175 years of Bible mission



Bible Society New Zealand to celebrate dodransbicentennial in 2021

There are not many organisations in New Zealand that can claim to have celebrated a dodransbicentennial (or in simpler terms, 175 years)! In fact, we have only found three – St John’s Theological College, the Police and the Army. No doubt there are a handful more (please let us know if you can think of any). Bible Society New Zealand is about to join this illustrious list, having been founded in September of 1846, just six years after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

The Auckland Auxiliary of the British and Foreign Bible Society was founded by Rev Walter Lawry in what William Canton describes in his 1904 history of the British and Foreign Bible Society as a “six-year-old two-streeted town of about 5,000 inhabitants.” A Wellington Auxiliary followed in 1848 and the first South Island Auxiliary established in 1862 at Christchurch.

Page 1 of Genesis from the first ever printing of the Scriptures in Maori – 1827

However, Bible Society’s role in spreading the Gospel in Aotearoa began much earlier. In 1827 the New South Wales Auxiliary of the British and Foreign Bible Society paid £41 to print the first ever Scriptures in the Māori language in Sydney. Church catechisms, prayers and hymns, along with the Scriptures made up almost all of the works printed in Māori for the next 8 years, when finally the first book ever printed in New Zealand emerged off Colenso’s press at Pahia in 1835. This famous edition of course contained Ephesians and Philippians in Māori. Colenso would print the Māori New Testament a couple of years later in 1837.

The Gospel spread like wildfire throughout Aotearoa, as did Bible Society’s work of distributing the Scriptures to Māori. Regional auxiliaries of the British and Foreign Bible Society sprung up everywhere. Later they were amalgamated into one organisation which then broke away from the British mothership, to become known as Bible Society New Zealand.

It’s impossible to imagine how many Bibles, Scripture tracts, flyers and booklets have been distributed by Bible Society in New Zealand over nearly 175 years, but it’s fair to say it would be in the millions. Bible Society has had a huge impact on Christianity in New Zealand, an impact worth celebrating.

To celebrate, we will be undertaking a four-month long road trip, visiting 17 towns and cities around the entire country kicking off in April 2021. The events will be interactive, fun and will of course, feature a birthday cake (but maybe not with 175 candles)!

Everyone is invited to come and hear more about the early story of the Bible in New Zealand, Bible Society’s role in that and where Bible Society hopes to be 200 years after that first official meeting took place in Auckland.

Register for one of our 175 Anniversary celebration events

Just click on the closest event to you below and then click register to join us!

North Island

Whangarei

City/Town: Whangarei
Date: Saturday, 8th May
Venue: Church Hall, Whangarei Anglican
Venue Address: 2B Kamo Road
Start time: 3 pm

Click here to register

Auckland - North

City/Town: Auckland
Date: Saturday, 11th September
Venue: Windsor Park Centre
Venue Address: 550 East Coast Road
Start time: 7 pm

Click here to register

Auckland - West

City/Town: Auckland
Date: Saturday, 18th September
Venue: Church Unlimited
Venue Address: 3 te Atatu Road, Glendene
Start time: 7 pm

Click here to register

Auckland - South/East

City/Town: Auckland
Date: Saturday, 25th September
Venue: C3 Church Ellerslie
Venue Address: 20 Cawley Street, Ellerslie
Start time: 7 pm

Click here to register

Hamilton

City/Town: Hamilton
Date: Saturday, 15th May
Venue: Central Court, Hamilton Gardens Pavilion
Venue Address: Hungerford Crescent
Start time: 7 pm

Click here to register

Matamata

City/Town: Matamata
Date: Saturday, 1st May
Venue: Memorial Hall, Matamata-Piako Civic and Memorial Centre
Venue Address: 11 Tainui Street
Start time: 3 pm

Click here to register

Tauranga

City/Town: Tauranga
Date: Saturday, 22nd May
Venue: St Peters in the City
Venue Address: 130 Spring Street
Start time: 7 pm 

Click here to register

Rotorua

City/Town: Rotorua
Date: Friday, 21st May
Venue: Harvest Centre 
Venue Address: 324 Malfroy Road
Start time: 7 pm

Click here to register

Gisborne

City/Town: Gisborne
Date: Friday, 28th May
Venue: Lawson Field Theatre
Venue Address: 7 Fitzherbert Street
Start time: 7 pm

Click here to register

New Plymouth

City/Town: New Plymouth
Date: Friday, 30th April
Venue: St Andrew’s Church Hall
Venue Address: 72 Liardet Street
Start time: 7 pm

Click here to register

Napier/Hawkes Bay

City/Town: Napier
Date: Saturday, 29 May
Venue: Napier Baptist Church
Venue Address: 36 Riverbend Road
Start time: 7 pm 

Click here to register

Palmerston North

City/Town: Palmerston North
Date: Saturday, 28th August
Venue: All Saints on the Square
Venue Address: 338 Church Street
Start time: 3 pm

Click here to register

Wellington

City/Town: Wellington
Date: Saturday, 4th September
Venue: Lower Hutt Events Centre – The Town Hall
Venue Address: 30c Laings Road, Lower Hutt
Start time: 7 pm

Click here to register

South Island

Nelson

City/Town: Nelson
Date: Friday, 24th April
Venue: The Headingly Centre
Venue Address: 452 Lower Queen Street, Richmond
Start time: 3 pm

Click here to register

Greymouth

City/Town: Greymouth
Date: Friday, 23rd April
Venue: Greymouth Baptist
Venue Address: 76 High St
Start time: 7 pm

Click here to register

Christchurch

City/Town: Christchurch
Date: Saturday, 17th April
Venue: Aldersgate Centre
Venue Address: 309 Durham Street North
Start time: 7 pm

Click here to register

Timaru

City/Town: Timaru
Date: Friday, 16th April
Venue: Life Church Timaru
Venue Address: 134 Morgans Road Timaru
Start time: 7 pm

Click here to register

Dunedin

City/Town: Dunedin
Date: Saturday, 10th April
Venue: Dunedin City Baptist Church
Venue Address: 19 Main South Rd
Start time: 7 pm

Click here to register

Invercargill

City/Town: Invercargill
Date: Friday, 9th April
Venue: Lindisfarne Methodist Community Centre
Venue Address: 22 Lindisfarne St
Start time: 7 pm

Click here to register