Chapter XI. Progress of Mission--Schools--Baptisms--Rev. S. Marsden's sixth visit
Now surely the set time was come for the deliverance of New Zealand from the yoke of Satan; surely now the Missionaries might expect to see many others added to the church!
Again we have to learn that our time is not God's time; for nearly three more years had run their course ere the servants of God could rejoice over another instance of conversion.
Yet their efforts were not slackened; they still worked as they had ever done; the neighbouring villages were still as diligently visited; and now and then a transient gleam of hope would cheer them, when some half-awakened listener would acknowledge the force of what he heard; such as when Wini, Christian Rangi's brother, exclaimed to Mr. W. Williams, "I am bad with vexation at the exceeding fixedness of my bad heart."
Within the settlements, the instruction was carried on as carefully as before; and in many respects there was an evident improvement. There were even natives unconnected with the Mission, who, struck with the increased comfort of the labourers employed about the [125/126] station, obtained leave for themselves to settle on the Mission land. One of these was Taiwunga, a man of note among his people: he had formerly lived in Christian families at Paramatta and at Keri-keri; but his untamed spirit longed for war again, and he had joined Hongi in one of his expeditions to the South.
But at last he had grown tired of fighting, and settled himself near Mr. Davis at Paihia, where we find him, in 1826, building a raupo house, with three rooms, after the European fashion, and with a field and garden filled with wheat and English vegetables.
Hongi, who knew his bravery, urged him to accompany him to Kaiparo; but Taiwunga had begun to taste the sweets of a settled life, and resisted all his importunities. "Before you let me live at your place," said he to Mr. Davis, "I loved country ways; but now that I have a house and garden, I love your ways; and," added he, "my heart too is very good for your prayers and instructions." [Well might Taiwunga prefer his garden to the field of battle; it was full of peas, onions, turnips, cucumbers, vines, melons, peaches, &c. &c.] His wife, as well as himself, was very industrious, they conducted themselves extremely well, and wished to bring up their children like Europeans; but no sign of spiritual life appeared in either of them.
The chief source however of encouragement to the Missionaries was the growing, desire of instruction among their own natives, and the progress they made. The possession of printed books, in their own language, had greatly stimulated their thirst for knowledge; and when in 1827 Mr. Davis brought back with him from Sydney the first three chapters of Genesis, the 20th of [126/127] Exodus, the 5th of St. Matthew, the 1st of St. John, the Lord's Prayer, and some hymns, all printed in Maori, their delight was unbounded; and it was with difficulty that some of them could be restrained from taking immediate and forcible possession of these new treasures.
There were at this time above a hundred natives living on the Mission property at Paihia, and a proportionate number at Keri-keri and Rangi-houa. All these regularly attended the daily morning and evening worship; the children were daily instructed in the schools; and the adults were assembled, three times in the week, to be taught reading, writing, and arithmetic, in addition to the word of God.
As soon as the scholars seemed to be sufficiently advanced, the experiment was tried of an Annual General Examination, and was found to succeed extremely well. This was so new a feature in New Zealand, that we shall devote a page or two to the account of one of these gatherings; and shall select the second, held at Keri-keri on Dec. 8, 1829.
We may imagine the bustle of previous preparation in the settlement itself; for, inclusive of those on the spot, food and lodging for throe days were to be provided for a party of 290; and the only housekeeping resources of the Keri-keri Missionaries lay in their own farm and storehouse. However, all was ready in good time, and the school boys and girls were assembled on the river's bank to welcome their expected visitors. About 11 o'clock the party came in eight. First, two boats with the European families of Rangi-houa and Paihia, rowed by native school-boys dressed in duck trowsers, striped shirts, and Scotch caps; then [127/128] three other boats and two canoes brought the girls dressed in blue frocks and white aprons, and all the rest of the natives of the two settlements. Every boat had a little flag; and as the summer sun shone bright upon the river, and lighted up the eager faces, it was a scene not to be soon forgotten. As the boats drew near, no hideous native yell met their ears, but three hearty British cheers burst forth from the river's side, echoed again and1 again by the parties on the water. It was a happy gathering that day at Keri-keri: including the children, the Europeans amounted to seventy-two; of the natives sixty-eight were girls, the rest were men and boys.
After joining in Divine service, the examination began, and proved entirely satisfactory. Many questions on the chief truths of our holy religion were correctly answered, the reading and writing of the different classes were very good, and the first class of men and boys were perfect in the first five rules of arithmetic. The examination was not exclusively intellectual, the girls' needlework was shown, and pronounced to be very neatly executed; and the native carpenters exhibited specimens of their skill in a pannelled door, a gate, a window-frame, a table, and a stool, all of which would have done credit to an European workman.
The Missionaries' hearts were moved, and Mr. W. Williams thus records some of the thoughts that passed through his own mind: "Here, thought I, are a number of poor cannibals collected from different tribes, [One of the lads was the son of a chief, 140 miles from the Bay.] whose fathers were so savage, that for ten years the first [128/129] Missionaries, who lived among them with so much pain and vexation, often expected to be devoured by them. A few years ago these very individuals were ignorant of every principle of religion, many of them had feasted on human blood and gloried in it; but now there is not one among them who is not in some degree acquainted with the truths of the Christian religion, which, with the blessing of God, may be the means of his conversion. Not six years ago, they commenced commenced with the very rudiments of learning; now, many of them can read and write their own language with propriety, and are masters of the first rules of arithmetic. But a very few years ago, a chisel made of stone was their only tool; now they not only have our tools but are learning to use them. It is true that these are but small things compared with the greater and more permanent blessings we look for; yet I appeal to our friends in England, and ask them whether the Lord has not already done great things, yea, marvellous things, in this dark land."
Prayer and the word of God accompanied the examination; the older members of the Mission passed the intervals of rest in refreshing social intercourse, the younger ones in recreations suited to their age; and it would have stirred the heart of the most indifferent to have here seen the fair-haired children of the distant North, mingling with the groups of dark-eyed sons and daughters of the fierce Maoris, and roaming with them fearlessly through the gardens and the fields.
At last the time so ardently desired, so earnestly prayed for, was drawing near, when the Spirit should [129/130] be poured from on high, and the wilderness should become a fruitful field; when some from among this stubborn people, in full health, and in the prime of life, should bend their iron necks to the gentle yoke of Christ, should come forward to renounce all to which they had hitherto so firmly, so obstinately clung, and should publicly dedicate themselves to the Lord.
The first approach to this decided step was a wish expressed by some of the people that their children might be baptized; two of the Keri-keri natives, Taua and Rangi, had some time before, brought their infant to the baptismal font; and in August, 1829, the hearts of the Paihia Missionaries glowed with hope, when the once ferocious Taiwunga put the following note into their hands. "Here I am, thinking of the day when my son shall be baptized. You are the messengers of God; therefore I wish that he should be baptized according to your ways. I have cast off my native ideas, and my native thoughts. Here I sit thinking, and untying the rope of the devil; and it is shaken that it may fall off. Jesus Christ perhaps is near to see my evils, and to look into the hearts of men. It is well perhaps that the heart should grieve in the morning, in the evening, and at night, that every sin may be blotted out."
We cannot doubt the answer to this request; and on August 23rd, after the second lesson, Mr. W. Williams baptized the four children of Taiwunga, together with an infant of his own. It was a very affecting service, the natives were very attentive, and Mr. Williams hoped that it might lead some of them to become thoughtful for themselves.
Soon after the baptism of these children, Mr. Davis [130/131] was suddenly sent for to a woman who was taken alarmingly ill, and did not seem likely to recover. She was the wife of Pita, one of his workmen, who had at first been received into his household; but his wife, a young woman from Roto-rua, far to the south, was so insolent and troublesome, that Mr. Davis was obliged to send them from his house, and built a cottage for them close by. Pita himself was of a very quiet, gentle disposition, much attached to his master, and very anxious for instruction. He frequently accompanied him in his visits to the villages, and would often, of his own accord, remain behind to enforce or to explain his exhortations. After some time he went down to Roto-rua with his wife to see her relations, and remained absent so long, that Mr. Davis, who knew how susceptible he was of the influence of others, grew uneasy, and feared that ho had been insnared into his former practices, and would shrink from returning to Paihia.
At last, however, they both came back; and to Mr. Davis's great satisfaction ho found that their prolonged absence had been occasioned by Pita's anxiety to teach the people of Roto-rua something of the love of Christ; and that his time had been spent in endeavouring to impress a few simple truths upon their minds.
It was to the sick-bed of this woman that Mr. Davis was now summoned. He went with a heavy heart, not knowing what fresh arguments he could use to prevail with her to give her heart to God; but, to his utter astonishment, he found her entirely changed. She had become meek and docile, was already well-informed in Divine truths, and anxious to make further progress. In the course of conversation she told him that she had been secretly a believer for more than a [131/132] year; that she had been made deeply sensible of the wickedness of her own heart, and often retired by herself for private prayer. She spoke calmly of her apparently approaching death, and of her going to be with Cueist, and urged Mr. Davis to "call aloud" to the natives round to turn to God. We may imagine the joy of the Missionary at this the first decided instance of awakening among the people at Paihia, increased as it was by the unexpected recovery of the woman, and her continuance in the same state of mind and conduct. It was not long before she and her husband applied for baptism; Taiwunga joined them; and on the 7th of February, 1830, the first public adult baptism took place in New Zealand; and these three intelligent Maoris stood forth in the midst of the congregation at Paihia, to declare their faith in Christ crucified, to renounce all their former ways, to profess themselves the faithful soldiers and servants of their Redeemer, and to receive the outward seal of the covenant of grace. All were deeply moved--Taiwunga especially so; and tears of penitence and love fell fast from eyes that, but a few short years before, had loved to feast themselves on scenes of carnage and of cannibalism. [Taiwunga was baptized by the name of David, or, according to native pronunciation, Rawiri; Pita, by that of Peter; and his wife was named Mary. Mrs. H. Williams, writing of this event, and especially alluding to Taiwunga, says, "Taiwunga, a relation and once a follower of Hongi in his bloody triumphs, but who has for nearly five years turned his sword into a ploughshare, and who, from his rank and influence and naturally strong passions, has had many and deep struggles, has been wonderfully influenced. When I saw him advance from the other end of our crowded chapel, with firm step, but subdued countenance, an object of interest to every native as well as European eye, and meekly kneel, where six months before we had, at his own request, all stood sponsors for his four little children; I deeply felt that it was the Lord's doing, and marvellous in our eyes."]
 This baptism served not only to strengthen the faith of the baptized, but to deepen the impression already made upon many of the other natives; a spirit of earnest inquiry was poured out on numbers, and the settlement assumed a new appearance. Hitherto the leisure hours of the people had been passed in dancing, singing, or sleeping; but now they met together in little bands to read and pray, or visited the Missionaries for more personal instruction. Mr. W. Williams writes, on March 3rd, 1830, "Could our friends in England witness what we witness every evening, they would indeed rejoice with us. The interest formerly manifested by a few in this settlement has become almost general; and the cry, as soon as evening prayers are over, is, 'May we not come to you and talk?'"
At this time the evenings of all the Missionaries at this station were taken up in conversations with the newly awakened. Sometimes twenty or thirty would come together for general instruction; others would come alone to talk more freely on their own personal salvation; and the different states of mind in the different inquirers gave good reason to believe that: real work of the Holy Spirit was being carried on in their hearts. Some would speak of their strong desire to give up their hearts to God; others confess with sorrow that as yet their desire was very weak: one mourned over the hardness of his heart, and another was rejoicing in the light that had visited his soul; while one poor man touchingly related to Mr. Davis [133/134] the loss he had sustained in spiritual things by a visit he had lately paid to his heathen relations at Tauranga. [One of the inquirers in conversation with Mr. W. Williams suggested, that perhaps the difficulty he found in believing arose from his not being able to write; to which a friend of his standing by immediately replied, "Writing has nothing to do with enlightening the heart."]
But while the Missionaries were employed in this blessed, but anxious and laborious work, they were suddenly called upon to mingle in a very different scene. The wickedness of the masters and crews of many of the vessels that visited the Bay had very frequently led to quarrels and skirmishes with the natives; but at this juncture the more than commonly infamous conduct of the master of a whaler, then at Kororarika, stirred the passions of the New Zealanders to a higher pitch than usual; and as some of the people took part with the offender, it was determined to have recourse to arms. Kororarika was not more than two miles from Paihia, on the opposite shore of the little inner bay on which the settlement stands; and Tohi-tapu, and some of the peaceable chiefs, applied as before to the Missionaries for their mediation. They lost not an hour in using their utmost efforts, and at one time hoped they had succeeded; but the feelings of some of the chiefs had been too deeply wounded, the dispute broke out again, the country round Paihia was filled with parties of fighting men, an engagement took place, and the beach at Kororarika was stained with Maori blood.
In the midst of this commotion, a ship was seen to enter the Bay; she anchored near Paihia; and soon the word flew swiftly through the settlement, that Mr. [134/135] Marsden was on board. This venerated name seemed to carry with it some soothing charm, and the news of his arrival inspired Europeans and natives with hopes of peace. Even the wild combatants of Kororarika felt its influence, and invited him to mediate between them. No abatement of physical strength, no fear of danger or fatigue, could hinder Mr. Marsden from responding to the invitation. He passed from the mainland to the islands, from the islands to the mainland, engaged in anxious negociations; but with all his efforts it was many days ere he could succeed in allaying their angry passions, and in persuading them to cease from bloodshed.
What a contrast during those days did the Mission station at Paihia present to the eye and heart of this good man! Here was a body of more than a hundred natives, unmoved by the excitement going on around, to the astonishment of their fighting countrymen quietly pursuing their usual avocations, and though at times the fighting was almost close to them, new, even leaving their work to go and sec what was going on. ["We alone," writes Mr. H. Williams, "and our natives sit in the midst of all this commotion, without a single care or anxious feeling, though every tribe around is under arms, and ready for immediate destruction. The conduct of our natives is most pleasing, each at his own occupation during the day, and in the evening the greater part assemble, as usual, for spiritual instruction."]
But a deeper joy filled the heart of this venerable servant of God, when on Sunday the 14th he met the congregation of Paihia. Here were assembled before him all the natives of the settlement, neatly dressed in European clothes; among them his eye especially rested [135/136] on the quiet Pita, and his now subdued wife, on Tai-wunga, now as fearless in the service of God as he had been in that of Satan, and on the Christian children,--the commencement of the Maori Church, and the earnest, as he doubted not, of wide-spread future blessing. [After his baptism, Taiwunga boldly rebuked sin in the heathen round, while his own submission to the will of God was very striking. A few months later, his children were taken ill; "I am an obstinate child," said the chief, "and God is whipping me."] But Mr. Marsden shall tell his own tale. "The contrast," he writes, "between the east and west sides of the inner bay were very striking, though only two miles distant: the east shore was crowded with fighting men of different tribes, in a wild, savage state; many of them nearly naked, and when exercising entirely so; nothing was to be heard but the firing of muskets, and the din and confusion of a savage military camp; some mourning the death of their friends, others suffering from their wounds, and not one whose mind was not involved in heathen darkness, without one ray of Divine knowledge. On the west side there was the pleasant sound of 'the church-going bell;' the natives assembling together for Divine worship, clean, orderly, and decently dressed, most of them in European clothing: all carried in their hands the Litany and greatest part of the Church service, and some hymns, printed in their own tongue; and their whole conduct and appearance reminded me of a well-regulated English country parish. Here might be seen, at one glance, the blessings of the Christian religion, and the miseries of heathenism, even in this present life; but when we regard an denial world, how infinite is the difference!"
 Mr. Marsden and his daughter left New Zealand again on the 27th of May; the time had been spent in visiting the different settlements; in making arrangements for a new station at Waimate; in assisting and counselling the Missionaries; in conversations with the natives; and in rejoicing at the bright prospects opening on the country. Often was he heard to exclaim, as it were to himself, "What hath God wrought for His own name's sake!" Well might he thus exclaim, when his thoughts recurred to that Christmas day in 1814, when he first stood up to declare the name of Jesus to a multitude of fierce, untamed savages, at the Pa of Rangi-houa; or to that memorable night, passed amid spears and merys on the shore of Whangaroa. The true cross, of which the starry emblem then visited his wakeful eyes, was now firmly planted in the Maori heart, never, as he hoped and believed, to be uprooted thence. Slightly altering the words of the poet,
"Had he not then for all his fears,
The day of care, the anxious night,
For all his sorrows, all his tears,
An overpayment of delight?"