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From Tasman To Marsden.

Chapter XII. — Development of the Mission Scheme, 1807 to 1814

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Chapter XII.
Development of the Mission Scheme, 1807 to 1814.

The preparations for the New Zealand Mission might be considered to have commenced in 1807, when Marsden applied to the Church Missionary Society for men who would undertake the task of carrying Christianity to the New Zealanders, but before that events had happened which had a direct bearing upon Marsden's great work.

The first English-speaking clergyman to visit New Zealand is supposed to have been the Rev. Jas. Bain, who accompanied King to New Zealand on board the Britannia, and, although none of the party set foot upon the shore, it is quite possible that he and King may have exchanged views on the question of missionary work on the Islands whose inhabitants King felt so much interest in.

Although at the meeting to inaugurate the Missionary Society in London in 1795, New Zealand was mentioned as a place where mission work was required, the first mention that the author has been able to find of any proposal to establish a Mission in New Zealand is in the Report of the Directors at the Sixth General Meeting of the Society, dated 14th May 1800, in the following words: “They [the Directors] have endeavoured to interest Governor King in favour of the Missionaries, and have requested his patronage to their design of establishing missions at New Holland, Norfolk Island, and New Zealand, whenever it may be practicable." This probably refers to interviews which the directors had with King when he was in England in 1798 and 1799. What the nature of the proposals was is not known.

In 1801 the Royal Admiral, on her road to Tahiti with missionaries for the London Missionary Society, called at the Thames and spent some nine weeks there. Details of this visit have already been given on pp. 91 to 94.

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The first mention Marsden makes of any idea in his mind of ministering to the wants of the New Zealanders is to the effect that during the nine years which followed the return of the flax-dressers from Norfolk Island (1793), he became acquainted with a few Natives who came occasionally in whalers to Port Jackson, and the acquaintance thus formed shewed him that the New Zealanders were capable of assimilating any instruction which could be imparted to them. Further than that, Marsden felt that the C.M.S. was more suited to the work than a Society not connected with the established Anglican Church; the London Missionary Society, it may be mentioned, had control of the Mission work at Tahiti.

During the visit of Te Pahi to Sydney in 1805 and 1806, Marsden discussed a good deal with him about spiritual matters, and the Chief regularly attended church on Sabbath, and, throughout divine service, acted with great decorum.

The next New Zealander to come in contact with Marsden was Ruatara and two of his countrymen, and the many conversations that took place between them built up the interest in the temporal and spiritual welfare of their race which characterised Marsden's after life. “Their minds appeared like a rich soil that had never been cultivated, and only wanted the proper means of improvement to render them fit to rank with civilised nations." After considering their case, with the opportunities that the presence of these men gave him, Marsden resolved to return to England, so soon as he could obtain leave of absence, and “endeavour to get some missionaries sent out to preach the Gospel to this people."

Ruatara came to Sydney in the Argo, on board of which he and his companions had gone as sailors while she was in the Bay of Islands in 1805. She returned to the Bay, and then sailed for Sydney. From this port she cruised for six months on the New Holland coast and returned, when Captain Bader discharged Ruatara and his companions without giving them any payment for their year's service. Ruatara then joined the Albion, and, after serving six months, was put ashore at the Bay of Islands and liberally paid by Captain page 156 Richardson for his services. During these visits to Sydney the interviews just referred to with Marsden took place.

Having made up his mind to this course, leave of absence was obtained from Governor King, a substitute in the person of the Norfolk Island chaplain was provided, and Marsden took passage on board H.M.S. Buffalo with Governor King and a son of Te Pahi, and reached England in November 1807.

Arrived in England Marsden spoke to the Rev. Josiah Pratt, the Secretary to the C.M.S., and asked for the favourable consideration of his views by the Committee. After several interviews with that body it was ultimately resolved to send three missionaries out with Marsden; but the English clergymen had heard so much of the cannibal tendencies of the New Zealanders that none were found willing to risk their lives with them. At length two mechanics—Wm. Hall, a shipbuilder, and John King, a flax-dresser and twine and rope maker—agreed to go for a remuneration of £20 per annum until they could provide for themselves, and they were accepted. After spending fourteen months in England, Marsden embarked with his assistants on board the Ann, which sailed from Spithead for New South Wales on 25th August 1809.

The idea underlying the minds of the Committee in selecting these two mechanics seems to have been to prepare the way for the coming of the missionary by showing to the Natives a small settlement of Europeans living as Christians and practising the arts of civilised life among them. To bring the latter part of their work into prominence they were enjoined to spend no time in idleness, to become independent in regard to food supplies as soon as possible, to make no presents to the Natives but pay for all services, to avoid being embroiled in their wars, to encourage a spirit of industry among them, and not to excite the cupidity of the Natives by a display of too great wealth at first. The last injunction would have appeared to us to have been quite unnecessary.

During Marsden's absence the Rev. James Elder called in at the Bay of Islands on board the Seringapatam in 1808, page 157 bound from Tahiti to Sydney. While at the Bay he was shocked at the cruel treatment meted out to the Natives by the sailing masters there.

Some time after Marsden had gone on board the Ann, he one day observed Ruatara in the forecastle, wrapped up in an old great coat and very sick and weak; he had a violent cough, and discharged considerable quantities of blood, and was so cast down that it seemed as if only a few days and all would be over. Amazed to find the man who had inspired the New Zealand Mission on board the same ship with him, Marsden plied Captain Clerke and Ruatara with questions, and in a short time had the whole of the latter's remarkable story.

After leaving the Albion Ruatara spent a short time on shore, and then went on board the Santa Anna, bound for the Bounties sealing. There, with another New Zealander, two Tahitians, and ten Europeans, he was put ashore in a gang, and the Santa Anna sailed away for food supplies. At Norfolk Island, where she called for pork, Captain Moody went ashore, and the vessel was blown off for two months and eighteen days, making port again on 19th May 1808. This would mean that she was blown off on 1st March, so that it was probably in February that Ruatara was left on the Bounties. “About five months" after the Santa Anna left, Captain Chace called in at the Bounties with the King George. By this time the sealers had been in distress for more than three months, as there was no water on the island and the only food obtainable was seals' flesh and sea-fowl. Two Europeans and one Tahitian died from the hardships experienced.

It was not until 15th October 1808 that the Santa Anna sailed from Sydney for “the Sealing Isles; from whence she is to proceed to Great Britain." She visited the Bounties and took on board the gang with their catch of 8000 skins, and Ruatara embarked as a sailor, in order to get to London and see the King. From the dates quoted it will be seen that the gang was on the Bounties for no less than nine months.

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Arrived in the Thames in July 1809, the unfortunate chief was not given any chance of seeing the King, and was seldom allowed even to go on shore. Captain Moody would not even pay him the wages due to him. This treatment so preyed on Ruatara that he fell ill, and in this poor, friendless, and sick condition, was put on board the Ann, fifteen days after he had arrived in the Santa Anna.

The unexpected meeting with Marsden saved his life. The sympathy of the divine, the skill of the surgeon, and the attention of the master, nursed him back to strength and spirits before the Ann had reached Rio, and Ruatara could do his work as a sailor with the best man on board. During the passage Ruatara formed an intimate friendship with John King.

On 27th February 1810, when Marsden landed after an absence of nearly two years, he found the partnership of Lord, Williams and Thompson fitting out their party to form a flax settlement in New Zealand. Marsden at once realised the importance of such a settlement to the carrying out of his plan; the settlement would mean regular communication with New Zealand, and the presence of a body of Europeans would be a source of protection to the missionaries. All at once came the news of the massacre of the Boyd's crew, and so great a terror of the New Zealanders did it engender in the minds of the people of Sydney that all idea of going on with the mission had to be abandoned, and Marsden had to make such a disposition of his missionaries as would keep them available for service when a time for action would come round. Ruatara was taken to Marsden's residence at Parramatta, and arrangements were made to place Hall and King on a piece of land. Flax was sown, and John King was told off to teach the New Zealanders how to spin line and make rope, and it was intended by Marsden to utilise Port Jackson as a centre where instruction in “religion, morals, arts, and commerce," would be given to the Natives in a school to be established for that purpose.

After a lengthy residence at Parramatta Ruatara took advantage of the presence of the whaler Frederick to get on page 159 board of her for New Zealand. A son of Te Pahi and two other New Zealanders, with Ruatara, arranged with the captain to be landed at the Bay of Islands, on condition they worked on the ship till she had procured a cargo of oil. After six months the vessel was full, and the Natives expected to be put on shore at the Bay of Islands where they then were, but the captain resolutely refused to land them, making all sorts of excuses, and finally took them away. The Frederick next stopped at Norfolk Island, when Ruatara and his companions were sent ashore for water, and narrowly escaped drowning in procuring it. When the vessel was watered the captain intimated that he would not call at New Zealand, and went aboard leaving the four New Zealanders ashore. Before the vessel sailed, however, he sent back and forcibly took Te Pahi's son from the others, in spite of the lad's tears and entreaties.

Te Pahi's son was never again heard of. The Frederick was captured by an American ship, as it was the time of the last British-American war, and no tears were wept by New Zealanders when the news came to hand that during a severe action Captain Bunker was mortally wounded and his chief mate killed.

Naked, distressed, and poverty stricken, though their share of the Frederick's oil should have been £100 apiece, the three New Zealanders were found at Norfolk Island, supplied with clothing, and taken over to Sydney by Captain Gwynn on board his ship the Ann.

This was the second time that a ship called the Ann had proved to be the bringer of life and happiness to Ruatara, and the much-travelled chief remained with Marsden till another ship of the same name was setting out for the New Zealand coast. Five months on board of her and Ruatara was safely landed at home, to the inexpressible joy of his people and of himself, after an absence of about four years.

Ruatara had landed, provided by Marsden with seed wheat and with implements of husbandry to cultivate the soil. Portions of the wheat he distributed to six different chiefs and to some of his own tribe, directing them how to page 160 sow it, and telling them that it was from it that the European biscuit was made. When the grain had been sown, but before it was ripe, many of the Natives became impatient and pulled up the plants, expecting to find the grain at the root, like the potato, and, finding nothing, burnt the wheat and heaped ridicule upon Ruatara, telling him that because he was a great traveller he must not expect to impose on them with these yarns. Ruatara's and Hongi's (his uncle's) crops were the only ones allowed to come to maturity, and be reaped and threshed. The Natives were now satisfied that the grain came from the head and not the root, but there was still the problem of making bread from the grain. Captain Barnes of the Jefferson was applied to for a pepper or coffee mill, but it proved too small, and an appeal had to be made to Marsden in Sydney.

This brings us down to the time when we can pick up the thread of work with Marsden in Sydney again.

Desiring to send grain and agricultural tools to Ruatara, Marsden took advantage of the Queen Charlotte clearing for the Pearl Islands, to send some bags of seed wheat, hoes, etc., to be put off at the Bay of Islands. The Queen Charlotte passed without touching at the Bay, and was afterwards taken by the Natives at Tahiti, and Ruatara's stock was all stolen or destroyed. This convinced Marsden that nothing could be done without a ship of his own.

By the Earl Spencer, on 10th October 1813, arrived a Mr. Kendall, who had been sent out as a schoolmaster for service in New Zealand, but until preparations for his work in New Zealand were complete his services were to be available to the New South Wales Government.

Mr. Kendall had no sooner arrived than Marsden determined either to charter or purchase a vessel for mission work, and to establish in New Zealand the Settlement which had been decided on by the C.M.S. as far back as 1808. The first efforts were in the direction of the less expensive method of chartering a craft, but none were found willing to risk a page 161 voyage to New Zealand and back for less than £600, a sum which was properly considered by Marsden to be out of all reason.

Before describing the next step taken by Marsden in this direction we will recount his efforts in Sydney to secure popular and Government support to his Mission.

Though the reports of the whalers always spoke of the vindictiveness and inhumanity of the New Zealanders, at times a voice could be heard to state that European masters and crews were sometimes responsible for some of the awful calamities which occasionally visited shipping. Marsden now came forward with a Petition to Governor Macquarie to investigate matters, and himself offered to tender evidence in support of the charges he made, against men whom he named in his Petition.

The statement of the case to the Governor was that the loss of the Boyd and the Parramatta, with their captains and crews, was brought about by the unprovoked cruelties of Europeans, and that the misdeeds of these men were difficult to punish because so many of the ships proceeded straight from New Zealand to England. An opportunity of doing something was, however, at hand now; Captain Lasco Jones of the King George had acted with great injustice and cruelty to a Native whom he took from Sydney to the Bay of Islands. He was now in Sydney, and an investigation should be made of his conduct, and he (Marsden) would submit evidence in proof of his contention, both against Jones and on the general charge against whaling masters.

The evidence tendered, so far as it is now available, was a deposition of John Besent, who stated that he had been in the King George, at the Bay of Islands, in March 1812, and that Jones' treatment of the Natives was so bad that he was fearful that the ship would be taken and the crew murdered, and he left the vessel and went to reside with the Natives. While he was among them he heard the details of the massacre of the Boyd, and learned that it had been brought about by Captain Thompson's cruel treatment of the son of a chief who, with his companion, was a passenger from Sydney. The page 162 young man had been with Captain Wilkinson on board the Star, and, his term of service having ended, he was paid off and kindly treated, and a passage got for him on the Boyd. There, however, the captain had tied him to the rigging, flogged him, and had kept possession of his property, with the result that after he landed the massacre was his revenge.

In October 1808, when the Star was advertising her crew according to Regulations, there appeared the names “George and Teara (New Zealanders)." These were evidently the two men mentioned in Besent's evidence.

Whatever was the form of the Inquiry made by Governor Macquarie, Marsden appears to have proved his charges, as a Proclamation was issued, dated 1st December 1813, imposing certain well-defined obligations on the masters of all vessels leaving Sydney for New Zealand or the South Seas. They were required to “peaceably and properly demean themselves, and be of their good behaviour towards the Natives of New Zealand," etc.; not to “commit any act of trespass upon the plantations, gardens, lands, habitations, burial - grounds, tombs, or properties of the natives"; not to “make war or cause war to be made upon them, or in any way interfere" in their disputes and strifes, but to leave them free in the enjoyment of their religious ceremonies; not to ship away Natives without their consent, nor, in the case of females, without the Governor's consent; and all Natives employed were, when being discharged, to be paid their due wages. All these obligations were enforced by a Bond in the penal sum of £1000. The Proclamation also stated that acts of “rapine, plunder, robbery, piracy, murder, or other offences against the law of nature and nations," against the person and property of the Natives, would be punished with the utmost rigour of the Law.

Having got so far as to procure a Proclamation threatening the penalties of the Law against offences committed upon the New Zealanders and their property, Samuel Marsden decided to get a Society formed for the protection of South Sea Islanders (including New Zealanders) who might come to Port Jackson. A Petition, signed by Marsden and seven page 163 other prominent residents of Sydney, was presented to Wm. Gore, the Provost-Marshal, asking him to convene a meeting of the inhabitants of the Colony to consider “some measure for affording Support and Relief to the Natives of the South Sea Islands, who may come to Port Jackson, and to promote their Civilization."

The meeting was a great success, and unanimously voted approval of the scheme, adopted regulations, and appointed officers. Generally speaking it was decided that the Society should seek to protect those Natives who came to the Colony, should make efforts to instruct them in any simple branches of trades they were capable of acquiring, and should endeavour to disseminate Christianity among them.

Always ready himself, and with his mechanics and his schoolmaster now in the same condition, and with the law, so far as it could be moved, controlling the action of shipmasters and declaring protection to New Zealanders, Marsden now took a big step forward. He got the opportunity of purchasing a vessel. A brig called the Active was offered for £1400. As Marsden had not that amount of money available, he sold, so he says, £900 worth of sheep, financed £500 from some other source, and made the purchase. Immediately the transaction was complete he communicated with the Secretaries of the C.M.S. and the L.M.S., informing them of what had taken place, and, in reply, the Secretary of the former requested him to draw upon that body for the money, but as there was a strong undercurrent working against him in Sydney, and financial interests, jealous of the influence which missionaries would acquire over the Natives, were poisoning the minds of the latter regarding his ultimate intentions, he deemed it best to keep the purchase in his own name and shoulder the risk, which he did.

With a ship in his own hands and being no longer dependent on a charter, Marsden hastened on preparations for the New Zealand Mission. He was Principal Chaplain for New South Wales and had, as such, to obtain leave of absence before he could set out for New Zealand. On application Governor Macquarie declined to give permission, assigning page 164 as a reason the danger of his being cut off by the New Zealanders. Marsden then asked whether, if he sent the Active over with some members of the Mission, and brought back some of the principal chiefs to Sydney so as to arrange matters with them, His Excellency would then grant permission for him to return with them and see the Mission established? Macquarie replied that he would. Marsden then set to work to prepare the preliminary Expedition.

The Instructions given to Captain Dillon, to whom had been given command of the Active, required him first of all to take that vessel down to the Derwent and deliver some stores which were on board of her for that port when she was purchased, after which he was to proceed to the Bay of Islands and open up negotiations with the Chiefs, Ruatara, Tara, Kawiti, Korokoro, and any other whose goodwill might be of advantage to the Expedition. The Natives were to be treated with the utmost kindness, and all quarrels with the ship's company were to be prevented. All were to be told that Marsden desired to see some of the chiefs, and any who might wish to come over, or to send their children for education, were to be accommodated. For a return cargo, hemp, spars and timber, pork, salt fish, and rosin (kauri gum), were to be secured, and the ship was to fill up with potatoes packed in the native baskets as the best way of preserving them. The Sabbath was to be closely observed, and the prayers of the Church were to be read by Mr. Kendall. Captain Dillon was to be careful what Natives he allowed on the vessel, and he was not to “suffer any of the native women to come on board."

As the visit was more in the nature of a preliminary one, Marsden sent only Messrs. Kendall and Hall, their wives and families remaining with Mr. King and his wife at Parra-matta. A young chief—Tui—who had been living for some time at Parramatta, and who had taken a great liking to Mr. Kendall, accompanied that gentleman to educate him in the language of the New Zealanders and to explain to his countrymen the nature of the voyage. He was to return with Mr. Kendall.

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The Active sailed from Sydney early in March, and from the Derwent on 23rd May, reaching the Bay of Islands on 10th June. There they were met by Ruatara, to whom Mr. Kendall gave the following letter:

Paramatta, March 9, 1814.

Duaterra [Ruatara], King.

I have sent the Brig Active to the Bay of Islands to see what you are doing, and Mr. Hall and Mr. Kendall from England. Mr. Kendall will teach the boys and girls to read and write. I told you, when you were at Paramatta, that I would send you a gentleman to teach your Tamoneekees (boys) and Keoteedos (girls) to read. You will be very good to Mr. Hall and Mr. Kendall. They will come to live in New Zealand, if you will not hurt them; and they will teach you how to grow wheat, and to make houses and every thing. Charles has sent you a cock, and Mrs. Marsden has sent you a shirt and jacket. I have sent you some wheat for seeds, and you must put it in the ground as soon as you can. If you will come in the Active to Paramatta, I will send you back again. Send me a man or two to learn to make an axe and every thing. You will send the Active full of moca, potatoes, lines, mats, fish, nets and every thing. I have sent a jacket for Kowheetee [Kawiti]. Tell him to assist you and Terra to lade the ship. You will be very good to all my men and not hurt them, and I will be good to you. Ann, Elizabeth, Mary, Jane, Charles, Martha, Nanny and Mrs. Bishop and Mrs. Marsden, are all well, and wish to know how you are. If you cannot come to see me, send me word by Mr. Kendall and Mr. Hall what you want, and I will send it to you.

I am your Friend

Samuel Marsden.

Ruatara took Messrs. Kendall and Hall to Rangihoua, and in his storeroom there they saw rum, tea, sugar, flour, cheese, and chests of European clothing. They found pork plentiful, and an axe or a good-sized piece of iron bought a page 166 pig, sometimes two. The soil was good and the cultivations produced potatoes, cabbages, turnips, carrots, onions, etc.

On 12th June, which was the first Sunday of their visit, Mr. Hall read prayers, and several Natives attended. In the afternoon they wanted to trade as usual, but they were refused.

On Monday a visit was made to Ruatara's farm, where was found some wheat growing in an enclosure and already five or six inches above the ground, and Natives were clearing more land for potatoes, and for two bushels of wheat which Kendall and Hall had brought from Mr. Marsden.

Hongi, not to be outdone, showed a musket which he had himself fitted with a stock and mounted.

On the fifteenth Kendall and Hall dined with Captain Foldger on board the brig James Hay. This vessel had sailed from Sydney on 2nd June en route for England. Advantage was now taken of her presence to send a mail to England.

An invitation was received from Tara at Kororareka, and when the visitors arrived they found the chief and his men preparing ground for potatoes.

On 17th June a visit was paid to some timber fourteen miles from the ship, and the following day some of the trees were cut and taken to the river.

Everywhere the missionaries met with the warmest welcome from the Natives, and numbers of the chiefs decided to accept Marsden's invitation and accompany the Active back to Sydney. The leading chiefs, Ruatara, Hongi, and Korokoro, all went, and with them were several minor chiefs and attendants. The much-travelled Ruatara was satisfied with the implements he had received from Marsden, and did not desire to accompany the party, but his uncle Hongi was anxious to visit Sydney, and, not being familiar with the English language, persuaded Ruatara to accompany him.

The chiefs who intended going to Sydney came on board on 22nd and 25th July, on which latter day the Active sailed, and, after a lengthy passage reached Sydney on 21st August. They were immediately taken to Mr. Marsden's home at Parramatta, making eleven Natives under his roof.

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Until their return was arranged for, no effort was spared to educate them in the benefits of civilisation. The various works going on in the smiths' and carpenters' shops, spinning, weaving, brickmaking, building houses, agriculture and gardening, were all brought under their notice; and Marsden also tells us that he spent all the time he could with them conversing on “subjects of religion, government, and agriculture."

With Ruatara Marsden had long been well acquainted, and, as we have already seen, held him in high estimation. Hongi he described as “a very fine character," and a man “uncommonly mild in his manners, and very polite and well-behaved at all times." They all with one accord expressed themselves as delighted at the prospect of Marsden paying them a visit.