Project Canterbury

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

By Miss Tucker

New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1866.

Chapter XVIII. General state of the country--Colonization--War

"O thou sword of the Lord, how long will it be ere thou be quiet? put up thyself into thy scabbard, rest, and be still."--Jer. xlvii. 6.

WE wish we could avoid all reference to the secular affairs of New Zealand, and spare our readers and ourselves the pain of seeing how much gloom and darkness for a time overspread the land, arising from the conduct of our own countrymen; but we find we cannot give a just idea of the state of the Mission without sarnie slight sketch of what we may call political events.

The mischiefs that arose from the visits of masters and crews of vessels to Kororarika, in the Bay of Islands, were fearfully increased by its having gradually become also the permanent residence of runaway convicts and deserters from ships; men, as it may be supposed, of the lowest character and most dissolute habits. Here, free from the restraint of law, or even the cognizance of the more respectable of their own class, they followed the impulse of their own brutal wills, and committed every kind of wickedness with. impunity; till Kororarika became, to use the words of Mr. H. Williams, "the seat of Satan," or, in those of Colonel Mundy, "a very Pandemonium." [We are indebted to Colonel Mundy's lucid account of the transactions of the next few years for much that we state in this chapter.]

[217] The effect of such a community on the native population may easily be conceived; the number of spirit-shops, and the efforts of these wretched people to make others as profligate as themselves, succeeded but too well; notwithstanding all the endeavours of the chiefs, the "liquid fire" soon made some way among the people, and the hitherto unknown sight was to be seen, of an intoxicated New Zealander.

The chiefs round the Bay deeply felt these evils, and they themselves so often suffered outrages from the lawless Europeans, that the principal ones among them addressed a memorial to King William the Fourth, then on the throne of England, begging him to become "the friend and guardian of these islands, and to restrain any of thy people who shall be troublesome or vicious towards us."

The English government had for some time past had the subject of the colonization of New Zealand brought before them; but, unwilling to encroach on the rights of the native proprietors, they had rejected the idea. At length, finding that the evils of Kororarika still increased with the increase of traffic, and moved by the wishes of the chiefs, though they still refused to colonize the Island, they appointed a consul, who should Watch over the interests of trade, and, as far as possible, suppress the outbreak of crime.

Mr. Busby arrived in May, 1833, and took up his abode at Kororarika. The course he pursued was such as to inspire the well-disposed chiefs with confidence, and to strengthen the hands of the Missionaries; but was not at all calculated to find favour with the unhappy Europeans, who, enraged at the least attempt to check their career of wickedness, stirred up the jealousy of [217/218] many of the natives against the consul and the Missionaries; and more than once proceeded to acts of violence. [It may be as well to observe, that as New Zealand was not at this time under English law, Mr. Busby had no effectual means in his hands of repressing evil.]

The same mischiefs existed, though in a far less degree, at other places on the coast, where flax-gatherers and other traders had established themselves; mid, with but very few exceptions, proved how a savage' race may be sunk deeper still in vice and misery, by intercourse with wicked, though so-called civilized, men.

But a wider-spread evil was beginning to develope itself throughout the whole Island, especially in the southern part.

The influence of Christianity had so far softened the character of even the heathen natives, that the dangers that had driven away the original New Zealand Company! were no longer to be dreaded; and adventurers in England and in New South Wales began again to turn their eyes it New Zealand as a promising field for speculation. Various parties accordingly visited the Island, and prevailed on many of the chiefs to part with immense tracts of land for an almost nominal price. Had the intention of the purchasers been to settle themselves upon this newly acquired property, to introduce agriculture and the arts of civilized life, the New Zealanders would probably have continued to acquiesce in the arrangement, even though a few blankets, or hatchets, or muskets, were all they had received in exchange for thousands of their hereditary acres. But when they saw the lands they had so [218/219] unwittingly parted with, divided and sub-divided, sold over and over again, and passed from one proprietor to another with a large profit on every transfer, their indignation was naturally roused; they felt they had been imposed upon, and demanded that some at least of their property should be restored to them.

While this evil was yet in its infancy, the British government had become aware of the stale of things, and foresaw the disastrous consequences that must ensue unless some remedy could be applied. The Maori chiefs were too independent and too jealous of each other ever to coalesce and form a regular government of their own; and the only course that suggested itself in order to prevent the whole race from being trodden down, and probably annihilated, was to make the Island a British colony, subject to British law.

In furtherance of this plan, Captain Ilobson was sent out as Lieutenant-Governor of New Zealand, and arrived in the Bay of Islands in February, 1840; heartily welcomed by the Missionaries, the few respectable English traders who resided there, and all the more influential and well-disposed among the chiefs. These last gladly entered into a treaty which, while bringing the country under English jurisdiction, would secure to them the privileges of English subjects.

As this event was fraught with the most important consequences to New Zealand, it may be as well to enter into some more detailed account of it, though scarcely coming within actual Missionary history. It was at a meeting of chiefs and others, convened by Captain Hobson in February, 1810, that (his treaty was signed by forty-six of the northern chiefs. By the first article of the treaty they expressly ceded the [219/220] powers and rights of sovereignty to her Majesty over their respective territories; by the second, her Majesty confirmed and guaranteed them in the possession of their lands and estates, forests, fisheries, and other properties, so long as they should wish to retain the same; but they were to yield, at the same time, to her Majesty the exclusive right of pre-emption over such lands as they might be disposed to alienate; and the third article granted to the natives of New Zealand all the rights and privileges of British subjects.

The acceptance of it by the chiefs was as follows:--

"We, the chiefs of the confederation of the United Tribes of New Zealand, claiming authority over the tribes and territories which are specified after our respective names, having been made fully to understand the provisions of the foregoing Treaty, accept and enter into the same, in the full spirit and meaning thereof. In witness whereof, we have attached our signatures, or marks, at the places and dates respectively specified.

Done at Waitangi, this 6th day of February, in the year of our Lord, 1840.

In his despatches the Lieut.-Governor gives the following graphic description of the discussion:

"When I had finished reading the Treaty, I invited the chiefs to ask explanations on any point which they did not comprehend, and to make any other remarks on it which they pleased. Twenty or thirty chiefs addressed the meeting; five or six of whom opposed me with great violence; and at one time so cleverly and with such effect, that I began to apprehend an unfavourable impression would be produced. At this crisis, the Hokianga chiefs, under Neni and Pataweni, [220/221] made their appearance; and nothing could have been more seasonable.

"It was evident, from the nature of the opposition, that some underhand influence had been at work. The chiefs Rerewah and Jakahra, who are followers of the Roman Catholic bishop, were the principal op-posers; and the arguments were such us convinced me that they had been prompted. Rerewah, while addressing me, turned to the chiefs, and said, 'Send that man away. Do not sign the paper; if you do, you will be reduced to the condition of slaves, and be obliged to break stones for the roads: your lands will be taken from you, and your dignity as chiefs will be destroyed.'

"At the first pause Neni came forward and spoke with a degree of natural eloquence that surprised all the Europeans, and evidently turned aside the temporary feeling that had been created. He first addressed himself to his own countrymen; desiring them to reflect on their own condition, to recollect how much the character of the New Zealanders had been exalted by their intercourse with Europeans, and how impossible it was for them to govern themselves without frequent wars and bloodshed: and he concluded his harangue by strenuously advising them to receive us, and to place confidence in our promises. He then turned to me, and said, 'You must be our father. You must not allow us to become slaves; you must preserve our customs, and never permit our lands to be wrested from us.'

"One or two other chiefs, who were favourable, followed in the same strain; and one reproached a noisy fellow, named Kitigi, of the adverse party, with having [221/222] spoken rudely to me. Kitigi, stung by the remark sprang forward and shook me violently by the hand and I received the salute apparently with equal ardour This occasioned among the natives a general expression, of applause, and a loud cheer from the Europeans, in which the natives joined: and thus the business of the meeting closed." [See Missionary Register for 1840, pp. 392-431.]

Captain Hobson then proceeded to the South, where scarcely any opposition was raised, and where above five hundred chiefs readily accepted the treaty, and placed themselves under British protection. A. measure of this kind was, if possible, more needed here than in the North; for already had the New Zealand Company and other settlers established themselves at Wellington and the neighbouring coasts,--and not less than five thousand white men were to be found along the shores of Cook's Straits, and were perpetually coming into angry collision with the natives.

The Governor soon found that his was no easy post; the ill effects of the "underhand influence" to which he alluded in his despatches, soon showed themselves; and every measure ho adopted for the real welfare of the country was opposed and thwarted by most of the Europeans at Kororarika, by the Roman Catholic bishop, and by all the natives under their influence.

To those who have read the particulars of all these difficulties and annoyances, it is no matter of surprise, that, with a delicate constitution and an anxious mind, Captain Hobson's health soon gave way under the perplexing and harassing duties of his situation. He died in 1843, and Captain Fitzroy was sent to occupy the same position.

[223] The English government had from the first adopted various means for the peace and benefit of the country; a few English troops were sent from Sydney; men of experience and integrity were constituted Protectors of the Aborigines; and Commissioners were appointed in different places to examine into, and decide upon, the various claims put forth by English and by natives for the disputed lands. Indeed, could Christian principle, uprightness of purpose, and an anxious desire for the welfare of the people, in Captain Hobson and Captain Fitzroy, as well as in the government at home, have availed to insure success, peace and harmony would soon have been restored to this distracted land.

But there were many causes at work to counteract all their efforts. The rights of property among the natives themselves were so ill defined, and the transactions with the white men so complicated, that the Commissioners found themselves entangled in an almost hopeless labyrinth; while the natives, not understanding English law, and impatient at the slow process of arbitration, grew more and more dissatisfied. A greater impediment arose from the continued machinations of the interested Europeans, who, in pursuit of their own designs, spared no pains to misrepresent the motives of the English government to the natives, and on the other hand to prejudice the minds of those in authority against the chiefs. When we add to these the want of accurate knowledge of the real Maori character, and the very inadequate supply of English troops in the Island, we shall not be surprised to find that discontent [223/224] increased, spread itself among hitherto friendly chiefs and in 1843 assumed a formidable appearance. [Sir George Grey, in the introduction to his lately published work, before mentioned, speaks very strongly of the difficulty of obtaining a thorough insight into the character of the New Zealander.] Two of the principal southern chiefs, To Rauparaha and Rangihaeta, men of fierce and independent minds, and never cordially submitting to foreign sway, took advantage of the death of the Governor, and commenced open hostilities against the English. In the following year, the flame burst out also in the North; and Heki, a powerful chief, residing not far from Waimate, suddenly attacked Kororarika in March, 1845, cut down the flag-staff, fell upon the few English soldiers stationed there, and asserted the independence of himself and his people. [Heki was a baptized chief. The Missionaries hoped well of him, but never felt full confidence in the stability of his principles, though there was not sufficient reason to conclude him to be a hypocrite. Probably he was carried on by circumstances, and the misrepresentations of his pretended friends, far beyond his original intentions.]

The next two years are dark pages in New Zealand's annals. A few of the Christian natives took part with the insurgents, many ranged themselves on the English side; and the sad spectacle was seen of Maori fighting against Maori, under the banner of a Christian nation.

Blood was shed on both sides; and as the flame of discord spread throughout the land, the strife would have scarcely ceased, till one party or the other had been swept away, had not the timely arrival of a larger body of English troops, and the combined firmness and clemency of Sir George Grey, succeeded in putting down the insurrection. Peace was happily restored; and since 1846 order and tranquillity have prevailed. [Sir G. Grey succeeded Captain Fitzroy as Governor in 1845.]

[225] It was a very remarkable proof of the feelings with which the consistent conduct of the Missionaries had inspired the natives, that during all this time, embittered as the insurgents were against the Government and all connected with it, and employed as the Missionaries often were in negotiating between the parties, their word was always trusted, and they were treated with friendliness and confidence even by the most hostile of the natives.

The almost chivalrous conduct of Heki on one occasion deserves to be mentioned.

Walker Neni, the Christian chief on the side of Government, mentioned in Captain Hobson's despatch, was preparing to give battle to Heki, when the Rev. R. Burrows, then residing at the Waimate, proceeded to the spot, with a message to both the leaders from two or three influential neutral chiefs. He had been well received by Heki, had crossed over to the opposite party, and was in conversation with Neni, when some of the young men on both sides began (to use their own expression) to play, i. e. to have a skirmish, which at once led to a general fight. [See 2 Sam. ii. 14.] The plain was quickly covered with fighting men, and several spent balls fell near Mr. Burrows, who escaped to a rising ground, uncertain by what route he could return, as the fighting lay along the path by which he had come. As he was thus debating with himself, the voice of some native, he knew not from which side, rose above the din of arms, calling on those who were stopping up the road to draw off', and allow him to pass in safety.

In an instant the firing ceased; and Mr. Burrows, [225/226] taking advantage of this respite, rode quickly past urged on by various natives on the path, crying out "Make haste, lest you should be wounded." No sooner had he passed in safety than the firing re-commenced.

Sad as was this war, there were circumstances connected with it, that gave additional proof of the general influence of Christianity upon the people. Even the heathen, whether fighting with Europeans or with natives, had learnt to refrain from the atrocities and wanton cruelties heretofore inseparable from the battlefield; [The last instance of cannibalism that we have met with, was at Taupo in 1841; we believe there was one later case, but do not know the particulars.] while among the Christian native combatants, there were often striking instances of generous forbearance. And though we would fain have omitted all allusion to it, we feel bound to mention the difference between the European and the native troops, as to the observance of the Sabbath. The latter stedfastly persevered in keeping it holy, while the former continued their attacks on Sundays as on other days. Indeed the final victory over Heki was obtained by the English troops taking advantage of the defenceless state of his strongly fortified Pa, while the Christians within it were engaged in their Sunday worship.

The war-dance too began to be given up, and was soon looked back upon with shame. A little later than the time of which we are writing, a hideous imitation of it was performed at Auckland, by a party of soldiers, who had learnt" it from some of the lower class of natives. Some chiefs happened to be present, who were greatly distressed; and Te Whero Whero, the noble old chief of ten thousand Waikato warriors, [226/227] indignantly exclaimed, "Such things are finished now, let them be forgotten."

A storm, such as this war had proved, could not fail to shake the tender plants of the infant Maori Church; some, alas! fell beneath the blast, never again to rise; others, if we may so express it, were stripped of leaves and blossoms, but the vital germ was safe, and again they budded and brought forth fruit. While many, like

"The trees whom shaking fastens more,
While blustering winds destroy the wanton bowers," [Herbert's Poems.]

were strengthened in their faith and Christian principle, and became "the joy and crown of rejoicing" of their faithful ministers, who had so long and so prayerfully borne the cross for them.

The storms of war however were not the only peril to which the New Zealand converts were at this time exposed. The sunshine of prosperity was scarcely less dangerous in the districts to which Europeans were resorting in such numbers. The sudden and very large demand for labour, and for many of the necessaries of life, the ready market and high prices to be obtained at Auckland and Wellington and various smaller settlements, tempted many of the more industrious and enterprising of the population to take up their temporary, or even permanent abode where the pecuniary advantages were so great. Nothing however could induce some of the Christian natives to quit their homes and give up the religious privileges they so much valued; and a few even of those who had removed to the towns, feeling their own weakness to resist the new temptations [227/228] by which they were surrounded, returned again to their own villages, preferring comparative poverty with a clear conscience, to the danger of making shipwreck of their faith.

Those Christian natives who were engaged at Auckland would have suffered more from the sad examples of Sabbath-breaking, fraud, drunkenness, and profligacy that abounded on all sides, had they not been greatly sheltered from their influence by the Christian kindness of several friends of the Maori race. Mr. Martin, the Chief Justice, Mr. Swainson, the Attorney-general, and Mr. Clarke, the late Missionary, who had been appointed by Government, Protector of the Aborigines, particularly exerted themselves on their behalf; and encouraging the natives to erect their huts round their own dwellings, preserved them as much as possible from contact with evil. The Bishop of New Zealand, writing on this subject in July, 1843, says, "Here their habits of daily devotion, remain unchanged; morning and evening they are still heard singing their hymns in the temporary huts they have built in the little bays near the town, especially near the friends of the Maoris above-mentioned. Mr. Martin is seldom without a little family of his friends encamped near his house in the little bay in which he lives, a mile and a half from the town." What a cheering picture! and we can add a later one of a very similar character from the pen of one who was not likely to give too favourable a view either of the Missionaries or their converts. Colonel Mundy writes, "Sunday, December 26th, 1847. I was returning with the Governor from a walk to Mount Eden, when, upon turning the angle of the volcano, we came upon some hamlets belonging to [228/229] people employed by Government in quarrying the stone at the foot of the hill. I do not remember ever to have seen a more interesting or impressive scene than met our view as we looked down into the little valley below us. Eighty or a hundred Maoris of various ages and different sexes were standing, sitting, or reclining among the low fern in front of the village in such groups and attitudes as accident had thrown them into. In the midst, on a slightly elevated mound, stood a native teacher, deeply tattooed in face, but dressed in decent black European clothes, who, with his Bible in his hand, was expounding to them the Gospel in their own tongue. Taking off our hats, we approached so as to become part of the congregation. No head turned towards us, no curious eyes were attracted by the arrival of the strangers, (as is so often the case in more civilized congregations,) though the Governor was one of them. Their calm and grave looks were fixed with attention on the preacher, who, on his part, enforced his doctrine with a powerful and persuasive voice and manner, and with gestures replete with energy and animation. The sermon was apparently extempore, but there was no poverty of words or dearth of matter. It was delivered with the utmost fluency, and occasional rapid reference to and quotation from Scripture. The wild locale of this out-door worship (in the lap, as it were, of a mountain torn to pieces by its own convulsions, in the midst of heaped-up lava and scoriae, with fern and flax waving in the gale) invested the scene with a peculiar solemnity, and carried one back some centuries in the history of the world."

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