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The Southern Cross and Southern Crown;
Or, The Gospel in New Zealand

By Miss Tucker

New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1866.

Chapter I. New Zealand--Scenery--Forests--Volcanoes--Te Rapa

"How shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?" Rom. x. 14.

WHAT a wonderful page in the history of modern times is the record of New Zealand! What a blessed exception to the general course of territorial acquisition! A conquest without war; a fierce and powerful people subdued, not by physical force, but by moral suasion; a nation of cannibals transformed into an active, industrious, and peaceful population; and the original natives, instead of gradually receding from and melting away before the white men, continuing still in possession of land and property, and becoming amalgamated with them. [We do not consider this assertion affected by the disturbances in 1844 and 1845, as these were only partial, and arose from the bad faith of some of the Europeans, and other accidental circumstances.]

To the traveller who now for the first time visits the island, and approaches one of the English settlements on its shores, the records of its former history must [1/2] seem like fables of the olden time. He sees the lines of English houses, the shops filled with European merchandise, the public offices, the harbour thronged with shipping, the town filled with a busy population; he finds gardens rich with the fruits and flowers of central and southern Europe; and the fields beyond are abounding in grain. Can he readily believe that, long within the memory of man, that beach was a scene of frightful desolation, unvisited save by the fierce war canoes of some invading chief; or by some solitary whaler, bringing misery and destruction to the land? Can he picture to himself those plains now waving with a golden harvest, or covered with grazing cattle, as being then fruitful only in deeds of horror, as the scenes of bloodshed and cannibalism, of which the barb recital makes the blood run cold? And those noble-looking men of a darker hue, now freely mingling with the Europeans, and busied with the arts of peace, can they in their earlier days have partaken of their fathers' horrid banquets, and feasted on the flesh of their slaughtered enemies?

Yet so it is; and if our traveller should, unhappily, himself be ignorant of the transforming power of the gospel, he will be at a loss to account for the change; and will find it difficult to believe that the foundation of all he sees was laid by a few devoted servants of Christ, who, moved by love to Him, and to the souls of their fellow-men, risked their lives among this then savage people; and that had not the gospel prepared the way, no colonist would have ventured to settle in New Zealand, nor could any merchant vessel have safely visited its shores. ["I have seen, in the outskirts of this empire, in the most barbarous countries, pious men who have passed long lives in endeavouring to reclaim and civilize the nations among whom they have resided. I have seen them regarded by those races as friends, and benefactors * * * I have found whore countries were, in the first instance, occupied by men of that class, that comparatively few difficulties take place when intercourse resulted between our merchants and the races who inhabit countries where Missionaries are known *** I feel confident that, regarded as a mere money investment, the very best investment this country can make, is to send out in advance, and far in advance, of either colonists or merchants, Missionaries, who may prepare the way for those who are to follow them."--From a speech of Sir George Grey, late Governor of New Zealand, at a Meeting of the Society for Propagating the Gospel, at the Mansion House, July 19th, 18,51.]

[3] The unfolding of this history is the object of the present volume, but our connected account of the work of God there will not extend beyond the period when the island became an English colony; for our object here, as elsewhere, is to bring before our readers the first establishment and early trials of a Mission, rather than its subsequent progress, which may be better gathered from other sources.

Before, however, we enter upon our principal subject, we shall give some short account of the country and its inhabitants.

There is much in New Zealand to awaken special interest in an English mind. Its sea-girt isles, situated at the remotest part of the earth's circumference, inhabited by a people bold and brave, intelligent and enterprising, seem naturally fitted to be the Britain of the Southern hemisphere, and have already drawn to themselves the attention of all classes of our countrymen. [New Zealand is strictly our Antipodes in longitude only, as the three islands lie between 34°" 22' and 47" 25' of south latitude, and between 166 and 180 east longitude.]

New Zealand properly consists of three islands, but [3/4] at the time of which we shall have to speak, Ahina-maui, or the Northern Island, was the only one that could be said to be inhabited, and our narrative will therefore refer to that alone.

It is, as every reader knows, very irregularly shaped; its greatest length is about 436 miles, and its breadth at the widest part about 180. Travellers speak in the most glowing terms of the beauty of its scenery: its shores are deeply indented, and the white cliffs of part of its western coast, or the high dark rocks on its eastern side, furnish scenes that are dwelt upon with admiring delight. Here a long, bold promontory stretches far into the sea, its summit crowned with wood, or with the fortified intrenchments of some warlike chief, and its face whitened with the dashing spray of the dark blue waves that foam around its base. There the shore recedes, and forms a deep and quiet bay, studded with rocky islands covered with verdure, and enlivened by numbers of cormorants, or sea gulls, or the snow-white frigate bird, and probably by the fishing canoes of the neighbouring tribe. Beautiful flowers grow down to the water's edge, the graceful clianthus, the myrtle, and fuchsias of various new and unknown kinds; while the Pohutakawa with its huge limbs, like a gnarled English oak, but splendid with rich tufts of scarlet flowers, seems to delight in bathing its boughs and blossoms in the salt waves of a creek or bay.

As you advance inland the more open grounds are covered with species of viola, primula, ranunculus, and myosotis, all differing from our own; but the English [4/5] eye is perhaps most attracted by the Microcalis Australia, the southern daisy, bearing, as it does, a close resemblance to the northern favourite of our childhood. [It is a remarkable fact, that though some of the New Zealand trees and plants are allied to the Australian, American, and even European families, the greatest number of species and even of genera are peculiar to the country. Not less than sixty new species of timber trees have been sent to England, all more or less valuable. See Dr. Dieffenbach's New Zealand.] Some portions of the country are rather dreary; they somewhat resemble the Scottish moorlands, only that the dark fern and flax take the place of the blooming heather, and the outline of the hills is less broken and picturesque. But in general the scenery is rich and romantic, and often varied by high mountains clothed almost to their summit with magnificent forests of trees unknown in any other portion of the globe. There is a solemn grandeur in these primaeval forests, with their strange and luxuriant vegetation. [Colonel Mundy, in "Our Antipodes," thus speaks of the effect produced by this on his own mind. "Every man who has travelled at all has travelled through tracts of mountain forest, and has felt his soul awed, and elevated, by the romantic and sequestered grandeur of these portions of the universe, which seem too solemn, and too sublime, for the permanent abode of busy man. The effect produced is still deeper, the wilderness seems wilder still, when every tree and shrub, and flower and weed, and every specimen of animated nature, is utterly strange and unknown to the traveller, when every object is an object of mysterious wonder. Such was my position in traversing this forest pass. The blue vault above, and the earth's crust on which I trod, appeared to be my only old acquaintances."] Most of the trees are of the pine tribe, and grow to an enormous height. The Kauri in particular (Dammera Australia) is the glory of the New Zealand Sylva; it is the largest and most majestic of all the family of pines, often growing with a straight unbranched stem to the height of a hundred feet, and then throwing out a large clustering [5/6] head of branches that towers high above the surrounding trees. Beneath and among these and the other lords of the forest, are seen the less aspiring plants; the beautiful tree fern, reaching sometimes to the height of thirty feet; the elegant areca sapida, with its delicate foliage; and the venerable ratu tree, often forty feet in circumference, and splendid with its dazzling scarlet blossoms; while graceful creepers, with their various coloured flowers, spread from tree to tree, and form an almost impenetrable barrier. ["There were convolvuli, and clematis, and passiflorae, festooning the branches with their light garlands, and enormous brambles, covered with little wild roses, clambering up to the summits of some tall tree, and toppling down again in a cascade of bloom." See "Our Antipodes."]

In the lower regions of the hills these forests are enlivened by the notes of birds of the most cheerful song--the parrot; the wood-pigeon, of rainbow hue; the tui, warbling like our thrush; and the mako-mako, compared to our English nightingale, save that its song is heard only in the day. [These birds, and flowers, serve the New Zealander for an almanack. The flowering of the white clematis in October warns him that it is time to prepare for planting; and the note of the koe-koea, or New Zealand cuckoo, tells him that his early potatoes are ready to be harvested.] But there are no other living sights or sounds: not an insect wings its way across your path; no squirrel leaps from bough to bough, nor does a solitary hedgehog disturb the fallen leaves with its gentle tread; not even a fearful mouse puts out its little head to listen to the foot-fall of the passer-by. [Strange to say, no quadruped belongs to New Zealand; the dogs found there by Captain Cook seem evidently to have been brought from some other land.]

[7] Higher up the mountains, though the trees long remain and festoons of clematis and other flowers adom their branches, yet even the birds are gone, and the silence is unbroken.

All the foliage is of a rich dark hue, contrasting strongly with the bright glaucous green of a New Holland landscape, but emblematic, as it were, of the natural character of the people. [Travellers speak very strongly of the contrast, in almost every particular, between the scenery of the two countries.] This abundant vegetation is nourished by innumerable rivulets, that, springing from the sides of hills, gradually unite into large rivers, and form a network of larger and smaller streams over the whole land, affording easy access from one part of it to another.

But the most remarkable portion of New Zealand scenery is a line of country stretching from Cape Egmont, on the western coast, to White Island, on the east; the result of some of those tremendous convulsions' of the earth's surface produced by volcanic agency.--The whole breadth of the island is traversed by a succession of extinct volcanoes, all high and rugged, and some of them reaching the region of perpetual snow. In the centre of the island a magnificent group of these lofty peaks surrounds a volcano still in action, Tongariro, of which many a legendary tale is told. Towards the east, a remarkable chain of lakes stretches to the coast, and travellers seem never weary of expatiating on the grandeur, and beauty, and wonders of this portion of the country. [Particularly Dr. Dieffenbach and Rev. R. Taylor, in C. M. Intelligencer for April, 1850.] They have given us the most animated descriptions of mountains, rocks, [7/8] and forests, of gushing streams, of basaltic columns 60 feet in height, standing like the ruins of an ancient temple, and all the strange results of subterranean fire. The lakes are beautiful; some tranquil and pure, reposing in the bosom of wooded hills, and enlivened by some native village built for safety on a projecting promontory. Others, disturbed by volcanic phenomena, are desolate and deserted: Rotu-kara [Bitter lake] is one of this latter kind, and is so strongly impregnated with sulphuric acid that its waters cannot be drank; another, Rotu-mahana, [Warm lake] is agitated with boiling springs, continually throwing high into the air jets of water or of steam. These restless springs pierce the numerous islands on the lake, and many of these present a curious spectacle as the boiling fountains play among the trees and shrubs with which they are adorned. Suddenly the astonished traveller comes in sight of a bold flight of apparently marble steps ascending from the very margin of the lake. [They are really formed from the deposit of the warm water, even now constantly flowing down them.] They are fifty in number, each step is from one to three feet in height, and from one to two in breadth. They are all of the purest white, except that here and there a roseate tinge has crept along the veins; and rising, as they do, in the midst of innumerable fountains similar to those on the islands, and surrounded with a mass of dark green fern, they seem like the creation of fairy land.--But we must not linger among these inviting scenes, we shall only recommend our readers to read the full account of them in the C. M. Intelligencer for April, 1850. [See also the Bishop of New Zealand's Journal, in Annals of Colonial Church, p. 87.]

[9] Nor must we enter into the details of Roto-rua and ther insecure villages built on a crust of earth over depths of boiling mud--intersected by crevices sending forth a constant heated vapour, by hot springs and miniature mud volcanoes, where the very ground on which you tread is liable at any moment to give way, and plunge your foot into the heated mass below. We shall only ask our readers to accompany us to Lake Taupo, almost an inland sea, 36 miles in length. It is in the centre of the island, about 12 miles from the base of Tongariro.

There is one spot on the south-western shore of this lake at which we desire to pause. At the extremity of a range of black basaltic rocks there lies a belt of flat alluvial land, stretching inland from the lake till it reaches a ridge of low, but abrupt hills, also of volcanic origin. Nothing but moss and lichens will grow upon the heated surface of these hills: hot springs and crevices that emit the boiling vapour abound upon their sides; the boiling mud beneath is in many places only covered, as at Rotu-rua, with a thin crust of earth; and subterranean noises like the working of a steam engine are continually heard. Tot on the alluvial land close to this treacherous ground the natives had built a village of considerable size, called Te Rapa. There was much to tempt them to settle there; the land was fertile, the steaming crevices, so near them, served to cook their food, and they used the tepid springs as baths. [A layer of fern is first laid over the crevice, the pork and potatoes are placed upon it, all is covered close with more fern, and before long the food is, we are told, as thoroughly dressed as in an English oven.]

[10] The Rev. E. Taylor, the Missionary at Wanganui, had occasion, as we shall hereafter relate, to visit this spot in 1845, and was struck with the beauty and grandeur of the whole scene. The village itself was extremely picturesque, with its strong palisades, its carved posts, and native dwellings. Through it ran a bright mountain stream, that had forced its way through the ridge of hills behind it; and in front lay the broad expanse of Taupo, with its islands, woods, and mountains, its black basaltic rocks and bold promontories, on which stood more than one fortified village. The noble figure of the chief, Te Heu Heu, was in harmony with the scene. He was advanced in years, his hair was silvery white, so white that his people could compare it only to the snowy head of the sacred Tongariro, but his form was still erect. He was nearly seven feet in height, and, clothed in his handsome native mat, seemed a perfect model of a New Zealand chief; while the natural dignity of his appearance and manner, and the openness and courtesy of his bearing, were the admiration of our Missionary. He talked long and earnestly with him. Te Heu Heu had been a violent opponent of Christianity, and had lately led an expedition against some distant Christian villages, in the hope of extirpating the new and hated religion. But now he was softened, he confessed himself disarmed by what he heard, he promised to give up fighting, and .was very earnest in his entreaties that a Missionary might come and live among his people. He even led Mr. Taylor to the most beautiful spot in the neighbourhood, engaging to make it over to him for a Missionary settlement. Alas! no Missionary could then be placed there, [10/11] and in a few months Te Heu Heu was beyond the reach of that instruction that might have saved his soul.

The hills behind the village were, as we have said, of volcanic origin; they were composed of a kind of argillaceous clay and carbonate of magnesia; the pent-up gas beneath them, that could not find its way to the crevices in their sides, gradually loosened the soil, and, in the spring of 1846, large masses of it fell into the gorge of the mountain torrent that flowed through the village, and stopped its course. The stream, thus checked, swelled into a lake behind the ridge, till from its accumulated weight the hill-side gave way, and a tremendous avalanche of mud and stones overwhelmed Te Kapa and most of its inhabitants.

The noble chief might have escaped, but he scorned to leave his people exposed to danger; he stood before his dwelling, his silvery hair floating on the wind, calling on Taniwa, a monster of the deep, to stay the coming danger, and perished in the act of supplication to his imagined deity!

Should the question be asked, ""Why was there no Missionary to proceed to Te Rapa?" we can only answer it by another, "Why is not more earnest prayer poured forth to the Lord of the harvest, that He will send more labourers into His harvest?"

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