Project Canterbury

The Maori Race and New Zealand Missions

From Mission Life, Volume I (first series) (1866), pages 133-141, 190-201 and 269-274.

Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown
Bishop of Malaita, Church of the Province of Melanesia, 2007


OF all the uncivilised races with which the Missionary work of the Church has brought us into contact, the inhabitants of New Zealand are, perhaps, the most interesting. The Polynesian race occupies almost innumerable groups of islands scattered through the boundless ocean which extends from the shores of India to the south of New Zealand. Originally, no doubt, of Malay origin, it has spread by a gradual emigration through the groups referred to, carrying with it one language, which, with mere varieties of dialect, is used by the various tribes of which the whole race is composed, so that at this day, after many hundred years of separation, the native of the Sandwich Islands in the Northern Pacific, and the native of the Tonga groups in the Central Pacific, can understand and make themselves understood by the inhabitants of New Zealand.

The race wherever met with, presents the same leading characteristics. Agriculturists, on a soil whose fertility makes the employment of the farmer not a drudgery, but a light and healthful exercise--the dressing and keeping of a garden; navigators of necessity by reason of their insular position, but in [133/134] the least tempestuous and stormy of seas; warriors who have lived in the excitement of continuous hostilities, they have developed into a people of very high and most remarkably uniform energy, physical and mental. Their faculties in both respects would seem to have arrived at almost the highest pitch to which human nature, apart from the training processes of civilisation, could reach; and they have a certain elasticity and freshness about them in both particulars, which is lost or obscured in races which have been brought under the discipline of regular organisation, and the bonds of that "social compact" (if there be such a thing) which lies at the foundation of civilised government and national progress.

But with a great uniformity of character in these respects, there are in their physical and mental constitution, as in their language, varieties arising from circumstances of position, of climate, of occupation, or of food, which distinguish the different sections of the race. The inhabitants of the central groups of the Pacific Islands have been likened with Italians, Greeks, and other inhabitants of Southern Europe; while the New Zealander, living in a more variable, more stimulating atmosphere, compelled to bestow more labour on the production of food, and sailing or paddling in his war-canoe through more tempestuous seas, more closely resembles the Norman, Saxon, and Celtic inhabitants of our British isles. And, as with us, there is an intermixture of those three bloods, so the New Zealanders seem in their wanderings to have formed alliances with nations of a type different from the Malay race, which was most probably the original fount from which they flowed. Whether by contact with the inhabitants of New Guinea, or with what other race will probably never be known, they have acquired a strong "strain" of the Negro blood, carrying with it the usual peculiarities, both of body and temper, by which that race is distinguished, to such an extent, that some think they can by the features and hair of any particular New Zealander define his character, and his general tastes and habits, to the extent of predicating whether he will be a quiet and industrious labourer of the Negro temperament, or a [134/135] rash, impetuous, and headstrong rover of the Malay cast. Interesting, therefore, as the Polynesian race is wherever met, the New Zealand or Maori section of it is the most calculated to attract English sympathies; and could it have been rescued from the extinction which we fear too surely awaits it, it might have grown into a civilised people more closely resembling ourselves than, perhaps, any other community not of our own blood.

Missionary labour among this most interesting people commenced about the year 1814, by a brief visit of six weeks paid by two lay Missionaries of the Church Missionary Society, Messrs Hall and Kendall, and immediately afterwards by the Rev. Samuel Marsden, a Church of England Chaplain of the New South Wales Government--a man of large and catholic views, of untiring zeal and great physical energy, with whom the first idea of a New Zealand Mission originated. Through his intervention, the work took an organised shape, a regular Mission being established by the Church Missionary Society in 1814. After several years of long and patient waiting, and much labour, on the part of the little body of faithful men, thus sent to the uttermost parts of the earth, Christianity seemed all at once to take root, and in a few years the whole nation, with very small exception, had accepted the Gospel, and outwardly, at least, become converts to its faith. The real result was most encouraging, while the apparent success, measured by external conformity, was triumphant beyond all precedent. It is sad to have to record that, after the lapse of a few more years, this great work has to a melancholy extent broken down, and that the building which seemed to stand so strong, has under fiery trial proved in a great degree to have been but "wood, hay, stubble." A large part of the Maori race, who had been apparently converted to Christianity, who were organised into self-supporting churches, ministered to in part by ordained teachers of their own race, has within the last four years apostatised, denounced the Bible as a collection of cunningly-devised fables, and rushed headlong into a superstition more foul, sensual, and devilish, if possible, than the old creed of their Paganism.

It is not our intention to write a history of the New Zealand [135/136] Missions. That work has been already performed by the authors of the interesting Life of Marsden, and the little volume called the "Southern Cross and Southern Crown." The latter of these contains a very carefully-compiled account of the work of the Church of England Missions among the New Zealanders, though it is disfigured by much of that high colouring and spirit of exaggeration which indicate the sanguine advocate rather than the impartial historian of events. Our object is not to go over the same ground as has been traversed by these writers, but only to refer to the history of Missionary work in New Zealand, so far as to enable the reader to understand its present position, to trace the causes which have led to it, and, if possible, to throw some light on the probable future and the best means of meeting its emergencies. With this view, in the two or three short pallets we hope to write, we propose to treat the subject in the following order:--1. What the Maori was before Christianity came to him. 2. How it came. 3. What it made him. 4. How lie abandoned it. 5. The present prospect of its restoration. 6. The probable future of the race.


Some writers, such as Rousseau and Herman Melville, have described savage life as a state of Arcadian simplicity, distinguished by virtues of which civilisation has deprived the rest of the world, and diversified by a perpetual round of enjoyments. But for some small drawbacks, it would rival, if not surpass, the condition of our first parents; and it is difficult to read their descriptions of untutored man basking in the morning sun, sheltering himself in fragrant groves from its midday heat, banqueting on delicious fruits, or disporting himself in the refreshing stream or snowy surf, without feeling misgivings whether we have not made a mistake in surrounding ourselves with social systems such as we live in, and adopting habits so greatly at variance with and so entirely destructive of the charming condition of life with which nature has blessed the savage.

Those, however, who have really known what savage life is who have studied its ordinary condition, who have made [136/137] themselves familiar with its characteristic features, and have no object in romancing about it, view it in a very different aspect. It is a state full of misery, wretchedness, filth, violence, strife, bloodshed, revenge, indulgence in every vice and every evil passion; at one time gorged with food, and at another plunged in destitution and perishing with want; while the entire disregard of human life and the absence of all security for property destroy the possibility of social progress, or of elevation above that lowest of all low conditions to which the savage has fallen. Covetous and rapacious, gratitude is unknown among them: "The word 'thank' exists not in their language," says one of the New Zealand missionaries. On the other hand, profuse and reckless, they will consume at a single feast the stored food prepared for an entire winter. They do not even enjoy that immunity from disease which their supposed simplicity of life ought to ensure; but so thoroughly decayed is the constitution of large tribes, that, as we shall hereafter see, extinction seems inevitable and at hand. These are but a few of the features which characterise savage life wherever met with, fully justifying that description of the natural state of unconverted man which St Paul has given us in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Romans.

The Maori, before Christianity, exhibited to the extremest degree all the features of savage life to which we have alluded. Composed of such fundamental elements, his aspirations found their highest development in incessant wars, and what has been not inaptly termed "a weasel-like taste for blood." Cannibalism appears to have been, not, as some have imagined, an occasional act of revenge over an enemy, but an habitual indulgence, and a very ordinary method of procuring what, in the absence of all quadrupeds, was the only animal food within reach. The great numbers that were killed in their battles, and the certain destination of the slain, to say nothing of the frequent immolation of slaves for the entertainment of a friend or guest, leave little doubt of the fact that the taste for human flesh was general, and universally indulged whenever opportunity offered or could be found--and that was almost constantly. Although the act of cannibalism was very often concealed from the early missionaries [137/138] in consequence of the repugnance which they manifested towards it, their early records are full of instances of its perpetration on a large scale, and with a frightful frequency of repetition. A few extracts will illustrate the extent of their wars and the frightful character of the atrocities practised by them:--" Their favourite pursuit was war," writes Miss Jackson, (the compiler of the "Southern Cross and Southern Crown";) "nothing else seemed worthy of their energies; and the custom of demanding a payment in human life for any insult or injury, real or supposed, of however remote a date, was always at hand to supply them with a pretext for attacking a weaker tribe, and indulging the spirit of revenge that lay deep within their breasts. There were instances in which forty years had elapsed since the offence was committed." --" Destruction and devastation followed every battle; the victorious party laid waste the country, burnt the villages, destroyed the plantations, and dragged away the women into perpetual bondage. The treatment of the prisoners and the captives was most barbarous. Hard work, hunger, and contempt were the everyday portions of these unhappy slaves; the slightest offence was punished with stripes; and their sufferings, whether of body or mind, were the subject of merriment and derision. The life of a slave was held more cheap than that of a dog; and a fit of passion or some sudden impulse was often sufficient to lift the hatchet of a chief against the man who had, perhaps, long and faithfully served him, but who was now doomed not only to death, but to satisfy the unnatural appetite of his master." Mr Hursthouse, describing the great battle between Hongi (after his return from England) and Hinaki, a neighbouring chief, says,--" In the first battle between them, Hinaki was shot, when Hongi scooped out the eye of the dying man, swallowed it, then stabbed him, in the neck and drank his blood. About 1000 natives were slaughtered in this one fight, and about 300 cooked and eaten: On Hongi's triumphant return to the Bay of Islands, he had twenty captives in his own canoe, whom he had picked out for slaves; but his daughter, who had lost her husband in the fight, seizing the sword presented to her father by George the Fourth's own hand, jumped on board and smote off several of their [138/139] heads. Twenty more of the wretched prisoners were killed and eaten." Another event recorded by the same writer is as follows:--Some time previous to 1833, a fishing canoe of the Waikato was driven ashore at Waitara, in the beautiful Taranki country, when most of the crew were cruelly murdered and eaten by the Ngatiawa tribe then dwelling there. In revenge for this, Te Potatau, a great chief of the Waikato, and the native who was afterwards chosen for the first Maori king by the present rebels, made a fell swoop upon the Ngatiawas; stormed their fortress; pitched over the cliff', tomahawked, and slew some 1100 men, women, and children, picked out about 200 for slaves; and then, marched back with many baskets of flesh, leaving the place such a shambles that the air for miles round was tainted." A fugitive branch of this tribe afterwards succeeded in reaching the Chatham Islands, on the coast of the Southern Island, when, in their turn, they defeated the resident Maories, 2000 in number, and have since treated them with the greatest barbarity, which has reduced their number to less than 150 souls, miserable, down-trodden slaves of cruel and inexorable masters.

And while war, the great pursuit of their life, exhibited such repulsive features, their domestic condition was little more attractive. Every description of impurity existed among them. Their conversation and their songs were equally unfit for decent ears; and we have known instances of children, so young that they could not yet speak plainly, having to be sent away from Mission schools because the little they could speak was too vile to be listened to. Whole families, and even all the inhabitants of a village, old and young, male and female, married and single, would sleep close packed on the floor of one hut, (the nharré puni ;) heated to a suffocating degree, and literally swarming with fleas and other vermin. "Neither men nor women, boys nor girls," writes Mrs Williams, the wife of a missionary, "seemed to have the slightest sense of propriety or decency; and their persons and habits were so dirty and disgusting, that to be brought into daily and hourly contact with them required an amount of self-denial scarcely to be appreciated in a civilised community." Children of tender years were utterly neglected, and thousands died yearly from [139/140] neglect; while infanticide, particularly of female children, (who were useless in war, and costly to maintain in times of scarcity,) was so general, that at this day the proportion of women to men is seldom higher in any district than seven to ten; a disproportion which, tested by natural laws, can be accounted for by no other possible reason than the destruction in infancy of a large proportion of the sex. Of those who survived, the great majority were corrupted in their earliest years. As they grew up, labour of the severest sort, all the drudgery of the field and of the home, was laid upon them, causing them soon to lose all traces of the beautiful or the graceful, in which they were not deficient for the short term of life which passes before they are crushed by hard work or degraded by harsh usage. The redeeming feature of their domestic life was the cooking of their food, which was generally cleanly and thoroughly performed; but it was eaten with little comfort, all the household plunking their unwashed hands into the common mess, served up in a basket often not over-clean; for they were without dishes, plates, cups, or any other article of' domestic convenience--even chairs or tables on which or at which to discuss their homely meal. The scenes which occurred at their cannibal feasts were not entitled to the small praise bestowed on their ordinary meals, but were, as may be supposed, as horrible and disgusting as the circumstances with which they were surrounded.

Their religion was of a very indefinite sort, and embraced few items of definite belief. A good deity, "Atua," and an evil one, "Typo," represented their theocracy; though the spirits of some of their great chiefs, even a woman in one instance, seem to have been elevated to the rank of demigods. But the practical influence of their faith took effect chiefly in their submission to their tohungas, or priests, who seem to have ruled solely by superstitious terror, and not by any appeal to creeds, which they did not possess, nor to reasoning faculties, which were too dark to be ever exercised on religious subjects. A sort of "cordon sanitaire" was proclaimed by the priest around whatever person or property he chose to operate upon, and its infringement was punished by supernatural penalties of the severest order, usually death or, [140/141] defeat in war. The priests also exercised the function of foretelling events by the light of omens, and attained by it power over the great chiefs and their political action. Christianity deposed these impostors; and it is probable that it was by their exertions, and in order to regain their influence, that the recent superstition which has caused so wide an apostacy was devised. Witchcraft and an evil eye were also believed in, and might be exercised by others than the priests, and even in other countries calling themselves civilised, by the old women of the tribe.

It may fairly be asked, whether the moral regeneration of a people sunk so low was not beyond the power of any system of philosophy, of deism, or of natural religion? And if it be supposed that any such system contains within itself the antidote for such corruption, yet where could the teachers be found, fortified with the zeal, courage, and patience requisite for the task of successfully instilling their creed into the darkened minds of such a race, and triumphantly drawing over a large portion of it to a genuine adoption of its truths, and a still larger to a nominal adherence to its outward symbols? Could it have been done by the philosopher of ancient Greece, or by the sceptic of modern days? The question may be answered emphatically in the negative. One philosophy only--one faith--was equal to the work. And when we reflect on the utter corruption of the Maori, the long centuries during which he had been graduating in every species of wickedness, we must admit that the power of Christianity was never more efficiently exhibited than when it checked the downward progress of the race, and turned it into new paths of truth, of civilisation, of social elevation, and of religious truth. If the work was not complete--if it has since in a great degree broken down--it is no more than may be said of the work of moral regeneration everywhere: that the real and counterfeit go together, and that the tide of social progress ebbs and flows like that of the great sea, while its permanent aggression on the opposing coast is sure though gradual. How that work was effected, and what it amounted to, we shall have to narrate and estimate.

(To be continued.)


(Continued from p. 141.)

We have now to consider--


The Church of England Mission to the New Zealanders was founded by Samuel Marsden in 1814. A chaplain in the service of the Government of New South Wales, he was unable to take an active part in the work personally in New Zealand, beyond occasionally visiting it, encouraging the Missionaries by his presence, and providing a great part of the expense of its early years. But it was solely through his persevering intervention with the Church Missionary Society that the Mission was founded, and he continued its ever-watchful watchful and earnest friend to the day of his death, in 1838. But for him, humanly speaking, the work would never have .been undertaken; or if undertaken, would probably have been abandoned when it became involved in difficulties and perils. It is much to his credit, also, that the Wesleyan Mission, which was founded a few years later than that of his own church, received great encouragement and assistance at his hands.

The first missionaries were William Hall, a carpenter, and John King, a shoemaker. A Mr. Kendall was at first associated with them; but he did not long persevere, and is entitled to little of the credit, of laying the foundation of [190/191] Christianity in New Zealand. Though they afterwards proved useful missionaries, Messrs. Hall and King do not appear at first to have formed a very high estimate of the character of the work on which they were engaged,--having at one time so far lost sight of the spirit of their calling as to sell muskets to the natives, knowing, of course, the destructive purpose for which they would be used, and never having organised prayer-meetings among themselves and families till after 1824, ten years subsequent to their arrival. In addition to this, they were at first totally ignorant of the Maori language, and appear to have acted on the idea that the introduction of civilised arts was their first duty, and the direct inculcation of religious knowledge only subordinate and collateral. ('Southern Cross,' &c., p. 40.) Still, even in these feeble hands the work made some progress, if it only amounted to what might result from the exercise of their leader, and the exhibition of moral and respectable lives, winning the respect of the natives for the pioneers of a faith to be afterwards developed by others. That they were earnest in their work so far as they understood it, and carried their lives in their hands in the true missionary spirit, persevering under very perilous circumstances,--in short, holding the field till more efficient workers arrived,--is the least praise to which they are entitled; and they may justly claim to have cleared the ground, if they did not lay the foundation-stone. In 1824, Richard Davis (of whom a very interesting memoir has lately been published by Nisbett and Co.) and George Clarke,--the former a farmer, and the latter a mechanic,--were added to the Mission; but it was not till August, 1823, that the first ordained missionary, the Rev. Henry Williams, now Archdeacon of Waimate, arrived, accompanied by some other lay assistants. In 1826 he was joined by his brother, the Rev. William Williams, now the Bishop of Waiapu; and under direction of these two zealous and very able men, the Mission may be considered as having attained such an effective organisation as promised to lead to satisfactory results. In the subsequent history of the Mission they were joined by other ordained missionaries, to the number of twenty-four or twenty-five, who, as opportunity offered, were gradually located in [191/192] the midst of the several tribes of which the Maori family is composed.

Down to the arrival of the Williamses, the progress of the Mission work appears not to have extended beyond externals. Schools had been established, and a good many had been taught to read and write; but there was little interest in religious matters--not one convert had been made, and of course no baptism had taken place. "The Missionaries," we are told, "mourned over the unfruitfulness of their labours." In 1826, Mr. Davis writes--"The Mission is yet in an infant state, and has effected little. Secular concerns have hitherto been too much attended to." Again--"Very little had been done to evangelize the Maories before our arrival (1824). Only one individual could speak intelligibly to the natives." And, as late as 1831--"I fear the cause of our Master is making slow progress. In fact, the Missionaries are literally buried in secular concerns. Here is little else but hard work. I fear there is less stir and progress than heretofore." Still the work of preparation was going on. In September, 1825, the first convert was baptized. In 1827, some portions of the Scriptures printed in Maori were circulated, and most eagerly sought after. Reading, writing, arithmetic, and Scripture were taught to 200 or 300 children and adults in the Mission schools. In February, 1830, two Chiefs and the wife of one were publicly baptized; and a month later, Mr. W. Williams writes--" The interest formerly manifested by a few in the Settlement has become almost general; and the cry, as soon as evening prayers are over, is, 'May we not come to you and talk?'" In September, 1831, Mr. Davis writes--"The blessed Gospel is making progress here. The desire for religious knowledge is evidently increasing. The language of distant tribes is, 'We want to hear what the Missionaries have to say.'" In April, 1834, he says--"The kingdom of Christ is taking root rapidly in New Zealand;" and shortly afterwards--"The cause of Christ rapidly extends in this country." In March, 1834--"Wonderful is the alteration in these savage tribes. Twelve months ago they were perfect savages; now they are teachable and mild, and many are willing to sit at the feet of our Saviour. All seems changed for the better." [192/193] "The natives follow us into the fields for instruction. Last Sunday nine adults and six children were baptized in this Settlement. Last night I met sixty persons, all anxious for the salvation of their souls."

From 1835 to 1845 may be looked upon as the palmy decade of the Mission. The work which it had commenced at the Bay of Islands, in the extreme north, had before the latter date, by its instrumentality and that of the Wesleyan Mission, been extended through the whole of the islands, and the bulk of the Maori people might be truly said to have been brought, by one Mission or the other, under the influence of Christianity direct or secondary. The Wesleyan Mission was founded shortly after that of the Church of England, and the two found a field amply large for both; by a division of which, the former taking the west coast, while the latter worked on the east, all chance of conflict, or even semblance of rivalry, was avoided. The Wesleyans at first met with perhaps even greater difficulties and discouragements than their brethren of the Church of England, and were at one time actually expelled from their districts, narrowly escaping with their lives. After an interval, however, they returned and continued their labour till they reaped their share of the great harvest which ultimately rewarded their patience and zeal.


In endeavouring to form an estimate of the result of the work of the period the events of which we have briefly sketched, and in stating our belief that it has been generally described in too glowing colours, we hope we shall not be supposed to be desirous of detracting from the merit due to the self-denying band of Missionaries to whose exertions, under the blessing of God, the result was attributable. It was not unnatural that they should over-estimate the progress made, and, elated at the wonderful success already attained, should overlook many obvious considerations which might have occurred to a simple looker-on. They saw and rejoiced at what Christianity had done for the heathen, for whose conversion they had laboured; but they appear to have shut their eyes in great degree to much that it had not yet achieved, and the [193/194] achievement of which involved further years, if not ages, of patient labour on their part, and steady growth and progress on that of their flocks. They appear to have thought that the newly-converted Maori people had jumped at once from their degraded state to a condition of real and pure Christianity far beyond that of the British nation, whose growth in the faith had been the gradual work of centuries, and whose "nominal profession," as exhibited by the colonists who were now fast flowing into the country, they lost no opportunity of contrasting in their letters and reports home with what they believed to be the more genuine and sincere life of their neophite flocks. The real condition of the Maori race at this period we shall endeavour to delineate by pointing out what Christianity had effected and what it had failed to effect in changing the character of the people and their habits of life.

It had put an end to the habitual and incessant wars which for centuries probably had raged between the various tribes. It had extinguished the habit of cannibalism, the last instance of which is believed to have occurred at Tauranga in 1843, during a brief period of hostilities which occurred there. It had given them the Scriptures, of which they became most industrious readers, if not most discriminating students. It had taught them to read, to write, and to cipher. It had given them increasing habits of industry, and prepared their minds to receive enlightenment in the arts of agriculture and other crafts pursued by the Europeans. It had made life respected and property more secure, and had tacitly abolished slavery. There were no more famines caused by the plundering of hostile neighbours, and fewer originating in reckless waste or want of steady industry. It had organised churches all over the country; had gathered into them as professing believers a large majority of the Maori even; and had been the means of the genuine conversion of probably as large a proportion as has been ever gleaned from the aggregate of any body of professing Christians.

On the other baud, it had done little to elevate their domestic life or check the physical degeneration of the race. With a few bright exceptions, they continued (and do still continue) to live in a state of what we can only call "piggish [194/195] communism." The natives still neglected the nurture of their children and the sanitary condition of their own habitations; while, though among the comparatively few really converted a better state of things, no doubt, prevailed, the great social evils to which we have before alluded still continued and do still continue to exist with little or no diminution among the bulk of the people.

And as regards extent of the actual progress of Christianity, though a great part of the nation yielded an outward conformity in externals, yet even in this respect there were several of the wilder tribes who either opposed it altogether or held aloof; while those who received it too often retained a collateral belief in their old superstitions, and allowed witchcraft and the "Tehungas" practically to influence their actions. A very intelligent Chief, who had been a teacher and was still a professing Christian and member of the Church of England, expressed his conviction to the writer that the decrease of the race was owing to the neglect of the "Tapee" and the customs of their old superstitions. The ideas seemed curiously combined in his mind; he did not seem to doubt Christianity, he had deliberately chosen it in preference to his earlier belief; but he still looked on the latter as a reality, gave it a sort of personal existence, and evidently had faith in its power. to punish those who had abandoned it.

And, lastly, the Missionaries had succeeded in teaching them, in a very imperfect degree (if at all), the Anglo-Saxon virtue of voluntary submission to law. The old impulse to obtain redress of wrongs by an appeal to force--to set the civil power at defiance when it interferes with individual liberty--still continued. We do not refer merely to British law. The feeling was never more strongly manifested than it was under the institutions (if such they might be called) of the Maori king, who, though his political position was admitted to a servile extent, found himself and his magistrates utterly powerless to enforce their laws; and they were continually set at defiance when they attempted to do it by individuals of no weight or position among them.

We are not at all surprised at these shortcomings. Those who did not expect or did not recognise their existence must [195/196] have believed that not only was a "nation born in a day," but, contrary to our experience of all God's work both of nature and of grace, had come to maturity in a day. Yet such was the apparent condition of belief of many of the newly-converted Maori race, if we may judge by the highly coloured pictures which from time to time have been presented to the public. When suddenly the picture is reversed, and a large part of the race is seen plunging back again into superstitions worse than its old Paganism, the disappointed spectator who has misunderstood the character of the case looks about in all directions but the right one for the causes which led to the sudden change. The real cause of the late defection we believe to have been nothing else than the imperfect and incomplete character of the conversion of the Maori people. It was the dog returning to his vomit. And in this view we are the more confirmed by the character of the atrocities to which the Maories resorted the moment that the impulse of their new superstition carried them away. If we can conceive the bulk of the British population suddenly apostatizing from the faith in which they have been growing up for eighteen centuries, we should hardly expect to find them at once retrograding to a point at which cannibalism and drinking the warm blood from the flowing veins of an enemy would be possible. But this the apostatizing New Zealander did not attain to in a day. The secret was, that he had but a very little way to go back. It was barely twenty years, not twenty centuries, since he had emerged from the blackness of night. Many of the race still sat under the gloom of its penumbra; and the very moment that this new impulse took them, they were back into its deepest shadows. We will make our sketch of that distressing and painful event as brief as possible.


This event, we must premise, does not embrace the whole Maori race. It is probable, however, that nearly two thirds of them--all, in fact, who have been engaged in the late rebellion--have become open adherents of the horrid and blasphemous superstition; while the portents and prodigies in which it deals, and the power of working miracles which it [196/197] claims to possess, are understood to have shaken the faith of many and terrified the inconstant minds of others who have not openly thrown off their allegiance to Christianity or gone into opposition to the government of the country.

We have not space to give in detail a full account of the "Pai Marire" superstition, as it is called from the watchword of its inventors, signifying the exact reverse of its character, "Peace and quiet." Those who wish to hear more of it we may refer to articles in the 'Good Words,' and in 'Fraser's Magazine' for the month of October, 1865, by the Presbyterian Chaplain to the Imperial troops in New Zealand, which contains a very intelligent account of this superstition and its results, as well its some interesting remarks on the religious progress and condition of the Maories. We are indebted for our briefer and more compendious outline to the recent volume on 'The War in New Zealand,' by Mr. Fen, "late the Colonial Secretary and Native Minister of this colony." We shall ourselves avoid entering into any discussion on the merits of the war, with which we have nothing to do; but it may be necessary to mention that it had been going on for great part of a year when this superstition appears to have made its first appearance, and that the influential tribes of Waikato, with whom the Queen's troops had been chiefly engaged, were to a great extent defeated, though they had made no submission, and were apparently only waiting a favorable opening for the renewal of the campaign. The superstition, however, did not originate with them, but with their allies and adherents at Taranaki or New Plymouth, on the west coast of the Northern Island. "A strong fighting pah called Kaitake, held by the rebels," says the author last mentioned, "about ten miles south of New Plymouth, was taken by Colonel Warre on the 24th March, 1864. The native works were taken possession of and occupied by a detachment of the 57th Regiment, under Captain Lloyd. A few days afterwards (4th April) that officer, with a force of 100 men, was scouring the spurs of the adjacent hills to see if there were any cultivations in that direction, with the view of destroying them if found. Having traversed a considerable distance without seeing any signs of natives on the move, his men appear to have got into loose order, when [197/198] they were suddenly set upon by a body of rebels, who came over a ridge, and completely defeated and routed, with a loss of seven killed and nine wounded. Captain Lloyd, who exhibited great gallantry, was among the killed. The rebels drank the blood of those who fell, and cut off their heads, burying, for the time, the heads and bodies in different places. A few days afterwards, according to the native account, the angel Gabriel appeared to those who had partaken of the blood, ordered his head to be exhumed, cured in their own way, and taken through the length and breadth of New Zealand, that from thenceforth this head should be the medium of man's communication with Jehovah. These injunctions were carefully obeyed; and immediately the head was taken up, it appointed Te Ua to be high priest, and Hepaniah and Rangitanira to be his assistants, and communicated to them, in the most solemn manner, the tenets of this new religion; namely--The followers to be called "Pai Marire." The angel Gabriel with his legions will protect them from their enemies. The Virgin Mary will constantly be present with them. The religion of England as taught by the Scriptures is false. The Scriptures must all be burnt. All days are alike sacred, and no notice must be taken of the Christian sabbath. Men and women must live together promiscuously, so that their children must be as the sand of the sea-shore for multitude. The priests have superhuman power, and can obtain for their followers complete victories by simply uttering the word "Hau." The people who adopt this religion will shortly drive the Europeans out of New Zealand. This is only prevented by the head not having completed its circuit of the whole land. Legions of angels await the bidding of the priests to aid the Maories in exterminating the Europeans. Immediately they are destroyed and driven away, men will be sent from heaven to teach the Maories the English language in one lesson, provided certain stipulations are carefully observed; the people to assemble at a certain time, in a certain position, near a flagstaff of a certain height, bearing a flag of certain colour." Among the promises made to the deluded followers of this superstition was that of invulnerability by English bullets; and they were not long in testing it by an attack which they [198/199] made in open day on a redoubt near Taranaki, occupied by a party of British troops. They were defeated with heavy loss, Hepaniah, one of their prophets, being among the killed. Nothing daunted, however, they proceeded, in strong force, to attack the European settlement and garrison towns of Wanganni, but were encountered by a body of royal natives; again defeated, and almost entirely annihilated, with the loss of their second prophet, Matene. Still their fanaticism was not damped, but they proceeded to send emissaries through the country, preaching their new creed, till in a very few weeks they had converted nearly all the rebel party. How completely its followers adopted its horrid rites, and how entirely even organised churches discarded Christianity in its favour, was evidenced by the sad martyrdom of the Rev. C. S. Völckner: "Mr. Völckner," we are told, "was a Prussian by birth, and a Lutheran by profession.. He came to New Zealand in connection with a Hamburg Society, but subsequently joined the English Church, and was ordained by Bishop Williams, of Waiapu. He was a man of remarkable simplicity of character, of the most single-minded and devoted piety, and an extremely conciliatory and kindly disposition. He had been placed five or six years ago at Opotiki, among some of the rudest tribes in New Zealand, who had had little or no intercourse with Europeans, and no religious instruction. He gradually won his way among them till he had gathered a considerable body of converts around him, who gave outward evidence of the effect of his teaching, by building him a comparatively handsome church and dwelling-house. * * * * During his absence at Auckland, in February, 1864, a party of fanatics from Taranaki arrived at Opotiki, carrying with them the cooked head of a European, and a soldier who had been taken prisoner and dragged through the country with them in great misery and wretchedness. On the 1st of March, Mr. Völckner, accompanied by the Rev. T. Grace, another missionary who was about to visit a neighbouring place, arrived at Opotiki in a small schooner called the "Eclipse." The vessel was no sooner inside the bar than she was boarded by a strong party of Maories, and the two Missionaries dragged ashore. It was soon announced to Mr. [199/200] Völckner that he was to be killed. Almost to the last, however, he refused to believe it; and there was apparently for a time a wavering among the natives, and a talk about ransom. A night of miserable suspense followed. The next morning Mr. Völckner busied himself in kind offices amongst his people, and executed some little commissions he had undertaken at Auckland. "I could not help noticing the calmness of his manner, and the beautiful smile that was on his face," writes his companion Mr. Grace. About 2 p.m., some twenty armed men came to the house where they were, and, after performing some ceremonies outside, called Mr. Völckner out, and took him away, locking in his companions, whom they would not allow to accompany him. He was taken first to his own church, where he was stripped of his coat and waistcoat; and then they led him away to a willow tree at a little distance where they had rigged up a block and tackle which they had got from the schooner. He knew now what they meant, and asked for time to pray. After a few minutes he rose up and said, "I am ready." While he was shaking hands with some of his people (consenting to his death), a rope was thrown over his neck, and he was run up to an arm of the tree. There he hung for an hour, when they cut him down. They then cut off his head, and a savage, called Kerope, tore out his eyes and swallowed them. They drank his blood and smeared their faces with it. Some of his old friends took part in this. The women were the worst, and scrambled for his blood as it dripped on the ground. His body was then thrown to the dogs and the pigs, but was taken away from them and afterwards buried by the captain of the schooner and some of the natives. His companion Mr. Grace remained in captivity, suspecting every day to be his last, till the 16th of March, when the arrival of a man-of-war on the coast afforded an opportunity for his escape, in which he was aided by Captain Levy, of the schooner before mentioned, at the imminent risk of his own life."

Other atrocities of a similar character followed, till after some months' delay a military force was despatched against the east-coast natives to put down the fanatic movement and punish the murderers. The latter were defeated in a series of [200/201] engagements, their fighting powers destroyed, and some hundreds were either made prisoners or surrendered, and were released on taking the oath of allegiance to the Queen; many of them at the same time declaring their abandonment of the superstition by which they had been deceived.

(To be continued.)


(Continued from p. 201.)

WE have now to consider


The prospect we greatly fear is not encouraging. It is true that the Bishop of New Zealand in his address to the General Synod last year spoke very hopefully on the subject, as did also the Bishop of Wellington at the Wellington Provincial Synod; and more recently we have observed the Bishop designate of Nelson, Mr Sutor, at a London meeting, quoting Archdeacon Maunsell as an authority for the same opinion. We regret to be obliged to express our own conviction that there is little ground for such sanguine expectations, and that for the following reasons:--l. The great extent to which the Pai Marire superstition has spread; embracing two-thirds at least of the Maori race. 2. The fact that it is not merely an abstract religious creed, but allows and encourages its adherents to return to all the old vices of paganism, from which they had been so recently reclaimed. 3. That they are not, as they were when Christianity was first preached to them, a people lying in ignorance, who had no knowledge of the true God and His law of love; but they are in the position of the wilful apostate, who has deliberately sinned against light and knowledge. "Having escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, their latter end being truly worse than their beginning." They have brought themselves under the sentence of the apostle, who declares that "it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, if they shall fall away, to renew themselves unto repentance." And though it is doubtless as easy for God to give them repentance now as at their past conversion, yet we see little evidence of any such disposition of mind as would lead us to hope that such a work is in progress among them. The most recent news from the colony indicates no intention on the part even of those rebel leaders who have submitted to the civil power, to return to their former religious faith. "It may be said," says a writer in an Auckland paper, describing an interview with Thompson and other leading chiefs of Waikato, "that the natives have altogether abandoned Christianity. They have given themselves up to [269/270] impurity and uncleanness. Even Thompson is a thorough believer in the Pai Marire delusion; and vindicates it as a harmless kind of thing, so long as they only dance around a pole. On being closely questioned, he is stated to have said that whatever might be his belief, he certainly would not allow missionaries about him again." "Thompson has been in the Thames valley for some time, and I am informed has been acting as a kind of Pai Marire priest, making converts and ordaining priests, by laying his hands on their heads, and intoning something or other." This is very sad of one who was brought up from childhood in our Church, and had earned for himself the character of being the most intelligent and far-seeing man of the rebel party, and the most removed from the grossness and violence to which others of his race were abandoned. Thompson's word is law to a large part of the Maori race, at least, so far as to influence their general conduct towards Europeans, and their faith and teaching. The temper of the whole rebel party is to hold themselves aloof from European influences, and European control; and it will probably be years before their pride and their suspicions will admit of the renewal of such relations as would render it probable that our missionaries should exercise any considerable influence among them. And lastly, this element of time is the most important one of all in the solution of this problem. All the most reliable authorities concur in the belief that the race is fast dying out, and that a very few years must see its final extinction.

This brings us to our last head,


The rapid decrease of the Maori race was for a long time doubted by many, particularly by some of the missionaries, who it was supposed had the best means of knowing. After the fact was admitted that they were not increasing, the fact of actual decrease was still contested, and the probability of rescuing the race still believed in. It was said by Bishop Selwyn, "Give me a hundred nations as civilised as they are at Otaki, and I will get the race up again." Even at Otaki, however, the decrease has gone on, and that rapidly, as everywhere else. Nor is the decrease a new thing, or one which has commenced since colonisation. The Rev. R. Davis frequently alludes to it. In 1833, several years before the arrival of the first colonists, he says, "I have repeatedly told you that the native population is in danger of annihilation. Their children when young are not properly provided for. Being without clothes, they are much exposed during their childhood, and many die in consequence. The greater part of those who survive [270/271] are carried off by consumption and scrofula, contracted in childhood for want of proper care." "For the natives, generally, as a people, I have no hope. They do not exert themselves to meet the exigencies of circumstances." A dying chief in 1842 expressed himself thus "Yes, my grandchildren, my and your ancestors once spread over the country as the quail and the landrail did; but now their descendants are even as the descendants of those birds,--scarce, gone, dead, fast hastening to extinction." In 1840 the number of the Maories was. estimated, on the authority of missionaries and old European residents, at 114,000. An actual census taken by the Government in 1858 made them only 56,000, or less than half the previous number in eighteen years. The most recent authorities do not estimate them now at more than 40,000, and there can be no doubt that the causes, whatever they are, which lead to such a result, must operate with an increasing force for some time to come, in consequence of the war, which cannot even yet be said to be concluded. Dr Featherston, the Superintendent of Wellington, who has been an earnest friend of the race, and bestowed much study on their condition, says in a recent speech:--"I have ever adhered to the opinion that I expressed more than twenty years ago--that it was utterly impossible to preserve the race, or to prevent its steady extinction; our chief duty is to make the dying couch of the race as easy and as comfortable as possible."

It is evident, if these figures and these opinions be correct, that we have no time to lose, if we wish to rebuild the Maori Church before that interesting people shall have passed away. There is still something like a third of the race who have not openly apostatised, though the excitements of the last few years, the terrors of this new superstition, and exposure to the temptations of military service have done much to corrupt the purity of the nominal believers, and to destroy the consistency of their lives with their profession. Still, while there is life there is hope, and we endeavour to encourage, ourselves in the belief that it is not too late, at all events, to make the attempt to gather together again the dispersed congregations of those portions of the race which have been the least engaged in the rebellion, and to revive the Christian energy of those which have held aloof from the political disturbances, but whose faith may have been weakened or obscured by the events referred to.

How the work is to be set about is, however, a difficult question. The New Zealander, like most uncivilised people, is of a very suspicious temper, and even in the common affairs of life, the most certain way to prevent his accepting any offer is to show earnestness in [271/272] pressing it upon him. This feeling is undoubtedly much intensified by the political events of the last five or six years; and now that the Maori has failed in establishing his military superiority over the European, his desire seems to be simply to be let alone. He has made the least possible submission, and retired into his hills as far as he can get from communication with the white man. This applies to fully one half of the race, and we fear it will be very difficult for our missionaries ever to get again into the confidence of this portion. What can be done for the remainder, for that part which has either not apostatised or has abandoned the apostasy? We can suggest no other method except the old one, by which the heathen have everywhere been brought to the faith--the foolishness of preaching. But this reply suggests the further practical question, Who is to preach? The old mission which has laboured so zealously and so well is no longer what it was. Several of the early missionaries have gone to their rest. Several more have arrived at the extreme limit assigned by the psalmist to the life of man, and beyond the limit when it is possible for them to do efficient work among a scattered people, living rudely among forests and barely accessible mountains. The number of Church-of-England missionaries who are still in the prime of life, and who may be considered equal to the heavy labour which the task involves, is barely half a dozen, and, considering the great space over which the bulk of the Maories are scattered,--about as large as England,--and that they are not a migratory people to any extent, we may well ask, "What are these among so many?" Nor does there appear to be any prospect of a fresh supply. A familiar acquaintance with the language is still an essential qualification, scarcely any of the natives speaking or understanding English. Of the few educated Englishmen in the country who understand Maori well, (chiefly the children of the missionaries,) only three or four have given themselves to missionary work, and an equally small number of natives have attained to such a degree of intelligence as to be considered fitted for ordination.

The natives have the Scriptures, and they read them; but the events to which our eyes have been lately turned show that there has been a falling away and a shortcoming for which a remedy is wanted. Some revival, some reformation, which might pervade the race, and stir it up to a sense of its position, and again inspire it with the earnestness and zeal with which thirty years ago it received the gospel, is what we would fain hope to see. If the Maori churches continue in their present state, as, humanly speaking, we fear they will, unless [272/273] some great effort is made, we can only look forward to the extinction of the race at a more rapidly-increasing ratio, retrograding, as it will assuredly, in all those improved habits of life which Christianity had bestowed.

If it should be that in the providence of God this people, like many others, should disappear entirely, we can only rejoice that for thirty or forty years the light of the gospel shed its mild radiance among them, and that during that period many of what had been one of the most savage races on the face of the earth have been gathered within the fold of Christ; and we may feel thankful that it was through the instrumentality of our own country and our own Church that the great work, in which the power of the gospel was so clearly shown, was effected.

Some of our readers may be surprised that, in the sketch which we have now given of the mission work of New Zealand, we have not dwelt more at length on the part which Bishop Selwyn has taken in reference to it. We must attribute the omission entirely to the point of view from which we approached our subject; our object being not so much to give an elaborate account of the detailed work, as to endeavour to lead the way to practical suggestions for its continuance, not to say its resumption, at the present critical period. This, we conceived, could be best effected by tracing the work to its origin, showing what the New Zealander was when we first presented Christianity to his notice, and what were the gradual steps by means of which we succeeded in gaining a hold upon his religious understanding and sympathies. This was all the work of the early missionaries connected with the Church Missionary Society and the Wesleyan body; and was done before the arrival of Bishop Selwyn in the colony. It fell to his lot to build up and organise the infant church, of which they had laid the foundations; but that work, which has been treated of at length in his own journals and other publications, is foreign to the object which we have had in view. It was only in 1841, if we recollect rightly, that Bishop Selwyn arrived in New Zealand. From that period, or, more correctly speaking, a year or two later, the action of the missions has been under his episcopal superintendence, and the ordained missionaries have been subjected to his ecclesiastical authority and direction.

The most practical suggestion that we can offer, after much consideration of the subject, is the employment to a far greater extent than at present of ordained native missionaries and clergy. There are, we [273/274] believe, only three or four natives at present in orders of the Church of England. If all we have heard of the progress of the Maori in religion and civilisation be true, there must be many, not to say hundreds, equal to the position. It is true that they may require a large share of superintendence and aid at the hands of the higher officers of the Church who are Europeans; but this, we conceive, could be provided for without much difficulty. If every Maori parish had over it such a man as Riwi Te Ahu, of Otaki, or Heta Terawhiti, of Waikato, we should not despair of the result. We confess that, without a larger ministry, parochial or missionary, than at present exists, we fear we shall not see any very active or encouraging progress in this great work to which we formerly looked with so much satisfaction and expectation, but which has lately caused us so much disappointment and apprehension.

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