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Historical Records of New Zealand

Extract Of A Letter From Rev. Mr. Marsden

Extract Of A Letter From Rev. Mr. Marsden.

Parramatta, Sept. 20th, 1815

I am happy to inform you that the Active, brig, returned safe from New Zealand on the 21st August, after fully accomplishing the object of her voyage.

My wish was to open a friendly intercourse between the natives of that island and the missionaries previous to their final settlement among them. But as they were considered such monsters of cruelty, I did not think it prudent, in a public point of view, to send the missionaries’ wives and families in the first instance, but to bring over some of the chiefs to Port Jackson, and to establish a friendship with them. My old friend Duaterra, with two other chiefs and some of their relations, are now at Parramatta, living with me, and Messrs. Hall and Kendall. There are now here eleven natives of New Zealand.

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Duaterra is a man of a very superior mind. He is fully determined to improve his country, so far as his means and influence extend. Tools of agriculture are the only articles which he wants, and seeds to crop his ground. He assures me that he will do all in his power to prevent future wars amongst his countrymen, and turn their minds to cultivate the land. No man could ever be worse treated than Duaterra has often been by Europeans, but he has the strongest attachment to them, from the hope that through their means he may deliver his countrymen from their present degraded situation.

From my own observation of the natives belonging to the different islands in these seas (excepting the natives of New Holland) I think they are originally the same people, their language being very similar. Should the natives of New Zealand receive the Gospel, all the other islands also may be expected to receive its blessings. As fair a prospect appears to me to be now opened as ever was for any heathen nation. The Divine Governor will, in His gracious providence, order all things well. Great objects are seldom obtained without great sacrifices and many difficulties. The civilisation of the natives of New Zealand, and the introduction of the Gospel among them, is a work of vast magnitude. I have no doubt but it can be accomplished, and I firmly believe that the time is now at hand.

Shunghee is a very fine character; appears uncommonly mild in his manners, and very polite, and well behaved at all times. His districts are some distance from the Bay of Islands, in the interior. He had begun the cultivation of wheat, which I had sent to Duaterra.

The chiefs, coming over to Port Jackson, will, I trust, lay a firm foundation for the work of the mission and secure the comfort and safety of those who may be employed therein. Were I young and free, I should offer myself to this work. It would be my delight and my joy.

The chiefs are all happy with us at Parramatta, and their minds enlarging very fast. Beholding the various works that are going on in the smiths and carpenters’ shops, and spinning and weaving, brickmaking and building houses, together with all the operations of agriculture and gardening, has a wonderful effect on their minds, and will excite all their natural powers to improve their own country. The idea of my visiting them is very gratifying to their minds. At present I spend all the time I can spare with them in conversing with them on all the different subjects that appear necessary for them to be acquainted with, particularly on the subjects of religion, government, and agriculture.

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I am fully convinced that the chiefs, and particularly Duaterra and Shunghee, who commands seventeen districts, will apply all their strength to agriculture, if they can obtain hoes and axes.

[Mr. Marsden has since paid this proposed visit.]