Bible Mission in New Zealand

Help continue the legacy of Bible mission in New Zealand

In this, our 175th anniversary year, you can play a role in keeping the flame of Bible mission alive and burning in our nation.

By making a gift today, you will be helping to make the Bible accessible to other New Zealanders and encourage them to interact with it, in a language and format that suits them best.

Here’s the five Bible projects your gift will support in Aotearoa:

  • completion of the Māori/English diglot Bible

  • publishing a special 1827 Māori Scripture booklet

  • finishing the first Tokelau Bible

  • distributing The Seriously Surprising Story booklet to kiwi kids

  • funding our 175 anniversary celebration events

If you share the same passion to kindle the flame of faith in our nation, then your gift today will ensure it continues to shine brightly for generations to come. Donate here.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” — MATTHEW 24:35 (NIV)

Want to read the full appeal PDF publication? Download it here.

The history of the Bible in New Zealand

Reverend Walter Lawry, who founded the Auckland Auxiliary of the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1846.
Reverend Walter Lawry, who founded the Auckland Auxiliary of the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1846.

 “One thing only do I desire; it is not a blanket, it is not anything that will pass away, but this is my great desire – the Word of God.”

These are the words of Rotongia who walked 400 kilometres from the Waikato to Paihia to get a copy of the Māori New Testament in 1837. His response was part of an enormous wave of enthusiasm and excitement about the Bible that was taking place amongst Māori at the time. For many, the Bible became a valued taonga (treasure).

The New Testament was part of a print run of 5,000 New Testaments which had been printed by William Colenso on his printing press in Paihia. William Colenso arrived in Paihia on 30 December 1834. His presence in the country came down to the efforts of three groups: the British and Foreign Bible Society, the Church Missionary Society (CMS), and the Wesleyans.

His arrival marked a significant moment in the story of the translation and printing of the Bible in te reo Māori in this country. But it was to be a journey with many challenges!

In fact, like any good drama, the history of the Bible in this country is filled with disappointments, hardship, false starts, infighting, wars, tribal and denominational conflicts, conspiracy, and immorality!

However, there were also heroes who ran the race with patience and ultimately there were history-changing breakthroughs. ¹

Click here to continue the story

Colenso's Columbian Press

The ‘Columbian’ press, which was sent by CMS in England to Paihia in 1842. It was used by William Colenso to print New Testaments and prayer books.²

Right from the beginning, Bible Society was there! By 1833, the Church Missionary Society had translated some chapters of Genesis, along with Matthew, John, Acts, Romans and 1 Corinthians. Bible Society supplied the paper to print 3,300 copies of a prayer book which included these chapters, in Sydney.

In 1837, to meet the by now almost insatiable demand for New Testaments, 10,000 copies were printed and sent from England, while another 33,000 prayer books rolled off the Paihia press.

Meanwhile, work on translating the Old Testament had begun. But it was not until 1868 that the first full edition of te Paipera Tapu (the Holy Bible) appeared, with further revisions being made in 1889, 1925 and 1952.

In the meantime, the Auckland Auxiliary of the British and Foreign Bible Society had been founded on 2nd September 1846. The aim was to raise money for the mission by means of house-to-house collections and to distribute Bibles.

Today, with your support, you’ll be helping to continue this legacy of Bible mission in New Zealand. Donate here.

¹ Te Paipera Tapu – a lasting taonga, Keith Newman, 2014 mild revision, 2020, p 1.

² Photograph taken by Trevor Ulyatt. Ref: 1/2-050378-F. Alexander Turnbull Library,
Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22648246 4 mild revision 2020, p 1.

Help produce Bibles in heart languages

A sample of the Māori and English diglot Bible.
A sample of the Māori and English diglot Bible.

Māori Bible

This year, with your support, we will produce a diglot Bible in Māori and English. It is currently at the typesetting and proof-reading stages.

A gift of $220 will help to publish the Māori/English diglot Bible. Donate here.

Māori Scripture commemorative booklet

We are also producing an 1827 Māori Scripture commemorative booklet containing portions from Genesis, Exodus, Matthew, and John. These were the first-ever Scriptures to be translated into Māori, and they were printed in Sydney in 1827. The verses will have a modern Māori translation sitting alongside them.

A gift of $90 will help create this special commemorative booklet. Donate here

Tokelau Bible

The Tokelau Bible, which has been in progress for 23 years, is now finished and typesetting and proof-reading have begun. Two teams of proof-readers have been trained in Auckland and Wellington with the aim of meticulously proof-reading the entire Bible this year.

Will you help us to bring this long-awaited Bible to the Tokelau people?

A gift of $150 will help fund the final proof-reading of the Tokelau Bible. Donate here.

Help distribute Easter booklet for kids

The Seriously Surprising Story Cover

From the earliest days of mission in this country, Bible Society has sought to bring the Bible to people in a language they can understand and in a format suitable for them. One of the key areas of our mission, is providing age-appropriate children’s materials for New Zealand children.

In 2019, many of our supporters helped to provide 200,000 copies of a children’s Easter booklet called The Seriously Surprising Story to kiwi kids around the country.

A re-enactment of the road to Emmaus story, this little booklet draws the reader into the conversation between Jesus and his followers when he appeared to them on the road to Emmaus. Just as the disciples’ eyes were opened and they recognised Jesus as he broke bread with them in the evening, so, too, young readers will be surprised to discover that the stranger in the story is Jesus!

This year, there’s another opportunity for you to provide this booklet to children. We have 42,000 copies of The Seriously Surprising Story to give away to children in Sunday schools, churches, children’s ministries, and schools this Easter.

A gift of just $40 will provide 100 copies of this Easter booklet to kiwi kids. Donate here.

“We really felt like we were giving the children something of worth and something that will remind them in the many Easters to come that it is about Jesus and the love he gives us,” — A CHURCH LEADER

Help fund 175th Anniversary events

This year represents Bible Society’s 175th year of Bible mission in New Zealand! Over the years, with the generous support of our mission partners, we have distributed millions of Bibles, New Testaments and Scriptures both here and overseas!

We reckon this is cause for celebration!

That’s why our celebration roadshow will be traveling to 17 towns and cities across the country, as we host 19 anniversary events in 2021, starting on April 9 in Invercargill.

At these events, we will showcase the Bible’s rich history in New Zealand using interactive displays, share stories from our supporters and unveil the future vision of our mission in Aotearoa.

Your gift will go towards funding these 19 anniversary events (which includes travel, printing, venue and catering expenses). Donate here.

Want to register for one of these celebration events? For more information about our 175th anniversary, click here.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” — MATTHEW 24:35 (NIV)

Your gift will help to produce the Māori/English diglot Bible, publish a special 1827 Māori Scripture booklet, finish the Tokelau Bible, fund events for our 175th anniversary celebrations across the country (which includes travel, printing, venue and catering expenses) and distribute The Seriously Surprising Story booklet to kiwi kids.

Just use one of the options below to make your gift – donations of $5 or more are eligible for a tax credit.

Online Form - Credit/Debit Card

Internet Banking

If you’d like to make a bank transfer to Bible Society, our account number is 03 0558 0245656 02.

When making a bank transfer please include:

    • Your name in the reference field
    • Your supporter number in the code  (leave empty if you are a first-time supporter)
    • NZ2021 in the particulars. 

You will be sent an acknowledgment of your gift.

If you are planning on sending us a gift via Internet Banking, please fill in this form so we can identify your gift and issue you a tax receipt.

Alternatively, please email your information to

Direct Debit

Direct Debiting is a safe and convenient way to donate towards Bible mission. Instead of asking the bank, Bible Society can lodge your gifts for you. To learn more about this option, click here.

Make an Automatic Payment

If you don’t do Internet Banking, you can set up an Automatic Payment by downloading the AP form for your bank:

    • Download Westpac AP form here
    • Download AP form for other banks here.

If you would like us to send you a tax receipt for your gift, please email us with your postal address here –

One thing only do I desire; it is not a blanket, it is not anything that will pass away, but this is my great desire – the Word of God.” –  Rotongia

In the event that an appeal becomes oversubscribed, funds will be distributed where most needed.