Between the fourteenth and nineteenth centuries, European explorers travelled by land and sea to the world beyond Europe. It was a time of both economic and scientific progress.

Catholic missionaries sometimes accompanied the expeditions, taking the opportunity to plant the seed of Christian faith in the hearts of indigenous peoples. This included Bishop Pompallier of France who, in 1838, sailed into Hokianga to establish his headquarters for the Catholic mission in New Zealand and Oceania.

The period between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries in Europe is referred to as the “Age of Enlightenment” or “Age of Reason”. Significant advances in science, engineering and technology are the positive fruits of this age.

However, this was also the time when science and modern philosophical enquiry began rejecting religious knowledge about God and Christianity. So, a negative fruit of the Enlightenment was the fracture between philosophy, science and Christian thought as complementary sources of true knowledge. This marked the end of a unity in scholarship that scientists, philosophers and theologians had enjoyed for over a thousand years.