Sir Lloyd Geering donates archive to the University

On 28 November, the Religious Studies programme joined with the JC Beaglehole Room at the University’s Main Library to host a special function for Sir Lloyd Geering ONZ, GNZM, CBE. The occasion marked the donation of Sir Lloyd’s large collection of papers to the University.

Geering archive deposit
From left to right: Dr Geoff Troughton, Professor Paul Morris, Lady Shirley Geering, Sir Lloyd Geering, Professor Chris Marshall, Sue Hirst

Now 102 years old, Sir Lloyd arrived as the foundation professor of Religious Studies at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington in 1971. He arrived as a household name, fresh from the controversies of the famous “heresy” trial against him, which had aroused passionate debate around the country. One letter in the freshly-donated papers purports to have been written by Satan, and thanks Geering for his work in promoting doubt among the people of New Zealand.

Sir Lloyd continued to exert a major influence as a prolific writer, speaker, and commentator on public issues and religious life during his time at the University. He was made a Professor Emeritus on his retirement in 1984. His ongoing activity and contribution was recognised in 2006 with the highest honour, when he was made a Member of The Order of New Zealand.

Religious Studies programme director Dr Geoff Troughton noted that while much has changed since his arrival at the University, the tradition Sir Lloyd established of lively, broad-ranging teaching, study, and debate about religion continues to flourish. In many ways this task has become increasingly important, he said, and substantial growth in student enrolments in 2020 indicates that it also remains compelling.

Dr Troughton acknowledged the establishment of a new scholarship in Sir Lloyd’s name. “We are delighted to be able to honour Sir Lloyd’s legacy, and look forward to enabling new generations of students to examine the critical issues of their age,” he said.

Two of his early students from the 1970s, Professor Chris Marshall and Emeritus Professor Paul Morris, also reflected upon the impact of Sir Lloyd’s teaching on them and others, and on the significance of his career. Emeritus Professor Paul Morris noted that the Sir Lloyd’s papers are “extensive and important, not only for the intellectual study of religion in New Zealand, but also part of our social, political, and religious history.”

“Lloyd’s impact has been unique,” said Professor Marshall, “and so his collection of papers here at the University and the scholarship fund in his name are a fitting legacy for his remarkable contribution to the country.”