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Octavius Hadfield

Letter written by Octavius Hadfield to brother Charles April 28, 1840

page 164

To brother Charles

I gave some account in my letter to my mother of my trip to Taranaki, a walk of about 350 miles, for 4 weeks, during which I went over land and among natives that had not seen a missionary before. I had an opportunity of preaching the glorious Gospel of my Master. I am disposed to take a different view of the natives from that generally taken by the missionaries here. I think them a most pleasing, interesting, intelligent set of people. I have some who had not looked into a book when I began school in December (especially a leading chief), who can now read and write well.

I am beginning to speak a little in native in preaching but having to learn the language without grammar, dictionary, etc., it is difficult. The natives however understand so I trust I shall shortly improve. I have many interesting enquiries concerning Jesus, but hitherto (the fault is perhaps with me) rather ignorant. One is certainly under the influence of the Spirit and I shall shortly baptise him. They are for the most part young men from the age of about 18 to 30 who are disposed to give up sin of every kind and serve Jesus. My sphere of labour from the vicinity of shipping is bad, but the Lord has brought me and I trust through prayer will bless me. I have no certain dwelling place, but two small houses at about ten miles apart.

My congregation at one place about 400, and the other 150, but numbers of others in villages all about me. It is surprising to see the attention with which they attend to the preached Gospel and their reverence for the Word of God—the Bible says so and that is enough. Port Nicholson, the new settlement, is within 30 miles of me so that I am no longer out of the world.