Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 2 (May 1, 1937)

On Holy Ground

On Holy Ground.

Redolent with fragrant memories of these men is this northern land, and we feel that we must tread softly, as on hallowed ground, the paths which their weary feet pressed so long ago, and where they so often “trod the winepress” of sorrow and bitter disappointment. It is a thrilling experience to walk with Marsden—through the medium of his “Letters and Journals,” with its quaint spelling of the Maori names—over this soil which is ever blessed to his memory. The very names themselves have a magic sound: Korroaddica (Kororareka), Wytangee (Waitangi), Kidi Kidi (Kerikeri), Shokee Hanga (Hokianga), and Cowa Cowa (Kawakawa). The last named place is mentioned in his Journal at least twenty times, and earns further distinction from the fact that it supplied the timber—kahikatea—for the building of the first mission station. He appears to have been much impressed with its splendid forests—how sorrowfully now would he regard the
(Rly. Publicity Photo.) Picturesque Russell, Bay of Island, North Auckland, New Zealand.

(Rly. Publicity Photo.)
Picturesque Russell, Bay of Island, North Auckland, New Zealand.

denuded hills!—and frequently refers to “that noble pine, the Kowree”— (quaintest spelling of all). Every sod and stone in this district seems to bear an impress of the great missioner; here is the place where he slept at night, after his long tramp from Thames, wrapped only in his great-coat, between rows of savage cannibals, “nor felt the slightest sign of fear”; here is the very spot where he was handed the first grains of wheat grown in the district by the proud Maori husbandman; here is the great Maori pa from which he viewed in prayerful wonder the promised land, and as we walk over the memorable scenes, the wraiths of the past rise up, and we seem to hear the warning injunction, “Take thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” A very fine memorial to Marsden's ministry in the north is the lych-gate to the old church at Waimate. It is a beautiful structure, of hewn stone, but to us, singularly inappropriate. “Lych,” or “Lich,” is the old Saxon word for corpse, and the covered gate was where the bier was laid while the pall-bearers rested before conveying it to the grave. Surely any memorial to him should page 72 page 73 symbolize, not death, but life, for truly it could not be said more appropriately of any man that “though he were dead, yet shall he live.” Not a lych-gate, but a light would more fittingly commemorate him who sacrificed all the joys and comforts of home in an endeavour to kindle a light in a dark land.