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Settlers and Pioneers


The missionaries were New Zealand's first English settlers and farmers. They had made oases of civilisation and productiveness in the northern part of the country long before British control of these islands was established. A full quarter of a century of mission effort had elapsed, with its gradual but sure influence for the better on the native population, when the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, largely through the appeals of the Church Missionary Society and the Wesleyans. There were church farms at Waimate and other favoured parts of the North, and many Maoris had been instructed in agriculture, especially in wheat-growing. The missionaries introduced sheep and cattle from New South Wales. Fruit trees were planted, and English flowers gave beauty to the isolated stations. The first wool clip from this primitive land was sent from the Bay of Islands sixteen years before Waitangi.

The first sheep brought to the Bay of Islands were landed in 1814 by the great Samuel page 28Marsden. They were from Sydney and the first wool clip was exported to Sydney. Mr W. S. King of Waimate recorded that when a small boy (he was born at the mission station at Te Puna in 1819) he saw his father shear sheep. The year was 1824. His father was the Rev. John King, one of Marsden's missionaries, who arrived in 1814. The missionary sent eleven bags of wool to Sydney, where the clip fetched 2s 6d per lb.

The English buildings at Waimate, Kerikeri, and Paihia, the churches and schools, the fields of English grass, the large cultivations of wheat and potatoes, besides the Maori kumara and taro, impressed early travellers with the beneficial results of the pioneers' very practical mission. It was necessary, first of all, to grow food for the children under missionary instruction, and it was desirable to increase the food staples of the tribes around the stations. The Hauraki shores, Waikato, Hokianga, Tauranga, the Thames Valley, and Rotorua were in turn the scenes of English farming on a small scale, more or less successful, before the first British immigrants reached the newly-proclaimed colony.

After the first English apostles introduced by Samuel Marsden came traders and adventurers of all degrees. Most of them could have been classed as undesirables. There were legitimate trading agents brought over by Sydney vessels to buy flax in exchange for muskets and ammunition, and there page 29were the whalers and sealers. Some of the whalers became identified with the Maori people, and their descendants are numerous in the land to-day. There were men who became timber buyers and loaded vessels with kauri, there were ship-builders who filled a useful place in the beginning of New Zealand industry and commerce.

There were two grades of pakeha-Maori, the white men who took naturally to the blanket and the kainga life, and the better-class squatter or trader who, » although marrying into the tribe, did not abandon his civilised pakeha habits but instead tried to educate his hoa wahine in the elements of European culture.

The runaway sailors, whalers, and miscellaneous adventurers were usually of a much lower intellectual and social grade than the women they acquired as wives. When the missionary came to marry some of these couples, it was found that while the rough pakeha was in many cases unable to read or write, the rangatira woman could write her name in an easy flowing script, proof that she had been taught at a mission school.

There was a quite numerous pakeha-Maori population along the northern coast in 1840, but it was not until Auckland town had been well established that the British settlement of the northern shores by farmers was begun. The Whangarei district was one of the first places of pakeha life that was not wholly devoted to the kauri-timber felling and shipping page 30industry. As the fertile qualities of the soil and the genial climate became known, many bays became sources of supply for the Auckland market, and the shores of Hauraki and the island of Waiheke frequently sent canoe-loads of potatoes, kumara, and fruit.