Historical Records of New Zealand
Rev. S. Marsden to——
Rev. S. Marsden to——.
I take the liberty to drop you a few lines before I return to N. S. Wales, in case a vessel should sail for England. After page 704 I have submitted my proceedings here to the corresponding committee they will be forwarded to London. I have been most anxious to establish a station in the interior, for many important reasons. As about 50,000 lb. of flour is required for the support of the mission annually, and as the climate of N. S. Wales is not very favourable to the growth of wheat. I consider it of great moment that the missionaries should not depend upon that colony for their supplies of flour, but to use every means in their power to provide for themselves. Whenever they can supply themselves with bread the Society will be greatly relieved of part of the expenses of the mission, besides, the great advantages the natives will derive from agriculture. Their cattle are increasing very fast, and supply them with milk and butter, and occasionally with very fine beef. They have slaughtered three since my arrival, and are going to salt down several for their winter supply. This will tend to reduce the expences. In the interim the missionary will be in the centre of his work, and removed from the annoyances of the shipping. This will save them much labour, which they now have to undergo in travelling to visit the natives. They may go with safety, as the most perfect confidence and friendship exist between them and the chiefs. The land selected is very good, and the inhabitants numerous, on account of the goodness of the soil. They will very willingly part with a portion of their land, as they are so anxious to get the missionaries to live with them. Messrs. Clarke and Hamlin are nominated to form the interior station; two most excellent men, active and laborious. Mr. Hamlin has an extraordinary talent for learning the language, much superior to any other, I am informed. These young men are amiable in their dispositions, industrious in their habits, and firm in their conduct with the natives, and wholly devoted to the work of the mission. I have great hopes that they will succeed well. When once the missionaries have got an interior station, and grow what grain they want for their own consumption, I shall consider the mission permanently established; but not until then. At and near the stations the natives have made very great improvement, and some of them are deeply impressed with the importance of true religion. I could produce some very strong facts in confirmation of this statement. On my return to N. S. Wales I may then perhaps make a few selections from my diary for the information of the Society, which will be gratifying to the Committee. The Spirit of God is evidently at work more or less at every station. Every encouragement is nolo [now] held out to the missionaries to labour. They see they are advancing daily, and that a spirit of grace and supplication is poured out from above upon the heathens around them. One page 705 thing I have long wished to see in New Zealand, and that is a mill to grind their maize. About three days ago I saw a chief’s wife sitting upon the bank of the river scraping a cob of maize with a shell, and reducing it into meal as well as she could; she could only just take the tops of each grain off, and was a long time before she got a little meal, which she mixed with water, wrapped it up in a small basket, and put it into her oven to cook with steam. They grow a good deal of maize; but the old people and the young children cannot eat it unpulverized. They soak it in water for several days to soften it, but before it becomes soft it is offensive. A miller who could make and work a mill would be of very infinite service to the mission and to the natives. I have no doubt but the natives would pay in maize for grinding. Mrs. Baker informs me she has two brothers who are millers, and that one can both make and work a mill. I merely mention the circumstance. A mill must be had in time, or much of the grain grown will not turn to so good account. All the missionaries are well. No doubt but you will hear from them.
I remain, &c.,