Letter from Samuel Marsden to Josiah Pratt, March 21st, 1821
March 21st, 1821.
Reverend and Dear Sir,
A whaler has just arrived from the Bay of Islands. The master informs me that there were seventeen whalers on the coast. As they all barter with muskets and powder, they will buy up all the animal food from the natives, and greatly distress the settlement for provisions for a time. It may seem strange that I have never been able from the first to convince the missionary settlers of the value of cattle. A moment's reflexion ought to be sufficient to convince the most ignorant of the vast importance of cattle in a new country, for labour, milk, butter, animal food, etc. Had the missionaries only attended to the cattle that have been imported, they would not now be in want of animal food…. . At one time I sent over six heifers—very fine ones. They informed me that they wanted a bull (Did he think they would give milk, butter and animal food without?) I sent them over two very fine English bulls. They neglected to put these to the heifers, so that they never bred (How did they keep them apart? there were no fences in those days!) When I returned in the Dromedary, I took more cattle over with me. On my arrival, I found the Revd. Mr. Butler had shot three of my heifers and two bulls, and also one cow in calf. When I asked him his reason for doing so, he said he wanted to get them into the settlement, and finding he could not, he shot five of them, and Shunghee shot one. I was much hurt at this circumstance, as it was defeating my intention towards New Zealand. Mr. Butler had no right to kill my cattle; it was a wanton, thoughtless act. The cattle would not have been worth much less than £100 in New South Wales. Their beef was very fat. (Naturally! they were beef cattle—not milkers!) Had they acted properly from the first, they would have had plenty of milk and butter and a considerable quantity of beef by this time, (These were cattle, without the fecundity of rabbits!) and would not have been so dependent upon the natives. (Note—There were some fifty settlers in the settlement by this time; it reads like the parable of the loaves and fishes!) If the Society could meet with a pious farmer, or a few families were settled upon the Society's land, this would be an excellent thing. I think there is little doubt they might soon maintain themselves if they were industrious……The whalers are like to ruin the whole country by importing such quantities of firearms and gunpowder. How this evil can be remedied, I know not—it is a great one.
Rev. J. Pratt,etc., etc.