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Historical Records of New Zealand

Rev. S. Marsden to the Church Missionary Society

Rev. S. Marsden to the Church Missionary Society.

(Extract of a letter from Marsden to the Church Missionary Society, dated Parramatta, March 15, 1814; and printed in the Missionary Register for November, 1814.)

I have long wished for an opportunity to bring forward some of the masters of vessels, who visit the islands in the South Seas, for their wanton cruelties, robberies, and murders of the natives; in order to put a stop, as far as possible, to these acts of violence.

A few months ago, I received information that the master of a vessel from Port Jackson had treated a New Zealander very ill by beating him cruelly, stripping him naked, and taking from him what little property he had acquired by acting as a sailor on board. These acts took place in the Bay of Islands. I wrote an official letter to the Governor (a copy of which I here with transmit) when the master of the vessel arrived, requesting that His Excellency would cause an inquiry to be made, which was done. I immediately brought forward another master of a vessel upon a similar charge. The facts, which I circumstantiated, induced His Excellency to issue a Proclamation for the protection of the natives of the South Sea Islands; and to require all masters of vessels who clear out of this port to enter into a bond, that they will not commit any of those acts of fraud and violence upon the natives.

My next step was to try if I could not get a society formed for the protection of the natives of the South Sea Islands who may come to Port Jackson. In this I also succeeded far better than I expected. I have no doubt but this society will greatly aid the missions to New Zealand, and to the other islands. I consider this institution to be of vast importance to the common cause. For the governing of the society, as well as for constituting it, I page 322 copied your rules as nearly as I could: these were approved. I shall transmit to you the proceedings as far as we have gone. The Church Missionary Society will see, from all these circumstances, that Divine Goodness is preparing a way for these poor heathens to receive the glad tidings of the Gospel.