New Zealand’s first Anglican bishop, George Selwyn, was a towering figure in the young colony. Denounced as a ‘turbulent priest’ for speaking out against Crown practices that dispossessed Māori, he brought a vigorous approach to Episcopal leadership. His wife Sarah Selwyn supported all her husband’s activities, in a life characterised as one of ‘hardship and anxiety’. She expressed independently her sense of outrage over the Waitara dispute.
Selwyn promoted participatory church government, founded the innovative Melanesian Mission, and developed a distinctive style of colonial church architecture. More controversially, he battled with the Church Missionary Society, and was caught up in the bitter maelstrom of settler and Māori politics. His personal links with colonial and ecclesiastical networks gave him access to the heart of empire.
These essays offer new insights into Selwyn’s role in developing pan-Anglicanism, strengthening links between the Church of England and the Episcopal and Anglican Churches in North America, and his time as Bishop of Lichfield (1868–78). His place in Treaty history, as a political commentator and a valuable source of historical information, is recognised.
George Selwyn left a large imprint on New Zealand church and society. This collection both honours and critiques a controversial bishop.