Chapter V. Church Missionary Society--Ruatara--Plans for settlement
IT is very profitable, as well as very interesting, to look back to the early proceedings of the Church Missionary Society; to see the hallowed names of Scott, and Simeon, of Cecil, and Venn, and Buchanan, and Pratt, and Bickersteth, and their fellow-workers of a former generation, and to read of how they thought and felt and acted; how--few in number but strong in faith--they laid the foundation, broad and deep, of that structure which God has so blessed and honoured. It brings a kind of sacred stillness to the mind thus to commune, as it were, with holy men now at rest in the presence of that Saviour whom they so loved and served on earth; and the bright calm light with which their memories are encircled, serves to guide and cheer those who have taken up the same labours from which "they have ceased."
Thoughts and feelings such as these have often visited our minds while tracing out the commencement of the New Zealand Mission; and we can only hope and pray and believe that the same Holy Spirit that hss guided from the beginning the efforts of the Society, will ever continue to rest upon it,--"the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the Bpirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord."
 Mr. Marsden's earnest appeal to the Society met with an equally earnest attention and interest; and after much and prayerful deliberation a plan was adopted, which would, it was hoped, lead to the evangelization of the island.
It was determined that the Mission should be commenced by sending out a few artisans, men of piety and industry, as settlers, to teach the natives some of the simpler arts of life, and while thus winning their confidence and their affection, to take every opportunity of scattering the seeds of Divine Truth, and thus to prepare the way for Missionary work of a more exclusive character
And here we must observe that Missionary Societies had not then had the experience we now possess; and had not yet so fully learnt, that however valuable civilization is as a handmaid to evangelization, it is in itself but of little value as a forerunner, and that the simple preaching of "Christ Jesus and Him crucified" is "the power of God unto salvation," to the barbarous Scythian as to the polished Greek.
We do not however mean that the settlers were instructed to confine themselves to the mere secular improvement of the New Zealanders: on the contrary, as soon as they could master the language, they were expected to devote as much time as they could spare, to the religious instruction of any natives to whom they could gain access.
It was not long before the Society met with two persons who seemed exactly suited to their purpose. Mr. "William Hal], recommended by the late Mr. Fawcett of Carlisle, was a carpenter, who had also learnt something of navigation and ship-building; and Mr. [40/41] John King, well known to the present Bishop of Calcutta, was a shoemaker, acquainted also with flax-dressing and rope-making, and knowing something of agriculture.
Such were the two men who laid the foundation of the great work now accomplished. Knowing nothing of New Zealand but its misery and its wickedness, its massacres and its cannibalism, they left their native land and all the blessings of civilization, to dwell among a nation of untried savages, well aware that their own lives and those of their families would be in constant jeopardy. Love to God and to the souls of men could alone have moved them to this heroic self-devotion; and the prayers and hopes, not unmixed with anxious fears, of many Christian hearts accompanied them, when, in company with Mr. Marsden, they embarked on board the "Ann," on August 25, 1809.
It was a happy omen, and proved eventually a most important advantage, that a day or two after they had joined the ship, Mr. Marsden observed a poor emaciated man, evidently very ill, sitting on the forecastle; and, upon going up to him, recognised him as a New Zealand chief whom he had some time before seen at Port Jackson. Poor Ruatara [Formerly written, "Duaterra."] had suffered much from English sailors, and there seemed very little hope of his living to reach his own land again; but the kindness of Mr. Marsden, and the captain and officers of the ship, the medical attendance of the doctor, and the careful nursing of Mr. King, soon in great degree restored his health, and swept away from his remembrance the many injuries he had received. Ruatara was nephew to Tippahee, and a chief of considerable importance in [41/42] the northern part of the Island; in person he was tall and well made; his dark eye was full of animation, and his bearing noble and dignified. His manner, like that of his uncle, was mild, engaging, and courteous; and his mind acute, intelligent, and generous. He was now about twenty-one or twenty-two years of age; and it appeared that some four years before, his love of enterprise had led him to engage himself as a common sailor in one of the whalers that touched at the Bay of Islands for provisions. After serving in her for a twelvemonth, he was, contrary to agreement, put ashore at Port Jackson, without either money or friends; and must have starved, had not a Captain Richardson engaged him on another whaling expedition, and at the end of six months landed him on his own shore, well paid in European articles.
These events had not subdued the spirit of inquiry in the young chief's mind; and at the end of a few months he again trusted himself to the master of another whaler, who promised, when he had completed his cargo, to take him to England and show him King George, which at this time seemed to be the summit of his ambition. The ship first visited Bounty Island, where Ruatara and a few other men were sent on shore to collect seal skins, while the "Santa Anna" went to Norfolk Island to procure provisions and water. A very small stock of food and a very scanty supply of water was given them, but the master promised to return in a few days. Ten long months however passed away before the ship again appeared: three of the men had perished from want, and the remainder must have shared their fate, had not another vessel happened to touch at the Island, whose master humanely spared [42/43] them a small supply. During the ten months, they had collected 8000 seal skins, and when all were again board, the "Santa Anna" set sail for England, and Ruatara looked forward to the accomplishment of his long-cherished desire. On the voyage he was treated most cruelly; he was frequently beaten very severely, and the illness of which we have spoken was the effect of some of the heavy blows he then received. But he bore all, for he hoped soon to see King George; and we can imagine something of his disappointment and mortification, when, on arriving in London, the master only ridiculed him for his credulity, and dismissed him without any remuneration for his services. Ah! had Ruatara's intense desire been directed to another object, had it been "the King of Glory" whom he so ardently longed to see, he would not have thus been disappointed. Ill and destitute as the poor chief was, there seemed nothing before him but death in a strange land; end it is one of those many proofs we have of an overruling Providence in all the affairs of life, that he should have been, without any human contrivance, brought into the very ship in which Mr. Marsden and his companions were to sail. During the voyage Mr. Marsden had much conversation with him, and found him as anxious as Tippahee had been for the improvement of his countrymen. He was delighted to find that Mr. Hall and Mr. King were intending to settle in New Zealand, and promised them protection and every assistance in his power, if only they would establish themselves on his property in the Bay of Islands. As Tippahee's district was in the same neighbourhood, Mr. Marsden had no hesitation in deciding according to [43/44] his wishes; and promised to begin the settlement as soon as possible.
It is a remarkable circumstance, that thrown as Ruatara had almost exclusively been among lawless and ungodly men, the idea of a Christian Sabbath had taken-a firm hold of his mind; he spoke of it repeatedly, and implied that his people even now desired some thing of the kind, but that they had not hitherto known "how to make a Sunday." Now, he said, he should be able to teach them; and, in order to do this, he employed his mind in inventing Maori names for the different days of the week.
Full of hope and anticipations, the party landed at Port Jackson, in February, 1810; but a sad disappointment awaited them. News had lately arrived that a trading vessel, named the Boyd, had been attacked by the natives in Whangaroa Bay, on the north-east coast, that the crew had been murdered and eaten, and the ship burnt. Tippahee too was dead; some whalers, hearing of the loss of the Boyd, determined to avenge it; and, confounding the innocent with guilty, came down upon Tippahee in his island home in the Bay of Islands, burnt his village, destroyed crops, and put him and his people to the sword. [Tippahee, it afterwards appeared, happened to be in Whangaroa Bay at the time of the massacre; but, so far from joining in it, had done all in his power, though unsuccessfully, to rescue some of the crew.]
Ruatara was exceedingly distressed at the loss of uncle, and at the delay in the projected plans; for the whole of that part of the Island was in such a state excitement and disturbance, that he could no longer [44/45] guarantee the safety of an European. The chief himself however determined to return and ascertain the real state of affairs, promising to come back as soon gg possible. It was several months before an opportunity offered for his sailing: the intermediate time has passed in acquiring knowledge of various kinds; and when at last he left Port Jackson he was supplied by Mr. Marsden with whatever was likely to be useful to him.
But months passed on, and nothing was heard of Ruatara, till Mr. Marsden grew uneasy, and feared that some accident had befallen his young friend. More than a twelvemonth had elapsed, and Mr. Marsden's anxieties still increased, when, to his great joy, Ruatara again made his appearance, but looking worn end haggard, and with a sorrowful tale to tell, not of the barbarities of his countrymen, but again of the bad faith and cruelty of Englishmen. He related his adventures with great feeling, told Mr. Marsden of the joy with which, after six months of whale fishing, he found himself in sight of his own land; how the ship anchored in the Bay opposite his own village; of the delight with which he recognized each familiar object far and near; of his collecting his little property on deck; his impatience to see the boat lowered that was to take him on shore to be again united to his wife tad children. And then he spoke of the dismay with which he found the anchor heaved, and the vessel standing out again to sea, and of the unfeeling captain's disregard of his tears and remonstrances. He spoke too the anguish with which he again saw the beloved coast receding from his view, and of his despair of ever again beholding it. After much ill usage the captain [45/46] left him on Norfolk Island, where, friendless and destitute, and without resource, he was found by another vessel, whose master kindly supplied him with food clothing, and brought him once more to Port Jackson. Again under the friendly roof of his constant friend, he soon recovered health and spirits, embarked more for his native land, and at length reached it in safety about the beginning of 1813. [It was not only Tippahee and Ruatara that experienced the hospitality and kindness of Mr. Marsden. He built a hut near his own house at Paramatta, in which any New Zealanders were welcome to take up their abode, and where they received every kindness. Some of them remained there for days, and even weeks; and in this way Mr. Marsden became acquainted with several of the chiefs, through whom his name became known and loved by many who had never seen his face. Probably these chiefs lived at some distance from Ruatara's district; or it would be difficult to account for the incredulity with which, as we shall presently see, his statements were received.]
His long absence, extending, with one short interval, over a period of seven years, had not been altogether lost to him; it had partly loosened the hold that his early superstitions and native customs held in his mind, and prepared him the more readily to avail himself of opportunities of improvement. On both occasions, during the months spent under Mr. Marsden's roof, that servant of God carefully instructed him in the leading truths of our most holy faith; but his progress was very slow, and his ideas remained sadly confused. The observance of the Sabbath was the only point on which he seemed clear; and we find that after his return to New Zealand, he continued to "make a Sunday" himself for the first "five moons," after which he probably lost his reckoning of the days. [Ruatara tried to persuade some of the other chiefs to do the same, but without success; they answered him that they knew Englishmen had no Sabbath, for of all the many vessels that had been to New Zealand only two had made any difference in the day! Those however who had been to Port Jackson could not have said this; for there the Sabbath was at this time, strictly observed; no pickets were allowed to go in or out of the harbour, the prisoners as well as the soldiers were regularly mustered and taken to church, and quiet and order prevailed all around.] He [46/47] made far greater progress in agriculture than in religious knowledge; Mr. Marsden wisely accustomed him to manual labour; he engaged in it with ardour, and by the time he left Paramatta, he was well acquainted with the culture of wheat, and all common vegetables.
We can fancy him returning to his own land early in 1813, rejoicing in his newly-acquired knowledge; supplied by Mr. Marsden with everything required to e it available--tools and seeds and plants; filled the most sanguine hopes of raising his beloved country from her present degradation; and never doubting but that his brother chiefs would thankfully avail themselves of what it had cost him so much pains to learn. Already, as his ardent mind stretched onward, the whole scene was changed; he saw the arts of peace substituted for devastating wars, and, as he would often say, wheat would be everywhere cultivated, and New Zealand would be a great nation.
Poor Ruatara had yet to learn that ignorance is the parent of incredulity, and he soon found that the prejudices and habits of his countrymen were too deeply seated to be so easily eradicated. When he told them of his adventures, and of all he had seen and heard at Port Jackson, they listened at first with the greatest [47/48] interest; but soon his tales surpassed their powers belief. Nothing would persuade them that the and biscuit they had occasionally procured from ships, could be made from the wheat he showed them and when, in attempting to describe the horses, spoke of them as "corraddees," large enough to carry a man, they could listen no longer, but stopping their ears reproached him with supposing they were so foolish as to believe his traveller's tales. [Corraddee is the native name for dog, and as they had never seen any quadruped except dogs and pigs, (see page 6,) Ruatara knew not in what other way to give them an idea of either horses or cows.] A few, more liberal than the rest, proceeded to test the truth of his assertions by attempting to ride their pigs; but the result only served to convince them the more fully of Ruatara's want of truthfulness, and all he said was received with ridicule and contempt.
Had Tippahee been alive he would have confirmed Ruatara's statements, and gone hand in hand with him in all his plans; but he was gone, and Ruatara was left alone in his noble endeavours.
Disconcerted, but not daunted, he with some difficulty prevailed on six of the chiefs to accept some of the seed which he had brought with him, and to sow it according to his instructions and example. It came up well, grew luxuriantly, and Ruatara was eagerly looking forward to the removal of at least one of their prejudices, when, just as it was coming into ear, he had the mortification to find it was all destroyed! Not supposing there could be any mode of increase different from that of their kumera; they had examined the roots, and not finding [48/49] any grains of wheat growing there, had pulled up all the plants and burnt them! Only one among them, Hongi the uncle of our chief, had had the forbearance to wait to see what the plants would really come to, and he and his nephew were rewarded by a plentiful crop.
But notwithstanding the incredulity and ridicule with which the chiefs had heard Ruatara's histories, they received him with warmth and kindness, and were go pleased with the prospect of friendly Europeans coming to settle among them, that he took the first opportunity of sending an urgent request to Mr. Marsden to commence a settlement without delay. This message, welcome as it was to Mr. Marsden, found him in considerable difficulty. From the time that he had first mentioned his project he had had much to endure, and much to contend against. We have already spoken of the strong feeling entertained throughout the colony against these barbarians, whose extermination seemed far more desirable than their conversion; and there were, besides, parties whose personal interest it was to prevent, if possible, the proposed Settlement, lest the system of fraud and cruelty they Bad so long pursued, should be brought to light. These people attempted to misrepresent the motives, and even to blacken the character of God's own servant; and though they could not succeed in fixing any stigma upon him, yet they so far gained their point, that not even one of the more respectable portion of society [49/50] would join him, and he was left to pursue his glorious work alone. Nothing however could turn him from his purpose; through evil report, as afterwards through good report, he stood firm as a rock, strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.
But before the final step was taken, Mr. Marsden thought it prudent to send Mr. Hall and Mr. Kendall (an additional settler just arrived from England) to ascertain for themselves the temper of the people, and the practicability of establishing themselves among them.
They reached the Island in the middle of the year 1814, to the great delight of Ruatara. He showed them the potatoes, carrots, onions, &c. &c, growing in profusion from the seed he had brought from Port Jackson. He had, too, a large number of pigs, and his whole farm was in a most flourishing condition. To the chiefs great joy, they had brought a steel mill with them; and he immediately set about grinding some of his wheat, to the no small surprise of his incredulous neighbours, who could scarcely believe their own eyes when they saw the flour; and when Ruatara proceeded to make some cakes and bake them in a frying-pan, and then gave each of them a piece to taste, they danced and shouted with the most extravagant joy. They even began to think it possible that his other tales might he true, even that of the large corraddees.
Mr. Kendall and Mr. Hall were, on their part, not a little startled and discouraged at first, at the wild and savage appearance and manner of the people; but the kind reception they met with from all the chiefs soon dispelled any personal fear; and after spending six [50/51] weeks among them, during which time they received the most urgent entreaties to return soon and settle there, they few no hesitation as to their future course. Ruatara Hongi, and Koro-koro, (another chief of the Bay of Islands,) accompanied them back to Port Jackson, where their report filled Mr. Marsden's anxious, waiting heart with joy and gratitude.
Mr. Marsden had not hesitated to fix on the Bay of Islands for the site of the new settlement, as being the only spot on which he could hope for protection for the settlers. Besides the friendship of Ruatara, which he knew he could depend upon, he was slightly acquainted with some of the other chiefs in the northern part of the Island, who had been at Port Jackson, and to whom he had had opportunities of showing kindness; and ho hoped this would be remembered by them. But there were disadvantages attending this locality--it was almost the only resort of the trading vessels; and these had not only increased the demoralization of the natives, but had formed a kind of small port on the southern shore of the Bay (Kororarika), which was often the haunt of deserters and run-away convicts from New Holland and Van Diemen's Land, who were in some respects as much to be feared as the New Zealanders themselves.
Another cause of anxiety was a deadly feud which had, he found, sprung up, since the affair of the Boyd, and the consequent murder of Tippahee, between the chiefs of the Bay of Islands and those of Whangaroa, which would expose the settlers to great danger should actual hostilities again arise between them. But as he intended to accompany the expedition himself, he trusted to be able to mediate between the hostile tribes, or [51/52] at all events to prevail on those of Whangaroa to refrain from injuring the Europeans. He hoped also in some way or other to overcome the other difficulty, and lost no time in making the necessary preparations for starting.
The party that Mr. Marsden took with him consisted of the three settlers with their wives and children, a flax-dresser, a smith, the three returning chiefs, and a gentleman of the name of Nicholas, who had volunteered to accompany them. Taking with him a stock of everything likely to he useful or convenient, Mr. Marsden embarked with his companions on November 28th, 1814, in the little brig Active, (which he had at his own risk purchased for £2000,) on this blessed mission to the Maori nation,--"Those noble people," as he wrote to the Church Missionary Society, "who are only waiting for what you so richly enjoy--the means of grace, the heavenly manna, to fall around their hungry tents. I fear," he continues, "the Society will he alarmed at the expense, but consider for a moment what a state of bondage, sin, and misery all must be in who are literally without hope, and without God in the world. I know I am not authorized by the Society to do all I am doing in pecuniary matters for this mission. If they approve of any part I shall be thankful; and if they fully enter into my views, I shall the more rejoice. But should they see it in a different point of view, and not feel disposed to give all the pecuniary assistance it seems to need, I shall not be discouraged from doing all I can, till I see I can do no more. The Lord will provide the required money either here, or in England, and I hope and believe the Great Head of the Church will give his support and blessing."