The native bent of the Maori mind caused the people, as they embraced Christianity, gradually to place themselves as a matter of course under the guidance of a sort of Christian theocracy. It was under the auspices of this mild missionary regime--which, if a government, was a very singular one, seeing that there were no laws, and an almost total absence of crime--that the first British Governor set foot on the shores of New Zealand.
HARDLY had Henry Williams returned to Paihia from his great journey through the heart of the island, when a warship arrived in the Bay, bearing Captain William Hobson with a commission from Queen Victoria, authorising him to annex the country to the British Crown. A not very friendly historian (Saunders) has summed up the situation at this point by saying that, on his arrival, Hobson fell into the hands of the Reverend Henry Williams, and obligingly admits that he might have fallen into worse ones. As a matter of fact, the captain could have done but little had he not secured the co-operation of this influential missionary. Rusden speaks no more than the truth when he declares that "Henry Wiliams had but to raise his finger, and his mana would have weighed more with the Maoris than the devices of Colonel Wakefield or the office of Hobson."
The first act of the new official was to gather the northern chiefs on the lawn in front of the British Residency, on the other side of the river from Paihia, and to lay before them the famous document known as the Treaty of Waitangi. It is sometimes asserted that Henry Williams was really the author of this treaty. That would seem to be an error, but he may have been consulted in the drafting of the document; and there can be no question but that it was his influence which induced the chiefs to sign it. It was he who interpreted to the Maoris the provisions of the treaty, and the speech in which Hobson commended it to their acceptance; and it was he and the other missionaries who secured the signatures of the chiefs in other parts of the island. Whatever may be thought of the policy of this momentous document--securing as it did to the native race the full possession of their lands and properties under the British flag--it is a standing witness to the influence of the missionaries, and to the trust which the Maoris had come to place in their integrity and benevolence of purpose.
The one place where the treaty was opposed was the new English settlement of Wellington, where the settlers stigmatised it as "a device to amuse the savages," and proceeded to set up a rival government of their own. Henry Williams went once more therefore to Port Nicholson, and succeeded in getting the treaty signed by the chiefs of that place. Thus supported, Hobson now felt himself strong enough to proclaim the Queen's sovereignty over the country, and himself became its first Governor. He had no military force to depend upon, and he ruled the country through the missionaries. His tenure of office was embittered by the constant opposition of the Company at Wellington, as well as by the difficulties natural to such a position; and he was harassed into his grave within two years of his arrival. But this period may be looked upon as the climax of missionary influence in New Zealand. After 1842, mission work went on extending, but the old workers no longer occupied the forefront of the stage.
Before they retire into the background to make room for other figures, it will be well therefore to cast a glance over their work and its methods, their characters and their example. The position which they held was in many ways unique, and though their age lies not so far behind us in point of time, it really belongs to an order of things quite different from our own.
The first point of contrast with our present somewhat overgoverned society is the absence of authority. The missionaries and settlers were sent out to a wild country to do the best they could. The bishops of the Church in England did not claim, nor believe that they possessed, any jurisdiction over them. The direction of the mission lay with the Committee of the C.M.S., but unless it sent out a sentence of dismissal, what could such a distant body do? If it sent out instructions to New Zealand, no answer could be expected for a whole year, during which time circumstances might have altogether changed. Short of actual dismissal, its power of discipline was but slight. Much of its power must of necessity be delegated to Marsden in Australia, but Marsden's authority was limited in the same way, though not quite to the same extent. He could not visit the mission often, nor could he secure that his instructions should be obeyed. As a matter of fact they were often not obeyed. "I know nothing I can say will have any influence upon their minds," he once wrote in despair; "they have followed their own way too long, and despise all the orders that have been given them by their superiors." This censure applied to certain individuals among the first settlers, and when one reads the letters and journals of these same men, one cannot help feeling some sympathy with them in their position. Possibly Marsden, with his exceptional powers, expected rather much of average human nature. But the point is that the position of an early missionary was an independent one. There was no civil government at all, and the instructions from ecclesiastical superiors were necessarily infrequent, often lacking in knowledge, never quite up to date, and backed by no compelling force except the threat of "disconnection" from the Society.
Under such circumstances everything depended on the personalities of the men themselves. Those who came before 1823 were on the whole disappointing. Marsden frequently compared them to the twelve spies who all failed, excepting Caleb and Joshua. Unfortunately he never lets us know who his "Caleb" and his "Joshua" were. But one of them can hardly have been other than the young schoolmaster, Francis Hall, whose letters reveal a singularly earnest and beautiful spirit. Even he, however, admits the demoralising influence of the surrounding paganism--an influence which none wholly escaped, and before which some actually succumbed. "I feel in myself," quaintly writes another, "a great want of that spirituality of mind which New Zealand is so very unfavourable for; because of the continual scenes of evil that there is before our eyes, and for want of Christian society. So that you must excuse my barrenness of writing, and give me all the Christian advice you can."
The most interesting personality among these first settlers was Kendall. Wayward and erring, passionate and ungovernable as he was, a close study of his letters shows a depth of sin and penitence, together with a breadth and boldness of philosophical speculation, which fascinates the reader. Alone among the missionaries he seems to have tried to approach the Maori from his own side, and to enter the inmost recesses of his thought: "I am now, after a long, anxious, and painful study, arriving at the very foundation and groundwork of the Cannibalism and Superstitions of these Islanders. All their notions are metaphysical, and I have been so poisoned with the apparent sublimity of their ideas, that I have been almost completely turned from a Christian to a heathen." Like the ancient Gnostics, Kendall tried to combine Christianity with a sublimated version of pagan superstitions; and if moral restrictions stood in the way, he cast them aside. "I was reduced," he says, "to a state so dreadful that I had given myself entirely up, and was utterly regardless of what would become both of body and soul."
The details of his strange career cannot, of course, be given here. He has been represented as an utter hypocrite, and evidence is not wanting to give colour to the charge. But another and more favourable view is not only possible: it is forced upon anyone who studies his self-revelation through his letters. He seems to have hoped that his ordination would have given him moral strength and stability, but he had to admit that he had never been so strongly tempted to sin, so unable to resist it, or so ingloriously foiled, as since his return from England. Marsden's sharp exercise of discipline, though it elicited outbursts of passion, seems to have had a healing effect. "Blessed be God," he writes, "who has certainly undertaken for me. His sharp rebuke has laid me low; yet why should I repine, since He has inclined me to seek His face again?" Upon his expulsion from the mission, he retired to a house he had built at "Pater Noster Valley," and after a few months left the country. His great services in reducing the Maori language to written form have hardly been sufficiently recognised. Marsden, like the other settlers, could never adapt himself to the Italian vowel sounds, and at his request Kendall wrote out a new vocabulary on a different system; but he soon found it unsatisfactory, and returned to the principles which he had worked out with Professor Lee. For the rest of his life--in South America and in Australia--he still tried to perfect his Maori Grammar. But the tragedy of his life outweighs the value of his philological efforts. If ever a New Zealand Goethe should arise, he may find the materials for his Faust in the history of Thomas Kendall.
From the date of the new beginning of the mission in 1823, its agents were, for the most part, men of a superior type. Yate, indeed, one of the ablest amongst them, was accused on a charge of which he never could, or perhaps would, clear himself. He was accordingly "disconnected" by the Society, but a certain doubt hangs over the issue; and his after life was spent in useful and honourable service as chaplain to the seamen at Dover. The rest of the new workers did excellent service for the mission, and most of them lived to an old age in the country. Remarkable for their linguistic capacity stand out William Williams, who translated the New Testament; and Robert Maun-sell, who followed with the Old. This remarkable man took all possible pains to gather the correct idioms for his task--sometimes by engaging the Maoris in argument, sometimes by watching them at their sports. The passion for accuracy was strong in him to extreme old age, and even on his death-bed he interrupted the ministrations of his parish priest with the startling question, "Don't you know that that is a mistranslation?"
Apart from translation work, the missionaries had little inclination or ability for literary pursuits. Some of them (e.g., W. Williams, Yate, and Colenso) took an interest in the plants and animals of their adopted country, but for the most part the missionary was a man of one book, and that book was the Bible. Life was too serious a thing to allow of attention to the iiterary graces. The place where his lot was cast was in a special sense the realm of Satan. The evidences of demonic activity lay all around. On the one hand were the sickening scenes of slaughter and cannibalism; on the other were the evil lives of sailors and traders of his own race. Now and then the great Enemy would draw nearer still, and one of his own comrades would fall a prey. His own religion was of a somewhat austere type. His calendar was unmarked by fast or festival; he had few opportunities of participating in a joyous Eucharist; there was no colour in his raupo chapel, nor variety in his manner of worship.
The home life of the missionary doubtless often presented a picture of domestic happiness. But there were no luxuries. If he wished to vary the daily routine of pork and potatoes, he must try to obtain some fish or native game. Failing these, he had only his own garden and poultry-yard to look to. Soldiers' rations of coarse groceries were served out from the Society's stores, but everything else must be bought out of his slender income--£50 if a married man (unordained), or £30 if a bachelor. Often in the earlier days, while the Maoris were still unfriendly, even pork and potatoes were not to be had. More than once Henry Williams and his family were brought to the verge of starvation.
In spite of these and other privations, the health of the missionaries was good and their families were large. No death occurred among them until 1837, when Mrs. R. Davis was called to her rest. Dangers abounded on every hand, yet accidents were rare. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Davis were lost at sea; Marsden was wrecked on the Brampton reef, but escaped unhurt with all his party. Henry Williams passed through a terrible experience when returning from Tauranga in 1832. For two days his little vessel had been enveloped in driving rain and had been blown quite out of her course, when the missionary, who had been praying through the whole night, seeing at daybreak a rock immediately ahead, fell back upon his old nautical skill, seized the tiller in his own hands, and just succeeded in saving the craft from destruction.
It was this imminent peril that raised in the mind of Henry Williams the question of how to make provision for his numerous family in case of his death. Like most of his colleagues, he had sons growing to manhood, and was anxious to do his duty by them. He could have sent them to England, but this would have meant a life-long separation between parents and children; to Sydney, but this would involve their exposure to the temptations of a convict settlement. He therefore decided to buy some land near to Paihia, and on this to settle his sons. The Maoris were pleased to sell him the land, and the Home Committee approved of the scheme. Several of the other missionaries did likewise. The plan seems a reasonable one, and it received the approbation of Bishop Brough-ton, on the condition that the lands so obtained should be strictly devoted to the use of the children, and not to that of their parents. But it has brought upon the missionary body, and upon Henry Williams in particular, the reproach of land-speculating--a reproach which is still reiterated by modern historians such as Saunders and Collier. Fortunately, an incident occurred at the close of our period which is enough to furnish a decisive test, at least in the case of Henry Williams.
One of the first acts of Governor Hobson was to seek for a site for the capital of the new Colony. Wellington was vetoed by the Home Government, and the only other European town was Kororareka in the Bay of Islands. In this place or its neighbourhood the governor would doubtless have fixed his headquarters, had it not been for Henry Williams. This sagacious man had long noted the magnificent possibilities of the Waitemata Harbour, and on being asked his advice he took the governor to the spot. Hobson at once saw the value of the position, and selected the place where the city of Auckland was soon to rise. But before he could buy the land from its Maori possessors, he was disabled by a stroke of illness, and returned invalided to find nursing and medical attention at the mission station of Waimate. During the period of his convalescence he fixed his abode at Russell--a house just opposite to Paihia--and the Auckland scheme was left in abeyance. Speculators were busy about other suggested localities in the Bay of Islands, but the real site was known only to Henry Williams and to the governor himself.
What a chance was here for a speculator! Never, perhaps, before or since, has such an opportunity occurred. Williams, with his unrivalled influence over the Maoris, might have bought up large tracts of land near the new site. If the charges against him are true, this is what he would have done. As a matter of fact, he never acquired a single acre of land in that district. He suffered the seat of government to be removed a hundred miles away from his own doors to a place where he did not possess, or try to possess, a single foot. This fact should surely set at rest for ever the question of the disinterestedness of Henry Williams.
Land-buying was not the only fault of which the missionaries were accused. An English artist, Earle, visited New Zealand in 1827, and on his return published an account of his travels, in which he accused the church clergy of churlishness and inhospitality. Yet these same men were the ones who came to his assistance when his house was burned, and supplied all his wants to the full. This fact Mr. Earle does not mention, and has not a favourable word to say on behalf of those who had befriended him.
A very different visitor arrived some eight years later in the research-vessel Beagle. This was Charles Darwin, whose name had not yet achieved renown, but who was already distinguished for that philosophical temperament and keen observation which make his judgment to be of exceptional value. He speaks of "the gentlemanlike, useful, and upright characters" of the missionaries; expresses his admiration of the civilised appearance of Waimate; and finds in the results thus achieved the best ground for hope for the future of the country. He had evidently been previously impressed by Earle's denunciations, and was even surprised to see one of the missionaries' sons playing cricket with the Maori scholars. The mention of this little incident was doubtless intended to soften the impression of extreme austerity, and is not without its value to this end. But it does not go very far to modify the picture of old-fashioned gravity and severity. In modern times the missionaries would have been playing in the game themselves.
On the whole, the reports which reached the mother country were favourable, and caused great rejoicing among the friends of the mission staff. But there was one doubt which agitated the minds of a certain circle of English society, and that was as to the church-manship of the New Zealand mission. Its agents were good men, and had achieved astonishing success; but had they kept up the distinctive tone and system of the mother Church? Were they distinguishable from the Methodists by whose side they laboured? No treatment of the subject can be considered complete which omits this feature of the situation.
Undoubtedly there was some justification for the fears entertained in the Home land. Marsden himself had been born and brought up in a Methodist family. From this, as a young man, he had passed without sense of break or violent change into a church school, and thence to Cambridge, where he was associated with the Evangelical leaders, who emphasised the individual rather than the corporate aspect of the Church's teaching. We have seen that in 1819 he sent over a Methodist preacher to report upon and to stimulate his flagging workers. He was not in favour of the Methodists sending a mission of their own to New Zealand, but when in 1822 his friend Mr. Leigh determined to settle in the country, Marsden put no obstacles in his way. Not only so, but in 1823 Marsden himself brought over Leigh's colleagues, Hobbs and Turner, who established their station at Whangaroa, after consultation with the settlers at the Bay of Islands. The stations were not far apart, and constant brotherly intercourse was maintained between the occupants. When the Wesleyans fled from their homes in the turmoil of 1827, it was to Kerikeri and Paihia that they betook themselves in the first place, and it was Marsden's parsonage at Parramatta that sheltered them afterwards. It was by Marsden's advice that they settled at Hoki-anga on their return, and they always looked forward to his visits as eagerly as did their brethren at the Bay of Islands. He himself rejoiced to receive them to the Holy Communion; their converts were admitted to the same holy ordinance at Waimate and Paihia; the missionaries preached without hesitation in one another's pulpits. So anxious were the leaders on both sides to spare the Maoris the spectacle of Christian disunion, and to emphasise the fact that they baptised not in their own name but in that of their common Master, that on the occasion of the reception into the fold of the great chief Waka Nene and his brother, Patuone, they arranged that Patuone, who belonged to the Methodists, should be baptised by the church clergy, while Waka, who was an adherent of the church mission, should receive the sacred ordinance at the hands of the Wesleyans.
Highly irregular! some will exclaim. But there are important considerations which must be kept in mind. In the first place, the unhappy separation between the Methodist body and the historic Church had not then assumed the hard and fast character which it bears to-day. The followers of Wesley were still in fairly close touch with Wesley's mother Church; they still occupied, to a large extent, the position of a voluntary order within the established framework. They used the Book of Common Prayer at their services, and taught the Church Catechism to their children. And in New Zealand they looked up to Marsden as their apostle, and were guided in their operations by his disinterested advice. Nor should it be forgotten that the agents of the C.M.S. were mostly laymen. Setting aside Hadfield, Mason, and Burrows, who all appeared upon the scene near the close of our period, there were but four ordained clergy during the years of co-operation between the two societies, viz., Brown and Maunsell and the brothers Williams. Nor did the "historic episcopate" present any obstacle to intercommunion. No bishop was seen in the land until the end of 1838, and then his stay was but short. There was accordingly no question as to the necessity of confirmation as a qualification for communion.
Confirmation simply could not be had. Candidates were admitted to the Eucharist after long and careful probation. Bishop Broughton, who was a High Churchman and a disciplinarian, found that his misgivings as to the churchmanship of the mission were unfounded. A few things were irregular, as of course they were likely to be in an isolated community which had been cut off from the rest of the world for a quarter of a century, but at the end of his visit the bishop could express his conviction that everything would be easily set right by a bishop residing on the spot.
On the whole, the relations between the two bodies seem to have been marked by true wisdom as well as by Christian sympathy. But the harmony was not perfect. When the Wesleyan missionaries transferred their operations from Whangaroa on the east coast to Hokianga on the west, they seem to have taken it for granted that the whole of the west coast was to be reserved for them, while the east was to be the sphere of the Church. But the physical features of the island were opposed to such an arrangement. Nearly all the rivers from the interior run westwards, and the missionaries in following the movements of their people sometimes found themselves by the western sea. The first instance of this tendency was in the Waikato district, where, as we have seen, Hamlin and Maunsell were drawn to the Manukau Harbour and the Waikato Heads. The result was a confusion of operations. The Wesleyans had established stations further to the south on the Kawhia and Raglan harbours, and thus barred the operations of Maunsell in this direction. Much correspondence ensued with the Home authorities, and for a time the Wesleyans withdrew from their posts. Eventually, however, a treaty was signed at Mangungu in 1837 by Henry Williams on the one hand, and the Rev. N. Turner on the other. By this agreement the harbours of Raglan and Kawhia, with the hinterland as far eastwards as the Waikato and Waipa rivers, were definitively included within the Wesleyan sphere of influence. Nothing was said about the coast to the southward, and there was nothing whatever to prevent the settlement of Hadfield at Waikanae and Otaki in 1839, nor that of Mason at Wanganui in 1840. The idea, however, of "the West Coast for the Wesleyans" still survived in some minds, and there were those who resented the settlement of Hadfield and Mason on "their" coast as an unfriendly act. These two excellent missionaries were also violently attacked by one of the younger Wesleyans in Tara-naki, apparently through ignorance of the Church's position. The ultimate settlement of the boundaries was reached by tacitly recognising all the west coast north of Wanganui (excepting of course Maunsell's district) as lying in the Methodist sphere, and all south of Wanganui as included in that of the Church.
These differences in the south-west of the island hardly disturbed the comity which prevailed in the north. A more serious trouble, however, arose in this region when a Roman Catholic mission appeared there in 1838. In that year a French bishop and a band of priests landed at Hokianga, and afterwards moved to Kororareka, right in the centre of the Bay of Islands. As in other parts of the world, so here, the Romanists passed over the unoccupied territory and planted themselves in the midst of occupied ground, where they proceeded to upset the congregations of the older workers. For a time they drew away many of the converts to their side. But the Maoris were shrewd men, and several of them by this time knew their New Testament by heart. When the Roman teachers condemned the English missionaries for having wives and children, the Maoris were ready with an effective answer from the example of St. Peter, the married apostle. They held their own in argument, and eventually drew back most of their brethren to the Church of the earlier instructors who had borne the burden and heat of the day, and proved their faith by their sufferings and their works.
What those works and sufferings were has already been partly described in the course of this narrative. But there is one passage in the literature of the period which is too graphic to omit. It relates to the adventures of two of the lesser characters among the missionaries, and it illustrates both the hardships which they sometimes underwent and also the nature of the Maori mind.
It was in 1835 that Wilson and Fairburn heard of the dangerous position of a party of women and children belonging to the Waikato tribe. They were encamped on a stream called Maramarua, and a strong taua, or fighting party, was preparing to set off from the mouth of the river Thames, with the object of cutting off the retreat of these unsuspecting people. The two missionaries determined to baulk this scheme, and by rowing all night succeeded in getting ahead of the pursuers. Next day they had a toilsome walk of many hours. The taua was on their track, the way was longer than they expected, and only by a few seconds did they at last succeed in giving warning to the Waikatos, and thus saving their lives. But now the baulked hunters had to be reckoned with. Respect for the white man kept them from actual violence, but as night came on the situation was a decidedly difficult one. Wilson's journal continues thus:
"It was now nearly dark, the rain and wind increasing, and the only shelter was the long, narrow shed, partly finished--half of the roof still uncovered. This hovel was about 18 feet long, 9 wide, and 7 feet in height. The natives, to make up for the rain which came through in every direction, lit two fires with green wood, near each end of the house, which filled it with smoke. Into this the taua, about thirty men, entered, and began to take off their wet garments and crouch round the fires; and into this pleasant abode for the night we, too, with our four natives, had to creep: it was either this or remain outside in a winter easterly gale. After a time we attempted to dry some of our clothes by one of the fires, but the smoke was so intolerable, and the heat of the place so great, notwithstanding it was only half roofed, that we were obliged to lie down with our faces nearly touching the earth. We remained in silence a long time, perhaps two or three hours, not a word being addressed to us, either by the chief, or his followers; this by no means a good omen in native etiquette and custom. We had brought no provisions with us, supposing Maramarua to be nearer to the coast; and after long waiting to see the mind of the taua and how things would be, we at last were about to lie down to try to sleep, to forget our hunger, lodging, and society. Now, it is an established custom in New Zealand never to begin or end the day without prayer, and though in this wretched predicament, Mr. Fairburn proposed that we should thus close the day. The armed men were sitting moodily by the fires, when we signified our wish to our people, who were all Christians. This night's service will never be forgotten by me; it was commenced by singing the sixth native hymn, the first words of which are:
Homai e Ihu he ngakau, kia rongo atu ai,
Ki tau tino aroha nui, i whakakitia mai.
The hymn--an invocation to Christ for the Holy Spirit's aid to regenerate the natural heart, and impress it with love to God--I had often heard and sung; but never before had it come home to me with such reality, or sounded with such sweetness and power, as in this solemn appeal to the Most High. . . . We then prayed for this dark world, its sorrowing and erring children, that the God of mercy would be graciously pleased to bring them to a knowledge of himself; and after thanks for the mercies of the day, we commended ourselves to God. Our simple service over, we said no more. For a time all remained quiet; none seemed willing to interrupt the silence in this strange place and on this still stranger occasion; nothing was heard but the storm, which appeared to be tearing the remainder of the roof from the shed, and the rain rattling against the raupo. The taua seemed as if struck by the fabled wand of some mighty magician! Their former reserve and low whispering ceased; and after a while they began to talk quietly to each other, and shortly afterwards they spoke to ourselves and to our natives. The gloom had passed away, their countenances became altered; and they now began to prepare some refreshments. Each of the taua had carried at his back a small flax basket of potatoes, containing some three or four handfuls. Of this slender stock they passed along (for there was no moving for want of room) a liberal share for ourselves and our natives. After this the pig was cut up and roasted; but, faint and hungry as I was, it was nearly impossible to eat it. And now all restraint was thrown off, and the Maoris conversed freely and pleasantly. So the night wore on, better than it had begun. At last, cold and weary, overpowered by the smoke, I fell asleep on a bundle of bullrushes; and when I awoke, I found that I had been sleeping unconsciously on one of the men's heads."
Incidents such as this did not, of course, happen every day; but this one is typical in that it shows the religious character of the Maori. Here is a war-party who start out with the object of shooting down a number of unsuspecting people. They come back talking in quite friendly fashion with the men who had baulked them of their prey. What had worked the change? Simply the singing of a hymn. Where could we find stronger evidence of a disposition naturally religious, or a more striking instance of the divine guardianship?
In trying to trace the causes of the wonderful spread of Christianity among this ferocious people, it is natural to think first of the combination of benefits which the missionaries were able to bring. They stood for all the knowledge and civilisation of the outside world, as well as for the message of a world to come. They had no telephones, no motor cars, nor even matches; but they brought tools of iron and of steel, they had strange animals and plants, they used glass and china and wool and cotton, and above all they learned from books. Such marks of power could not fail to tell upon a shrewd people like the Maoris. The most intelligent of the chiefs, without at all understanding the truths of Christianity, were at once attracted by these signs of mechanical and intellectual superiority. We have seen how much the mission was indebted to the three great generals of New Zealand--Hongi in the north, Waharoa in the centre, and Rauparaha in the south--for the main steps of its advance. It might seem at first as though the explanation of Maori Christianity were a fairly simple matter.
Yet such a conclusion would be very far removed from the truth. Undoubtedly the prestige of the white man's civilisation gave a valuable leverage at first, as in the notable case of Ruatara. Undoubtedly also, many of the common people were simply swept along by the current when once it grew strong enough to make itself felt. But the earliest real converts were old men, delicate girls, consumptive lads, and wretched slaves, whose hearts were caught not by axes and blankets, but by the message of a Father's love and of a home beyond the stars. The Maori was a religious being, and when his old faith failed him in the hour of need, he turned to the new gospel of certitude and hope. Nobler spirits among the race were drawn also by the social side of the new teaching; they saw in it a prospect of ridding the land of desolating wars; but in each case it was the true power of Christianity that operated, not the adventitious blessings which it brought in its train.
Very interesting, as evidences of the heartfelt piety of the early converts, are the letters which many of them wrote to Yate on the eve of his journey to England. There is surely nothing of a merely conventional goodness about such language as this: "I have this day, and many days, kneeled down, and my mouth has whispered and has said loud prayers; but I wish to know, and am saying within me, if I have prayed with my heart. Say you, if I have prayed to God with my heart, should I say No, and not do His bidding, as the Bible says we must and tells us how? And should I flutter about here like a bird without wings, or like a beast without legs, or like a fish whose tail and fins a native man has cut off, if I had love in my heart towards God? Oh! I wish that I was not all lip and mouth in my prayers to God. I am thinking that I may be likened to stagnant water, that is not good, that nobody drinks, and that does not run down in brooks, upon the banks of which kumara and trees grow. My heart is all rock, all rock, and no good thing will grow upon it. The lizard and the snail run over the rocks, and all evil runs over my heart."
The anxious and self-accusing spirit which appears in this passage deepens as the soul passes under the awe of the sacramental presence. "My Teacher," writes another, "I have been many moons thinking about the holy feast which Jesus Christ gave to His disciples, and told everybody to eat it in remembrance of Him. It is not a natives' feast; for in New Zealand everybody eats as much as he is able, and as fast as he is able; but this is a feast of belief. If my body were hungry, I should not be satisfied with a piece like a crumb, nor with a drop that will go in a cockle shell; but my soul is satisfied, my heart is satisfied, though it be a crumb and a drop. The thoughts within me yesterday were perhaps right, and perhaps wrong. I said to myself, I am going to eat and to drink at a table placed before us by the Great Chief of the world. I must be very good, and must make myself good within; or, when He sees me, He will show that He is angry. And then I thought, I will not think anything that is not right, nor do anything that is not straight to-day; and then, God will see that my heart is becoming good. But, Mr. Yate, perhaps you will, and perhaps you will not, believe it: I thought no good thoughts, and I did no good works all day; and yet I was still, and not angry with myself, no, not at all. Now, my Teacher, you say what I am to do, before the next day of the Lord's Supper. I think I must pray to God for a new heart, and for His Holy Spirit."
This honest confession agrees with the observations of many outside observers of the change wrought in the Maoris by their new religion. Not all received the "new heart." Indeed, to judge from the accounts of men like Wakefield and Fox, the old heart was hardly touched by the new doctrines. The Christian Maoris were blamed for covetousness and insolence, for dishonesty and lying. "Give me the good old Maori who has never been under missionary influence," was the feeling of many of the colonists. It was the same complaint as is heard in every mission field. But calmer and more unprejudiced observers give a different verdict. The Bishop of Australia reported: "In speaking of the character of the converted natives, I express most unequivocally my persuasion that it has been improved, in comparison with the original disposition, by their acquaintance with the truths of the Gospel. Their haughty self-will, their rapacity, furiousness, and sanguinary inclination have been softened--I may even say, eradicated; and their superstitious opinions have given place, in many instances, to a correct apprehension of the spiritual tendencies of the Gospel. Their chief remaining vices appeared to me to be indolence, duplicity, and covetousness."
In mentioning these three prevailing vices, the bishop lays his finger upon faults which the lover of the Maori has still to deplore. His tendency to indolence shows that Marsden's insistence on industrial training was sound in theory, though not easy to carry out in practice. Highly endowed as the Maori was in many respects, he found it hard to copy the white man in his regular and even life of toil. The Maori was in fact the Greek of the south. Intellectually he was brilliant, and his memory was nothing short of marvellous. Somewhat later than our period, an English surveyor on the west coast of the South Island was disturbed in his camp by a party of Maoris who had come from Ahaura in the valley of the upper Grey. They had never seen a white man before, but they had picked up some knowledge from other Maoris who had come overland from Port Cooper. During the night, "they commenced the recital of the morning service; before morning they had repeated the Litany four times, the whole version of the Psalms, three or four creeds, and a marriage service, and then the whole morning service again." Men who could do this might surely be expected to be equal to anything. Altogether, the unfolding of the Maori nature at this time was such as to arouse the highest hopes for his future greatness. To the friends of the mission in England it seemed as though the angels' songs over a repentant nation could be almost heard. Their orators, like Hugh Stowell, indulged in rhapsodies over the isle "now lovely in grace as she is beauteous in nature"; and even a philosophic thinker like Julius Hare could give it as his deliberate opinion that, for many centuries to come, historians would look back to the establishment of a Christian empire in New Zealand as the greatest achievement of the first part of the nineteenth century.
[This account is taken from the Nelson Church Messenger, of some years ago. Bishop Williams thinks the surveyor must have been misled to some extent.]