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Historical Records of New Zealand

Extract from Report of the Committee delivered to the Annual Meeting held May 4, 1819, at Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street

page 433

Extract from Report of the Committee delivered to the Annual Meeting held May 4, 1819, at Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street.

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The Committee will proceed to report the state of the seminary established by Mr. Marsden at Parramatta, the place of his own residence in New South Wales. This seminary, formed for the instruction of New Zealanders, was mentioned in the last report. The subserviency of such a seminary to the plans of the Society in reference to New Zealand was obvious, as nothing can have a more direct tendency, according to the just sentiment of Mr. Marsden, to enlarge the minds of men in the situation of the natives of New Zealand than to witness the advantages of civilized life.

In May of last year there were twelve natives of New Zealand in the seminary, occupied in the acquisition of the useful arts. Some of these men were kept constantly at rope-making and twine-spinning; as their own flax will probably become, at no very distant day, an object of great importance. Nine of these natives were about to return to New Zealand on board the Active.

In September, a number of natives in the seminary were six. Two had sailed for England a short time before in the Claudine: these were the last whom Mr. Marsden intended should be allowed to visit this country.

Mr. Marsden considers it of great importance to continue this seminary for the benefit of New Zealanders, and proposes to improve it and extend its scale. It is his intention to put it on such a footing that the natives who enter it may be employed partly in agriculture and gardening, and partly in learning the simple arts, combined with moral and religious instruction.

Before the Committee proceeds to report the actual state of the settlement at the Bay of Islands, they beg to renew the acknowledgments of the Society to its able and unwearied friend Mr. Marsden, not only for his measures at Parramatta in reference to New Zealand, but for the watchful eye which he keeps on the interests of the mission, and the judicious steps taken by him in its favour.

Messrs. Carlisle and Gordon, mentioned in the last report, proceeded, with their families, in the Active, from Port Jackson to the Bay of Islands, in the latter part of April, 1817. They page 434 were accompanied by six natives of New Zealand, some of whom had been at Parramatta a year and a half.

Several head of horned cattle were sent over, the advantages to be expected from which were stated in the last report. “Milk, butter, beef, and labour,“ Mr. Marsden says, “these cattle will soon produce to the inhabitants; and if the number of settlers should be increased, they will greatly promote their support and comfort.“

Fruit trees of various kinds have also been sent over by Mr. Marsden. The settlers have peaches in perfection. He thinks vines will succeed, and will send over from time to time plants of different sorts in order to the future benefit of the settlers and natives.

In May of last year Mr. Marsden was about to send a person to New Zealand, in order to make a trial of salting and curing fish. Great advantage to the people may be expected thereby, from the abundance of fish on their shores. Mr. Marsden had with him, in the same month, a chief from the River Thames who was anxious for some settlers to live among them on that part of the coast.

Mr. Marsden wished to visit the settlers again; and intended, when he should be able to accomplish his design, to examine more fully than he had done into the population and production of the country, particularly in the interior.

In reporting the proceedings in the Bay of Islands the Committee will first refer to the state of the schools.

Mr. Kendall and Mr. Carlisle have paid every attention to the education of the native children which circumstances would allow. The school was opened in August, 1816, with 33 children; in September, there were 47; and in October, 51. In November and December, there being no provisions for the children, they were scattered abroad in search of food. In January, 1817, the number was 60; in February, 58; in March, 63; and in April, 70. There are the latest returns of numbers which have arrived.

At first the girls were double in number to the boys, but latterly they became nearly equal. The age of the children was generally from 7 to 17. Among them were 17 orphans, and six slaves which had been taken in war. Several sons of chiefs were among the scholars, and one of them, Atowha, son of the lace Tippahee, began, after a few months, to act as assistant in the school.

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