Media Take: Christianity in New Zealand

9 April, 2015 — 5 Comments

This weeks Media Take programme on New Zealand’s Māori Television took a look at Christianity in New Zealand with reference to the Easter holiday last weekend. It’s 26 minutes long and worth a watch if you’re interested in some divergent views on a few things Christian from five NZ Christian voices.*


The show is in two parts, firstly with the co-hosts Russell Brown and Toi Iti talking to Wesleyan Methodist minister Francis Ritchie and historian and Anglican priest Hirini Kaa. The second part has Brian and Hannah Tamaki of Destiny Church and Clay Nelson minister at the Auckland Unitarian Church. It’s quite a nice snapshot of the diverse Christian voice in New Zealand.


Francis Ritchie introduced a new initiative called NewsLeads which among other things appears to be a chaplaincy provision to those in the media.

Māori spirituality as poetry

The co-host, Russell Brown, self-defined atheist, made some interesting comments around a connection he has with Māori spirituality that he doesn’t have with Christianity, this was to do with some comments Hirini Kaa made.

New Zealand should be a Christian nation

It was interesting to see how Christendom-centric the world view of the Tamaki’s is. They think New Zealand should be a society that claims Christianity as its national religion (NZ has never had a state religion), and they doubt the accuracy of the census results that show a decline in Christian affiliation in New Zealand.

Separation of church and state

Clay Nelson is at the total opposite end of the spectrum to the Tamaki’s and it was a shame there wasn’t more time for these three to compare their differences on air in a way that didn’t require defensiveness from any of them.

* viewing the video outside of New Zealand may require the use of a VPN.

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  • Chris

    I saw this- it was really fascinating! Interesting to me was that such a good programme is not provided by the main TV channels. I agree it was only scratching the surface- surely this would be worth some further programming funding to develop further… Regarding the Tamakis’, I thought Hannah was a far better communicator than Brian- more ‘winsome’ in her tone and approach than his ‘staunch/defensive’ angle.

    • Hi Chris, yeah, this show has been on TVNZ and Mediaworks before this current home on Maori TV. Perhaps Campbell Live will be on Maori TV soon…
      With the topic of this particular episode, I suspect ~85% of airtime raters couldn’t care less, meaning the main TV channels wouldn’t touch it.

      I agree re Tamaki’s – I found it difficult to warm to Brian.

  • I have to admit, I thought that very brief conversation on Maori spirituality, likening it to poetry, putting in the mix the idea of religion as story, was a beautiful nugget of conversation. I’ve been contemplating it a lot since. Just that tiny bit will sit with me for some time.

    • Hi Francis – you came across really well on the programme.
      It would be an interesting exercise to explore people’s perceptions of Maori spirituality and compare that with perceptions of other expressions of spirituality in NZ. I wonder if the sense of mystery is more intact with Maori spirituality than, for example, Christianity…

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