Hugh Morrison and Geoff Troughton (eds)

The Spirit of the Past: Essays on Christianity in New Zealand History

ISBN: 9780864736543

Paperback, 137 x 208mm
256 pages

November 2011

Has religion shaped, or been shaped by, New Zealand culture and society? How much and in what ways? Questions like these have generated lively debate in recent years, not least among historians. This important collection of essays offers fresh insights into those debates, and makes available new research into the history of Christian ideas, practices and institutions in New Zealand. These illuminate aspects of New Zealand’s Christian past and the place of Christianity in New Zealand history, as well as suggesting ways and means for examining each. The essays include a critical examination of recent debates concerning New Zealand’s purportedly ‘secularist’ historiography, in addition to diverse traditions and concerns: Māori and Pākehā, Catholic and Protestant, and ranging from revivalism to romance, sectarianism to social capital, Presbyterianism to popular religion. Together they provide evidence of significant religious change, influence and agency. They also demonstrate that ‘the spirit of the past’ can remain surprisingly close at hand.  

Geoffrey Troughton is a Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. His research focuses on religion in New Zealand, the history of Christianity, and contemporary religious change. Major publications include New Zealand Jesus (2011) and various edited books – most recently, Sacred Histories in Secular New Zealand (2016), with Stuart Lange; Saints and Stirrers: Christianity, Conflict and Peacemaking in New Zealand, 1814–1945 (2017); and Pursuing Peace in Godzone: Christianity and the Peace Tradition in New Zealand (2018), with Philip Fountain.

Hugh Morrison teaches in the College of Education at the University of Otago, and is also a research associate in history at the University of Waikato.