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J. Dunmore Lang, M.D., to Right Hon. Lord Durham, 1839

J. Dunmore Lang, M.D., to Right Hon. Lord Durham, 1839.

The Mission was originally established, and for a long time systematically conducted, on the principle of first civilizing, and then Christianizing the natives. Reversing the Apostolic plan, the missionary page 346 carpenter, the missionary boat-builder, the missionary ploughman, the missionary rope-spinners, were all set to work at their various occupations, and the natives were expected forthwith to imitate their example; in fact, the Mission settlement in New Zealand was for a long time a complete lumber yard, or factory, in which all sorts of labour were going on; but the proper labour of the missionary—the very clergyman, for there was only one on the island—being in no respect different from a common agricultural labourer, except that he mounted a pulpit and read prayers in a surplice every Sunday.

That clergyman, the Rev. Mr. Butler, told me himself in the year 1824—the year he left the New Zealand Mission and returned to England—that during the previous season he had ploughed and sown eleven acres of land for wheat at the Mission settlement on the Kidi Kidi River, with his own hands, having previously, with the assistance of his son Samuel, who was afterwards drowned in New Zealand, grubbed up the whole of the ground, which had been originally overgrown with tall fern.

Fortunately, indeed, a laborious occupation of this kind was more congenial to the taste and habits of Mr. B. than labour of a more intellectual or missionary character, for, previous to his ordination to foreign parts, and his appointment to the office of Superintendent of the Church of England Mission in New Zealand, and Justice of the Peace in that island, under the government of New South Wales, he had merely been the out-of-door clerk, or foreman, of a large London establishment, for forwarding goods by common carriers and canal boats.

For some time the missionary settlement with its workshops, its bell to ring the people in and out, etc., was an exact copy of the lumber yard in Sydney, and some of the natives were quick-sighted enough to see the difference, and to act accordingly. For when the stout missionary ploughman, who was the only ordained missionary on the island, at the time I allude to, arrayed himself in his canonicals and read prayers on Sunday, the natives shrewdly observed that he was the only rangitira or gentleman among them, and that the rest were only “cookeys,” or slaves.