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CHTH217 Special Topic: Māori Religion and Theology

An investigation of the Māori religious worldview and Māori engagement with Christianity.

This paper explores Māori theology and religion from the period prior to colonisation and through Māori encounters with and adaptations of Christianity.

Paper title Special Topic: Māori Religion and Theology
Paper code CHTH217
Subject Christian Thought and History
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period Second Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $904.05
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $3,954.75

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36 100-level points
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Theology
May not be credited together with CHTH 317 passed in 2019.

Any student can study Theology, whether they are of the Christian faith, another faith or of no religious faith at all. Theology is an exploration of what can be said about God and of the basis upon which we can say it. It requires an inquiring mind, respect for the views of others and an interest in the big questions of human existence.


Teaching staff

Revd Wayne Te Kaawa, Professor Murray Rae

Paper Structure

This paper will be taught as a one-week residential course on a marae and is comprised of five modules.

  1. Noho Marae - Beginning with:
    • Powhiri
    • Cup of Tea
    • Karakia
  2. Module One: Mātauranga Māori
    • The Structure of the Wharenui
    • The Kaupapa of the Powhiri
    • Atuatanga / Mātauranga Whakapono
    • Tapu and Noa
    • Tika, Pono, Aroha
    • Ngā Atua
    • Karakia and Waiata
  3. Module Two: The Missionary Era
    • History
    • Challenges
    • The Entanglement of Christianity and Colonialism
    • Conversion or Renegotiation?
  4. Module Three: Māori Prophets and Indigenous Churches
    • Pai Marire
    • Parihaka
    • Ringatu
    • Iharaira
    • Ratana
    • Māori Engagement in 'Mainline Churches'
  5. Module Four: Blended Wisdom: Theological Themes and Trends
    • Reading the Bible
    • Karakia
    • Christology
    • The Human Person
    • Sacraments
    • The Church
    • Death and Waiora


  • Noho Marae Reflection 20%
  • Major Resarch Essay 50%
  • Group Project and Presentation 30%

Textbooks are not required for this paper. A course book is available.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised

Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Information literacy, Environmental literacy, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.

Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this paper will:

  1. Show familiarity with traditional Māori religious thought and practice.
  2. Understand the historical threads of engagement between Māori and Christian missionaries and develop the capacity to critically analyse the impact and consequences of that engagement.
  3. Be able to offer an informed account of selected Māori adaptations of Christianity, particularly those associated with the Māori prophets.
  4. Develop understanding of the distinct insight and enrichment of Christian theology brought about through the influence of mātuaranga and kaupapa Māori.

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Second Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system

Other Teaching

Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Wednesday 16:00-16:50 28-34, 36-41