© 2019 Bicentennial Symposium Organising Committee

                                          -1819-2019, Bicentenary Conference marking the 200th anniversary of the visit of the Rev. Samuel Leigh to New Zealand.

Methodism in Aotearoa

24-25 May 2019
St Johns College, Auckland

The Conference

Origins and Impact


In May and June 1819, the Rev. Samuel Leigh, the first Methodist minister in Australia, visited New Zealand. He commenced work in New South Wales in 1815 where he developed a strong friendship with the Rev. Samuel Marsden, the senior chaplain in the colony. Marsden worked closely with Māori in establishing the Church Missionary Society base at Rangihoua in the Bay of Islands in 1814.


Leigh was encouraged by Marsden in 1819 to come to New Zealand for the sake of his health. He returned to England where he persuaded the Methodist Conference to approve New Zealand as a field for a mission. Together with his wife Catherine, Samuel returned to New Zealand in January 1822. In June 1823 Leigh led the inauguration of the Wesleyan Mission at Whangaroa near Kaeo. The Leighs returned to Australia in November 1823 because of Samuel’s ill-health. In January 1827 the mission was sacked. Wesleyan missionary work recommenced at Hokianga  in October 1827.


The Symposium will examine the British background that shaped the missionary movement out of which Leigh came and the Māori world the Wesleyan missionaries encountered. Attention will be given to Leigh’s pioneering work in Australia and his journeys and missionary efforts in New Zealand. The considerable significance of the Māori contribution to the process of evangelism will be recognised with some reflection as to the nature of conversion among them. The roles played by both the Wesleyan missionaries and their wives will also be examined. 


Other topics are indicated in the programme. The Symposium will end with a directed engagement with the questions What Now? What Next? 


It is planned to publish the papers presented to the Symposium. Any profits from the Symposium will be available to help subsidise their publication and contribute to a Bicentennial Project.


Who was

Rev. Samuel Leigh





Organising Committee

Chair:    Dr Helen Laurenson

Secretary: – Rev. Ian Faulkner, Secretary



Rev. Dr Neville Bartle

Rev. Norman Brookes

Rev Dr Allan Davidson ONZM

Rev. Dr Trevor Hoggard 

Peter Lane 

Eric Laurenson 

Dr Arapera Ngaha 

Rev. Dr Susan Thompson 

Rev. Dr Terry Wall 

Rev. Dr Richard Waugh QSM

Rev. Brett Jones 



Contact Committee