Sound: Parliament's opening prayer

Extract from Parliament opens with a prayer radio documentary

This narrates the contentious establishment of a prayer for the House in the first days of 1854. Religious differences between Protestant and Catholic were deftly handled by Speaker Clifford (Catholic himself) in bringing the local Anglican clergyman in to do the honours.


Those who drafted the New Zealand constitution were emphatic that it should guarantee strict equality for all. That was accepted as an axiom. Members met therefore in a watchful mood ready to scotch any infringement of the principle. The question arose almost at once. A South Island Scot, James Macandrew, moved that the first act of the House of Representatives should be a public acknowledgment of the divine being and a supplication for his favour on its future labours. Seconded by a Scot from Nelson, this was at once challenged by a Roman Catholic from Auckland, who protested against converting the House into a conventicle. An Aucklander said that he too felt deeply grateful to providence for having brought him to New Zealand, but as members were of various denominations, he would not care to see a clergyman of any particular sect brought in to say prayer. James Edward Fitzgerald, the supreme constitutionalist, held that the very appearance of a state religion should be avoided. With that in view, when the Canterbury Provincial Council was about to meet, the Church of England members attended service in their own parish church. At this stage, Mr Weld, who later became Sir Frederick Weld, Premier, begged that nothing should be done to impair the perfect religious equality of members. Mr Weld was an English born Roman Catholic. His amendment affirming the principle of religious equality was lost by 20 to 10, and Macandrew's motion was carried. Prayers were read by the Reverend F.J. Lloyd, Church of England, who it was said to be the first clergyman to be found. The House then saw no harm in giving the assurance Weld had asked.

Community contributions

1 comment has been posted about Sound: Parliament's opening prayer

What do you know?


Posted: 08 Nov 2018

I would like to have the actual prayer words said at the beginning of the opening of parliament before business. My email is [email protected]. THANX.