Chapter XXI. Wiremu and Simeon--The Martyrs of Wanganui--Conclusion
"And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels."--Mal. iii. 17.
It would seem as though the two preceding chapters, gathering up, as they do, the notices of the present state of New Zealand, ought to be the concluding ones of our volume: but the history of this Mission is so rich in details of the deepest interest,--some to be found in the periodicals of the Society, some whose only earthly record is in the memory of those who witnessed them,--that we cannot refrain from enriching our little work with two more short narratives. The one shows the change of feeling with regard to slaves; the other is an instance of the "utu" sought for by a company of Christian natives; and both therefore are characteristic of the effect of Divine grace on the Maori character in some of its strongest features. The first of these was related to us by a private friend.
While Mr. Burrows resided at Kororarika, he sometimes visited the island of Motorua. This small but picturesque island, lying about five miles from the mainland, is one of nature's strongest fastnesses. The iron-bound coast, with its tall sharp rocks, baffling the force of ocean's wildest waves, forbids the approach of [256/257] friend or foe. The only access to the Island is by a deep and narrow inlet, and even here the heavy surf makes it often difficult to land. At such, times, a Missionary's visit to Motorua was a stirring scene. As the little boat, manned by the boys of the settlement, neared the shore, the rowers rested on their oars and suffered the advancing wave to bear them briskly on. Soon the natives on the heights above, catching sight of the little vessel, would hurry down the steep and wooded banks, and, as the boat's crew, watching the favourable moment, dashed in upon the beach, they seized the little bark, and dragged her safe from the power of the receding billow.
The chief of this rocky island had been a friend of Hongi, and resembled him in character and spirit; he had taken a leading part, in 1830, in the affair at Kororarika, and it was to Motorua that some of Mr. Marsden's visits had then been made. How or when he was converted we do not know, but in 1840 we find him a stedfast and consistent Christian, bearing the name of Wiremu. [Or, William.] How changed were now his thoughts and aims, and how different his feelings towards his slaves! Formerly their portion had been ridicule and severity; they were driven to their work as if no better than the beasts that perish; now he knew and felt they had souls immortal like his own, and he strove and laboured for their conversion. To one of them in particular he was much attached. He had already been baptized by the name of Simeon, and some time after Mr. Burrows' arrival in New Zealand, was taken seriously ill. His master, anxious to provide for him European care and European comforts, [257/258] removed him to the mainland; and procuring for him a convenient hut, left him in the charge of Mr. Burrows. Not long, however, could the kind-hearted Wiremu remain, absent from his suffering slave; he left the island, and took up his abode at Kororarika, that he might minister to his necessities and comforts. He nursed him with the tenderest care, prayed with him, read the Word of God to him, and left nothing undone that was likely to alleviate his sufferings. Mr. Burrows visited Simeon daily, and rejoiced to watch the progress his soul was making in the things of God. One morning he found him much worse, but ready to depart, and clinging with a firm faith to Jesus as his all-sufficient Saviour. Scarcely had our Missionary reached his home again, when a messenger brought him word that Simeon was at the point of death. He hastened back, and as he drew near the hut, heard some one reading. he entered unperceived, and found that the spirit of the youth had left its earthly tenement, and that his once savage master was comforting himself and others round him, by reading aloud the fifteenth chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians. How appropriate to the chief himself was the verse, "Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!"
Our other narrative is from the Western District.
MANIHERA AND KEREOPA.
Christmas is always a season of peculiar interest at Wanganui. Occurring in the midst of the magnificent New Zealand summer, it is marked by the assembling [258/259] together of Christian natives from all parts of the immense district under Mr. Taylor's care, that they may unite in commemorating the birth of the Redeemer. The Christmas of 1846 was specially to be remembered. Two thousand persons from various tribes, who, a few years before, would only have met in murderous conflict, were now uniting in the worship of the one living God of their salvation. The church was too small to hold them, Mr. Taylor had the service in an adjoining field, and afterwards had the joy of administering the Lord's Supper to not less than three hundred and eighty-two communicants. It was a time of great solemnity; and on the next day the native teachers held a prayer-meeting among themselves, before they returned to their several spheres of labour. Possibly one subject of their prayers was the conversion of their heathen countrymen; for at the close, four of the number stood forth and offered themselves as Missionaries, specifying Taupo as the region to which they desired first to carry the gospel message. Mr. Taylor rejoiced in this spontaneous movement among the people; he accepted two, Manihera and Kereopa, in whose devotedness and knowledge of the Scriptures he had the fullest confidence; and amidst the deep feeling of all present they were committed to God in prayer.
A few years before, Te Heu-heu of Te Rapa, and other Taupo chiefs, had led on their warriors against the Christian villages near Wanganui; they had been repulsed with loss, some of the leaders had fallen, and since that time they had not ceased to harass the unoffending Christians, seeking "utu" for the chiefs that had been slain. The father of Herekiekie, one of the [259/260] principal chiefs, had been killed by some of Manihera's tribe, and the undertaking of these two young men was therefore one of peculiar danger. Yet in a visit he had lately paid to Taupo, Mr. Taylor had received assurances of goodwill from some of the chief men there, and he trusted that going among them thus on a mission of peace and love, Manihera and Kereopa would at least be safe from harm.
On the 6th of February, 1847, these two young evangelists set out; they went first to the friendly village of Motutere, where the Christian natives urged them to proceed first to Iwikau, the brother of Te Heu-heu, as he was a man of milder character than the rest. "No," answered Manihera, "we must first visit the Pa of Herekiekie, for we are come to preach to the wicked;" and then, as if anticipating his fate, he calmly added, that he felt the time of his own departure was at hand. The Motutere Christians were affected, and ten of them resolved to accompany their two devoted friends.
But their courageous sympathy was in vain. Herekiekie himself was absent; but his widowed mother, a woman of a fierce, vindictive spirit, heard of the approaching visit, and determined not to lose the opportunity of obtaining "utu" for the husband she had lost seven years before.
As the faithful band pursued their journey from Motutere to the Pa of Herekiekie, their way led through a wood. Manihera and Kereopa, with one of their friends named Wiremu, were a little in advance of the rest, when they were suddenly fired upon by a party concealed in the bush. All three were wounded, [260/261] Wiremu only slightly, but Kereopa fell instantly, and Manihera had only time to give his Testament to his friend, and murmuring out that it was indeed great riches, he laid his head upon the ground and died. Both lost their lives as Christian soldiers, with their harness on, and prepared for the battle. Of Manihera in particular Mr. Taylor says, "Love to God and man beamed in his very countenance, and was manifested in all his actions."
Deep sorrow rested on the Christian natives of Wanganui. Again they met and prayed, and expressed their feelings on the sad event. One said, "Although a teacher is taken away, the gospel will not be hindered. A minister or a teacher is like a tall kabi-katea tree full of fruit; it sheds it on every side, and a grove of young trees springs up; so that if the parent tree is cut down, its place is soon more than supplied by those that it has given birth to." Another rose: "Do not think," said he, "about the bodies of our friends; it is true they are left among our enemies, but their spirits are alive with God. I know what we should have done in former days; but we should thus have only multiplied our dead, and increased our sorrow." "While a third, the flame of love kindling as he spoke, exclaimed, "We must not be discouraged; we must send two more to preach the gospel; if they are killed we will send two more; and if they perish, we will still supply their places; and then perhaps our enemies will give in and be converted." [In 1849, two other young men from Wanganui set out on the same mission as that of Manihera and Kereopa. One of them, Piripi, a relation of Manihera, was strongly dissuaded from it by his friends. "What!" was the young Missionary's noble reply, "if a canoe be upset at sea, does this hinder all other canoes from going out for fishing? I shall go to Taupo, for the object is good."]
 What a noble "utu" for the blood of Manihera and Kereopa!
Mr. Taylor felt this to be a critical moment; the spirit of vengeance was not satiated among the heathen round the Taupo; and the Christians there, less subdued than those of Wanganui, were filled with indignation against the murderers, and were ready to fly to arms in abhorrence of the deed. He resolved to go himself to Taupo; he did so, and not without considerable personal risk, he at last succeeded in averting the gathering storm.
On their return, the Wanganui party visited the spot where their martyred friends were buried. Standing round the grave, they united in a hymn, and Mr. Taylor addressed them on Rev. xiv. 13, "Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord from henceforth. Tea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours, and their works do follow them." Many a tear was shed as they knelt around, and many a fervent prayer poured forth, that the same hope that had sustained their martyred brethren might be their own support in death; and that the shedding of their blood might be overruled to the conversion of the murderers, and the dispelling of the deep spiritual gloom that hung over Taupo. [We trust that these prayers are already beginning to be answered, for in January, 1852, Mr. Taylor mentioned that Te Huiatohi, the very chief that murdered Manihera, had come forward to ask for a Missionary; and that he and some other chiefs had even selected a spot for his residence. Mr. Taylor adds, "Surely this is some of the fruit of the blood of Manihera which has brought down a blessing."
 We have now completed our task; and feel that it has been a privilege to be called upon to look closely into the history of the New Zealand Mission. Most wonderful is this history! whether we reflect on the preservation of the earlier Missionaries in the midst of a barbarous and blood-thirsty people, so that not a hair of their heads should perish; or on the faith and courage and enduring love that enabled them to hold on for so many years, through privations and perils of which we scarcely know a parallel; or on the marvellous change in the islanders themselves. All, all was of God; and we know not where, in these latter days, we can look for a more wonderful manifestation of His providence and His grace.
God threw His protecting shield around His faithful servants; His arm upheld them in their rugged course; and it was by His Holy Spirit's power that the simple faithful preaching of the Cross of Christ in this Island of the South, was made effectual to bring the people from thickest darkness into marvellous light, and to transform many a savage cannibal into a meek and humble follower of the Lamb.
To Him be all the glory; and to us be the joy to think, that among the many diadems on the head of Him for whose return the whole creation groaneth, one CROWN will be resplendent with the dark Maori gems of the SOUTHERN hemisphere.