Part I of the thesis gives the general background to the issue of secular education in New Zealand through the various situations in each Province. Although the Provincial Councils were independent from one another they each experienced considerable difficulties with the problems of religious instruction. The Roman Catholics and Anglicans desired their own schools and grants-in-aid, while the non-conformists wanted a state system which was secular. Part I concludes with a brief view of the sectarian divisions and the 1877 Education Bill. Part II deals with Anglican reaction prior to 1877. It became clear in the Anglican Synodical proceedings, and in local debate reported in newspapers, that the Church of England was ambivalent in its attitudes. episcopal leaders, such as Octavius Hadfield, sought similar position to the Roman Catholics in demanding a Church school system supported by grants-in-aid. Other Anglicans did not feel so strongly and subsequently secular education became a national measure. Part III considers the situation after 1877 through the synodical proceedings; the 1883 Petitions Committee (which considered the complaints about the secular clause); and the 1895 Committee which discussed the proposed Irish text book scheme. The Anglican response remained ambivalent, and even those who bitterly opposed the secular clause could not persuade Church members to respond in a decisive way.