The Trust Funds for religious and educational uses at Otago 1842 to 1866
Bunce, Roderick John
The Colony of Otago, as conceived by Thomas Burns and William Cargill, its chief protagonists, was to be a 'Class' settlement where the settlers would be united by membership of the Free Church of Scotland. Land was to be sold at a sufficiently high price to enable church activities, education, migration, public works and general administration to be subsidised, thus encouraging the 'right' sort of person to migrate from Scotland. The government of the Colony was to be based on Christian beliefs and the Pilgrim Fathers' settlement in North America was often quoted as a model for these latter-day Christian settlers to imitate. Three hundred and forty seven settlers landed from the "Philip Laing" and the "John Wickliffe" in 1848 to establish their Christian community, a venture which has been viewed as both a success and a failure. There is no doubt that the settlement flourished, surviving a difficult period of slow growth in the 1850s and booming with the goldrushes of the 1860s, to achieve a population of 49,000 by 1864. The success of the 'Class' and the Christian aspects of the settlement is dubious. Failure to recruit sufficient Scottish capitalists resulted in the majority of landowners and men of substance being English - most of them subscribing to the Anglican religion. This group was consistently critical of the Free Church style of government preferred by Burns and Cargill. And on occasion they succeeded in changing behaviour in the colony, e.g. by holding a sports day on the first anniversary of the Colony's establishment instead of supporting the Church plan for three Church services and nothing else. As the population of the Colony grew, it became increasingly difficult to recruit the ideal kind of settler, i.e. one who would subscribe to the Free Church ethos and who would obey the Church authorities. By 1858, Presbyterians were 65% of the population and by 1864 the proportion was reduced to 41%. It is a contention of this thesis that the Christian aspect of the settlement was bound to fail, based as it was on such an idealistic view of life and society to which few were prepared or able to subscribe. In order to understand the failure, one aspect of the settlement is studied in depth, i.e. the provisions made for religion and education which were to be supported by a Trust Fund. From a simple idea of trust endowment grew a system which became a focus for criticism of the Church and its philosophy. Eventually, such criticism became so strong that the Church had to seek the protection of an Act of Parliament to maintain its land holdings. The original scheme for Otago envisaged the establishment of estates to support religious and educational activities, local government and to compensate the New Zealand Company, with the remainder of the land to be sold to private individuals. It was planned that one eighth of the money raised from private sales would be given to the Trustees for Religious and Educational Uses, to pay for their estate, to build churches and schools, and to support ministers and schoolmasters. The Trustees eventually obtained about 1300 acres of land throughout the province, leasing most of it to tenants and using the rest for church and school sites. As the Colony's population increased and became more diverse, and as the influence of the Presbyterian Church waned, its right to ownership of these estates was regularly questioned. As its failure to provide adequate educational facilities became obvious there was more criticism. During the later 1850s, the Provincial Government, which had taken responsibility for education from the Church, was struggling to finance the school system and the estates were viewed by many critics as an obvious source of extra income. The Trustees themselves, in their desire to use the estates for the Church as efficiently as possible, often appeared to have the interests of only a sector of the community in mind, rather than the interests of the entire populace. Their behaviour incensed citizens on a number of occasions, thus fuelling more criticism of the Church's right to its privileged position. This study covers the first 24 years of the existence of the Trust for Religious and Educational Uses, from 1842 when it was mooted by George Rennie in Scotland, to 1866 when the General Assembly of New Zealand passed The Presbyterian Church of Otago Lands Act. The establishment of the Trust by Thomas Burns and William Cargill with the Lay Association of the Members of the Free Church of Scotland is considered, because the enthusiasm and dedication of Burns in particular, explains some of the ultimate success and failure of the Trust in New Zealand. The actions of the Trustees are detailed and the events which led to the passing of the 1866 Act which gave the Church final legal protection of its property are traced.
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Education
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis
viii, 144 leaves :ill. (some col.) ; 30 cm. Includes bibliographical references. University of Otago department: Education.