The Spiritualist Church
of New Zealand

(Constituted Under the SCNZ Act 1924)

A Time-line of Spiritualism




1744        In April, Emanuel Swedenborg (1688 – 1772) had his first
real iinteraction with the Spirit world.
1847         Andrew Jackson Davis (1826 – 1910) is often referred to as the John the Baptist of Modern Spiritualism. In 1846, for 15 months, he dictated from spirit, the book, Principles of Nature, and it was published in 1847.
1848         On the 31st March, The Fox sisters contacted the spirit entity
                who had been disturbing the family with the strange
                rappings and activities. These events became known as the
                Hydesville Knockings and lead to an investigation, in
                America, of the mediumship of the Fox sisters. This date is
                acknowledged as the Birth of modern Spiritualism.
1849         The first public demonstration of Mediumship by Margareta
                Fox, in the Corinthian Hall in New York.
1852         Mrs Maria Hayden came from USA to be the first Spiritualist
                Medium to work in England. The press and clergy were very
                antagonistic towards her but in spite of this, she succeeded in              
                demonstrating spirit communication.
1853         David Richmond (1816 – 1891) became a Spiritualist whilst living in America and upon his return to his native town of Darlington, England in 1853, tried unsuccessfully to open a Spiritualist church. He moved to Keighley and there established the first Spiritualist church in England.
                Judge Robert Hare (1781 – 1858) at the age of 72, began his investigations and devised a number of instruments which, contrary to his expectations, conclusively proved that a power and intelligence, not that of those present, was at work. His book, 'Experimental Investigation of the Spirit Manifestation,' published in 1855, summed up the results as follows: 'The evidence may be contemplated under various phases; first, those in which rapping's or other noises have been made which could not be traced to any mortal agency; secondly, those in which sounds were so made as to indicate letters forming grammatical, well-spelt sentences, affording proof that they were under the guidance of some rational being; thirdly, those in which the nature of the communication has been such as to prove that the being causing them must, agreeably to accompanying allegations, be some known acquaintance, friend, or relative of the inquirer.
Judge John W. Edmonds (1816 - 1874) was one of the most influential early American Spiritualists. After a great public career, as a member of both branches of the New York State Legislature and, for some time, President of the Senate and Judge of the Supreme Court of New York, he resigned the latter position on account of the outcry raised against his Spiritualistic beliefs and, especially, his support of the Fox sisters.
1854         Robert Owen (1771 – 1858) became converted to Spiritualism after sittings with Mrs Hayden. After he passed to spirit he channelled ‘The Principles of Spiritualism’ through the mediumship of Emma Hardinge Britten.
1855         Daniel Dunglas Home (1833 – 1886) was one of the greatest physical mediums who produced virtually all types of physical phenomena. He developed his skills in America and returned to England in 1855 where the remarkable phenomena aroused great interest.
                Dr Henry Slade was an American medium famous for slate-writing, in which messages were written on sealed slates. He was thoroughly tested by several eminent investigators and pronounced genuine.
                The first Spiritualist Newspaper ‘The Yorkshire Spiritual Telegraph’ was published in Keighley.
                Alexander N. Aksakof (1832-1903) Imperial Councilor to the Czar, the pioneer Spiritualist of Russia, a Swedenborg enthusiast whose introduction to modern Spiritualism was effected by Andrew Jackson Davis's 'Nature's Divine Revelations' in 1855.
1856         Allen Kardec (1804 – 1869) published his classic, Le Livre des Esprits (The Spirits' Book) - not very much is known about Allan Kardec's early years within the Spiritualist Movement, but his impact upon the Movement is profound.
                James Martin Peebles (1822 - 1922) known as 'the spiritual pilgrim' as he enthusiastically spread his philosophy through his writings and travels around the United States and the world. Himself a medium, he was surrounded by what he called his 'band of angels' from whom he received inspiration and spiritual guidance.
1860’s      Spiritualism first appeared in the late 1860’s in Otago, New Zealand.
1863        Andrew Jackson Davis (1828 – 1910) established the Spiritualist Lyceum in New York. The American born medium who, through his visits to the 'Summerland' during 'out of the body' experiences initiated Lyceum education and is acknowledged today as the Father of the Lyceum Movement.
1865          An attempt was made to form the first National Organisation of Spiritualists in Darlington.
1866        Emma Hardinge Britten (1823 - 1899) returned to England from America where she was quickly recognised as a powerful medium, and is perhaps, the most renowned and most respected advocate and proponent in the early Modern Spiritualist Movement
The first Lyceum in Britian was opened by Mr. J. Hitchcock in Nottingham.
Jane Harris-Roberts (1852 – 1942) arrived in New Zealand from England and became one of the first pioneers of Spiritualism in this country. She became fondly known as‘The Mater’.
1869           The Dialectical Society appointed a Committee to investigage Spiritualism. They published a very favourable report – (the best by any external body).
1870         On June 25th an article called “Rules to Be Observed When Forming Spiritual Circles” by Emma Hardinge (later Hardinge-Britten) appeared in the ‘Echo’ paper in Dunedin.
1871         Emma Hardinge Britten (1823 - 1899) received 'The Principles of Spiritualism' from Robert Owen (1771 - 1858) after he passed to spirit.
                Sir William Crookes (1832 - 1919) reported on Spiritualism to the Royal Society and published his findings in the quarterly Journal of Science. An outstanding physicist who began his investigations into Spiritualism with the avowed intent of exposing it as a nonsense. The facts, however, (particularly his investigation of Katie King through the Mediumship of Florence Cook) were too overwhelming, and to the end of his life he remained completely convinced of the truth of Spirit communication.
1872         James Smith, a spiritualist from Australia, visited Dunedin.
William Stainton Moses (1839 - 1892) was an Oxford M.A. and a clergyman on the Church of England. He was a leading light in promoting The London Spiritualist Alliance, and became its first President and the first Editor of 'Light'. His great contributions were the teachings produced through him by means of spirit controlled writing and published as 'Spirit Teachings' and 'More Spirit Teachings'.
A second attempt to form a National Organisation was made at a National Conference in Darlington but again it failed. However, it stimulated interest and it was recognised that there was a need for such an organisation.
1873         J.M. Peebles and “Dr” E.C. Dunn, two American spiritualists. visited New Zealand, giving lectures.
                A conference was held in Liverpool which led to the formation of the British National Association of Spiritualists, with headquarters in London.
E. W. Cox - Sergeant-at-Law, well-known psychical investigator in the days preceding the foundation of the S.P.R., assisted Crookes in his first experiments with D. D. Home, suggested the term 'psychic force,' published a booklet 'Spiritualism Scientifically Examined with Proofs of the Existence of a Psychic Force' in 1872.
1874         Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831 - 1891) commonly known as Madame Blavatsky, founded the Theosophical Movement and wrote several books and articles.
1879         Emma Hardinge Britten toured Australia and New Zealand promoting Spiritualism.
1881         A Free thought Association lyceum – the Rationalist and Spiritualist answer to the Sunday school – was dedicated in Dunedin.
1882           The Society for Psychical Research was started.
1883         William Charles Nation (1840 – 1930) Began his long association with NZ Spiritualism while living in Greytown where he ran a circle in his own home.
Sir Oliver Lodge (1851 - 1940) was a world-renowned physicist and a fearless champion of survival. One could not really call him a proponent of the Spiritualist Movement, but he was, surely, an avid believer in Spiritualist concepts. It was in this year that he had his first spiritual experiences when he was invited by Mr. Malcolm Guthrie to join his investigations in thought transference in Liverpool, England.
                William Eglington (b1857) was noted for outdoor and daylight materialisations and also for slate-writing Mediumship. Questions put in Spanish, French and Greek were answered in the same languages. Gladstone after sitting with him, was sufficiently impressed to join the Society for Physical Research.
1884         The formation of the Wellington Association of Spiritualists, which lasted for eight years.
Leonore E. Piper (1857 - 1950) of Boston, USA, allowed herself to be subjected to the most exacting scientific investigation of her Mediumship for a period of 45 years. This great medium was instrumental in converting many eminent people to belief in a spirit agency operating through her trance Mediumship.
Dr. Richard Hodgson was an early member of the Society for Psychical Research who soon became noted as a competent and critical investigator. He made a systematic study of the Mediumship of Mrs. Leonore Piper, through which he became completely convinced of the reality of spirit return. The development of his own mediumistic powers late in life brought to him an even deeper conviction.
1885         Emma Hardinge Britten launched the weekly paper The ‘Two Worlds’, a publication that continues today.
1887         William Charles Nation launched his first NZ spiritualist paper called ‘More Light’. All the work required to publish the paper, from writing articles to typesetting, was done by Nation alone. He continued to produce the paper until 1893.
1889         Formation of the Spiritualists National Union, United Kingdom.
1890         Stanley de Brath (1854 - 1937) Made his first acquaintance with the phenomena of Spiritualism in 1890 through Cecil Husk, carried on extensive research and ended by fully accepting survival and the occurrence of supernormal phenomena. After the war he worked at the Institut Metapsychique in collaboration with Dr. Gustave Geley. Editor of 'Psychic Science', the quarterly of the British College for Psychic Science.
Jan Guzyk (1875 - 1928) a Polish materialisation medium, the son of a weaver whose strange powers first manifested in his years of apprenticeship in the tanning trade at Warsaw. There were raps, blows on the walls and a stirring of objects as soon as evening approached. At the age of 15, under the domination of M. Chlopicki, an acknowledged Spiritualist, he became a professional medium. Aksakof took him to St. Petersburg where he achieved great success.
1891         Florence Marryat (1837 - 1899) English authoress, daughter of Capt. Marryat, acquainted with all the celebrated mediums of the seventies-eighties both in England and America, witness of Katie King's famous farewell from Florence Cook, recorded remarkable experiences in two books: 'There is No Death', 1891, and 'The Spirit World', 1894, both of them very popular, and claimed mediumistic gifts herself, among them the strange power of summoning the spirits of the living.
1892         In 1892 William T. Stead (1849 - 1912) discovered that he had the gifts of spirit-controlled handwriting. He became associated with the L.S.A. and was a fearless champion of Spiritualism. He was, of course, a well-known editor, and a nationally famous figure for his great fight against the White Slave Traffic and the prostitution of children. He passed to the Higher Life through the tragic sinking of the 'Titanic' in 1912.
1893         Foundation of National Spiritualists Association of America
Eusapia Palladino (1854 - 1918) was a medium whose name continues to be associated with both spectacular Mediumship and fraud; the impact made by her activity is clearly demonstrated by the continuing debate.
1894         Prof. Baron von Schrenck-Notzing (1862 - 1929) a German pioneer of psychical research, a physician of Munich who specialised in psychiatry which eventually led him him into psychical research. With the awakening of his interest in psychical research he founded the 'Gesellshaft fur Metapsychische Forschung' and began his study of telekinesis and teleplastics which rendered him famous. Up to the time of his death there was no important medium in Europe with whom he did not conduct personal experiments. He commenced with Eusapia Palladino at whose experiments he was present as early as 1894 in Rome.
1896         Mrs Harris-Roberts settled in Auckland and founded the ‘Auckland Society for Spiritual Progress’ with meetings held in the Choral Hall.
1897         Dr James M Peebles M.A. M.D. PhD learned American exponent of the Movement, arrived in Auckland from Samoa on the third voyage of five journeys from the USA propagating Spiritualism. He gave lectures on our philosophy, phenomena and comparative religion.
1899         Dr Gustave Geley (1865 - 1924) Graduate doctor of the Faculty of Medicine of Lyon, distinguished psychical researcher and Director of the Institut Metapsychique International of 1919 to 1924. The most palpable evidence he produced for the reality of mediumistic phenomena were the Kluski plaster casts, which are still on view in the Institute.
1900         The first Spiritual Church services were held in Wellington, New Zealand, thanks to Mrs Harris-Roberts efforts to revitalise the movement.
Theodor Flournoy - Professor of Psychology at the University of Geneva; author of perhaps the most remarkable book in the whole literature of psychic science: 'Des Indes a la Planete Mars' (From India to the Planet Mars), Paris, 1900. This was the sensation of the year and the passage of time has in no way affected its unusual scientific worth, or mitigated its absorbing interest. It deals with the Mediumship of Mlle. Helen Smith to whose circle he was first admitted in the winter of 1894-95.
1903         William Charles Nation commenced the publication of the ‘Message of Life’ and it continued to published until 1934.
                The first Spiritualist Church commenced in Christchurch, New Zealand.
1906         Gladys Osborne Leonard (1882 - 1968) As often happens with many natural mediums, Mrs. Leonard exhibited early signs of her sensitive nature. Mrs. Leonard was one of the most thoroughly investigated mediums of the twentieth century. For more than fifty years she gave remarkable evidence of personal survival to countless sitters. Perhaps the most significant in her life was a series of sittings she gave to Sir Oliver Lodge, the renowned physicist.
1907         The National Association of Spiritualists of New Zealand (NZA) was formed. The first president was the parliamentarian William McLean, with W.C. Nation as vice president.
1911         Etta Wriedt (b1840) As well as voices being heard in her séances, sitters experienced luminous forms, etheralisations gliding about the room, dogs materialising and barking, flowers taken from vases and placed in the hands of the sitters, invisible fingers touching the sitters, people being rapped by the trumpet if they were hesitating to answer promptly when spoken to, luminous discs were seen to move round, sitters were often sprinkled with water and wafts of cool air were felt.
The Bang Sisters Within the vast and marvellous records of American physical mediumship, one of the most outstanding chapters belongs indeed, to the turn of the century mediums, the Misses Elizabeth S and May E Bangs, of Chicago, Illinois. Their gifts included above board, independent writing in broad daylight (mostly slates), and independent drawing and painting; all forms of fully developed clairvoyance, materialisations, and direct voices, but their most wondrous and spectacular phenomena was that of precipitated spirit portraits in full colour.
1914         Reflecting the growing religious aspect of Spiritualism, the NZ national body became the National Association of Spiritualist Churches of New Zealand (NASC), with membership limited to churches rather than also accepting individual members as before.
1916         Parliamentary Campaign for the legal recognition of Spiritualism In the United Kingdom was instituted by the Union under Ernest Oaten who was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's tour organiser and right-hand man.  In 1919 he became editor of 'The Two Worlds' and was rightly recognised as a leader of Spiritualist thought. Spiritualism is indebted to him beyond measure for his unflagging efforts of its behalf.
Dr. W. J. Crawford (1881 - 1920) whose painstaking and thorough investigations with the Kathleen Goligher Circle between 1917 and 1920 go a long way towards discovering the 'psychic' laws behind telekinesis phenomena. Crawford's conclusions are summed up in three important books: “The Reality of Psychic Phenomena (1916); "Experiments in Psychic Science" (1919); and "The Psychic Structures in the Goligher Circle" (1921).
1918         Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1858 - 1930) proclaimed his belief in the teachings and truth of Spiritualism. Just as Andrew Jackson Davis was called the 'John the Baptist' of Modern Spiritualism, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was called the 'St. Paul' of Spiritualism. He was a prolific writer on the subject and an avid proponent.
Sir William F. Barrett (1845 - 1926) published his book 'On the threshold of the unseen; an examination of the phenomena of Spiritualism and of the evidence for survival after death'. Barrett made searching inquiries both in England and in the USA. His summing up was that there is evidence for the existence of a spirit world, for survival after death, and for occasional communication with those passed over.
John Campbell Sloan (1869 - 1951) a direct voice medium was investigated extensively by Arthur Findlay and whose findings were published in Findlay's book 'On the Edge of the Etheric'.
1919         Estelle Roberts (1889 - 1970) Barbanell referred to Estelle Roberts as 'one of the world's greatest mediums and the possessor of nearly every psychic faculty'.
1920         The famous British crusader Sir Arthur Conan Doyle paid a visit to New Zealand which aroused great interest. While here, he made visits to a number of centres and gave lectures which created both stimulus and direction to the Spiritualist movement.
Rev. G. Vale Owen (1869 - 1931) A Church of England clergyman who developed spirit controlled writing. A whole series of articles produced in this manner was published in the 'Weekly Despatch' in 1920 and made a profound impression. In consequence of this publicity he was persecuted by his Ecclesiastical superiors and resigned from the Church. He conducted lecture tours of Britain and America. His 'Life Beyond the Veil' (five volumes) has become a Spiritualist classic.
                Dr. Walter Franklin Prince, Ex-minister of the Episcopal Church, research officer of the A.S.P.R. from 1920-24, founder and research officer of the Boston S.P.R., President of the S.P.R., 1931-32. He was  an able and extremely sceptical investigator. His cure in the multiple personality case of Doris Fischer was brilliant, his studies of the case of Patience Worth and of the Antigonish ghost especially instructive. His books: 'The Case of Patience Worth', 'The Psychic in the House', 'Noted Witnesses for Psychic Occurrences', 'The Enchanted Boundary' and (in collaboration with Mrs. Allison) 'Leonard and Soule Experiments'.
1922         In June 1922, English medium, lecturer and author Mr Horace Leaf arrived in Auckland from Sydney after an Australian tour.  Like Dr Peebles, spent a considerable time among the Maori Peoples gaining an insight into their tohungaism. He had a high opinion of both the psychic and spiritual attributes of the Maori.
1923         The first conference of the New Zealand National Association of Spiritualist Churches was convened. At this conference it was resolved to draft a Bill for presentation to Parliament.
Formation of the International Spiritualists Federation.
1924         On 22nd September, an Act of Parliament was passed forming The Spiritualist Church of New Zealand and according this organisation legal persona.
                The first exhibition of psychic art was held in New Zealand in Auckland and later the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts accepted for hanging, a number of designs drawn through the mediumship of Mrs Bertha Sinclair Burns.  Mrs Burns was also the Editress of a magazine “Aquarius” which was devoted to Spiritualism and creative thought.
1930         Gordon Higginson (1918 - 1993) began demonstrating publicly at the age of 12. Gordon continued to demonstrate his mediumship in Churches, Theatres, Halls, including the Albert Hall and astounded hundreds of thousands of people with his evidential clairvoyance. Because of the strength of his physical mediumship, many have witnessed materialised spirit forms in home circles and at the Arthur Findlay College of Psychic Science where he was the Principal and demonstrated his physical mediumship over many years. Gordon was a Spiritualist Minister, President of the West Midlands District Council and President of the Spiritualists National Union from 1970 to his death on 18th January, 1993.
1931-35    Arthur Findlay’s trilogy “On the edge of the Etheric”, “The Rock of Truth” and “The Unfolding Universe” was published.
1932         The “Psychic News” was founded by Arthur Findlay under the editorship of Maurice Barbanell.
1934         First broadcast on behalf of Spiritualism through BBC by Ernest Oaten.
1936         Harry Edwards (1893 - 1976) probably did more to permanently affect Establishment attitudes, in the UK at least, towards a particular type of Mediumship (healing) than any other single Spiritualist before or since.
1937         Spiritualism investigated by Church of England Committee set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Cosmo Lang. (It's subsequent favourable report was suppressed but leaked to 'Psychic News').
1944         Helen Duncan (1897 - 1956) Trial in London - Spiritualists are no strangers to scorn, skepticism and stupidity. We face these regularly and deal with them appropriately. But few know that one of our most gifted Mediums was charged with conspiracy and actually imprisoned for her special psychic gifts of proving survival after death.
1945         Helen Hughes (1893 - 1967) was a superb medium who conducted countless propaganda meetings around the British Isles, in modern times when Mediumship was still subject to the antiquated and outdated UK Witchcraft and Vagrancy Act (formed in 1735).
Lord Dowding came into prominence as a champion of Spiritualism after the 1939-1945 war. Lord Dowding was in command of the R.A.F. during the Battle of Britain and, through a medium friend, many of the airmen who had passed over were able to give their former Chief convincing evidence of their survival. Since then Lord Dowding spoke and wrote indefatigably on his convictions regarding the continuity of life.
1951         Passing of the Fraudulent Mediums Act 1951 in UK, removing genuine mediums from the previous provisions of the Witchcraft Act 1735 and from s.4 of the Vagrancy Act 1824, thereby enabling Spiritualist openly and legally to practice their religion.
Eileen J. Garrett (1893 - 1970) Established the New York-based Parapsychology Foundation. She presided over the foundation until her death in 1970. She is, perhaps, the most respected medium of the twentieth century. Her contributions to the investigation and understanding of Mediumship and allied phenomena remain immeasurable.
1957         Lillian Bailey was a deep trance medium who gave supreme survival evidence to many notable personalities in the 20-Century. Kings and Princes consulted her because of her remarkable gift which allowed her spirit-self to leave its mortal shell and thus allow a communicator from the next world to take temporary control of it. In 1957 the Psychic Press published a book about her life (written by W.F. Neech) called 'Death is Her Life'.
1964         Stansted Hall bequeathed to the Spiritualists' National Union by Arthur Findlay to be used as a College for the advancement of Psychic Science and the Arthur Findlay College was opened here in 1966.
1971         Leslie Flint (1911 - 1994) publishes his book 'Voices in the Dark'. Previously the Vice-president, he became the joint Vice President (in spirit) of the Noah's Ark Society with Noah Zerdin.
1974         Harold Sell, in recognition of his knowledge and experience of spiritualism was commissioned by the SCNZ to write a publication called ‘A Guide to Modern Spiritualism’. 
1980’s       Rob Gibbs published the spiritual publication the NZ Psychic Gazette.
1980         Doris Stokes (d1987) publishes her first book 'Voices in my Ear'.
1981         In NZ, a new Summary Offences Act was passed which finally removed the old fortune-telling section in favour of one that penalized only “acting as a medium with intent to deceive” or one who “with intent to deceive, purports to act as a Spiritualist medium...”
1989         Betty Shine (1929 - 2002) wrote her first book 'Mind to Mind' in 1989. She was guided by a spirit voice from the age of two onwards, but the bulk of her work in adulthood was done privately, in one-to-one consultations. She was not greatly interested in giving clairvoyant demonstrations, although she was in fact a medium, as she recounted in her autobiography; and she often did clairvoyant medical diagnosis.
1991         Archie Roy (b1924) Founder member of PRISM - Psychical Research Involving Selected Mediums which is an organisation devising scientific experiments, using mediums, to give evidence of survival. Archie, for many years Professor of Astronomy at Glasgow University, is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, the British Interplanetary Society and has been President of both the Scottish and English Societies for Psychical Research. He has lectured in many countries, been an invited speaker for NATO Scientific Division, edited journals and newspapers, investigated haunted houses and haunted people. His publications are over seventy scientific papers, scores of articles and thirteen books.
1995         For many years that the Roman Catholic Church has been carrying out scientific experiments with their own mediums and one of the most competent theologians of the Vatican, Father Gino Concetti, writing in the 'Osservatore Romano', the daily paper of the Holy See, says that, 'According to the modern catechism the Church has decided not to forbid anymore to dialogue with the deceased ... this is as a sequel of new discoveries within the domain of the paranormal.'
1998         John Edwards was Born and raised on Long Island, NY, exhibited psychic abilities from an extremely early age, and was deemed 'special' by many in his family. The fact that he would uncannily know family history and events that took place prior to his birth solidified that fact. Because no fuss was made over these early experiences, he maintained as normal a childhood as possible. Since psychic phenomena was so accepted by his family, it was easy for his abilities to flourish.
1999         Ivy Northage (1909 - 2002) was well known for her teaching abilities; and in Britain she set up the Ivy Northage School for Mediums, which helped many acolytes to hone and perfect their mediumistic skills. In 1999, she wrote her life-story, called 'While I Remember,' which features some fascinating accounts of the Mediumship that she witnessed.
2000         George Anderson is a contemporary American medium who has been achieving some amazing results under controlled conditions in studies at the University of Arizona in which five mediums were tested conducting readings for the same clients and found to be consistently accurate well beyond chance or guessing. The full first study was published in the Journal of the Society of Psychical Research in England in January, 2000.
Stephen O'Brien is a famous English medium and healer. His page contains a number of excellent examples of survival evidence obtained through Mediumship and out-of-body experiences. It also contains some of the spiritual teachings that he has been given as well as an excellent page of links to grief support organisations.