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Historical Records of New Zealand

Rev. S. Marsden to the Rev. D. Coates

Rev. S. Marsden to the Rev. D. Coates.

March 27th, 1837.

Dear Sir,—

* * * *

I resolved to visit New Zealand as soon as I could…but I could not hire any clergyman to do my duty, as there were page 721 none in the colony who could leave their parish. At length the Revd. Mr. Bobart arrived, on his way to England, in a very weak and feeble state of health. He came and resided at the parsonage with me, and began gradually to recover strength. I told him I wished to go to New Zealand, if he thought he could do my duty until my return, or at least be an assistant to the Revd. Mr. Forrest during my absence. Mr. Forrest would take the laborious duty. To this proposition Mr. Bobart agreed. I applied to the Bishop for leave of absence, which I obtained. I agreed to allow Mr. Bobart £100 per annum and to live in my family until my return. I left him very weak, but Mr. Forrest will relieve him all he can. On the 7th of February I embarked on board the Pyramus, a very fine ship, which was going to the west side of N. Zealand for spars. As I was very weak and feeble I took with me one of my daughters to assist me. I purposed to cross by land from the west side of the island to the cast.

On the 23rd we crossed the bar of Okanga River. The sea broke awfully upon the bar. The captain was much alarmed, as we had no pilot, and were in great danger of being overwhelmed by the heavy violent waves constantly breaking about the vessel, and one rolled upon deck. Through the Divine Protection we escaped a watery grave. After we crossed the bar we came to anchor for the night. Next morning we proceeded up the river, and came to anchor again near the Wesleyan missionary station, when I went on shore and visited the Revd. Mr. Turner, whom I had formerly known. I remained here 13 days. Saw many of the chiefs whom I had formerly known. I found many were enquiring after the Saviour, and a large number attended public worship.…When I left Okeanga a number accompanied me, upwards of 70. Some met us from Waimati. We had to travel about 40 miles by land and water. The road lay through a very thick wood. The natives carried me on something like a hummock for 20 miles. We reached Waimati as the sun went down, where we were kindly received by the Revd. William Williams and colleagues. One principal chief who has embraced the Gospel, and has been baptized, accompanied us all the way. He told me he was so unhappy at Okianga; that he could not get to converse with me from the crowds that attended; that he had come to Waimate to speak with me.…The schools and church are well attended, and the greatest order is observed amongst all classes. On the opposite side of the harbour a number of Europeans are settled along with the natives. Several Europeans keep public houses, and encourage every kind of crime. Here drunkenness, adultery, murder, &c., are committed. There are no laws, Judges, or Magistrates, so that page 722 Satan maintains his dominion without molestation. Some civilized Government must take New Zealand under its protection, or the most dreadful evils will be committed from runaway convicts and sailors and publicans. There are no laws here to punish crimes. When I return to N. S. Wales I purpose to lay the state of New Zealand before the Colonial Government, to see if anything can be done to remedy these public evils. From weakness and want of light I cannot write correctly.

I remain, &c.,

Samuel Marsden.