The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Taranaki, Hawke's Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts]
The Maoris, Captain Cook, and The Missionaries
The Maoris, Captain Cook, and The Missionaries.
These tribes had spread over to the east coast of the island from the original homes selected by their ancestors, who had reached New Zealand hundreds of years before from Hawaiiki; and it was with their members that Cook first came in contact, when the “Endeavour” visited the East Coast of the North Island in the year 1769.
The great navigator first came in sight of New Zealand in the neighbourhood of Poverty Bay, and his landing place, near Gisborne, is one of the few spots in the colony to which a great historical interest attaches. Cook, accompanied by Dr. Solander and Mr. Banks, landed in Poverty Bay on the 8th of October, 1769. He had some difficulty with the natives, whose curiosity and thievish propensities were hard to restrain. This led to two or three natives being shot, and the “Endeavour” sailing away in the hope of finding a better anchorage. The roadstead was called by the natives “Te-one-roa,” but the navigator named it Poverty Bay, because of the difficulty of obtaining food from the Maoris. The southern point of the bay, Young Nick's Head, was so called by Cook after one of his apprentices, who was the first to sight the land.
Further down the coast Cook named Cable Cape, north of Mahia Peninsula, and an island, called Te Houra by the Maoris, he renamed Portland Island, after the island in the British Channel, which it seemed to resemble. Some attempts at trading with the natives were made, but with small success, owing to their dishonest practices. Cook sailed across the inlet now known as Hawke's Bay—so called by him in honour of Admiral Hawke; and at the headland which marks its southern limit he had further trouble with the Maoris. They attempted to carry off the son of his Tahitian interpreter, Tupaea; and after this lad's rescue Cook named the point Cape Kidnappers. Further south, he saw a barren islet, which he called Bare Island; and the “Endeavour” reached the end of her coastal cruise southward at Cape Turnagain.
After Captain Cook's visit there was a long interval, during which New Zealand was almost forgotten. The only people who represented any connection with the rest of the world were the sealers and whalers who frequented its coasts. From the end of the eighteenth century onward, the New Zealand waters were a favourite hunting-ground for American and Australian whalers, who were really instrumental in establishing the first white “settlement” that ever existed in this colony. The crews of the whalers often took long holidays on shore, and at the “trying out” stations, during the off season, they consorted freely with the Maoris. Many of them married native women, became pakehas, adopted the Maori habits, and completely surrendered their civilised manners and attire.
But even in this anomalous position they did something, by precept and example, to prepare the way for the higher civilisation, which was to follow. Most of the whalers, however, though physically brave and energetic, as their vocation demanded, were dissolute, and given to violent excesses; and from this point of view they did very little to win the respect of the natives, or reconcile them to the coming of the white race. So far as Hawke's Bay was concerned, there was a whaling station there at an early date, as in 1837 we hear of a page 281 boat's crew, who deserted to join the whalers. There was apparently another station at Poverty Bay in 1836, but the greater part of the whaling industry was centered off the coast of the South Island, while the Bay of Islands was the natural home of the whalers in the north.
The establishment of the Church Missionary stations on the shores of the Bay of Islands early in the nineteenth century, inaugurated a new era in the history of the colony. The devoted enthusiasm of Marsden and his followers gradually extended the influence of Christianity through most of the tribal districts in the North Island; and although the new faith was not always firmly enough founded to stand any serious strain, there can be no doubt of the immense influence for good wielded by the missionaries in humanising and civilising the natives. The centre of missionary activity was, however, a long way from Hawke's Bay, and it was not until 1843 that the Church of England attempted to found a missionary station in the district. The east coast of the North Island was little known, but some attention had been called to it in recent years by the adventures of John Rutherford, a sailor, who was captured by the Maoris at Tokomaru Bay, near East Cape, and held captive by them for ten years. An account of his experiences was published in the year 1830, and probably did something to direct the energies of the Church Missionary Society to this new field for enterprise. By 1840, the Rev. William Williams, who was stationed at Waimate, in the Bay of Islands district, had travelled through the country, south and east, past Rotorua and Tauranga, toward the East Cape. So far back as 1834 he had visited these districts, and in 1838 the Rev. Henry Williams, his brother, had followed in his steps. Arrangements were then made to send a native teacher to the East Coast, and in 1838 four teachers were stationed at Tauranga (Poverty Bay) and three at Waiapu. The Rev. W. Williams paid another visit to the district in 1839, and early in 1840, he removed with his family from Waimate, and established himself permanently on the shores of Poverty Bay.
In the same year the New Zealand Church Society was founded, for the purpose of establishing a branch of the Anglican Church in these islands. The tentative formation of the New Zealand Company in 1825, and the attempts made by its various successors to take up land in New Zealand and to colonise it, had roused much interest in England; and though no formal and systematic effort at colonisation had yet been made, the Church Society felt that the time had come to extend the benefits of the Church's ministrations to these distant lands. The Society applied to the Imperial Government to constitute New Zealand a separate see, and in the year 1841, the Rev. George Augustus Selwyn was appointed the first Bishop of New Zealand. He arrived in Auckland in May, 1842, and at once set energetically about the work of organising his diocese. By that time there were three mission stations on the East Coast; one at Waiapu, in charge of Mr. J. Stack, one at Uawa, under Mr. C. Baker, and the Rev. W. Williams was labouring at Turanga (Poverty Bay). The Bishop shortly afterwards appointed the Rev. W. Williams to be Archdeacon of Waiapu, while the Rev. Henry Williams was appointed Archdeacon of Waimate. From this time onward the East Coast tribes had the benefit of the ennobling and civilising influences which Christianity has always brought in its train, even among savages, the most ferocious, or the most degraded. The Maoris were soon fully alive to the advantages conferred by the new faith, and the labours of the missionaries among them paved the way for the influx of the colonists, who could never have ventured to these shores had it not been for the self-denying labours of the teachers and preachers sent out in the early years in the nineteenth century by the Church Missionary Society, and the Missionary Committee of the Methodist Church.