Migration in a context of colonisation

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Some thoughts from the recent Presbyterian Research Network lecture with Tony Ballantyne.

A larger than average attendance, I think I saw a good representation from the Friends of Toitu Settlers Museum.

The leadership of the settlement in the first generation was atypical.  As pastoral leader of the colony for the Free Church of Scotland Rev. Thomas Burns was sounded out by a delegation of workmen before landing in support of their request for a eight hour working day.  He was in favour.  The secular leader of the expendition, Captain Cargill, was a traditional classist in favour of the Good Auld Scotch Rule — a ten hour working day.  His leadership was muddled, perhaps it’s no surprise that the other ship’s captain, Captain Elles, settled further south in Invercargill.  The union question in first-generation Dunedin was decided to the workers’ advantage.  So much for the good auld Scotch rule!

Originally supporters of the new colony and benefactors, local indigenous Maori were quickly sidelined as further ships arrived bringing new settlers on whom it was easy to capitalise.

The colony was defined by its identifying boundaries.  Two thirds were Presbyterians, the minority were the Little Enemy, mostly Anglicans and Methodists.  It was not homogenous.  The discovery of gold expanded the size of the colony, the old identities labelled the influx of the miners as the new iniquity.  That did not stop them by profiting on stocking the new chums.

Even so when the Early Settlers Museum was established its identity of the Early Settlers took the cut-off date as 1861, late enough to cover six months of the arrivals of the New Iniquities.

Surprisingly while there is a surfeit of original documentation for the settlement of colonial settlement of Southern New Zealand the study of its history is overlooked, taking New Zealand’s history to the North Island.  There is a new history waiting to be written here, as well as a historical identity to discover.

The John Wickliffe and the Philip Laing in Otago Harbour, see http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=36533 for information.

The John Wickliffe and the Philip Laing in Otago Harbour, see http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=36533 for information.

Object Stories from the Presbyterian Archives

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The Presbyterian Historical Network met again at Knox College last week on Thursday the 18th.  One of our photographic people, Antje Lübcke, spoke about her research into our photograph collections of Vanuatu New Hebrides, talking about the social biographies of the physical albums.

Vanuatu is made up 80 islands in the Pacific.  It was the New Zealand Presbyterian Church’s first mission field.  While New Zealanders continued to provide missionaries to Vanuatu, the mission was handed over to the Presbyterian Church of the New Hebrides in 1948, later the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu when Vanuatu became an independent nation.

The archives holds thousands of photos awaiting analysis.  About three thousand are in the New Hebrides collection.

Antje focused for this talk on two albums, the Foreign Missions Album, and the ‘Nellie’ Album.

The Foreign Missions Album was put together about the late 1920s, by either Rev. Barton, or Rev. Mawson, two successive mission secretaries of the time.  There is written evidence that Barton was asking for photographs from the missionaries at this time.  It is an album for the promotion of the mission work, showing the islands, the people, and the missionary institutions that they built.  It was kept together in a large scrapbook to be displayed.  Photographs have been removed from it during its history.

The Nellie Album was put together by the missionary Helen Smail.  It was a personal album, focused on people, especially Thomas and Helen Smail’s daughter, Nellie, who appears in a third of the photos.  The photos are more biographical than the Foreign Missions Album.  It was a personal album until it came into the archives for preservation toward the end of Helen’s life.  It presents a different purpose for the album.

Archival Remains: Searching for Family in the Wake of the Pacific War

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Presbyterian SymbolThe Presbyterian Historic Network welcomed Judy Bennett and Angela Wanhalla for the final lecture of the year.  They have become known for their research and investigation for uncovering the human story of children fathered by American soldiers in the South Pacific.

The South Pacific Command Area during World War II covered the Pacific Ocean east of the South West Pacific.  It excluded Australia and the western Solomon Islands.  American bases expanded into Polynesia and east Melanesia: New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii and New Caledonia.  This area remained outside of the Japanese expansion into the Pacific, although this was not to be expected.  So there were a lot of bored Americans, with plenty of time on their hands, the hidden history of families throughout the Pacific.

This is the beginning of the American military empire, expanding from between 11 to 14 bases to 2000 bases aroudn the world.  In June 1942 the first American Marines arrived in New Zealand via Samoa, a tsunami of men.

There are not a lot of Pacific records, including in Hawaii.  The dusky people of the South Pacific are at the bottom of archival records.

In the Cook Islands the District Agents were located across the road from the army camp and commented on what they saw and dealt with.  The consular records are in the contingent United States.  In Suva, Wellington, Auckland and New Caledonia immigrants had to meet the race criteria for white identity.  Immigrants needed to prove that they were more than 51% white: representing the grandparents on at least three sides of the family.  Immigration happens at the federal level of American government, but marriage laws in the United States vary from state to state.  The children raised in America become acculturated to the society that they live in.  They cannot return to their home culture.

If the men, the soldiers were determined to get their partner into America they would be transferred.  The opinion of the Red Cross was ‘He’ll get over it’.  Some of the American fathers attempted to establish contact with families and children in the South Pacific.  It was a struggle.

Different responses happen in different societies.  We know the illegitimate children in New Zealand but not the children who born to American soldiers.  In the Solomon Islands a strong sense of family shame resisted coming forward.  It would be disrespectful to their adoptive parents.  Children were adopted by wider family.  There were lower rates of institutionalism and abandonment in the South Pacific.

The study has focused on the children of the Pacific.  The white kids born in New Zealand are still looking.  The discovery of family secrets can be accidental, an angy moment from a third person in the family who knows.  This has become part of the narrative.  If the American family can be identified an unwillingness or lack of response is typical.  Sometimes the American family wants to know.

We can add a lot to people’s live by creating connections through archival documentation.  Discovering a photo or an image of the unknown father can be enough.  The narrative continues as the American military establishes a new base in the Philippines, the promise of a new forgotten generation.

Visit the U. S. Fathers of the Pacific Children website here.

Presbyterian Research Network Spring Lecture: Frank Glen: Researching religious history in a secular world view

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One of our older ministers who surprises people by being not dead yet.  He has provided the Hewitson Library with one of the largest private collections of manuscripts relating to Gallipoli, and the New Zealand Land Wars.  His next collection project is developing a collection of Muslim, and Nazi studies.

According to the New Zealand census statistics 43% of New Zealanders claim to be secular or to have no religion.  What we are seeing is a failure of the interface between a generation of post-Christian historians and the motives of an earlier generation with a belief system felt in the emotional domains of the gut, and heart, and mind.  In a secular world view humankind does not need to relate to divinity to achieve full potential.

Religious history is the history of people who have been ‘inner-directed’.  Convictions that caused people to awaken to the numinous, to unite for better working conditions, to free the enslaved, to cross the world; and convictions that led to the deaths of six million people in Germany.  In a secular world people are still living out faith; both Christian and non-Christian convictions can be realised.  It is alive with spiritual history.  We can find out where we are at a given time, discover what direction we go in to meet the challenges of today, be enlightended by a Christian world view in a secular society.

The secular church needs some inner-directedness from a god who occasionally pops in to add a bit of transcendence.

Ethnic Flames of the Burning Bush by Tokerau Joseph

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tokerauRev.  Tokerau Joseph is the Presbyterian Church’s newest Doctorate.  He completed his Ph.D. this year.  His accomplishment was celebrated by his Cook Island community and his Church community at First Church of Otago.  These communities are not exclusive.  They overlap each other in his ministry.  His thesis is a study of the ethnic communities in the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand at their broadest level: European, Maori, Polynesian, and Asian.  Each community participates in the Church’s symbolism of the Burning Bush, none of us are consumed in the fire.  I am reminded of a thought I had recently after a sermon: Our Unity is in Perichoresis, the dynamic dance that can never end in existence.

What sort of body is the Church?  What are Presbyterian congregations like in our sect?  We allow for ethnic representation from congregations with significantly large ethnic groups represented within them to our regional courts.  There is no ruling in the Book of Order for representation within the congregational courts.

International studies define a multi-cultural congregation as one where no ethnic group is greater than 80% of the membership.  The total membership of the sample surveyed in this study was 71% European.  However 83% of the congregations are homogenous.  Presbyterian congregations are more homogenous than the societies in which their churches are planted.  Moreover Pacific Island congregations may be homogenous to one Island group.  All of the diverse multi-cultural congregations in the Presbyterian Church include European New Zealander groups.

The clergy usually share the same ethnic matching as the majority of their congregation.  At the time of the survey two of the Pacific Island Churches had retired European ministers serving in an interim ministry, which they valued.

People go to the services to which they are aligned, most people belonged to a congregation and a minister to which they match ethnically.  Ministers relate to the same ethnicity in their theological or ministry training, and their congregations in ministry.  They continue the same experience from the congregations from which they came into ministry.

43% of ministers expected to work in majority-matched congregations; 70% of them did.

15% of ministers expected to work in diverse congregations; 15% of them did.

6% of ministers expected to work in minority-matched congregations; 12% of them did.

We believe the church to be diverse.  In reality it is homogenous.  This is a challenge to our confession: One Cup, One Bread, One Body.  Grace becomes important in the life of multi-cultural congregations like First Church of Otago with European and Pacific Island congregations.  There has to be room to talk to each other.  It involves hard work.

Footsteps of Gold-Dust

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Yvonne Wilkie presented her address on the mission activity of the Presbyterian Church among the New Zealand Chinese to the Presbyterian Research Network.  Yvonne is the retired Archivist and now a researcher at large.  Her retirement project is a history of the Synod of Otago and Southland.

I did not take many notes from her talk.  Two thoughts occured to me:

  1. Dunedin was once as expansive as Auckland is now.  It was the time of the gold-rush in Otago.  The settlement increased from 2 000 people to a population of 15 000.  The Old Identities initially recoiled from the New Iniquities.  Obviously they bounced back to offer pastoral care to new immigrants, take advantage of the profits coming into the city, and ultimately become a counter-cultural group within the city as history spun a plot twist on them.  Even back then the Chamber of Commerce were flailing to make Dunedin a city of investment.
  2. White New Zealand was xenophobic to the migration of Chinese to New Zealand, using an exorbitant poll-tax and limits on numbers to restrict them coming to New Zealand.  Those working with the Chinese in New Zealand reported it as un-Christian legislation.  It was not until after the Second World War that these restrictions were finally lifted.  This limited the ability to create a strong multi-generational Chinese community in New Zealand, both assimilated to place and unique to that place.

The Autobiography that Richard Baxter Did Not Write (And the One He Did)

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The Presbyterian Historic Network hosted this lecture by Tim Cooper.  I was surprised.  It was better than I expected.  I didn’t expect that a lecture about an English Puritan in that turbulent period would be interesting or relevant to our Presbyterian audience.  I was proved wrong.  It was one of the most engaging lectures we hosted this year.  The quality has been excellent this year too.

For a start we found that the Hewitson Library’s Rare Books Collection held two titles by Richard Baxter that were editions dating to the seventeenth century, his age.  One was the Reliquiae Baxteriana, Baxter’s autobiography which includes the introduction A Judgement on Baxter.  This was compiled to help sell the end run of the edition.  It’s the seventeenth century equivalent of “Comparable to Tolkien”.  It turns out that this introduction is extremely rare!  Think forty copies worldwide.  The University of Otago has a copy.  Dr Cooper was surprised to find a second copy in Dunedin of which no one was aware, including himself, and us.  I just opened the book and displayed on that page because it had a good title page.

Baxter was one of those people to voted for the wrong team.  Oliver Cromwell wanted him as his chaplain.  Baxter turned him down because he didn’t like the man.  He regretted it as he watched Cromwell become the tyrant of Britain.  He declared his support for Cromwell’s son and successor Richard Cromwell just at the same time as the regime collapsed and Richard Cromwell fled the country.  He opposed Charles I because he considered his supporters represented the ungodly and Parliament represented the godly forces.

Baxter saw most of the major fighting during the English Civil War.  It left him with what looks like a case Post Traumatic Stress.  Despite this the decade of chaos led to the godly commonwealth which he saw as a Good Thing.  The Restoration of the Crown and the Bishops made him more ambivalent.  He wrote Reliquiae Baxteriana with an eye on Protestant readers on the European continent and future generations.  He positioned himself to write as the neutral scribe of history.  He distanced himself from both the Parliamentarians and the Royalists.  While the Parliamentarians opposed the Royal Church they offered no agreed vision among themselves between those who wanted a Church which called people out of society and those who wanted a church that included everyone in the parish.  Does the spirit of these people live on in the Tea Party of America, and the clash of civilisations that exists in the War on Terror and its opponents?

In his parish in Kidderminster, Baxter sided with the second model, a broad evangelicalism (Presbyterian, of course) creating a community which was encouraged to live godly lives.  With the restoration of an episcopal church he was ejected from his position, on St Bartholemew’s Day.  He saw the commonwealth as being destroyed by his rival and critic, John Owen of the Congregational faction among the Puritans.  It was their leadership he saw as bringing down the commonwealth.

It turned out that Baxter’s declaration of a godly society was premature and he distanced himself from this position.  The godly, including Richard Baxter himself, are caught between sectarian extremists and episcopal authorities.  Ultimately Baxter was wounded and crushed by the national affairs of his age.

After this lecture there may be a run on the BBC Drama A Family Divided about the English Civil War.  In hindsight I’m sorry that the attendance at this lecture was so small.  It was an enjoyable and stimilating lecture.  The group was small enough that we sat in the Knox Centre of Leadership and Ministry’s Common Room instead of moving into the Seminar Room.  It was comfortable.

As I walked home afterwards I wondered about the politics behind the publication of Baxter’s Autobiography after his death.  It had to have been approved by a bishop who censored publications after the Restoration.  I wonder what was behind that decision to release it.

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