Like other English-speaking peoples around the world, New Zealanders began debating
Darwinism in the early 1860s, shortly after the publication of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species.
Despite the opposition of some religious and political leaders – and even the odd scientist –
biological evolution made deep inroads in a culture that increasingly identified itself as
secular. The introduction of pro-evolution curricula and radio broadcasts provoked occasional
antievolution outbursts, but creationism remained more an object of ridicule than a threat until
the last decades of the twentieth century, when first American and then Australian creationists
began fomenting antievolutionism among New Zealanders. Although Stephen Jay Gould assured
them in 1986 that they had little to fear from so-called scientific creationism, because it was a
‘peculiarly American’ phenomenon, scientific creationism by the mid-1990s had captured the
allegiance of an estimated five per cent of the country and proved especially attractive to Maori
and Pacific Islanders. In 1992 New Zealand creationists formed their own antievolution society,
Creation Science (NZ).