Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
thesis_access.pdf (799.75 kB)

Maori, Biculturalism and the Assemblies of God in New Zealand, 1970 - 2008

Download (799.75 kB)
Version 3 2023-03-14, 23:26
Version 2 2023-03-13, 23:53
Version 1 2021-11-10, 01:18
posted on 2023-03-14, 23:26 authored by Carew, Philip D

This thesis examines the extent to which the New Zealand Assemblies of God, one of the largest and oldest Pentecostal denominations in the country, has fostered participation by Maori, and its success in doing so between 1970 and 2008. From the advent of the Mana Maori renaissance in the 1970s the idea of biculturalism became an important vehicle for Maori aspirations. As part of its broader agenda, the thesis also considers the church's response to this bicultural emphasis. The Assemblies' particular response is analysed in the light of experiences in the mainline denominations and the Apostolic and Destiny churches which either experienced considerable success in attracting Maori participation, or explicitly accommodated the call for a bicultural response using recognised bicultural models. The research is based on the published literature of the Assemblies of God and an extensive range of interviews. These provided detail on the motivations and underlying beliefs that have generated particular responses. The published literature of the other denominations has also been addressed for comparative purposes, along with a range of relevant secondary literature. The Assemblies of God's flexible structure, clarity of teaching, fostering of indigenous leadership and emphasis on local church autonomy, has enabled it to grow rapidly throughout the world. Despite this, and despite the church's emphasis on crosscultural mission, this thesis demonstrates that Maori have not joined the Assemblies of God to the same extent that they have other Pentecostal denominations in New Zealand. It argues that the church has done little to foster Maori participation in the movement, and identifies eight key historical, ideological, and organisational factors that have hindered its ability to do so. In particular, it highlights the significance of the denomination's emphasis on local church autonomy, the absence of any deliberate "mission" to Maori, and the church's multicultural emphasis and historical suspicion of "social justice".


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Religious Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Art History, Classics and Religious Studies


Marshall, Chris; Troughton, Geoff