Chapter XV. Kaitaia--Hindrances--Ngakuhi--Romish Bishop--Bishop of Australia--Mr. Marsden's last visit
AND now, turning from the Bay of Islands and purging our course across the Island, a few miles before we reach the western coast we shall come to Kaitaia, the fifth and last formed of the northern stations. Mr. W. Williams and some of his brethren had been led, by the urgent solicitations that reached them from various quarters, to make a tour towards the North Cape, to ascertain the facilities for the establishment of a new station, and to choose the most eligible spot. They fixed on Kaitaia, among the tribe of the Rarewas, forty miles north-west of Waimate; here, in March, 1834, Mr. Puckey and Mr. J. Matthews, each of whom had married a daughter of Mr. Davis's, took up their abode; and it was not long before here also the natural and moral desert began to blossom as the rose. We must pass lightly over the early events of this station, the building and the planting, the readiness with which the natives erected a raupo chapel, the eagerness with which they cut roads through the woods, and threw bridges over the streams, to enable the Missionaries to move freely from one village to another. [178/179] The people came from six and even eight miles' distance for worship and instruction; and it was soon necessary to erect a larger building for the purpose. So many candidates came forward for baptism, that there seemed some danger lest the new religion should become fashionable; and the examinations were conducted with increasing care and strictness. And yet, with all this strictness, eighteen adults were found prepared, and were baptized before the end of the year 1835.
Before long, Pana the head chief was among the baptized; and, like Ripi of Mawi, he had no sooner himself become a true believer, than he anxiously sought the salvation of others. He visited many of the adjacent tribes with his "new weapon of war," as he called his copy of the word of God, and received a hearty welcome, now that, as they said, "they need no longer dread him, as they did when he sought to devour them like a dog."
We could spend much time at Kaitaia, with its devoted labourers, and among its flourishing schools, its native teachers, its Sunday congregations of six hundred, and its many communicants; but we must leave it, like the other stations, unnoticed from the year 1840 till we return to give the reader a brief summary of its present state.
One little history, however, we must insert. Tawai, the chief of Waima, near Hokiangha, had long been the inveterate foe of Pana and his tribe; and reports of his hostile approach frequently filled the valley of Kaitaia with dismay and terror. One Sunday morning Mr. Mathews was told that this fierce chief was in the Mission settlement; not knowing what this could mean, he went to see, and to his astonishment, [179/180] was told by him that his name was no longer Tawai, but Mohi (Moses). The savage warrior had become a Christian. It appeared that one of his slave girls had, some time before, lived in one of the Mission families at Paihia, where she had received the usual instruction. Tawai took her away to come and live with him; but the poor girl continued to repeat the prayers and catechisms she had learnt. Her master forbade her, but she persevered; he threatened to shoot her, still she persisted; till at length, wondering what could make her heart so bold, he began to examine the subject for himself. It pleased God to awaken and convert him; and one of his first acts after his baptism was to visit his old enemies the Rarewas, and tell them of the treasure he had found. He knew not that they had Missionaries among them; and it was therefore to his equal surprise and joy that at a village he passed through, he heard that Pana, his former foe, was a Christian like himself. The two chiefs worshipped together that day in the house of God, spent the evening in relating to each other the different ways by which God had led them, and Mr. Matthews found them the next morning at the school, standing in the same class, and reading together the first chapter of St. John's Gospel. Mohi did not live long to bring forth fruit; he died soon after, and his remains were laid beside those of Ripi, in the little burial-ground of Mawi. [Mr. Davis, speaking of this circumstance, says, "I have been to Mawi, to the burial of Moses Kowaitahi. The funeral was well attended, and after the service I addressed the assembly. This burial-ground is to me a very interesting spot; it is the site of the first raupo chapel in this village. Several years have now passed away, since I first endeavoured to lisp the gospel of love to this tribe, on this spot. Many bodies, among which are Ripi and Tupapa, are here sleeping in the dust, awaiting the glorious resurrection morn. Then what a glorious burst of joy will arise from this sacred spot! While they were in the body, they were poor, despised, degraded savages; but having been washed in a Saviour's blood, and clothed with his righteousness, they will rise clothed in immortal bloom. Oh the blessedness of the everlasting gospel!"]
 Will not our readers, after reading this and the two preceding chapters, join with Mr. Davis in saying, "These are blessed times," when the Spirit of God seemed so evidently moving on the face of the once dark chaos? We were going to call this period the spring-time of the Mission, when the dry and leafless branches were bursting into life and bloom, and were giving promise of abundant produce. But we remember that much fruit had been already ripened; that at every station some had already been gathered in; and autumn seemed blended with the spring in New Zealand's infant church.
All this while the enemy of souls had not been idle in his endeavours to hinder the work of God. One of his devices was to lead some, whose consciences had been half awakened, to form a sort of sect among themselves; and, by a strange fatality, they gave to the new doctrine the name of "Ngakuhi," or the serpent. This doctrine was a mixture of truth and error. It recognised a Sabbath day, but fixed on Saturday instead of Sunday; and while it acknowledged some of the moral precepts of the Gospel, mixed with them many heathen superstitions. It gained ground a good deal among those who dared not remain altogether heathen, and yet would not submit themselves to the yoke of Christ.
 But a far greater and more permanent obstacle to the work of God was the arrival, in 1838, of a Romish bishop and his priests, who spared neither pains nor money to make proselytes. It is true that none of those who were well instructed in the word of God were eventually led astray by them, and that even the more intelligent among the heathen despised their crucifixes and images of saints; yet their sophisms and bold assertions perplexed many a weak though true disciple; and the religion they promulgated was so agreeable to fallen human nature, that it could not fail to find acceptance among those who desired to retain their sins, and yet to be saved at last.
The increase of European settlers at Kororarika proved another great and trying evil; but of this we shall have occasion to speak more fully in a future chapter.
Yet, notwithstanding all obstacles and all discouragements, the work of God went on; and in the beginning of 1810 the average number of regular attendants at Divine worship, at the five northern stations, was computed as exceeding 3000; and the communicants amounted to 200. We cannot find any exact statement of the number of the baptized.
In 1839 these northern stations had the advantage of a visit from the Bishop of Australia, Dr. Broughton, who spent some weeks among them, surprised and thankful for all he witnessed. He wrote a most kind and encouraging account of them to the Society, showing the real interest he felt in the Mission, not only by his warm and general approbation, but by pointing out a few minor [182/183] points in which he thought further improvements might be effected.
And now we must close this Chapter with the record of events that carry us back to the first gleam of light that ever broke upon this land, and bring before our readers for the last time the venerable founder of this Mission.
In 1837, Mr. Marsden paid his seventh visit to New Zealand, and landed with his daughter, at Hokianga, on February 24. The infirmities of age were now upon him; the strong frame that had in former years enabled him to travel hundreds of miles on foot, through forest, swamp, and mountain, was enfeebled; and most of the forty miles from Hokianga to Waimate were traversed in a litter. More than seventy of the Hokianga natives accompanied him, and the many who came out from Waimate to meet and welcome him swelled his attendant train into quite an imposing band.
But though this good man's natural strength was thus abated, and his eyes were dim, his mind was as clear and firm, and his heart even more loving than before. His first employment was the reconciliation of two contending parties in the north, whose struggle would have endangered the safety of the Kaitaia station; and afterwards he spent six months among the settlements, "blessing and blest where'er" he went. Everywhere the natives welcomed him with open arms; they would sit with their eyes rivetted upon him; and, when requested to withdraw, would say, "We wish to have a very long and stedfast look at our old friend, for we shall never see him again."
Before he left the Island Mr. Marsden went on [183/184] a cruise to Cook's Straits; and our love for the memory of this servant of God leads us to insert a few lines front the Rev. A. N. Brown, who accompanied him. "June 8th, 1837. We enjoyed a most lovely evening. In a long conversation with Mr. Marsden on deck, he spoke of almost all his old friends having preceded him to the eternal world. Romaine, Newton, the Milners, Scott, Robinson, Buchanan, Good, Thomason, Rowland Hill, Legh Richmond, Simeon, and others. He then alluded in a very touching manner to his late wife. They had passed, he observed, more than, forty years of their pilgrimage in company, and he felt the separation more severely as the months passed on. I remarked that their separation would he but for a short time longer: 'God grant it!' was his reply; and then lifting his eyes toward the moon, which was peacefully shedding her beams on the sails of our little hark, he exclaimed with intense feeling,
'Prepare me, Lord, for Thy right hand;
Then come the joyful day!'"
Mr. Marsden returned to Sydney in August, and on the 12th of the following May, 1838, the sainted spirit left its earthly tabernacle. He had been speaking of the "precious hope" he had in Christ: and the last words that were heard from his dying lips were, "Precious, precious, precious!"
Mr. Marsden died at the age of seventy-three, having been forty-five, years Chaplain in New South Wales.
Blessed servant of thy Lord, thou restest from thy labours, and thy works do follow thee!