Organisations related to the churches, religion and spirituality

This essay written by Enid Bennett was first published in Women together: a history of women's organisations in New Zealand in 1993. It was updated by Susan Jones in 2018.


By the early 1990s, women and religion had combined to act as a catalyst for some of the significant social changes occurring in New Zealand over more than 100 years. Traditionally religion was dominated by men, who assigned to women a secondary, albeit important, place in religious life and organisation. This essay is concerned mainly with Protestant and Catholic denominations and their associated women's organisations, with a largely Pākehā membership.

The early missionaries and first waves of settlers came from England, with later arrivals from Scotland, Ireland, and parts of Europe, as well as Australia. Patterns of church life in the developing colony reflected the predominantly Protestant or nonconformist values they brought with them. Women of faith, whether accepting the duties assigned to them or breaking into new territory, were committed to their tasks out of a sense of divine call and loyalty to the church.

To explain the development of women's life and work in the church, we can use the image of a corridor with a series of doors, all opening from the inside. Some doors were open to women from the beginning, in accordance with their perceived nurturing and teaching roles. In the early nineteenth century, 'spreading the Christian faith was regarded as one of the few acceptable occupations for women'. [1] Other doors were opened to women as they formed into guilds and auxiliaries to carry out charitable work, support parish projects, and promote missionary work, both at home and abroad. Writing the history of the Presbyterian Church in Southland, Georgina McDonald entitled her final chapter, 'What should we do without the ladies?’ [2] Many a debt was paid off, and many a church built, with funds raised by women.

By the beginning of the twentieth century women were knocking on other doors, especially those to full representation on church committees and boards, and the right to speak for women's groups at national assemblies. Some Protestant women, encouraged by their experience in ecumenical women's groups such as the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and National Council of Women (NCW), felt their churches should be moving with the times. The prevailing conservative attitudes delayed such progress, but there was no denying women's crucial contribution.

Roman Catholic women in religious orders, meanwhile, had a recognised place long established by tradition. Women in the Society of Friends and the Salvation Army shared full ministry with men; groups such as the Primitive Methodists and Bible Christians traditionally recognised women preachers; and some early Baptist settler women were known as public speakers.

While married lay women found avenues of service in voluntary groups, able and committed single women had to seek official recognition for their ministries. Before this door opened in the early twentieth century, there was considerable debate, as most forms of professional ministry were still seen as the prerogative of men. However, women with a vocation to spread Christianity who were prepared to make sacrifices and go wherever the church sent them, were supported to become missionaries.

The last door was ordination to full-time ministry on an equal basis with men. 'Bolted and barred' in most churches, it was opened only after considerable time and effort; in some churches it remained firmly closed.

The crucial role of women was for a long time invisible in historical accounts of organised religion. Successive waves of feminism from the late nineteenth century on offered a challenge to long-held assumptions about women's subordinate position. By the early 1990s, with two millenia of conditioning to overcome, many Christian women, and men, continued to find it difficult to abandon stereotypes and accept equality and partnership. After 1970, however, feminist theology educated people toward a new vision.

Early missionary years

From 1822 to around 1875, Pākehā churchwomen made their mark both as missionaries and as settlers. In 1822, Catherine Leigh and her husband Samuel arrived in the Bay of Islands to begin the Wesleyan Mission. They were followed in 1823 by Henry and Marianne Williams. Henry, a former naval captain, had been appointed head of the Church Missionary Society's mission in the Bay of Islands. Within a few years these first women were joined by others, including Eliza White, Jane Kendall, Jane Hobbs and Ann Turner.

These early missionary women shared with their husbands an evangelical faith which committed them to preach the Christian gospel to Māori. The missionary societies actively encouraged male missionaries to marry, and wives were not merely passive observers; under the authority of 'the mission', they shared fully in teaching and working with Māori families. Informal association with each other, within the limits of mobility, was a vital part of their lives.

In Behind the picket fence: the lives of missionary wives in pre-colonial New Zealand, S.J. Goldsbury observed:

Without straying beyond the religious beliefs they had brought with them and without consciously seeking after a new role, the experience of women was broadened by their work in New Zealand. ... As early as 1822 the Church Missionary Society realised the potential of married women as purveyors of English moral standards and as exponents of Christianity and civilisation. [3]

The 'picket fence' symbolised the distance between the missionaries and the people they had come to convert. Although missionary women, unlike their husbands, were supposed to remain literally behind the mission fence, they had a definite and essential public role. Their main task was to 'school' young Māori women in Christianity and domesticity, in the hope that their pupils would in turn transmit these beliefs and practices to their own people. Missionary women were also instructed to set an example of Christian family life.

Very few first-hand accounts of the early missionary women's lives have become available. It has been claimed, for example, that the journal kept by Wesleyan Eliza White, who arrived with her husband William in 1830 and was later to play a leading role in establishing the YWCA, is 'the only substantial source material giving a woman's viewpoint on the early Methodist mission'. [4] Her writing depicts women's missionary labours as essential, broad and unceasing, and shows how the restrictions on them as women prevented the best use being made of their talents. [5]

Although Eliza White was an outstanding woman, it was never her aim to stand out – she was a typical nineteenth-century evangelical Christian, believing that she should obey and serve God wherever He sent her, always support her husband, and be loyal to the mission. An 1824 letter from Marianne Williams summed up the mission wives' attitude: despite the 'troubles and petty discouragement of the missionary life ... we feel the strength that is in Christ Jesus can alone give us patience, firmness, hope and never-dying faith in the accomplishment of all the promises'. [6]

Women came as settlers from 1840 onwards, and most were attached to particular denominations. Presbyterians predominated in Otago and Waipū, Bible Christians in Taranaki, Anglicans in Canterbury and Nelson, Roman Catholics in Southland and the West Coast. Later arrivals were Baptists (1840s), Quakers (1850s), and the Salvation Army (1880s). The founding of the denominational churches here in the nineteenth century has been largely attributed to men, but most of the Protestants were married, and the 'helpmeet' role for women was always implied. Some clergy wives in the settler period made a significant contribution to the church and community, on occasion speaking out on issues such as Māori land sales and confiscations. It fell to the women to undertake pastoral visiting, especially of the elderly, the sick and the poor, and the earliest lay women's welfare organisations, which were ecumenical, were formed from the 1850s to extend this work.

In the Roman Catholic Church it was the task of nuns in various orders to teach, and to offer health care and charitable aid. The Sisters of Mercy who came with Bishop Pompallier to Auckland in 1850 had studied the Māori language on the voyage from Ireland, and immediately set to work among needy Māori and Pākehā. Mother Mary Joseph Aubert, who founded the Order of the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion (officially recognised in 1894 as the only indigenous order of nuns), arrived to work alongside Marist priests in 1860. The first Māori nun, Peata, was her assistant from 1862. Mother Aubert's outstanding contribution to a variety of charities and institutions of care has been well documented. Travelling for a number of years in Hawke's Bay, often on foot and alone, she was virtually an itinerant minister and healer, though her church did not acknowledge this. [7] Dominican, Sacred Heart and Josephite nuns also arrived in the 1870s and 1880s.

The late nineteenth century

In the final quarter of the nineteenth century there was a 'flowering' of Protestant women's organisations, both denominational and ecumenical. The development of denominational organisations was aided by the increasingly institutional nature of church life, including centralised organisation, nationwide communication, and annual gatherings to hear reports and make decisions affecting the whole denomination.

Until the 1890s, women accepted men reporting for them on their activities, especially their missionary endeavours; but as their confidence grew, spurred on in part by the temperance and suffrage campaigns, they asked that a woman representative be allowed to present and speak to their reports.

Bazaar in Dunedin

Presbyterian Archives Research Centre

Bazaar at First Church in Dunedin, 1889. Fundraising was a key role for churchwomen during the nineteenth century; both local churches and overseas missions were assisted by their efforts.

Opposing this move, the editors of the New Zealand Presbyterian claimed in 1892 that the women's movement was placing women in opposition to men. They stated that for woman to be man's helpmeet and men to protect women 'is as clearly the order of nature as it is the ordination of heaven, and any movement which tends to frustrate it must be mischievous and end in failure'. Responding to a protest from the New Zealand Methodist, the editors referred to women meddling in matters 'for which they were practically incapacitated by their mental, moral and physical constitution'. [8] However, the women's organisations continued to press for speaking rights within their respective churches, and by the late 1930s all had achieved this goal.

As well as the temperance and suffrage movements, the rapidly changing economy, with growing numbers of young women working away from home, encouraged Christian women to organise. The improved status of women in Australia and New Zealand by the early twentieth century was 'largely a result of the ways in which a Protestant version of liberal feminist ideas was received and mediated by liberals within the particular colonial economic context'. [9]

Women activists of strong Christian conviction, such as Eliza White, Amey Daldy of the NCW, and union activist Harriet Morison, did not see any contradiction in this combination of liberal and traditional views. Morison, a preacher for the Bible Christian Church, declared that 'Jesus Christ was the first founder and head of the women's franchise movement'. [10] These and other politically active women firmly believed in women's special nurturing and purifying mission. The 'purity' aspect of the temperance cause was to remain at the forefront for many: as a WCTU worker in the early 1900s, Florence Harsant ('Te Maari') emphasised it; and in the 1940s Sister Margaret Nicholls, a Methodist deaconess in the King Country, formed Māori women into WCTU groups on the same basis.

Women's voluntary church organisations were at first of two main kinds: guilds for parish support, and missionary auxiliaries for outreach. Male church leaders were dependent on having a pool of 'ladies' to organise fundraising for parish projects, look after church furnishings, arrange flowers, and teach in Sunday school. From the 1870s, these women organised their work in guilds; for example, there was a Methodist Ladies' Guild in Blenheim by 1875. The guilds were, in many centres, the first public organisations to which married women could belong, and their only opportunity for publicly organised social activity. Moreover, 'the subscription guild members paid should be viewed not just as a way the guilds raised funds, but also as a means by which women asserted their right to belong to a public organisation'. [11]

Mother's Union parade

Christchurch Anglican Diocesan Archives, Mother's Union Papers

Mothers' Union parade in Christchurch in the 1930s. The women hold banners identifying the branches of the organisation they belong to.

The Mothers' Union of the Anglican Church (1886) fulfilled an auxiliary function, its prime target being wives and mothers in local parishes. The Salvation Army Home League (1911), while also focusing on home and family, was concerned with broader issues of social and spiritual welfare and mission outreach, especially for women and children.

Māori women were members of some branches of the Mothers' Union; in rural areas they worked alongside Pākehā women, especially home missionaries, and as deaconesses when that order became established. Te Rua Gretha of Ngāti Ranginui, whose mother was a deaconess, has pointed out that while deaconesses and ministers came and went, Māori lay women, sometimes together with their husbands, maintained worship in their homes and passed their faith on to their children by the example of their lives and the stories they told. By the early 1990s the only denominational organisation specifically for Māori women was the Methodist group Te Rōpū Wāhine Wēteriana o Aotearoa, constituted in 1965. [12]

Most of the voluntary churchwomen's organisations continued to serve in an auxiliary capacity. Lutheran women, for example, had both parish and national bodies in the early 1990s; their work was to support their church in traditional ways.

Mission work offered lay women a lasting, wider sphere of influence. Protestant women's missionary unions, begun in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, had a specific role in supporting overseas missions and, in particular, female missionaries. 'A call to the mission field as a nurse, teacher, or missionary's wife was an exceptional mark of divine favour.' [13] Women at home responded immediately and efficiently to calls for material help, for example through the various schemes for mission 'boxes'. Members of Catholic orders also worked in other countries, but always in communities, and as extensions from a 'mother house'. The Catholic Women's League (1931) supported such mission work, particularly in the Pacific Islands.

A few women missionaries also worked in rural areas in New Zealand, mainly among the Māori population. This was women's ministry being exercised, although it was not officially recognised as such. In later decades women's groups gave substantial financial support to these 'home missionaries', and to deaconesses.

The deaconess order, which lasted for nearly a century, represented the earliest form of full-time ministry by large numbers of single Protestant women. From the 1890s, patterns of work by women social workers and deaconesses in Australia and New Zealand paralleled those already established in Europe and the USA. Not all Presbyterian and Methodist women who answered a mission call had specific deaconess training or status, though they were referred to as 'Sister'. The earliest trained deaconesses working here came from other countries; for example, Christabel Duncan, dedicated to the office of deaconess at St Andrew's, Dunedin, on 17 March 1901, had trained in Melbourne. [14] Training became available in New Zealand from 1903, when the Presbyterian Women's Training Institute opened in Dunedin.

The deaconess took no vows, and members of the order did not live in communities. They were 'dedicated' or set aside for service, and remained dependent on their local parish for material and spiritual support, most of which came from the women's missionary unions. Deaconesses were not expected to be celibate for life; however, the church usually required that they leave the order upon marriage, as such service was viewed as incompatible with the demands and duties of women's primary vocation – wifehood and motherhood. From 1967 the Methodist Church allowed married deaconesses to continue in active work.

Official recognition of the deaconesses' outstanding contribution to ministry was slow in coming. Methodist records did not list their names before 1912. Presbyterian deaconesses had no voice on church bodies, even though some working among Māori in the 1930s were virtually ministers; a 1935 Otago report asked, 'Do you know that there is a band of seven deaconesses in Dunedin working full-time, going about in their quiet unobtrusive way?' [15] Women were not admitted as elders in the Presbyterian Church until 1955, and no women elders attended Assembly until 1957, yet deaconesses were establishing congregations in new housing areas well before then.

The Baptist Church and Associated Churches of Christ also had deaconesses. They worked as lay people, albeit with some special training and 'setting aside'. For Anglicans in New Zealand, a deaconess order was not part of the general ministry pattern, though there were several attempts to start one. Some social workers in urban areas formed into communities similar to nuns, taking vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience; but the story of Anglican women's ministries had more to do with the 'diaconate' as an ordained ministry leading to the priesthood.

A form of lay ministry for Roman Catholic women came with the formation of the Catholic Women's League in 1931. Like the Protestant auxiliaries and guilds, this was largely concerned with support; members discussed issues relating to the welfare of women and children as well as wider social concerns, and took particular responsibility for the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine programme, which provided Catholic instruction to Catholic children in state schools.

An extension of overseas missionary work from 1910 to include auxiliaries and guilds for girls and younger women aided the development here of the Young Women's Bible Classes and organisations such as The Girls' Brigade, which by the 1920s were flourishing alongside the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA). An increasing number of younger, well-educated women seeking career opportunities volunteered for leadership in the youth groups and in the newly developing Christian social services. For some, this training led to deaconess or missionary work. The Girls' Brigade (founded 1928) enabled the Protestant churches to draw on a pool of skilled young women leaders; Brigade members went on to use their high-quality leadership training in church and secular activities.

Busy Bees group photo

Presbyterian Archives Research Centre

Early hive members of the Busy Bees, the Presbyterian children's group, Dunedin, 1910. The Laishley sisters, Muriel, the 'Queen Bee' (centre), and Dorothy (third from left), founded the movement in 1909.

Between 1900 and 1945, women's work continued at home, and in church and community. In two world wars and a major depression, women's supportive, caregiving vocation was stressed. Patriotism was taken for granted between 1914 and 1918, with sermons justifying the war from a Christian viewpoint, and women's church groups getting behind the war effort. Some members of the WCTU and NCW denounced militarism, however, and Quakers supported conscientious objection. As pacifism increased following the First World War, some women became peace activists. In 1942 Methodist deaconess Edith Beer was expected to resign from her parish appointment in Auckland when she announced her engagement to Reverend John Boal, a known pacifist, but refused to do so; another Methodist woman, youth leader Dora Sheat, resigned in 1942 when the church sacked Reverend Ormond Burton, whose wife Helen was a tireless worker for peace. Riverside Community in Upper Moutere was established by Christian pacifists in 1941. In 1955 the English Quaker Kathleen Lonsdale helped to revive the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in New Zealand.

Trainee deaconesses in study

Presbyterian Research Centre (Archives), Jack Welsh & Sons photo

Trainee Presbyterian deaconesses studying in the library at the Presbyterian Women's Training Institute, Dunedin, c. 1944–45. Known as Deaconess College from 1948, it existed from 1903 until 1969.

Change after 1945

Slow but deep change followed the Second World War. In 1949 Edith Kerr, principal of the Presbyterian Women's Training Institute, spoke of the contribution of women being seriously curtailed by their lack of voice in the Church Courts, and of a rising tide in the affairs of women. She saw the need for encouragement from the church,

the body to attract the tide of today's young womanhood, conscious of its new found strength and freedom, drawing on it to spend its energy and devotion in breaking wave upon wave in a great impact against the jagged rocks of the world's desperate need. [16]

Voices advocating change were needed, as conservative attitudes toward women's proper role continued. During the National Council of Churches (NCC) Campaign for Christian Order in the 1940s, one pamphlet stated:

The woman's task today is a far harder one than knitting for the forces and juggling with coupons. Upon us falls the supremely important task of building up the moral resources of the nation and of training children to order the world better than we ourselves have done. [17]

The significant changes which did take place in this post-war period involved three major elements: amalgamations within the women's organisations, women in ordained ministry, and the influence of feminist analysis.

During the 1950s and 1960s, several women's denominational organisations decided that united efforts would best fulfil their aims. Anglicans, Presbyterians and Methodists each sought to combine the activities of their guilds and missionary unions. Some believed this would attract younger women, who were already joining separate Young Wives' groups or informal 'fellowships'.

In the new-look combined organisations, the women exercised their talents creatively and gave a lead to the churches in non-hierarchical ways of using power. The reports they presented to church bodies from 1965 onwards showed their increased participation in international and ecumenical forums. The United Nations Decade for Women, 1975–1985, promoted regional and global gatherings of women, which many church women from New Zealand attended.

From 1945 the Women's Committee of NCC, together with NCW, provided further opportunities for ecumenical co-operation. The mainly married lay women members of Protestant groups met with their Catholic sisters when the Catholic Women's League joined the NCW in 1949. The Roman Catholic Church did not belong to NCC, but it became much more visible in ecumenical activities by the mid-1960s, after Vatican II (the historic Council of the Catholic Church, 1962–65, following which a number of important changes were implemented). Vatican II also promoted the greater visibility of religious sisters in ecumenical activities, such as Christian education, spiritual direction and retreat work.

Lay women now had a secure place in the voluntary organisations, and some voice in their churches as a whole; the work of deaconesses and missionaries was officially recognised. But the question of admitting women to full ordination remained unresolved in most denominations. It had been raised as early as 1928, when Congregationalist preacher Maude Royden visited New Zealand. Deaconesses with an evangelistic message could preach, but officially the ordained ministry was for men only. Even when there appeared to be no logical reason to exclude women, nor any theological objections, much of the traditional opposition remained.

In the 1930s and 1940s, several nonconformist women visited Britain and met women ministers. By 1950, both Presbyterians and Methodists had set up special committees to consider women's ordination. The women's voluntary organisations were represented in the debate; lay women clearly supported any extension of women's ministries, including ordination on equal terms with men. Between 1951 and 1977, the Congregational, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist and Anglican Churches and the Associated Churches of Christ all accepted women for training and ordination.

Assertion of a feminist Christianity

Nineteenth-century 'domestic feminism' had encouraged women to seek enfranchisement and to act on behalf of less fortunate groups in society. Yet discrimination against women within patriarchal religion continued largely unchallenged.

Secular feminists, however, frequently challenged patriarchal religion and religious institutions, declaring that Christianity oppressed women. The second wave of feminism intensified this critique. Mary Daly put it succinctly in 1973: 'Where God is male, male is God'. [18] Some Christian women felt that to ally themselves with such views would mean rejecting what they firmly believed was the truth from God. Others who had fought for a wider role and the right to influence church policies did not want to jeopardise all they had gained by supporting such a radical stance. To these women, unlike the suffragists, 'Christian' and 'feminist' appeared incompatible.

A change took place from the mid-1970s, as feminist theology and its challenges to patriarchy became more widely known. At the start of the United Nations Decade for Women, the Women's Committee of the NCC commissioned an enquiry into the status of women in the church. The report, published in 1976, concluded: 'the overwhelming impression was that many women are not satisfied with the present care-taking and fundraising roles they are expected to play'. [19] Nola Ker referred to the paradox whereby Christianity advocated pursuing the highest values, including freedom, justice and equality:

Yet the church … actually lags behind the progress towards equality for women which is being made in wider society. Within its own boundaries it perpetuates a restricting of freedom, an injustice, a lack of equality. [20]

In 1980 the Methodist and Presbyterian Churches appointed national committees to monitor progress toward partnership between women and men in church and society. Guidelines on inclusive language and power-sharing were subsequently accepted, and in 1993 reports were being prepared on domestic violence and sexual harassment within the church community. For the first time, several mainstream churches were being asked to examine their own attitudes and practices in these areas. A major survey on sexism in the Roman Catholic Church, carried out by sociologist Christine Cheyne in 1990, was being studied throughout New Zealand under the guidance of the Catholic bishops.

Second-wave feminism brought forth strong protagonists and antagonists among Christian women of every denomination. Both sides believed God's design for the future contained a crucial role for women; it was the interpretation of this role which differed. Christian women who supported feminism believed God was calling them and their churches to be liberated from patriarchal theology and male domination, and to lead humanity into a true partnership of male and female based on a divinely ordained equality. This meant rejecting any biblical interpretation which supported women's subordination; it also implied recognising feminine as well as masculine attributes within the godhead, and seeing sexuality and spirituality as complementary, not separate or opposed.

Anti-feminist Christian women espoused New Right doctrines which arose partly in reaction to feminism. They upheld traditional Christian teaching on divinely ordained subordination for women, whose 'liberation' was seen to come only through fulfilling both their nature and their vocation as women, and in particular as wives and mothers. The nuclear family and the nation were held up as the sole vehicles for righteousness, with women subordinate to men in both. [21] Feminists were viewed as rebellious and disobedient to God's will. In particular, the extension of reproductive rights, especially the liberalisation of abortion laws, provision for sex education in schools, and the legal and social acceptance of homosexuality, were vigorously opposed as contrary to God's law.

Ironically, second-wave feminism politicised many women, both feminist and anti-feminist, who formerly opposed mixing politics and religion. A notable example came in 1984, when busloads of women, sometimes accompanied by a male pastor, attended the Labour government's women's forums specifically to oppose policies which they saw as feminist, and to vote against the ratification of the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). It was an example of 'women against women', a polarisation of positions which was becoming increasingly visible. However, it did result in some rapprochement between Christian and non-Christian women who identified with feminism.

Publications, organisations and events relating directly to issues of feminism and religion emerged after 1970. Two publications, one at each end of the spectrum on feminist issues, illustrated the divide. Above rubies, which first appeared in 1977, featured stories of women converted from homosexuality, drug-taking, permissiveness and general rebellion to wholesome, obedient Christian womanhood. [22] Vashti's voice, started in 1978, was broadly Christian and feminist but included a diversity of views, which its supporters believed was to be celebrated. Contributors sought to reconcile their feminist awareness with their Christian faith and membership of the church.

An influential organisation, the Women's Resource Centre of the Auckland Anglican Diocese, was set up with funds from the St John's College Trust and incorporated in 1990. It was the outcome of initiatives by The Friday Group – lay and ordained Anglican women who began meeting in 1986, seeking ways to provide resources for Anglican women interested in exploring opportunities for ministry and education. A monthly newsletter begun in 1987 had more than 600 subscribers nationwide by 1993. Covering broadly similar ground to Vashti's voice, the newsletter printed articles and correspondence on a number of current concerns, including ordination, and publicised the activities of some women's spirituality groups. The Centre had a book and video library and a small archives section; it offered training in oral history, and had a project interviewing key women in diocesan life. It also supported the Spiral Community, an ecumenical community of women and men who met monthly for worship and held Spiral Reflection discussion meetings.

Another new organisation was Women, Men, and God (WMG), which started in 1990 following a 1989 speaking tour by Elaine Storkey, the English evangelical author of What's right with feminism. [13] Storkey's stance was for full partnership of women and men in the church, and against oppressive discrimination. WMG came under the umbrella of the Tertiary Students' Christian Fellowship, and shared its Statement of Faith. According to its publication, Agender, WMG aimed 'to strive to present a biblical perspective on relationships between women and men in the home, the church and society'. [24] Articles and workshops dealt with pornography, women as church leaders, shared parenting, and domestic violence.

Three national gatherings of women, organised by an ecumenical network loosely referred to as Women in Ministry, were held from 1981. All three were planned by a collective and attended by up to 200 women. The first, in Wellington, attracted women of varying ages and denominations; they included lay women, ordained women, and religious sisters. The focus was on women's ministries, and the process was women-affirming while allowing for conflict resolution. These two aspects emerged again in 1984 at Waiuku, where women gathered to explore their spirituality and become more aware of the context of Aotearoa, with racism, gender and power emerging as significant issues. In Christchurch in 1988, the theme was 'Empowering to Transform'. Participants commented positively about the 'space' made for a wide variety of women and a diversity of expressions of ministry and spirituality; they saw this as a powerful expression of feminist inclusiveness:

The word 'ecumenical' took on a new meaning at this conference. As well as the main Christian denominations being represented, there were women present who claim no Christian connections – some have never had them, others have rejected them. The conference provided an important meeting point and opportunity for women ... to explore the common ground between them, despite the very different labels they usually wear. [25]

A pagan woman, who had been apprehensive about being 'out of place', reflected: 'I found myself linked to all the women present through our shared spirituality, Christian or pagan, and felt all around me an openness which allowed differing views to be shared in trust and good faith.' [26]

Peny Jamieson being ordained

Otago Daily Times

Penny Jamieson, the first New Zealand woman bishop, and the first woman to become a diocesan bishop, being ordained at the Anglican cathedral in Dunedin, July 1990.

Two gatherings of ordained women were held in 1990. Eighty of the 120 Anglican women priests met and compiled The journey and the vision, which included accounts of the historical path to women's ordination, as well as affirmations of the gifts women clergy offered the church. Among these was a celebration of the election of Penny Jamieson as the first Anglican woman diocesan bishop. A recommendation on sexual harassment resulted in a disciplinary canon being introduced into Anglican legislation for Aotearoa, making sexual harassment grounds for disciplinary action.

Half of the 75 Presbyterian women ministers met in October 1990 to celebrate 25 years of women's ordination. An associated publication, Women of the burning bush, surveyed the women's experiences as clergy and their views on the contribution they were making to the church as a whole. Methodist women ministers planned to meet in 1993, 40 years after Phyllis Guthardt, the first Methodist woman to be ordained, was accepted for training.

Bicultural partnership became central to feminist Christian women in Aotearoa. It featured in the ecumenical conferences of the 1980s; an Auckland Pākehā women's collective began working on theology and racism; and women in several denominations were actively involved in Treaty of Waitangi workshops. Mitzi Nairn directed the Programme on Racism within the Conference of Churches of Aotearoa/New Zealand (CCA/NZ); Jocelyn Armstrong worked on similar issues for the NCC's Church and Society Commission during the 1970s and 1980s. [27]

As several publications demonstrated, feminist theology was alive and well in Aotearoa in the 1980s. Visits from overseas scholars such as Letty Russell and Phyllis Trible inspired women theologians here. [28] The major denominational theological colleges and the Bible College of New Zealand appointed women members of faculty from 1980, though the women were in the minority, and not necessarily all feminist. However, they agreed that theology and textbooks by men continued to be thought of as 'the real thing' by the majority, with women's views offering only a 'perspective'. The Women in Theological Education Collective was set up in 1985 specifically to monitor affirmative action for women in theological colleges by attending meetings of the then all-male New Zealand Association of Theological Colleges (NZATS). The collective ceased its work in 1988, by which time several women faculty were members of NZATS. [29]

In the 1990s a contextual theology was emerging, sometimes worked on collectively in accordance with feminist principles. Some facets of feminist theology have already been mentioned, but as Catherine Benland rightly stated in 1990, 'it is so vast, so profound, and utterly new, there is no quick way of summarising it. It affects every traditional Christian doctrine.' [30] Feminist theology's challenge to masculist thinking made it a catalyst for both partnership and polarisation. Christian feminists were bonding with others across traditional boundaries, as in the ecumenical gatherings described; the new wave of feminist consciousness from the 1970s on also encouraged many women from diverse backgrounds to explore for the first time their own spiritual potential. This led to a proliferation of small women's spirituality groups. The women's spirituality movement was characterised by inclusiveness and affirmation of diversity, so that both Christian and pagan women might belong to the same group. Some groups were linked through an occasional newsletter, and through courses offered by women at universities and polytechnics. The Catholic group, Sophia, saw itself as a catalyst for change in the Roman Catholic Church.

Feminist theology encompassed past, present, and future. It has been likened to 'searching for lost coins', to uncovering 'herstory' within male-centred history. It celebrated power-sharing and partnership as alternatives to domination and hierarchy. As more and more 'sisters in the faith' found a voice and named the world, themselves and God in holistic ways, every aspect of life was revealed as part of a vast interconnecting web. Continuing to groan and suffer, as well as to express hope and joy, women became midwives at the birth of a new and exciting reality, a 'different heaven and earth'. [31]

Enid Bennett


Despite Enid Bennett’s endorsement of feminist theology as giving women a role as midwives ‘at the birth of a new and exciting reality’, by 2018 New Zealand women were not yet fully equal in organised religion. The degree of recognition varied between denominations. Generally, numbers of overtly religious women, counted in recent census results, were declining along with the general trend towards checking the ‘no religion’ box. In the 2013 New Zealand census, those not answering the religious question and those ticking ‘none’ together exceeded Christians. [32] This applied to women as well as men, especially younger women. Yet it was still true after 1993 that most visible involvement of women in religion and spirituality continued through organised religion in the churches, and church-related women’s organisations still predominated. Nevertheless, a small remnant of women did continue to participate in less visible, less hierarchical spiritual groups, such as Cone and the Catholic women’s spirituality group Sophia.

Admission of women into official roles in mainstream Protestant denominations can be attributed to pressure exerted by Christian feminists, as well as society-wide effects of feminism. It could be argued, however, that being absorbed into the mainstream had a diluting effect on further development of a feminist theological critique. In conventional worship in New Zealand’s mainstream churches, male language was frequently still used for human beings, as well as for God. In more radical, liberal congregations where God was not personalised, but regarded as spirit or life force, the gender question was less relevant. This could lead to a new suppression of the Feminine in liturgy and theology, even in liberal circles. She might no longer be vilified, but simply ignored. A gender-inclusive tone could be assumed and expected to cover all bases in spirituality. Did the inclusion of women in church hierarchies truncate continuing, deeper investigation into gender issues, the Feminine in Christian spirituality, and especially into styles of leadership and community-building in churches?

This ambivalence is shown in the fact that, after 1993, women’s ordained roles in the churches developed further, yet in most cases women continued to be poorly represented in elite church leadership. Anglican women bishops in New Zealand did score more remarkable firsts after Penny Jamieson was consecrated as the first woman Anglican diocesan bishop in the world in Dunedin in 1990. [33] Victoria Matthews was the first woman bishop in the Anglican Church of Canada. [34] Elected Bishop of Christchurch in 2008, she served through the devastating earthquakes of 2011 which partially destroyed ChristChurch Cathedral. When she resigned in 2018, the cathedral was still not restored; what to do had become an extended, often heated argument between church, civic leaders and lobby groups. [35] Helen-Ann Hartley, the first woman ordained priest in the Church of England to become a bishop, was elected Bishop of Waikato in 2014. [36] In 2017, Eleanor Sanderson became assistant bishop in Wellington, the first woman bishop in that diocese. For 29 years, however, the New Zealand house of bishops mostly included only one woman at a time, adding to the women bishops’ isolation. [37]

By 2018 the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ) had never had a female Assembly Executive Secretary. In 117 years, only four women had served as Moderator. [38] Since 1913 the Methodist Church of New Zealand had elected six women Presidents out of a total of 104. [39]

Overall, numbers of Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodist women clergy were increasing, but not because of rising numbers being ordained annually. Between 2012 and 2016, of 34 ministers graduating from Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership, only nine were female. [40] Vivienne Adair’s 2018 study of PCANZ’s women ministers, completed just over 50 years after the ordination of the first Presbyterian woman in 1965, also showed static ordination numbers; her recommendations addressed systemic problems for women entering the ministry. [41] In the Presbyterian church, both male and female Māori ministers were most often ordained through a non-stipendiary amorangi system.

In 2014 an online article by a Baptist woman stated that Pastoral Leadership students, studying full-time at Carey College ‘with the approval and support of the denomination to train to be ministers in our movement on graduation, are almost all male’. She also noted that by the end of 2014, it was likely that only two of the approximately 250 Baptist churches would have women pastors. [42]

Married couple leadership in charismatic churches also began emerging; high-profile examples were Brian and Hannah (formerly Lee) Tamaki in Destiny Church, and Peter and Bev Mortlock, who founded City Impact Church, Auckland, in 1982. This form of church leadership often modelled a theology of marriage where the man as leader took headship over the wife. As histories of charismatic movements in New Zealand were only starting to be written by 2018, the full story of women’s leadership in them would take time to emerge. [43]

Religious orders had long provided an avenue of ministry for Catholic women. Prominent in New Zealand were the Dominicans, in 2018 with a website network which included lay members. [45] The Sisters of Compassion were working towards canonisation of their founder, Suzanne (Mother Mary Joseph) Aubert, declared venerable by Pope Francis in 2017. Although New Zealand Catholic clergy remained male and celibate, Lay Pastoral Leaders (male or female) were a recent development, called, formed, and endorsed by the Cardinal to parish pastoral leadership teams. This was described as a creative embracing of team leadership:

A Lay Pastoral Leader, having completed the academic, spiritual and pastoral formation components of the Archdiocesan Launch Out programme (or its equivalent), becomes responsible, as part of a collaborative Pastoral Leadership Team, for the leadership of a parish … Cardinal John is very clear that Lay Pastoral Leaders do not work for ‘Father’ but rather minister alongside. [46]

Women continued to join the lay leadership of other churches. Numbers of women on Presbyterian Sessions and parish councils steadily increased from the 1990s. For example, St Andrew’s on The Terrace was the first Presbyterian parish formed in New Zealand. By 2018, approaching its 180th anniversary in 2020, it had a parish council of ten women and two men, a female parish council convenor, and a female minister. St Andrew’s also had previously appointed an openly lesbian minister, Rev Dr Margaret Mayman (2002–2013), who advocated for civil unions and marriage equality in the early 2000s, along with her partner (later wife) Rev Clare Brockett. From 1994, Baptist Women New Zealand focused on leadership; by 2018 five women had become President of the Baptist Union, and women had held numerous other senior national posts. [47]

In 1997, American academic Mark Chaves argued that women’s ordination was largely a symbolic policy by churches to show they were on board with gender equality, and that a rise in women’s leadership coincided with a decrease in power of an organisation. [48] Becoming clergy was a sign of acceptance of women’s leadership, but they led within what was still a male-conceived and -dominated system. [49] To be ‘successful’ in church courts, women clergy needed to fit in with the existing system. Their continuing low representation within the teaching staff of church training institutions, particularly in theology, [50] could perhaps be partly due to the considerable resources needed to proceed to doctoral level and beyond.

Another area where women were notably under-represented was as invited speakers at religious conferences. In 2018 Sacraparental, an online interdenominational group open to both women and men, focusing on ‘social justice and spirituality for parents and kids’, featured a list of 101 Christian women speakers, in a deliberate effort to offset the preponderance of male speakers. [51] It urged New Zealanders to create their own national list of potential female speakers, so they were more visible. In 2015 and 2016, very popular courses were run to give Baptist women skills and confidence in voice and creativity for preaching.

Traditionally, women’s organisations had provided a limited place for women in churches in which all the leadership roles, secular and clerical, were filled by men. From the 1990s on, women’s organisations within mainstream churches underwent much change. Women being able to hold both lay and clergy leadership roles, and the rising proportion of female church elders, reduced the need for separate female representation. Women’s growing participation in the paid workforce left less time for church-run women-only organisations, and dedicated homemakers, previously the backbone of some organisations, became fewer in number. Ageing and vestigial remnants persisted of some older organisations; others changed in purpose and identity.

A growing trend was for women and men to work together in mixed organisations – for example, those leading the campaign for gay/lesbian inclusion in the Presbyterian ministry. A New Zealand branch of the Association of Reconciling Christians and Churches brought men and women, gay and straight, together to fight against what they saw as injustice. This morphed into a ‘newthing’ email list with the same intention. This alliance was not surprising: according to David Gushee, misogyny had long been a common element in discrimination against both women and homosexuality, so both men and women were needed to fight it. [52]

The internet provided an independent platform for women and girls, and made it easier to communicate with each other. Some took full advantage of this new opportunity. The Girls’ Brigade New Zealand’s 100 companies, for example, included a satellite company providing an online membership experience.

Women’s organisations in some mainstream denominations retained the same title and structure as in 1993, while making good use of the internet. In 2018, the Catholic Women’s League website featured local celebrations of anniversaries, as well as working with women in prison, sending books to Fiji, and a knitting project. Baptist Women New Zealand had its own Facebook page, although there seemed to be no mention of this group on the official Baptist website. [53] From 2016 the Salvation Army Women’s Ministries began using social media to ‘engage women, empower mission and ignite action’. [54]

The Association of Anglican Women (AAW) and the Methodist Women’s Fellowship also had online presences.

The AAW appeared as a menu item on the home page of the Anglican Church’s website. Interestingly, a separate page, ‘Women’, listed liturgical and study publications and featured the Anglican Women’s Studies Centre, formed around 2009–2010:

to serve and to advance the interests and needs of the women of this Church particularly those undertaking Theological training. Ensuring that women’s voices and stories are heard now and in the future is also one of our continued aims whether it be by traditional methods of publication or using more contemporary technologies like website publication. [55]

These two listings illustrate the two major roles women could play in the church – the clergy/academic role and the women’s organisation/parishioner role. The two were not always compatible.

For the organisation formerly known as the Association of Presbyterian Women (APW), renamed Presbyterian Women of Aotearoa New Zealand (PWANZ) in 1998, ‘Building capacity for women and girls in the Presbyterian Church’ was a stated focus, as was promotion of women’s voice and leadership in the church. [56] Another group obviously undergoing a sea change was the former Salvation Army Home League, renamed Salvation Army Women’s Ministries at the turn of the twenty-first century. An article on their website in 2018 stated: ‘Post-modern women lead complex lives. Their lives are as diverse as men[’s] have always been. It is no longer possible to hold one simple Women’s Ministries meeting on one designated day and time to meet their needs.’ [57] This encapsulated change for church women generally.

The years from 1994 to 2018 saw both advances for women and also, arguably, losses. More women were accepted in some churches as leaders and speakers. Women and children were the focus of church programmes in many places. The inclusion of women in formal structures of organisations which had in essence been created by male leadership, and suited male methods and ethos, however, might have tamed the ‘wild woman’ seen in the women’s ritual and feminist groups of the 1980s. In the twenty-first century, fear of the Feminine was still alive in New Zealand churches. Combating this was essential for the maturation of whole, integrated spiritual beings, both male and female. While cooperation between men and women was to be welcomed, there was a need to make sure this cooperation was not only on male or establishment terms. Where God was personified, the gender of that personage was important. If God could only be male, then all would be condemned to a male-flavoured spirituality. The benefits of knowing the Feminine aspects of the divine would then be lost for both women and men.

Traditionally, women had formed a high proportion of participants in spirituality and religion. From 1993, they served and continued to serve many volunteer hours in their own organisations, as well as also serving as unpaid lay leaders and in paid and ordained positions where possible. They could and did provide distinctive and inspiring leadership wherever they succeeded in guiding the churches to provide the opportunity for them to do so. Many younger women (and their male contemporaries) were, however, avoiding organised religion. In the quarter-century after 2018, if women did move to the centre from the margins, they would also need to ensure that the critical edge of their feminist critique was not lost.

Susan Jones


[1] Goldsbury, 1985, p. 83.

[2] Cited in McEldowney (ed.), 1990, p. 38.

[3] Goldsbury, 1985, pp. ii, 3.

[4] Fry, Ruth, Out of the silence: Methodist women of Aotearoa 1822-1985, Methodist Publishing, Christchurch, 1987, pp. 22–23.

[5] See BNZW, 1991, pp. 722–30.

[6] Quoted in Davidson and Lineham (eds), 1987, p. 37.

[7] Harper, 1962, pp. 22–26.

[8] Quoted in McEldowney (ed.), 1990, p. 64.

[9] Patricia Grimshaw, in Keith Sinclair (ed.), Tasman relations, Auckland University Press, Auckland, 1987, p. 227.

[10] Quoted in Grimshaw, 1972, p. 55.

[11] Caroline Daley, 'Gender in the Community: A Study of Men and Women of the Taradale Area, 1886-1930', PhD thesis, Victoria University of Wellington, 1992, p. 238.

[12] Personal communication, 5 October 1992; Laurenson, 1972, p. 261.

[13] McEldowney (ed.), 1990, pp. 90–91.

[14] Duncan later married Reverend Rutherford Waddell.

[15] Otago Presbyterian Social Services Association, Annual Report, 1935, quoted in Adair, 1991, p. 3.

[16] Kerr, 1949, p. 22.

[17] Quoted in McEldowney (ed.), 1990, p. 129.

[18] Daly, 1973, p. 19.

[19] Women's Committee, NCC, 1976, p. 4.

[20] Nola Ker in Nichol (ed.), 1984, p. 42.

[21] See Vodanovich, 1985, pp. 68–79.

[22] See, for example, 'No Longer Competing' and 'A Better Plan', Above rubies, March/April 1982.

[23] Elaine Storkey, What's right with feminism, Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge, London, 1985.

[24] Agender, December 1990, p. 1.

[25] Margie Lovell-Smith et al. (eds), Empowering to transform: a resource book for women, Planning Group, 1988 Women's Ministries and Spirituality Conference, Newmarket, Auckland, 1988, p. 7.

[26] Rosemary Neave (co-ordinator), 'Liberating Ministries', Broadsheet, No. 163, November 1988, pp. 27–28.

[27] A lay woman and school-teacher, Armstrong became General Secretary of the NCC (1985–87), and from 1988 to 1991 worked alongside two other women on the Executive Secretariat of CCA/NZ. Her ecumenical work earned worldwide recognition.

[28] In 1993, Russell taught feminist theology at Yale Divinity School; Trible was an Old Testament scholar teaching at United Theological Seminary, New York. Several women from New Zealand studied with them and with other outstanding feminist theologians.

[29] They include Janet Crawford, an ordained Anglican priest with a master's degree in theology from Yale Divinity School, who was appointed to the Joint Faculty of St John's Theological College in Auckland in 1986, teaching church history. Christian origins and courses which focus on women's contribution to Christianity. Like Jocelyn Armstrong, Crawford was recognised abroad for her ecumenical work, notably for the World Council of Churches' Faith and Order Commission and Women's Desk.

[30] See Donovan (ed.), 1990, p. 241.

[31] Sheila D. Collins, A different Heaven and Earth, Judson Press, Valley Forge, 1974.

[32] ‘The 2013 figure for all Christians has fallen to below 50% (to 1.9m), making Christians a minority for the first time (compare the 1956 figure of 90+% Christians). The number of census respondents who indicated “no religion”, or who did not answer the religious affiliation question, was greater than the total number who identified as Christian.’ Paul Morris, submission to the Royal Society, Accessed 29 October 2018.

[33] Jamieson retired in 2004.

[34] Elected Suffragan Bishop in the Diocese of Toronto on 19 November 1993, Matthews was ordained to the episcopate on 12 February 1994 and elected Bishop of Edmonton in 1997, an office she held until 2007.

[35] Cathedral. When Bishop Matthews resigned, Christchurch Diocesan spokesperson Jo Bean commented, ‘Looking back on her 10 years' service, most people will remember the earthquakes and the cathedral debate. Perhaps fewer realise that she was bearing the burdens of hundreds of Cantabrians whose parishes, vicarages, churches and halls were left stricken by the quakes. And fewer still will know that the Bishop lived for much of her time in Christchurch in a sleep-out, because her own home had to be demolished.’ Accessed 21 August 2018.

[36] Hartley was joint diocesan bishop in the Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki. In 2017 she returned to England to become Bishop of Ripon.

[37] Penny Jamieson 1990–2004, Victoria Matthews 2008–2018, Helen-Ann Hartley 2014–2017, Eleanor Sanderson 2017–.

[38] The Assembly Executive Secretary oversees the church administration. The Moderator is the official head of the PCANZ while in office, a two-year appointment by 2018, elected by the church. The four female moderators were laywoman Joan Anderson (1979), the Very Reverend Margaret Reid-Martin (1987), the Very Reverend Margaret Schrader (1995) and the Very Reverend Pamela Tankersley (2006).

[39] Phyllis Guthardt (1985), Margaret Burnett (1991), Margaret Hamilton (1998), Mary Caygill (2000), Lynne Frith (2003), Jill van de Geer (2008).

[40] These figures are derived from the ‘advertisements’ for graduating students printed in the PCANZ’s SPANZ magazine each year.

[41] Adair, 2018. Her six areas of recommendations included: Reform of governance and management processes; Identification and compliance with health and safety issues; Identification and support for addressing issues specific to women of Maori, Pasifika and migrant ethnicity; Valuing and increasing the contribution of women in Church leadership and training; Mentoring women into and through ministry; and Training institutions to demonstrate and teach gender equality.

[42] ‘thaliakr’, ‘Women in Ministry: The Church’s Missing Workforce’, Sacraparental, 20 June 2014.

[43] ‘Sources familiar with the church say that while Brian is the charismatic front for Destiny, Hannah is the powerful first lieutenant controlling almost every aspect of church life, but especially the finances.’ Tony Wall, ‘Bishop's Queen: A life with Brian’, Stuff, 21 March 2010.

[44] See Knowles, Brett, The history of a New Zealand Pentecostal movement: the New Life Churches of New Zealand from 1946 to 1979, Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston, 2000.

[45] In 2018, ‘Lay Dominicans have developed a Charter of values and practice and are a recognised branch of the Family. The focus is a shared vision as a lay Dominican Group and supporting, encouraging and nourishing those attached to our group.’

[46] Archdiocese of Wellington, ‘Lay Pastoral Leaders’ [n.d.]. ‘A Lay Pastoral Leader, having completed the academic, spiritual and pastoral formation components of the Archdiocesan Launch Out programme (or its equivalent), becomes responsible, as part of a collaborative Pastoral Leadership Team, for the leadership of a parish.’

[47] See, for example,

[48] Chaves, Mark, ‘The Symbolic Significance of Women's Ordination’, Journal of Religion, Vol. 77 No. 1, 1997, pp. 87–114.

[49] Chaves, Mark, ‘Why are there (still!) so few women clergy?’ Faith and Leadership, 13 July 2009.

[50] Within mainstream teaching colleges, numbers vary. In 2017–18, Carey College listed 12 academic staff; five were women, two of whom taught in ‘traditional‘ theological disciplines. St John’s Theological College listed a male principal, three Tikanga Deans (one female), and seven other staff, one of whom was female. In Dunedin, the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership had a staff of four men and a half-time church schools resource director. Catholicism’s Good Shepherd College listed nine staff, three of them women. The interdenominational Christian College, Laidlaw, had two female lecturers (one Māori), and seven male lecturers. The dean, acting head of theology, two research fellows and one teaching fellow were all male. Auckland University’s theological studies area had 10 staff, including five women, but only one had completed her doctorate and was a senior lecturer. Otago University’s Department of Religion listed 11 academic staff in theology, two of them women.

[51] ‘thaliakr’, ‘101 Christian Women Speakers to Discover in New Zealand’, Sacraparental, 12 December 2013.

[52] Gushee, David, ‘Changing my Mind: Theology, Ethics and Same Sex Relationships’, talk, 6 August 2015.

[53] This website mentions ministries to Maori, youth, children and families and multicultural emphases.

[54] Women’s Ministries,

[55] The website also lists on the ‘Women’ page publications relating to women’s experience in the church.

[56] See

[57] See

Unpublished sources

Fitzgerald, Tanya, 'Women and Work: Church Missionary Society Women in New Zealand, 1814–1844', in Women's Studies Association Conference Papers 1993: Raranga wahine: 14, 15, 16 May 1993, Waipapa Marae/University of Auckland, Women's Studies Association (NZ), Auckland, 1994.

Published sources

Above rubies, 1977–1992

Adair, Vivienne, Women of the burning bush, Presbyterian Church of New Zealand, Wellington, 1991

Adair, Vivienne, Women of the burning bush: still burning 25 years on (report of a survey of women ministers in the PCANZ), PCANZ, 2018.

Agender, 1990–1992

Benland, Catherine, 'Womb Makers and Womb Breakers', in Cox (ed.), 1987, pp. 157–75.

Bennett, Enid J. (ed.), With heads uncovered, Women in Ministry Network, Auckland, 1988

Brady, Sister M. Veronica, Gracious is the time: centennial history of the Sisters of Mercy in Auckland, 1850–1950, Sisters of Mercy, Auckland, 1952

Chambers, Jenny and Erice Fairbrother (eds), Vashti’s banquet: voices from her feast, essays marking ‘the 25th Anniversary of the Ordination of the 1st Woman Diocesan Bishop in the Anglican Communion: The Rt Rev’d Penelope Ann Bansall Jamieson’, Anglican Women’s Studies Centre, 2016, available from [email protected]

Chambers, Wesley A., Not self – but others: the story of the New Zealand Methodist Deaconess Order, Wesley Historical Society, Auckland, 1987

Cheyne, Christine, Made in God's image: a project researching sexism in the Catholic Church in Aotearoa–New Zealand, Catholic Commission for Justice, Peace and Development, Wellington, 1990

Daly, Mary, Beyond God the Father, Beacon Press, Boston, 1973

Davidson, Allan K. and Peter J. Lineham, Transplanted Christianity, College Communications, Auckland, 1987

Donovan, Peter J. (ed ), The religions of New Zealanders, Dunmore Press, Palmerston North, 1990

Goldsbury, S. J., Behind the picket fence: the lives of missionary wives in pre-colonial New Zealand, Auckland University Press, Auckland, 1985

Harper, Barbara, Unto these least: Mother Aubert's great work, Home of Compassion, Wellington, 1962

Kerr, Edith A., The historic place of women in the church, Presbyterian Bookroom, Wellington, 1949

Laurenson, George I., Te Hahi Weteriana, Wesley Historical Society, Auckland, 1972

McEldowney, Dennis (ed.), Presbyterians in Aotearoa 1840–1990, Presbyterian Church of New Zealand, Wellington, 1990

Munro, Jessie, The story of Suzanne Aubert, Bridget Williams Books, Wellington, 2009

Neave, Rosemary (ed.), The journey and the vision: a report on ordained Anglican women in the Church of the Province of New Zealand, Women's Resource Centre, Auckland, 1990

Newsletter of the Women's Resource Centre, Anglican Diocese of Auckland, 1987–1992

Nichol, Christopher (ed.), Women and the church: tertiary chaplaincy, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, 1984

Salmond, J.D., By love, serve, Deaconess Association, Presbyterian Church, 1962

Vashit's voice, 1978–1992

Vodanovich, Ivanica, 'Women's Place in God's World', Women's Studies Journal, Vol. 2 No. 1, August 1985

Warp and Weft (occasional bulletin of the New Zealand Community of Women and Men, Methodist Church of New Zealand), 1990–1992

West, Margaret and Ruth Fawell, The story of New Zealand Quakerism 1842-1972, Society of Friends, Auckland, 1973

Women's Committee, National Council of Churches, Enquiry into the status of women in the church, NCC, Christchurch, 1976

Women's Voice (newsletter of the Committee on Women in Church and Society, Presbyterian Church of New Zealand), 1987–1992