New Zealand Methodist Church OnLine History
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The westland Diary of the Rev. G, S. Harper 1865-66.

Gold Diggings and the Gospel


Notes and Acknowledgements 
Chapter 1 Appointment and Arrival 
Chapter 2 First Impressions 
Chapter 3 Laying Foundations 
Chapter 4 Westland Life and Manners 
Chapter 5 The Work Extended 
Chapter 6 Around the Churches 
Chapter 7 The Growing Church 
Chapter 8 Closing Labours 
The Rev. George S. Harper

Born in Yorkshire, England, in the year 1840, George S. Harper was received into the Methodist ministry in 1864. He arrived in New Zealand in 1865, and was appointed to the Christchurch Circuit. A lew weeks later he proceeded to the West Coast goldfields at Hokitika, where he became the first resident minister of any church in the whole area.

An article in "The N.Z. Methodist Times" (7/10/191 T> says: "It is not every man who is fitted to lace a crowd of gold-diggers, but Ceorge Harper filled the bill to perfection . . . He could knock about among them with a ready wit, and a keen appreciation of all the vicissitudes of a digger's lot." He laboured on the West Coast for one year only before returning to Christchurch. Later he pion-eered Methodism on the Thames goldfields.

Altogether he exercised his ministry in the following Circuits: Christchurch, Hokitika, Thames, Wellington, Blenheim and Nelson. While at Nelson his health tailed, and he retired to Sanson.

The "Times" article referred to above says inter alia:
"The excitement and strain of his goldfields' experience proved too much for him. In 1878 he was laid aside from active work by nervous prostration, from which he never really recovered."

He died on 24th September, 1911, and was buried at Palmerston North.