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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79

The Influence of Christianity

The Influence of Christianity.

Although it is only a comparatively short time ago since Christianity was introduced among the Natives, the memory of the events which led to such a remarkable change in the Maoris is already becoming indistinct, even to those who were closely connected with the principal actors in those early days. The Christian religion was first introduced to the Maoris in the vicinity of the Bay of Islands by the Rev. Samuel Marsden, in the pear 1814. It gradually spread among the Natives until, about 1839. it reached the tribes over which the great Te Rauparaha ruled. The influence of Christianity was at once felt. As soon as the Maoris embraced the Christian faith they at once released all their prisoners, and even assisted them to return to their homes. When New Zealand was proclaimed a British colony, in 1840, several of the Kaiapoi chiefs attached their names to the Treaty of Waitangi, by which the Maoris agreed to acknowledge the sovereignty of Queen Victoria, the deed having been brought to them for signature by the captain of H.M.S. Herald.

In 1843, Tamihana, the only surviving son of Te Rauparaha, and his cousin, Matene te Whiwhi, inspired with the noble de- page 24 sire to repair as far as possible the injuries inflicted upon the Ngatitahu people by their relatives, visited the South Island, where they spent two years, during which period they visited every Maori settlement in the Island. Theirs was a true Missionary enterprise. Both had been baptised by Bishop Had-field shortly before undertaking their mission, and in every place they went they instructed the Maoris in the principles of the Christian faith, which they exhorted them to adopt. During the time spent among the Ngatitahu, these two young chieftains were in momentary danger of being put to death, either to gratify the feeling of hatred cherished in many hearts towards the northern Natives, or by some who felt impelled by the ancient custom of blood fued, not to miss such an opportunity of avenging the death of dear relatives who had perished at the hands of Tel Rauparaha's tribesmen during their various raids on the South. However, the heroic courage and fervent zeal of the mission aries was rewarded by the conversion of almost the entire population, who were won over by the Divine power that had changed hate into love, and the bitterest enemies into the [unclear: urmest] friends.