Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Pakeha and River Spirituality:  A Contextual Study of the Hutt River

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posted on 2021-11-11, 22:13 authored by Noakes, David

This thesis ... seeks to identify expressions of spirituality that have been evident in Pakeha interaction with and reflection upon the Hutt River since 1840. To achieve this, an historical-contextual approach has been adopted using Claire Wolfteich's premise that 'spirituality must be analysed through a historical-contextual approach which can uncover the contours of a community's spiritual practice in relation to a given time and place.' It is important to note here that the historical-contextual approach does not treat spirituality as purely metaphysical and therefore extraordinary to human experience or history. Instead, it recognizes social context as the very environment in which spirituality is located and found. Using this approach the thesis uncovers expressions of nature spirituality that have been operative in relation to the Hutt River since the arrival of the first European settlers. It demonstrates that a range of these spiritual expressions have always existed, and highlights the way that these spiritualities have been shaped, in varying degrees, by religious, economic, political and aesthetic factors. The evolution, accommodations and adaptations which have occurred amongst expressions of nature spirituality present a scene of diversity, complexity and variegation. Overall, this thesis therefore argues that various expressions of river spirituality are clearly evident in Pakeha interaction and relationships with the Hutt River. These expressions are complex in make up and how they interrelate with each other. River spirituality exists with its own unique set of dynamics within a wider discussion of Pakeha earth centered spirituality. (p. 7)


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


Troughton, Geoff; Morris, Paul