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Records of YMCA work in New Zealand

Identifier: Y.USA.9-2-57


Includes correspondence, minutes, reports, financial documents, images, pamphlets, journal and newspaper articles and other records of the YMCA movement in New Zealand, much of it related to the New Zealand Y’s involvement in World War I. This area of the collection is primarily divided between the New Zealand Prisoners of War Department in London, England and the New Zealand Red Triangle work that was done for soldiers. Also included are early records involving the Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin and Wellington associations, as well as material documenting the development work within the Western Samoa YMCA with the assistance of the United States YMCA International Committee, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Alliance of YMCAs. Inter-movement cooperation between the American Samoa YMCA, the Western Samoa YMCA, the Fiji YMCA and the Hawaii YMCA is also documented through correspondence within this collection. Reference to South Pacific Exploration from 1980 mentions a Food-For Future Program that operated within this area.

Correspondence within this collection between the New Zealand YMCA and members of the United States YMCA (primarily G. William Moore, Keith Bartlett, George F. Briggs, John O’Melia, Joel Nystrom and Herbert P. Lansdale Jr.) relates mainly to the cooperative effort for development in the Pacific area YMCAs, but also to World Service and World Alliance meetings taking place within the United States. Youth training work dominated the discussion but there is also mention of visitation between associations and summer camping programs. Development work within the New Zealand YMCA is also discussed within the collection, including the development of the New Zealand YMCA National Councils Youth Leadership Training School.


  • Creation: 1855-1988.


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Use of Materials:

This collection is protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright, ownership, and to obtain all the necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials.


The first YMCA in New Zealand was founded in Auckland in 1855 by a group of young men who had attended a lecture on the London YMCA and its influence. Its work expanded rapidly, and by 1861 had spread to Dunedin with bible study and prayer groups. The activities later expanded to include public evangelical services. The Christchurch association was founded in 1862 as a group which met for religious fellowship, prayer and bible study. It later grew to include educational classes, athletics and lectures in its activities. A fourth association was established in Taranaki in 1881. From the beginning these associations worked closely with the YMCAs in Australia. The first joint conference was held in Sydney in 1877; at the second in Melbourne in 1880 Australia and New Zealand adopted the Paris Basis, a group of principles guiding the actions of and relationships between individual YMCAs.

In 1886 the National Council of the YMCAs of Australia and New Zealand was formed and affiliated with the World alliance of YMCAs. This council continued to supervise the affairs of both countries until 1916 when New Zealand withdrew from the joint council and formed its own national body. In 1918 for the first time The National Council of Australia and the National Council of New Zealand met separately.

During World War I the New Zealand YMCA participated in an international YMCA war work campaign which sought to minister to sufferers on both sides of warring lines. The New Zealand Red Triangle, a YMCA war relief program, followed its troops to the front lines and worked primarily in England and France alongside other national YMCAs such as the North American YMCA and the English YMCA. The New Zealand YMCA Trench Comfort program made distribution of necessities and comfort items to trenches possible during warfare. Trench huts offered libraries, games, gramophones among other luxuries. They attempted to secure as much comfort as possible for the fighting men. The New Zealand Prisoners of War Department controlled the dispatch of parcels in order to control the overlapping and waste of materials which had been taking place. New Zealand troops overseas also interacted within YMCA camps in France and Cairo, Egypt, among other places, making connections with English and United States YMCAs who were running the YMCA soldiers huts there.

New Zealand YMCA programs also included work with youth, recreation, sports, service clubs, camping and community work. Mobile gymnasiums and trucks enabled the New Zealand YMCA to extend physical education and recreational facilities to new housing areas.Family nights were regular features of many New Zealand YMCAs and some associations had women’s auxiliary groups.

In 1962 Western Samoa, a colony of New Zealand, gained its independence. The New Zealand YMCA supported the development of a Western Samoan YMCA branch. The American Samoa YMCA and the Western Samoa YMCA worked together through the World Alliance of YMCAs, YMCA World Service, the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs, and through the cooperation of The New Zealand YMCA and the North American International Committee of YMCAs, their parent associations. The United States YMCA International and the New Zealand YMCA collaborated on many projects for Western Samoa and the United States Agency for International Development also assisted with rural and youth development programs. In the 1980s, self-support funds and a Food For Future program for South Pacific YMCAs was initiated through this sort of joint effort.

In 1966 the New Zealand National Council of YMCAs opened the first Training Center for full time youth workers to be established in New Zealand, the Youth Leadership Training School. As of 2013 the National Council of YMCAs of New Zealand consisted of 14 local affiliated associations that operated 48 different YMCA centers. The New Zealand National Council adopted four core values, caring, respect, honesty and responsibility, that the individual associations were asked to follow. A common visual standard and national YMCA logo was also adopted as of 2013.

Historical Information largely adapted and quoted from YMCA New Zealand “YMCA National About Us” (, 2013; retrieved February, 26th, 2013); and from the collection.


1.6 Cubic Feet (5 boxes)


Correspondence, minutes, reports, financial documents, images, pamphlets, journal and newspaper articles and other records of the YMCA movement in New Zealand, much of it related to the New Zealand Y’s involvement in World War I, as well as its work with the North American YMCA movement in Samoa.


Additional material about the New Zealand YMCA may be found in the records related to the YMCA of Samoa. This material is separately cataloged as part of YMCA International Work in Miscelleneous Countries in the Kautz Family YMCA Archives.

Processing Information:

Processed as part of Fast Processing Project II, March 2009, as collection FP030. Material has been minimally processed. Folder descriptions may be general and material has not been grouped into series.

Catalog Record ID number: 9973348405201701

An Inventory of Its Records
Finding aid prepared by Lara Friedman-Shedlov and Melanie Doherty.
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Collecting Area Details

Contact The Kautz Family YMCA Archives Collecting Area