Chapter XX. Statistics continued--Present state of the Island
"I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together."--Isaiah xli. 19.
We have in a preceding chapter spoken of the remarkably rapid increase of converts in this populous district. The work has not declined, and the once immense "parish" has now been subdivided, and Archdeacon W. Williams has several coadjutors in his blessed labours. The Missionaries now are as follows:
Stations. Missionaries and European Catechists.
East Cape, Rev. C. Baker, Rev. Rota Waiton.
Turanga, Ven. Archdeacon W. Williams, Rev. W. L. Williams.
Wairoa, Rev. J. Hamlin.
Heretaunga, Rev. S. Williams, Mr. C. S. Volkner.
By the last accounts, the number of communicants was 2735, and there were 109 native teachers.
There is one event connected with the Eastern District that we cannot pass over without some additional notice; we mean the ordination of the first native teacher. Rota (Lot) Waitoa had been for eleven years [247/248] at St. John's College, Auckland; and on Trinity Sunday, 1853, was admitted to deacon's orders. He is spoken of by Archdeacon Brown as "a very humble, devoted Christian, one who loves his Saviour, is fully acquainted with all the leading doctrines of the gospel, and deeply feels the reality and blessedness of those truths that he is going forth to proclaim to his countrymen." "Follow him," continues the Archdeacon, "with your prayers, that he may be kept humble and faithful. The ordination service was most solemn and affecting; it seemed the realization of many an anxious hope, and many a fervent prayer, which your Missionaries had offered in days when all around was darkness, but when by the eye of faith they could see in words of light, beyond the lowering cloud, ' He must reign--every knee shall bow.' "Heartily do we unite in the Archdeacon's closing aspiration, "May this first-fruits be followed by an abundant harvest!"
Nor will we omit one other history connected with the Eastern District; particularly as it gives an insight into the native mind which is very interesting. One of the Missionaries had under his charge the large tract of country that stretches across from Heretaunga to Cook's Straits; he placed native teachers in many of the villages, but, as may be supposed, his own visits to each could be but very seldom. When at Mataikona, in 1845, he met with four young men who had been sent by their father, the chief of a village at some distance, to request a visit. The Missionary complied with this request; and after some time, we find that the chief and his sons had become Christians, that the father was baptized by the name of Karepa, (Caleb,) and was engaged in teaching some of his countrymen.
 In 1850, the Missionary, in one of his long tours, again approached the little lonely village of Te Hawera. As he emerged from the dark wood through which his road had lain, he found that things were sadly changed since he had last been there. The chief Karepa was dead, and the joyous welcome that had heretofore greeted him was changed into mournful wailings. The Missionary sat down on the very spot where he and Karepa had last parted; now, on one side was his grave, on the other the little chapel he had built, and in which he had been baptized. Presently the villagers came forward; all were weeping, and each one as he shook the Missionary's hand, and pressed his forehead, quietly said, "Accept the dying love of Karepa." After this his son related some particulars of his father's illness. He told of his gradual decay, of his cheerful resignation; and that when he found he was not likely to recover, he had called his family around him, and with much energy had spoken a long time to them. "You well know," said he, "that I have from time to time brought you much riches. I used to bring you muskets, hatchets, and blankets; but I afterwards heard of the new riches, called Faith. I sought it; I went to Manawatu, a long and dangerous journey, for we were surrounded by enemies. I saw some natives who had heard of it, but they could not satisfy me. I sought further, but in vain. I then heard of a white man, called Hadfield, at Kapiti, and that with him was the spring where I could fill my empty and dry calabash. I travelled to his place; but lie was gone, gone away ill. I returned to you, my children, dark-minded. Many days passed by. The snows fell, they incited, they disappeared; the tree-buds expanded, and [249/250] the paths of our forests were again passable to the foot of the Maori. We heard of another white man, who was going about over mountains and through forest a and swamps, giving drink from his calabash to the poor secluded natives, to the remnants of the tribes of the mighty, of the renowned of former days, now dwelling by twos and throes among the roots of the trees of the ancient forests, and among the high reeds by the brooks in the valleys. Yes, my grandchildren, your ancestors once spread over the country, as the koitareke (quail) and the kiwi (apteryx) once did; but now their descendants are as the descendants of those birds, scarce, gone, dead. Yes, we heard of that white man; we heard of his going over the snowy mountains to Patea, up the east coast, all over the rocks to Turakirae. I sent four of my children to Mataikona to meet him. They saw his face; yes, you talked with him. You brought me a drop of water from his calabash. You told me he said he would come to this far-off spot to sec me. I rejoiced. I disbelieved his coming; but I said, he may. I built the chapel; we waited expecting. You slept at nights; I did not He came, he same forth from the long forest; he stood upon Te Hawera ground. I saw him; I shook hands with him; we rubbed noses together. Yes, I saw a Missionary's face; I sat in his cloth-house (tent); I tasted his new food; I heard him talk Maori. My heart bounded within me; I listened, I ate his words. You slept at nights; I did not. Yes, I listened; and he told me about God, and His Son Jesus Christ, and of peace and reconciliation, and of a Father's home beyond the stars. And now I, too, drank from his calabash, and was refreshed. He gave me a book too, as well as [250/251] words. I laid hold of the new riches for me and you; and we have it now. My children, I am old, my hair is white, the yellow leaf is falling from the tawai tree. [One of the few deciduous trees of New Zealand.] I am departing; the sun is sinking behind the great western hills; it will soon be night. But hear me; do you hold fast the new riches--the great riches--the true riches. We have had plenty of sin and pain and death; and we have been troubled by many, by our neighbours and relatives; but we have the true riches--hold fast the true riches which Karepa sought for you." Here, as the son went on to say, the old man became faint and ceased talking; his family wept like little children round the bed of their father: they were few in number and far from human aid or sympathy. The next day the old chief said: "My children, I have been dreaming. Last night I saw my minister; he was here smiling upon me, and praying for me. It is well. It is good. Now I know I shall go to the world of spirits. It is well. Hold fast the true riches when I am gone. God be merciful to me a sinner!" He suffered much pain and almost without cessation. "He prayed much and often," continued the son, "under the trees on the edge of the wood, going in his pain from place to place. His prayers in his pain were those he had got by heart--the Collects for Ash Wednesday, the second Sunday in Advent, the second and fourth Sundays in Lent, the first in the Communion Service, and the Lord's Prayer. He also knew the daily Collects of the Morning and Evening Prayer, the Confession, and Chrysostom's, and St. Paul's Benedictory Prayer: these, with the third chapter of St. Matthew's [251/252] Gospel, he always used when obliged to stay away from his chapel, or to act as minister. But 'God be merciful to me a sinner!' was constantly on his lips. One Sunday, while we were at school in our little chapel, Leah came running to tell us he was gone. We went to the edge of the wood, where the body was; the soul had fled away to Jesus' city to dwell with Him."
Can we wonder that the Missionary, as he tells us, wept much during this affecting history?
This extensive and populous district has only four ordained Missionaries, for no more can be spared.
Wanganui, Rev. R. Taylor.
Taupo, Rev. T. S. Grace.
Kapiti, Ven. Archdeacon Hadfield.
Otaki, Rev. A. Stock.
There are, however, 193 Native Teachers; 3587 children and adults in the schools; and 1756 Communicants. How has "a little one become a thousand" since we left Mr. Hadfield at Kapiti in 1840! Wanganui was established rather later; we shall have occasion to speak again of it in the next chapter. [In addition to the Missionaries connected with the Church Missionary Society, Archdeacon Abraham and ten other clergymen are labouring in the Island.]
It will now be asked, "What is the present general state of the church of Christ in New Zealand?" "We would answer, it is beset with difficulties and dangers, but it is full of hope. To quote the words of the last Report of the Church Missionary Society, "The [252/253] transition from a field of Missionary labour to a settled Christian community is always beset with perils. In this ease the difficulties are augmented by the rapid colonization of the Island and the mingling together of the races. The Bishop and the Missionaries unite in the opinion that in future the same Missionary must be a pastor to both races. It will be easily perceived how much the native Christian community must lose of the simplicity of its religious character by being thus brought within the influence of European habits, tastes, and pursuits, as they exist in the generality of the settlers. The strict ecclesiastical discipline, the authority of a spiritual father, the habits of a godly community, will be in danger of gradually passing into the lax customs of a nominal Christianity."
The dangers of Popery are added to those of worldliness. The efforts made by this false religion are unceasing; and though in those districts that have long had the blessing of Scriptural teaching they have failed of producing much lasting effect, yet in the newer districts they have been but too successful among the half-awakened and the remaining heathen, and cause our Missionaries much anxiety.
There are however many grounds of encouragement, and the testimony of Sir G. Grey is very interesting and satisfactory. Sir George very kindly attended a Meeting of the Committee of the Society in May last (1854), when he stated "that he had visited nearly every one of its stations, and could speak with confidence of the great and good work accomplished by it--that he believed that out of the whole native population, estimated by himself at about 100,000, there were not more than [253/254] 1000 that did not make a profession of Christianity; that though he had heard doubts expressed as to the Christian character of some individuals, yet no one doubted the effect of Christianity upon the mass of the people; that some of the native teachers were, and many by means of the schools might be, qualified for acting as native pastors, if admitted to holy orders, and might be trusted in such a position to carry on the good work among their own countrymen, and even to go out as Missionaries to other islands in the Pacific: that if the work should be consolidated and perfected, as he hoped it would be, the conversion of New Zealand would become one of the most encouraging facts in the modern history of Christianity, and a pattern of the way in which it might be established in all other heathen countries." [It is computed that 50,000 of these native Christians are in connexion with the Church Missionary Society.]
With this testimony from one so competent to judge, and so unbiassed by any previous prejudices, what encouragement has the Church Missionary Society, not only to continue its work in New Zealand till a native ministry be raised up, fitted and competent to take its place among their own people, but, still grasping the sword of the Spirit, to go forth and conquer in other lands! What except the want of Missionaries and of funds can hinder it from carrying the banner of the Cross to the degraded islands of the Indian Archipelago, to the deluded nations of Central Asia, or the unknown regions of Africa? When will the Church of Christ rise to her duties and her privileges? When will she pour her offerings of gold and silver into the Lord's treasury, [254/255] till she shall need to be "restrained from bringing;" because there shall be "sufficient for the work, and too much?" [See Exodus xxxvi, 5-7.] And when will she be ready to give her far more precious gifts of sons and daughters for His name's sake who has given Himself for her?
"Ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence, and give Him no rest," till His way shall be "known upon earth, His saving health among all nations."