New Zealand

Last updated: 11/11/2016

New Zealand is an island nation located in the southern Pacific about 1200 miles southeast of Australia. The two main rugged, mountainous islands together stretch almost 1000 miles. The majority of the population is of European descent, but the percentage of indigenous Maori people is increasing. Because of its political stability and proximity to Asia and the Pacific, New Zealand is a support base for Bible translation rather than a recipient.



You will need to get a tourist visa online or through your travel agent.  

Individual Volunteer Questions 

  1. What is the best way for funds to be sent to your country? Bring a debit card from your bank. There are heaps of ATMs around where cash can be accessed.
  2. What is the best way for a volunteer to pay for housing and expenses while in your country? Cash for private accommodation. Credit card for any commercial accommodation or transport. I think Tedz Cars (discount provider for mission-related personnel) prefers cash.
  3. Does a volunteer have access to an ATM in your country? Yes.
  4. How much cash should a volunteer bring into your country? Size of bills? Depends on the amount/kind of sightseeing.
  5. Will a volunteer have access to email and internet? Yes.
  6. What are the Visa requirements for your country? USA passport holders can receive a three-month visa at the airport.
  7. How should a volunteer purchase a Visa for your country? No cost for USA passport holder.
  8. How much does a Visa cost? n/a
  9. Are there any immunization requirements for your country?  No.
  10. Dress recommendations & local etiquette tips? Tipping is not practiced by Kiwis on the whole. For the most part, it’s only American tourists who tip.
  11. Arrival & customs…instructions, suggestions, and contingency info. Be sure to make a list of any items which may require inspection (food, plants).

Helpful items volunteers should bring? A sweater or jacket could be helpful as homes are not heated centrally.


Life in Country

History of New Zealand

As one of the most recently settled major land masses in the world, New Zealand, appropriately enough, really is relatively ‘new.’ The Polynesian navigator Kupe has been credited with the discovery of the islands around AD 800. Legend has it that his wife named the main island Aotearoa, Land of the Long White Cloud. The Maori population of New Zealand today uses this name to refer to the whole country. New Zealand’s two main islands run 1,000 miles from northeast to southwest and are well-known for their mountainous beauty and active volcanoes.

Continuous settlement of the islands dates from about 1200, after which a fairly steady stream of settlers from Polynesia developed a unique culture that came to be known as Maori. The population was divided into hapu (sub-tribes) that at times cooperated and at times competed with one another.

The first Europeans known to have reached New Zealand were Dutch explorer Abel Tasman and his crew, in 1642. Several of the crew were killed by Maori, and no Europeans returned to New Zealand until British explorer James Cook's voyage of 1768. Following Cook, New Zealand was visited by numerous European and North American whaling, sealing and trading ships. British colonizers saw New Zealand as an offshoot of Australian enterprise in whaling and sealing.

The first missionaries to New Zealand came from the Anglican Church Missionary Society in 1814, with the support of Ruatara, a Maori chief. Methodists and Roman Catholic missionaries arrived later. Maori evangelists and the impact of literacy played a significant role in the expansion and acceptance of Christianity. The complete Bible was translated into Maori in 1868.

The continuing European contacts with the Maori were not without conflict. Pressures mounted as lands were colonized and many peoples’ rights were ignored. In 1840, Maori chieftains entered into a compact with Britain, the Treaty of Waitangi, in which they ceded sovereignty to Queen Victoria while retaining territorial rights. Protestant missionaries played a significant role in the signing of the treaty. In that same year, the British began the first organized colonial settlement. A series of land wars between 1843 and 1872 ended with the Pakeha, the Europeans, claiming victory. These wars had many negative effects on the Maori view of Christianity; this was a turning point for missions in New Zealand. Many Maori turned to new religious movements which drew heavily from the Old Testament and their own culture. The Church among the Maori was not dead; in the 1980s and 1990s, Anglicans and Methodists in particular recognized greater Maori autonomy and committed themselves to bicultural partnership.

Today, New Zealand is an independent nation working on expanding its traditionally agrarian economy into other areas, and still struggling with its responsibility to the Maori people. Today, the Maori population is increasing faster than the Pakeha, and a resurgence in Maoritanga (Maori culture) has had a major and lasting impact on New Zealand society.

The Church in New Zealand has been reinvigorated in recent decades by the impact of Pentecostalism, even as many have drifted away from mainline churches. Overseas missionary interest has been a significant dimension of the New Zealand churches almost from the beginning, and the country’s proximity to the Asia-Pacific region presents New Zealand Christians with innumerable challenges and opportunities.

The People of New Zealand


The New Zealand culture is very unique but has been influenced by the local Mauri people as well as from the English. Please remember to bring a learner’s spirit. Many things will be different than you are used to, but different is NOT wrong. Americans have a reputation of being pushy and overbearing. Thanks for being a humble servant, for being willing to ask, willing to listen, and willing to serve outside your comfort zone.

Here are some general characteristics of the Pacific area:

  • The Pacific Area is beautiful, remote, and undeveloped.  It is an amazing place, and you will be changed by your time in the Pacific. 
  • At first everything feels a bit uncomfortable, but you will soon learn that you can be very happy with less, and you will find new and creative ways to make or do almost anything.
  • You must be prepared to slow down, be flexible, and smile.  Things happen (or not) in a different time warp in the Pacific. 
  • Don’t expect anything to be “like it is" in America.