value              £69,992
Insured for                     £34,375
Present debt                 £19,581
Paid off debt this year    £914
Gross income                 £7,880
Gross outgo                    £7,768


The statistics for the year were:

                                                            Total. Increase.
Ministers                                            39     
Circuit missionaries                         1     
Home missionaries                      26      
Local preachers                           186      13
Class leaders                                   53      
Church members                    2,969      87
Deaths                                                 39      22


The various funds were found to be in a flourishing condition. One of the most important is the N.Z.S.M.W. and O. Fund, which is intended to supplement the English Superannuation fund. The present value of the fund is £3,865.

The profits from the publishing of the “New Zealand Primitive Methodist ” amounted to about £50.

Rev. G. Clement is our ministerial delegate to the English Conference, and Miss Mills is lay delegate.

The Rev. A.J. Smith, Mr. F.A. Holmes, and Mr. Mark Harrison were appointed to represent New Zealand on the General Committee and Missionary Committee.


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1909/535

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