The Past and Present Of New Zealand With Its Prospects for the Future
Chapter III. The Church
Chapter III. The Church
Perhaps the brightest page in the progress of Christianity at Wanganui, was that which followed the war. The Christmas of the next year was one never to be forgotten by those who witnessed it. I extract the account from my journal:—
December 21st. Numbers of natives keep flocking in from all parts. My house has been beset from morning till night; some seeking medicine; some books; some to tell me their quarrels and troubles; and some for spiritual conversation, or explanation of Scripture.
I examined upwards of eighty persons for baptism, of which I accepted nearly sixty. I was much pleased with the simple faith displayed by several of the old people who were candidates. Mr. Baker assisted me; we were occupied the whole of the morning. In the evening I had a very large congregation, and afterwards a meeting of the candidates for the Lord’s Supper; but the number was so great that I was obliged to divide the district, taking first those only from Pukehika to Tunuhaere; they completely filled the Church. There was some noise and confusion in entering, page 51 from want of room, which caused me to speak most strongly on the impropriety of candidates for the Lord’s Table acting in such an irreverent way. From that time until the termination of the meeting, which was not until after ten p.m., nothing could exceed the quietness and decorum of that large assembly. At the termination all walked out without the least noise, although from the excessive heat of the crowded Church two poor women had fainted away. I received two hundred and sixty-seven of those who came that evening.
22nd. I had the morning service in my field, where the pulpit was carried. Afterwards I examined candidates for baptism, and administered medicine until the evening. It is wonderful to behold such a reaction amongst the people. I felt jealous of admitting so many into the outward Church, and at the same time afraid of refusing them, when they came confessing their faith in Christ, and had supported the declaration by a consistent walk and converse. Many were very old, some in an almost dying state, and one was brought who was deaf and dumb.
After evening prayer I addressed the rest of the candidates for the Sacrament, which occupied me until eleven at night. I accepted the large number of six hundred and seventy-two. It is a very gratifying consideration that I have such a body of persons in my district living so consistently, that even the most censorious could not allege anything against their moral or religious conduct, for such was the closeness of the examination, that if it were found any had lived on terms of intimacy with any immoral person, he was at once rejected.*
* At these meetings of communicants, after prayer and an address, every teacher presents those from his own place; and when each one was called by name, and asked whether there was any reason why he should not receive the Sacrament; if there was, either the teacher or the people would mention it, if the individual himself did not do so; but generally the fault was the other way, and the person would accuse himself of a number of things, which made it very tedious for the minister to decide.
Two chief magistrates were then appointed for the entire Wanganui district. Hori Kingi te Anaua was to have the general jurisdiction of all places from the sea to Puke hika, a distance of fully sixty miles; and Pehi Turoa was thence to take charge of the river to its source. To these two all the chief matters were to be referred; the minor ones being left for the magistrates of each place to decide.
* This plan of having native magistrates and runangas, or councils, composed of them and the teachers, originated with Wanganui. I was led to establish this plan from the feeling that it was both necessary for order, and was due to the chiefs, who, by the introduction of Christianity, seemed to lose their status, and to have less weight than the teacher. This plan answered admirably; also the runanga, where every thing relating to the well-being of the district was considered, and such changes made as seemed most conducive to the general good; also fines were fixed, &c. The Governor so far approved of these two institutions as to adopt them, and the native magistrates thus appointed were afterwards recognized as Government officers, under the name of Assessors; but at first without a salary-afterwards a small one was given them. At a later period the Chief Justice, now Sir W. Martin, drew up a brief digest of English Law, in Maori; this was highly prized by the Assessors, and most carefully studied.
The contrast certainly was great between the two ways of keeping the festival of the Nativity. Whilst near seven hundred Europeans were attending the races on one side of the Wanganui river, exactly opposite nearly four thousand of the lately barbarous heathen had congregated from all parts, and from considerable distances, some coming fully one hundred and fifty miles, to celebrate the Saviour’s birth.
December 24th. I began the service a little after seven. It was a glorious day, not a cloud was to be seen. We had the pure light of the sun shining upon us; but it was a still more glorious sight to see before me upwards of three thousand natives uniting in the solemn service of our Church, and listening with deep attention to the Word of God. Around the pulpit stood my band of fellow-laborers, the teachers, no inconsiderable company, being one hundred and fifty in number; and by my side nearly all the head chiefs were also assembled, dressed in their picturesque costumes of dog-skin mats, or elegant woven Parawais; some in their newly-acquired European clothing. Beyond them the entire little field was filled with the congregation. The lesson for the day afforded a most appropriate text, St. Paul’s confession before Felix.
After the sermon I administered the Sacrament to three hundred and sixty. I was obliged to divide the Communicants, part for the Sunday and part for Christmas Day, as the Church could not contain the whole at once. Two poor sick women, who partook of the Lord’s Supper, were brought in and laid by the Communion rails. Afterwards I crossed over and gave the usual services to the military and the page 54 townspeople. I had a pretty fair attendance of the latter at the second service. I administered the Lord’s Supper to twelve.
During the evening service I baptized the large number of one hundred and sixty-two, of whom forty were children. The sun had set before the service was terminated.
December 25th, Christmas Day. Very fine, but hot and sultry; 74° in the shade. I addressed my large congregation from the morning lesson (St. Luke ii. 14.) The angelic annunciation. Afterwards I administered the Lord’s Supper to three hundred and fifty, making a grand total, including three of my family, of seven hundred and ten, perhaps the largest number that ever met to receive the Sacrament in this land. Afterwards I crossed over and took two services; the soldiers were all there; but at the second service there were only three besides my party.
Whilst the heathen are pressing into the Church, it seemed as though the children of the kingdom were indifferent, or rather considering it a day of feasting the body only, left more spiritual thoughts to those who are too generally regarded as scarcely entitled to the name of rational beings. To see some miserable horse races, all assembled from far and near: for this race to win Christ, and be found in Him, alas! there was scarcely a thought.
After the evening service the list of teachers for the ensuing year was called over, these were one hundred and fifty in number; and also the list of chiefs who have been recognized as magistrates by the different tribes, these were about thirty; the whole was concluded with a discourse from St. Paul’s Epistle to Titus, the second lesson for the day, which was most appropriate, exhorting those who have believed in God to be careful to maintain good works as the most effectual way of proving their love to Christ, and faith in His salvation.
Thus the services of this deeply interesting meeting terminated. Truly we may say, what has the Lord done thus to have brought so many members of various and lately hostile tribes to drink of the same cup and eat of the same bread as I page 55 declared to them, God will be exalted amongst the heathen; His kingdom must be set up in all the earth.
After the service, books and medicine were distributed, but the crowd of applicants was so great, and the fatigue so overpowering, that at last I was obliged to beat a retreat.
26th. From five this morning I had a host of visitors for conversation, counsel, books, and medicine; I was occupied the whole day in attending to their numerous wants. I had also four marriages; ther. 80° in the shade. I was quite wearied, and should not have been able to have done my work but for the assistance of Mr. W. Baker, who has really been a deacon to me.
I felt thankful that this great meeting terminated without any thing occurring to diminish the satisfaction of having so many assembled together, or any thing to give the adversary a handle against the cause. I have not heard of a single thing to distress the minister’s mind. As the Temple was put up without sound or noise, so did this assembly,—this temple of the living God,—congregate together and disperse without confusion.
The river natives quietly entered their canoes and paddled away to their distant homes, gradually diminishing the fleet of canoes which was drawn up in front of the pa, and the coast natives, party after party, also silently departed on their several ways.
27th. The natives are still leaving. I learnt in crossing over to the town that a picket of forty men from each of the stockades had been appointed to keep watch every night during the stay of the natives.
A remarkable proof of the power of the Gospel was given when Tamati Wiremu Puna, the chief of Aramoho, was admitted to the Lord’s Table. By his side knelt Panapa, a chief of the Nga-ti-apa, who in former years had killed and eaten Tamati’s father. This was the first time they had met together; his emotion was most extraordinary, he seemed perfectly to quiver with it. After the service was terminated he was asked the cause of it; he then related the circumstance, and said it was only the Gospel, which had given him page 56 a new nature, that could make him eat of the same bread and drink of the same cup with the murderer of his own father.
In former times it was not only customary to fight naked, but likewise to work naked; they cultivated the fields in state of nudity, and some of the old people kept up this custom to the very last. Amongst such was an old man named Ake; he made it a constant practice, and even went about in the pa without having any clothes on; I repeatedly spoke to him but in vain. One day, however, when I was going over the river to the town with my wife and daughter, I saw old Ake in his usual state. I ran on before and bid him go into a house and put on his mat; he refused, I said he should, he declared he would not, I pushed, he resisted, at last I saw there was no alternative but force, so I put my arms around him and fairly pushed him into a house, to the great amusement of the natives who stood by. He was conquered, but I dearly paid for the victory; Ake’s skin had been anointed with red ochre and oil, which, I found to my cost, had completely destroyed my best black coat. Ake never attempted to go about naked again. Some short time before I left for England I went to see him, and told him I was going home to England; that I might never see him again. I had lived many years in the same place with him, and had preached the Gospel to him; was all I had done to be in vain? was I to leave him a Heathen as I had found him? He said nothing, but held down his head and went away. Not long after he presented himself to me as a candidate for baptism. I rejoiced to see him, and to my amazement not only found that he was perfectly acquainted with the catechism, but with the leading doctrines of the Christian faith as well. He showed that he had carefully read his Bible, and proved, however little there was in external appearance of his being a believer, that still he thought more than I had given him credit for. He was baptized, and when I returned from England poor Ake was no more.
The adversary will not allow the work to progress without page 57 opposition. At Otaki the natives were making steady progress, when a priest and lay associate made their appearance; the latter being a millwright, promised to erect a mill for them on very advantageous terms. They were accepted; the mill was built, and a lodgment in the place effected. The priest remained there, but another arrived, who, with the millwright, proceeded to Wanganui; he went a short way up the river and there made a similar offer, which also was accepted. For a season the millwright and priest resided together in the mill house, and thus building mill after mill I he gradually advanced up the river, telling all that his was the mother Church, and ours an adulterous one, with Luther and Henry the Eighth at its head. One day I met a party of natives by the sea side; we both had to wait for the tide before we could proceed. They had been induced to attend the Church of Rome, the priest having assured them that it was the first and mother Church. I enquired whether Christ was not the founder of the Christian faith; they said He was. Then I asked where did the Scriptures tell us He preached the Gospel; was it at Rome or at Jerusalem and in Judea? Well, then, I said, the first Church, of necessity, must have been there; but I told them that Scripture speaks of seven other Churches in Asia, besides those in Greece, at Philippi, Athens, and Corinth, before even any mention is made of that at Rome, therefore instead of being the first it is in reality the last. But they rejoined, yours is a wicked Church, it is an adulterous one, referring to Henry the Eighth. I enquired what the catechism said was the commencement of our being Christians; did it say we began with adultery? or did it not rather declare that we must begin by renouncing all the lusts of the flesh? I told them their priest was evidently quite ignorant of the catechism, and they ought to teach him when they returned. They concluded with saying, “Kua mate te wai maori i te waitai,” the fresh water is destroyed by the salt, the one representing the Maori, the other the European, meaning as the fresh water streams are swallowed up in the ocean, so is the wisdom of the Maori in that of the European.page 58
After my return from England, when I first went up the river, there was a very large gathering of the natives to welcome me back again. The priest took that opportunity of meeting me. He stated it was of no use our disputing, that one could not convince the other; he therefore proposed that we should test the merits of our respective Churches by jumping into a fire, and whoever came out uninjured would prove that his was the true one. I said that the prophet of old demanded two bullocks to be sacrificed, that if we jumped into the fire it would be taking the place of those beasts, besides tempting God. He said we ought to give our lives for our flocks, and this was the proper way of doing so. At last my head teacher, Abraham, stood up and said the plan was a good one, let it be tried, and as he had given the challenge he should jump into the fire first, and then when he came out their minister should follow; to this, however, he would not agree, and that terminated the meeting. His skin appeared so very dirty that it seemed not improbable he had washed himself over with some preparation to make himself fire proof.
On another occasion he came to me at the request of his followers to hold a disputation on the merits of our respective Churches. I agreed to his proposal, but said it was a subject of such importance that we should first offer up a prayer to the Lord to enlighten us with the Holy Spirit, that we might discover the truth. This he would not agree to, and turned away, saying, he would not hear any of our heretical prayers. My natives reverently knelt down whilst I offered one up. Afterwards, amongst other things he said, the Israelites had idols in the Temple, and they had the figure of a cow there. I requested him to point out the place where it was to be found; he asked for my Bible, I gave it to him, after some time he returned it, saying his sight was bad. Another priest took it and found the account of the brazen laver supported on oxen. I remarked that it was not placed in the Temple but in the court, and there only used by the priests to wash in; that in fact it was but a large wash-hand stand with its legs made to page 59 represent cows; the natives laughed. Next I bid him prove that St. Peter was at Rome; he referred to his epistle written from Babylon, which he said even our commentators allowed was meant for Rome; would I not agree to that? I answered certainly, and bid the natives listen to the priest’s words, that Rome and Babylon were the same; the mother of harlots and the seat of all abomination! He then lost his temper and the discusssion ended.
The priest erected mills up the Wanganui as he had done at Otaki, professing to do so on reduced terms; and at one place he offered to do it for fifty pounds less if they turned over to his faith: he wrote a letter to that effect which I still possess.
About that time another delusion arose at Taranaki. The natives were struck with the great mortality of their children as well as adults. In order to account for this they supposed it arose from the enmity of their ancestors, who were hostile to the introduction of a new faith, which entirely destroyed the ancient one, and the belief in their Maori gods as well. Therefore if any of their children touched one of the old land marks or stones, which had been placed in the ground whilst the priests uttered their spells and incantations over them, then they were smitten by those spells and were sure to die. This was stated to me when I visited that part; on enquiring what was the matter with a boy who appeared to be wasting away, they said, Oh, he sat upon one of the sacred stones, and the curses or spells belonging to it had entered into him. I laughed at them for their credulity, and scolded them likewise for believing that God would permit heathen spells to affect his children. They assured me that none of them dared touch one of those stones. Bidding them point out the one to me which had done the evil, I got a spade and dug it up, and threw it into the river which was flowing close by. Oh, said they, it might be done with impunity by pakehas, for the Maori gods had no power over them.
Near the same place was a Wahi tapu, sacred grove, into which formerly they had been accustomed to draw the spirits of those who died, by uttering some of their powerful page 60 spells, so that they might not wander about and injure the living; for spirits were supposed to be all malignant even towards the relatives they had left behind. To hinder them from doing injury they were conjured as it were, within a certain spot, as we fold sheep at night. But now these wahi tapu, on account of all having embraced Christianity, were supposed to be more dangerous than ever, and the fruitful source of death to those who entered their sacred precincts. To put an end to this evil they had instituted a new method of exorcising these dangerous places; they went to them in a body, forming a large circle, in the centre they lighted a fire and cooked some potatoes; this was to waka noa the spot, that is, to destroy its sanctity; next the operators gave a potatoe to each in the circle, and whilst they were being eaten the temptation of the Lord was read, and then a prayer was uttered, to destroy the power and malice of the devil. After this ceremony it was supposed there was no longer anything to fear from such places. This idea spread rapidly, and the persons who were thought to be more particularly skilful in driving those evil spirits away, went from place to place putting all such enemies to the health and happiness of man to flight. Some tried to justify this work to me and said it was quite agreeable to the word of God; but it was soon evident by their deadness and indifference to religion, that it had a very serious effect upon their minds, withdrawing them from God, and rendering them careless of their eternal welfare. This folly, however, soon died away. I pointed out both the absurdity and uselessness of it, “for it was soon evident to them that it did not diminish their number of deaths, which rather increased than otherwise.
At Manawatu another singular delusion arose; the spirit of a child named Mati, was said to have appeared to a woman, and told her, that the many deaths were occasioned by having lizards in the body, especially in that part where the disease was seated, which thus preyed upon the unfortunate sufferer, speedily causing death; that he would drive them out of all the sick who might be brought to her. This news page 61 soon spread, and many brought their sick to be healed, always remembering to bring a present for the agent of the spirit. The woman then enquired of Mati what was the matter with the sufferer; the answer was given in a whistling tone “there is a lizard in the person,” sometimes she would say there were two or more, according to the severity of the symptoms; sometimes it was “he ngarara rahi,” a huge lizard. Then the entreaty was made to deliver the sick from it, and suddenly the squeak of the lizard was heard quitting its tenement, and they were assured the sufferer would soon recover now that the cause of the evil was removed; and sometimes when the disease was of a certain character, faith in the efficacy of the means verified the promise, and thus the lady prospered and grew rich. I visited the place where she resided, and she presented herself to me as a communicant. I not only refused her, but I told the people they should hold no communication and neither eat nor drink with her until she repented, having confessed she held communion with the devil, although she knew very well that she was only deceiving those who came to her. There was a peculiarity in her voice, coming from her stomach as it were, that convinced me she was a ventriloquist. She would not confess the deception she was practising, and her husband used very bad langaage to me; and another man of Turakina, who also tried to carry on the same profitable deception, cursed me, and said that my time was short, I should soon die, but whether by fire of water, sword or sickness, he could not say. Two months later the lady came to me and humbly confessed her sin, and acknowledged the deception, and not long after, Enoch, the man who uttered the curse, died himself.
These things may be mentioned to show, that at no time since the introduction of the Gospel has its progression been unchequered by efforts of the Evil One to turn back the native mind to its ancient state. In fact, there have been alternate retrogressions and progressions; and whenever the state of the natives was the most satisfactory, it was sure to be followed by something to grieve their friends, page 62 and keep their instructors from being lifted up by success. So likewise in all their backslidings; when doubts and fears have arisen as to the real progress of the Christian faith amongst them, then a reaction has generally followed. After this last delusion some time elapsed before a new one arose. But sickness still increased in proportion to the increase of the European population; and it was sad to see them dying so frequently. Although at Wanganui we had a hospital, which was at first erected for the Maori, and with Maori funds, still the natives generally objected to go there. They complained of having to put on the clothes worn by the sick and those who had died there, and to lie on the beds they had occupied. Some also expressed their ideas that hospitals were erected to kill them off as quickly as possible. They therefore again searched out for the cause of death. At Taupo, I was told that it was from embracing the Christian religion; but as this was said before any of the tribes there had done so, and yet they died as frequently as they did in other places, they were compelled to acknowledge that Christianity could have nothing to do with it. It was next found that the true cause of sickness arose from a small kind of lizard which lived in the wahi tapu, and which were in fact the spirits themselves. These were carefully sought for, and then a large iron pot was made red hot, and the poor little things were put into it and consumed. This caused the spirits to fly out of them in the shape of large moths; then the pots were filled with potatoes, which were eaten whilst certain prayers were uttered. Adepts in this kind of work went through the district; they selected a spot, the operator pronounced it to be the abode of this enemy of the Maori race; he stuck a pole in the ground, drew a circle around it, and commanded his followers to dig there, when they invariably found the poor little reptile, which most probably they had brought with them. It is a kind of eft, of a dirty flesh-color, and slightly transparent; and being a night lizard it lies concealed in the earth during the day; hence its existence was not known before this absurd idea arose. The lizards page 63 thus captured were placed in a bottle, and when a sufficient number were obtained they were given up to be cooked, and served in the manner just stated. This absurdity lasted some time, and deluded a considerable number.
These lizard operators thus gained so much celebrity, that they were encouraged to carry on their deception still further, by engaging to discover the places where Pounamu, green jade ornaments, Maori jewels, had been buried; a common practice in former days during war, to preserve them from falling into the hands of their enemies. They commanded their followers to dig in the spots indicated, and in several cases the amazed natives found the much-prized jewels. From Wanganui they went to Taupo, where they did the same; but unfortunately, whilst the bystanders were examining the jewel found, one recognized it as belonging to his relative who lived by the sea-side; and it was afterwards discovered that the other stones which they professed to have dug up, had likewise been stolen from places remote from those where they were disinterred, so that they might be the less likely to be detected.
This superstition was succeeded by the angel Gabriel, who made them acquainted with the fact that they had been guilty of a great error in not giving due honor to the Virgin Mary; and, therefore, that they did not belong to the true Church, which worshipped her. This, however, in its turn gave way to the Hauhaus, who professed to have had a revelation of the right way of worshipping God, and of driving out the Europeans, and making their own race increase. The new discovery was first called the Pai marire, then Hauhauism; it is a singular blending of Mormonism and mesmerism together. The originator having previously had lessons in mesmerism at Sydney, was able to do some things which appeared miraculous to the simple natives; and thus they hoped, through its instrumentality, to regain the dominion, and drive the Europeans into the sea. They further laid claim to the gift of tongues; and not only to speak English, but Hebrew as well, professing themselves to be the true descendants of the Jews. This new page 64 delusion for a time revived the spirit of resistance; but the people finding that it did not accomplish what it professed to do, are gradually giving it up.
Such are some of the tares which are constantly springing up and choking the good seed. But there are others also of which we, alas! are the cause. From being a most sober race they are rapidly becoming the contrary; and the men who stood forth to support the European, and to put down his enemies, who were enrolled as a militia, have been rewarded by having the bottle put to their mouth, and been taught to make beasts of themselves; they have learnt to drink, to break the Sabbath, and pay no more attention to religion than the worst of our countrymen, in the portion of the force they belong to. It cannot be denied that at present much deadness and indifference to religion prevails; nor is it to be wondered at. It would be more wonderful were it otherwise, since it is the same with our own men, especially those who have been engaged in active warfare; the scenes they have witnessed are all calculated to brutalize the mind. We look upon the murderer, who has imbued his hands in the blood of a fellow-creature, with unfeigned horror; but when men are licensed to be wholesale butchers, what an effect must it have upon the minds of even the best amongst ourselves! What then must it have upon the Maori? Is not: war calculated to shake the fabric of faith to its very foundations? Let it please God, however, to restore the blessings of peace, and then may we not likewise hope that He will cause a re-action to take place in the mind. This has been the case on a former occasion, why may it not be so again?
Have there been no times of apparent deadness amongst the followers of Christ in other parts; no backsliding, no falling away amongst ourselves? Without going to the great salt lake, the land of Christianized Paganism, or rather Mahometanism, we may ask, Are the absurdities even of the Hauhaus greater than those of the table-turners, spirit-rappers, clairvoyants, and such like? Still we do not say that our Church is extinguished. We have our essays and reviews, and even a Bishop, who has sunk himself below the page 65 Zulu he lives amongst. We have given birth to believers in the dogma of the immaculate conception, and in all the puerilities of by-gone days, which are supplanting vital religion for a season; and yet the Church abides, and truth still shines.
The same arguments which have been brought forward against the native Church, may be equally advanced against that of Apostolic times. What is the state now of the ancient sections of Christendom which still exist? Are they not like some of those primæval trees of a New Zealand forest, which are so encumbered with epiphytes, liands, and parasites, that we mistake their foliage for that of the parent tree, which they completely conceal? Did not even the Apostolic Church soon fall away from its first purity of doctrine and love to God? Had we no darkness? And shall we presume to say, because a day of darkness has overtaken us, that the cloud will not pass away as others have done before? Noah’s deluge covered the whole earth, but the waters retired after they had fulfilled their mission; and when the dove which was sent forth returned, it brought an olive leaf back with it. There was still life left upon the earth when all appeared dead.
An earthquake may cause an unusually high wave to arise and overflow the dry land; in its recoil it will lay bare a corresponding portion of the bottom of the sea, expose its mud and filth, and fill the air with its noxious effluvia; the water, however, soon returns to its usual channel, and the land resumes its accustomed appearance. In a similar way the war has rolled over New Zealand with its pestilential tide; it has risen above its barriers and swept away the works of man, and the fair fabrics he had erected. In its recoil it has laid bare the natural depraved state of the heart, when no longer under the control of the Spirit. But will these depths of human depravity never more be concealed? Will not the ocean of God’s love again flow back and cover up the evil? Why should this be an exception to all that has gone before? Will God permit the work He began, to be marred by the malice and hatred of the devil? But has page 66 the evil really been as great as it has been represented? Has the entire Maori Church cast away its faith? Has that portion of it which has engaged in this sad struggle done so? Does the fanatic Hauhau represent the entire body of combatants? Topini Mamaku, one of the principal hostile chiefs of Wanganui, fought together with the Hauhaus; but when they wanted to turn him to their new creed, he laughed at them, and asked where they had got it from. He said, We have the Word of God to rest upon, but what have you? He is a chief well acquainted with the Scriptures, and therefore not to be carried away with any absurdity which might arise; and doubtless there are many others in the hostile ranks who hold fast their profession without wavering, although they have thought it their duty to fight for their nationality. Tamihana Tarapipi, the celebrated king-maker, and prime minister, a sincere patriot and a noble character, read his Bible as long as he had strength left to do so, which was within a day or two of his death.
The real abandonment of the Christian faith was confined to the miserable Hauhau sect, I say was, because many of them, who have been able to shake off the mesmeric state, and regain the use of their reason, have abandoned it, and we have every cause to believe the number will daily increase; but of the rest there is hope, and a good one too, that a re-action for the better will soon take place amongst them.
In October of last year I visited the Nga-ti-rua-nui district, with the Governor. At Manawapou I met a number of the natives of that place, who had given in their adherence to the Governor; a sad, squalid, filthy-looking set. One kept rolling about his eyes as if bereft of reason: when I spoke to them of the sad change they had undergone, they did not seem much inclined to listen; but, upon the whole, behaved as well as I expected, as they were professed Hauhaus. One named Matiu, who had been the Wesleyan head teacher, and was formerly remarkable for his respectable appearance, when I expressed my wonder that he, with his knowledge of Scripture and the truth, could page 67 abandon it, and turn to the absurdities of Hauhauism, invented by men, who were far more ignorant than himself, said, he had held out until he stood alone, and then was obliged to join the multitude to save his life. He asked me for books. I told him I was ready to supply them as soon as they would be prized. He was exhorted to remember his former state, and compare it with his present one. He was bidden farewell, with the prayer that he might see his sin and be led to repent of it.
At Hawera, one of our advanced posts, I saw a considerable number of natives, who had come in and taken the oath of allegiance. They received me with great respect, crying over me, and reminding me of those who had died since they last saw me. I addressed them, saying, I had not ceased to pray for them; and now I trusted the Lord had heard my prayers, and that they were returning to His worship. They spoke very well, and I feel assured there will be a remnant left to serve God even there.
At Waihi, the most advanced post, near Ketemarae, I went to see another party, who had come in, all in a most squalid state; they likewise gave me a very kind reception, addressing me as their father and the pu kanohi, the chief eye of their tribe. I spoke to them at some length, and bid them carry my words to those still in arms and remind them of what I had said when I saw them bent on war, to be careful and refrain from it, for it would most assuredly end in their losing their lands and lives; and now I warned them of the folly of carrying it on any longer, as it could only end in their losing the remainder of what they still possessed. I saw Hohaia and the prisoners; poor Hohaia was apparently truly penitent, and had been led to see the fault he had committed. He had one of his hands very fearfully shattered; he said he did not grieve for his wound, as it was the means which it had pleased God to use to withdraw him from the war. I reminded him of the Lord’s words, “It is better to lose even a right eye or limb, rather than to lose all in another world.” At Waingongoro I saw Reihana of Waiheke one of my teachers; he said he had never given up his faith page 68 or ceased to own the Queen, but that we had given him up. I reminded him of their having stopped up the road and never answering my letters; he said Taiporo henui* was the root of the evil, as I had always told them. He held my hand for a long time in his, saying, “My father,” and assuring me that he could not give up his faith ake ake ake, for ever and ever.
Such was the state of the Nga-ti-rua-nui, who are perhaps the most blameable in this war, as they had no cause given for engaging in it; still, even amongst them I feel persuaded there will be a re-action in God’s own good time, and a remnant left to serve Him. There are, however, many entire tribes, who have not taken up arms at all, or else have done so on the side of Government. Allowing, then, to the utmost extent, the backsliding of the hostile natives, still there is no proof that there has been such an entire decadence of the native Church as has been represented.
From the North Cape to Auckland there has been peace; and though much deadness, still the outward observances of religion have been kept up. On the west coast, at Otaki and Wanganui, however diminished the number of attenders, still morning and evening services have continued to be held without any intermission every day. And even with respect to the lessened attendance, a satisfactory reason is to be assigned for much of it, from the efforts now made by the natives to preserve their rights over the various lands belonging to them, by residing upon them. The occupants of the pas are necessarily few. Thus at Otaki, where the daily congregations numbered hundreds, they have not tens now; still the natives have not abandoned the Church, but gone upon their lands, and are busily engaged in their cultivation. Yet on the Sabbath a large number of them make their appearance.
* The name of the council which decided that no more land should be sold to the Europeans, and that any infringement of that law should be visited with death.
That the love of many has waxed cold, and that much deadness and indifference to religion now prevail is conceded, nor is it difficult to account for this being so. Have we not verily been guilty in this matter? Have we set the nation an example of our superior morality and fear of God? The assertion has been made by the European that the Maories have given up their faith; they, on the, other hand, have the same idea of us, and with apparently quite as much show of reason. They have been amazed by the amount of open immorality, profane swearing, drunkenness, and dishonesty they have witnessed amongst us. They have remarked the total disregard of the Lord’s Day and of Divine worship, evinced even by those from whom a better example would be expected. One of the native contingent, who was in the late expedition to Taranaki, wrote to me in reply to a letter, exhorting them to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy; assuring me that the Sabbath was not regarded in the army as being more sacred than any other day; and, alas! this has been too frequently the case throughout this miserable war! There has been an unnecessary and totally uncalled-for violation of that holy day; and we could not reasonably expect God’s blessing on our arms whilst we openly broke His laws. Nay, we have actually attacked the natives whilst in the act of worshipping God on the Sabbath, shot the one who was officiating, and the exploit was approved of. The Waikato war began on a Sabbath, and so likewise that at Wanganui.
What could the natives think when they saw our chief men thus ignoring the very principles of the Christian faith? They thought they were the Christians and we the Heathen, that God would bless their arms rather than ours, and thus were encouraged to continue the contest; the worst of them thought there could be no real good in our faith, when its professors could thus pay so little regard to its commands; they therefore invented another, and Hauhauism arose. I well remember the first time a canoe attempted page 70 to break the Sabbath by going up the river. When they reached the first village they were stopped, and the enquiry was made why they had broken the Sabbath. The people of the canoe said that their’s was a large canoe, and the law only applied to small ones. It was quite wrong for little boats to go on the Sabbath, but not for large ones and ships; that this was the European law for the Sabbath, The inconsistency of Christians has become a sad stumbling-block to the natives. When Te Hapuka, a great Ahuriri chief, and drunkard also, was once threatened with the lock-up, he told the constable that it was very wrong to touch him, for the law only applied to low people, and not to gentlemen and chiefs like himself and so-and-so, mentioning the names of some of the principal magistrates, who were equally addicted to that disgusting habit.
In proof of the sad effects of bad example, it is remarked that the natives only curse and swear in English; all their oaths and bad words are ours, their own are entirely laid aside.
The natural consequence is, when the natives see, as Europeans increase amongst them, that the instruction given by a few solitary individuals is at variance with the general practice of the Pakeha, natural inclination leads them to prefer the example of the multitude to the teaching of the few.
Much, therefore, of the backsliding which has taken, place in the native Church, must in a great measure be attributed to the causes before mentioned. It has been said that the natives are in a state of coma at present; but, it may be asked, are they only so, and are no others in the same condition? The war has not confined its deadening influence to one race, it has sadly affected both. Another cause of declension may also be alluded to—the way our loyal natives have been treated.
The best and most exemplary of them, after gaining the victories at Moutoa and Ohotahi, which saved the Wanganui district from pillage, were enrolled as assessors and officers, and the remainder as militia. They fought side by side page 71 with the colonial forces; and it is not too much to assert, that they greatly aided in turning the. tide of war. They have shewn our men how they carry on war amongst themselves; and thus bush fighting, which was before so much, dreaded, has ceased to alarm our militia, who with their native allies have followed up the enemy into their forest retreats. Now, therefore, the hostile natives, instead of despising our mode of warfare, have learned to fear it, when they find we can not only fight in their own way, but have their own countrymen as our allies.
What, however, has been the effect of this alliance on the natives? Has it benefited them? Has it raised them in the moral scale of society? Alas! it has been quite the reverse. They have had their rations of rum, and have acquired a love of ardent spirits, and now curse and swear, literally, as a trooper. They may now be seen haunting the public-houses, a disgusting and painful proof of their new teaching. They are many of them thoroughly demoralized. Having had no Sabbath observance, they have learned to neglect it, and to believe it is of no consequence. And thus those men, who have jeopardized their lives in our defence, and been signally instrumental in preserving our provinces from destruction, have been ruined in return; and from being many of them high-principled men, have become besotted, Sabbath-breaking, worthless characters. Nay, further, the best way we have found out of shewing our admiration and good feeling towards them, has been by inviting them to resuscitate the past customs of barbarous life, to dance their revolting war dances, which even our colonial ladies attend with as much apparent gusto as the Spanish dames do their disgraceful bull-fights.
The question will naturally arise, What is being done for the good of the native race. The Missionaries are laboring in their behalf, few in number, most of them far advanced in years, and fruitlessly (some almost exultingly say), but do they stand alone in their thankless work of ameliorating the native race? I may here relate a circumstance to show that they nearly do so.page 72
A settler told me he viewed the Missionaries as the greatest curse to the land; that were it not for them and the influence of Exeter Hall, there would have been no disturbance with the natives; the best thing which could now be done for the country would be to send them all out of it. I went up the river and at one of the Kaingas was told that Matiu, a chief who had been fighting against us at Taranaki, was then in one of the houses. I called to him to come out to me; he refused; I therefore crawled in to him. He was sitting crouched down by a fire. Having spoken to him about abandoning his old friend and instructor, he said, formerly he felt the Missionaries were his friends, but now they had ceased to put any confidence in us; that we were mere tools of the Government, and were obliged to do just what we were ordered; therefore they had left us and gone over to the Church of Rome, because the priests were not under the Governor, and they trusted them, as they could do as they liked. When he had concluded, I took some of the brands from the fire and placed them on the other side of me, asking him if he could tell me where I was sitting; why, said he, between two fires. I replied that is precisely my state at this present time; before I left Wanganui, one of my own countrymen told me that Missionaries were their greatest enemies, as we only thought for the Maories, and the best thing the Governor could do would be to pack us all off out of the country. I come up the river, and look to those I have laboured amongst so many years to improve and benefit, both temporally as well as spiritually, expecting to receive at least from them some comfort, and am told, you have ceased any longer to place confidence in us. He smiled, and said my words Avere true. I left depressed in spirit. The next time I went up the river I met the same chief; he attended service, and afterwards came up to me and asked if I knew him. I replied in the affirmative, but wanted to know how it was he had again joined us, as he said, he had lost all his former confidence in us. He said, “Your words about the two fires.”