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The Past and Present Of New Zealand With Its Prospects for the Future

Chapter IV. The Church

page 73
The Old Priest of Waikowau, West Coast.

The Old Priest of Waikowau, West Coast.

Chapter IV. The Church

The next inquiry to be made is, Has the Government aided the Missionaries in their efforts to raise the Maori race. The native is especially regarded as a ward of Government; he is still considered as being only in statu pupillari, unable to manage his own affairs, and, therefore, not allowed to dispose of, or lease his own lands but through the agency of his guardians. Thus so carefully attended to in worldly matters, it may be asked, what have his guardians done to raise him in the scale of society?

Upon the estimates for the year ending June 30, 1867, under the head of native department, the large sum of £29,986. 15s. 10d. was placed. This looks well at first sight; surely here is a sufficiency to maintain good Maori page 74 schools, or to afford aid in their establishment, and to furnish help towards the support of native ministers as well. But on examining this large estimate, for schools—nothing is granted; and the other, has not yet been considered, their guardianship not reaching so far. The Superintendent, in his speech to the Provincial Council, spoke of the native race as though it were dying out, and that it was their office to smooth the pillow of the dying, that it might be an Euthanasia; and on that principle it appears they act as trustees only to administer to the property of the deceased. The £30,000 are appropriated chiefly for three purposes. The first and largest portion is to pay the salaries of European officers connected with the native department; the next applies to native assessors, policemen, &c.; and the last to pensions granted to loyal chiefs and natives who have been severely wounded. But whilst these may do some good for the maintenance of peace, and the reward of the deserving, there is not a farthing to any higher object. This is very sad; it is really treating the race as a dying one, and only bestowing physic without any nourishing food to support life. It appears a pity that the State cannot take a higher view of the subject.

The noble conduct of the Government of Norway and Sweden in this particular is worthy of all praise and imitation by the colonies of Great Britain. Through its paternal care and protection the aboriginal inhabitants of Lapland are still in existence in the nineteenth century, and their temporal and spiritual interests are carefully attended to, though in the ethnologist’s estimation the Lapps are of a very inferior type to that of the Maori. If we contrast this with the state of the aboriginal races of America, after a lapse of about three centuries’ contact with the Europeans, or those of Australia and Tasmania after rather less than a century, Britain has little to be proud of as a civilized and Christian people. Let our race be careful of the character which will be given us in another century; may there then be found some of the Maori race to stand, not on the ruined bridge of London, but to look over its firm battlements page 75 upon the still flourishing emporium of the world, and be able to say with admiration, this is our foster parent which nursed us into a nation, and nourished us as a branch of the universal Church of God.

The next enquiry will be, What has the Church of England done, to retain in its bosom a race which has owned its maternity, and which, indeed, has in a great measure received from it its existence as a Christian Church, in all its integrity, throughout the New Zealand Islands. Strictly speaking the Church Missionary Society has done all.* The Bishop of New Zealand himself has the honor of being one of its chief laborers, and the credit of whatever he may have done of right belongs to that Society. The Church of England has given through it two Bishops to the native race, and these have ordained several of the Maories in each of their Dioceses, and in that of Waiapu, a considerable endowment fund has been raised amongst the natives for the support of their ministry. Hitherto the providing for the native teachers or lay element has been greatly overlooked. By it the wants of the islands were supplied in past years, and it will be only through its agency that the country can be occupied for years to come; and yet it is a subject which has been treated as of little or no importance. Had more attention been paid to it, I am persuaded we should have had less to grieve us in this sifting time. Wherever a good native teacher is met with, there the beneficial effects will be perceived. There is a small sprinkling already of native clergy, here one and there one: have they acted as centres, from whence light has radiated amongst their countymen? It is, perhaps, premature to give an opinion. They have been and still are sowing the seed, but the ground may not have been most suitable for its germination.

If the heart be in the work,—if he who seeks to save feels that he himself is a sinner saved,—the fire will burn, and God will provide from His holy Word the fuel to sustain the flame;

* I am merely writing of the Church Mission, and therefore there is no reference here made to the labors of the Wesleyan Mission, which has gone on onoin its sphere of usefulness hand in hand with the Church.

page 76 but without this the native ministry will not effect the object desired. Bishop Crowther must surround himself with kindred spirits to his own, to spread the Christian faith throughout the vast plains of Nigritia. It is not sufficient that his clergy should be black, but that they have the root of the matter in them. It is only that which will give one black man power over another, and not merely the color of the skin. If converted men are sent forth to convert others, the leaven will work; and being of the same blood as those they work amongst, it will rise the quicker.

This, then, is the great business to which the Church has now to attend; the sending forth suitable laborers into the Lord’s vineyard. The Missionary Church has the honor of being the first to concede equal rights and privileges to its Maori members; it has not only given them an entrance into its councils, but admitted them to the ministry, and in this respect it is doubly entitled to their affection, whilst at the same time it is setting the Government an example to follow in its steps, by admitting the native chiefs to those offices in the state to which they have an equal right with ourselves. None of the offices yet bestowed upon them can be regarded as calculated to raise the confidence of the natives in our intention of dealing fairly with them.

The staff of Bishops is now complete; but the staff of ministers is far from being so. In the Diocese of Waiapu, a synod of Maori clergymen has been held, and their deliberations will doubtlessly tend to the welfare of that part. But measures must now be taken on a larger scale, sufficient to meet the wants of the entire native Church; how those wants are to be met on a scale commensurate with its requirements is the great consideration. Wherever we have sufficient numbers to form a congregation, there should, and must be, some plan devised to supply ministration for it, either lay or clerical.

The plan just adopted by the Church Missionary Society appears very judicious: in order to encourage the raising of funds for the support of native ministers and teachers, it proposes to supplement for a time the annual amount raised page 77 amongst the native Church members; and this is not to be confined to one spot in a Diocese, but is to be extended to every Missionary Station, as being the true centres of native action. The Church Missionary Society is still the great stay of the Church, and of the Bishops as well; it yields them far more support than the crosier. For where would the native Church be without it, and what would be the hold its Bishops would have until the proposed organization be fully established?

And now it may be asked what is the prospect for the future?—is it bad?—is it hopeless?—or is it good and hopeful. I unhesitatingly answer there is nothing to dishearten the friends of Missions, and when the heart is in the work, nothing to drive the laborer from his post. The New Zealand Church is not called upon to go through more than other Churches have been. Let the war and its attendant evils cease, and then we may hope for a reaction. I think no one can doubt that the true leaven was in the lump, and who can say that it has even now ceased working; when the dough is set it is covered over to keep the heat in. Who can put forth his hand and raise that covering to reveal the hidden working within, but the Mighty One who placed it thereon? And who can say when the leaven has been applied, that, contrary to nature, it is not working; we know that the cloth which covers it up from the view has its object in being placed there, and the dark cloud which shuts out the sunlight for a time and throws all into the deeper shade, is secretly refreshing the earth and repairing it to bring forth its fruits with increased vigor when it passes away and returning sunshine lightens and warms the earth’s moistened surface.*

The Heathen are given to the Lord for an inheritance; they form a portion of His everlasting kingdom. The great

* One evening when the state of the natives appeared to be darkest, I walked through my village, and heard a woman praying. I drew near; her husband was sick; she prayed for his recovery, and especially that God would be pleased to pour out his Spirit upon them both, upon their ministers, teachers, and upon all of them. I returned home comforted and thankful.

page 78 Redeemer’s banner has floated over New Zealand, and it will float for evermore.

The work of the Missionary is well nigh ended. When it was required, the Lord so ordered it, that every facility was given to him in penetrating through the country. It was a novelty to the young men to travel with impunity from tribe to tribe. This was not capable of being done before the Missionary appeared; therefore, he had no difficulty for years in procuring bearers, the chief one was, making the selection from those who offered; and the remuneration expected was moderate. But when others beside the Missionary began to travel into the interior, it then became a matter of pounds, shillings, and pence. When the Bishop of Wellington wished to go up the river, we could not procure boys to accompany us for five shillings a-day. Missionary travelling, therefore, in the old way, is ended; and at present, where a canoe is necessary, I tell the natives that when they wish for me to go and administer the Sacrament, they must come for me; and this is now done without asking for any remuneration. This I consider is a token for good, and a sign that they are really in earnest, and properly appreciate their minister’s visits.

But every thing now is in a transition state; the long journeys on foot of the Missionary are ended; roads are now being made, and in future the horse may be used, and no companions will be needed. Indeed, it is reality a sign of advancement, that the native is no longer a carrier of burthens; and when it is remembered that a generation has not yet passed away since the painted cannibal stood supreme, what a change has taken place! What progress has been made! We do not, with those who despond, confine the benefits of the Mission to such as have died in the faith. We do not unite with those who talk of smoothing the dying pillow of the Maori race; but we look forward in faith to see a native Church permanently established, with its native ministry, still leading generation after generation to the foot of the Cross, and crowning Christ as their all in all.

Before concluding this subject a few words more may be page 79 added on the present and future of the Maori race. We are obliged now to leave it in the midst of war with our countrymen, although there is strong reason to hope that this state will not last long.

The present time, therefore, is not a favorable one for forming an estimate of the race. It is seen, as far as progression goes, to great apparent disadvantage, as all the points most interesting to contemplate are obscured or hidden, whilst those which are least to be admired are the most prominent. When two dogs quarrel they assume the fiercest posture and appearance they are capable of, bristling up their hair, planting their fore feet firmly in advance, and showing their teeth to the greatest advantage. Man imitates them when going to fight. He knows every thing depends on the first impression made on his foe; he therefore assumes the most defiant look, to strike terror into his heart, and make him believe he is all courage; if he succeed half the battle is already gained. So with the natives; to make themselves the most formidable in fight, they disfigure themselves with hideous contortions of the countenance, and blacken their faces with charcoal. As we dress our soldiers in red to give them as sanguinary an aspect as possible, though, to diminish the effect of the original intention, we now ornament their dresses with gold lace and other devices, so the Maori has added the lines of the tattoo, to render the plain charcoal more artistic. But this applies more especially to past times.

The mention of one act of the Wanganui natives ought not to be omitted, as it is a proof that they were sensible of the great blessing Mr. Marsden had conferred upon their race, and which they were the first publicly to acknowledge, although he never visited their part of the Island, and none of them had ever seen him. They subscribed ten guineas to erect a monument to his memory. A neat white marble tablet was obtained and sent to Parramatta to be placed in his Church there, as a memorial of their love and gratitude to that great and good man, for the love he had for their race and his labors in their behalf. Although that venerable page 80 man had been dead eighteen years, the Maori monument had the honor of being the first tribute of respect paid to his memory.

Many are unreasonable in their expectations of native progress; they look for as much permanent advancement in one generation, as we have made ourselves during the long period which has elapsed since we were painted savages, as they were but a few years ago; in fact, to be as good as we ought to be, patterns and ensamples of every virtue.

During one of the Governor of New Zealand’s journeys he told some of the natives who were around his tent, that they should do good to others as well as to themselves, and ought to give a tenth of their annual income in works of charity; the natives listened with great attention and afterwards went away. In the middle of the night, however, two of them returned and woke up the Governor, who enquired what was the matter; they said that they had been holding a council respecting his conversation with them, and they were deputed to ask whether he himself had been in the habit of giving a tenth of his income annually for charitable purposes. The Governor was obliged to confess that he had not hitherto done so, but he would begin from that time; the Governor therefore gave three hundred pounds to the Bishop of Wellington, with which he purchased the site of his present Cathedral Church, as his tenth for that year.

The hopeful view which is here taken of the native Church, and the strong conviction expressed, that whatever may have been its backsliding during the long period of this sad war, it will still recover and assume a far more permanent form, when that war and its attendant evils have passed away, is fully borne out by the most recent intelligence received.

The Bishop of Waiapu reports an interesting conversation which he held with a native he casually met by the road side: he was asked if he had laid aside his faith? he replied that he had not; and to the enquiry, what has Christ done for you? he answered, “He came into the world and died upon the cross for my sins, and I believe upon Him.” But this was only the confession of an individual.

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Doctor Maunsell states, that during a late journey he was surprised to hear a bell at a little distance, and proceeding to see what it meant, he found that it was rung by a party who had just landed and were not aware that he was in the district. “Coming suddenly to the door he found about twelve reverently and devoutly on their knees engaged in their evening devotions.” But the most interesting communication is from the Rev. T. S. Grace, who boldly returned to his former district at Taupo, even before the path was cleared of the enemy; on the way he met with friends who still held on to their faith, and at one place he had morning service with thirty-five, and before the afternoon service two natives, who had been Hauhaus, came to know if they might be allowed to return to the Church. At Taupo there was a large meeting of both those who were well disposed and the still hostile Hauhaus, the entire number being nearly four hundred. One of the points proposed at that meeting was, what return should be made to Mr. Grace for the loss of his property. It was decided that compensation should be given by those who had plundered the mission premises. In the distribution of food even the Hauhaus presented Mr. Grace with a portion. He afterwards addressed the assembly, and was listened to by all with the deepest attention, whilst he stated the evils which they had brought upon the country and themselves by their conduct; and he remarked in conclusion, that he felt convinced “nothing can be more clear than the fact that their Hauhau faith is nine-tenths of it political,” which is the view the writer has long entertained, and that it will pass away with the war which first called it into being. At all the central places where the people assembled, he had full employment in marrying couples, baptizing children, and holding services; a clear proof that the faith of many only wants a favourable opportunity to be again developed.

The last mail with these interesting particulars brings also the news that the venerable patriarch of the Mission—Henry Williams—is no more; that old and tried servant having been removed at the ripe age of seventy-five to his page 82 eternal rest. In former times much abuse was heaped upon him; it is pleasing to see how entirely he outlived it, and that his death is chronicled by the New Zealand press in terms which clearly express the high respect in which he was held, and do full justice to the energy and devotion of that good man in the glorious cause in which he was engaged.

A short time before his death a quarrel took place between two neighbouring hapus, who were on the point of coming to blows, when they heard of that venerable Missionary’s death: so deep was the respect in which he was held, that both hapus agreed to suspend their quarrel until after his burial, whose life had been spent in teaching and preaching to them the blessed Gospel of peace and forgiveness through Jesus Christ.

In the present day, when the enemy is more formidable and far more numerous, the inventive genius of the Maori has endeavoured to find out some other means of rendering themselves still more fearful; and, to effect this, they invented Hauhauism, which was supposed to possess the double advantage of strengthening their side, and in the same degree weakening the other. By the assumption of supernatural powers, of working miracles, combined with the gift of tongues and the possession of a religion containing a little of Judaism with much of Heathenism, they drew largely on the faith of their followers, and greatly diminished their fear of British bombs, balls, rockets, and other missiles of civilized warfare; and, at the same time, by their horrid yells and incantations, exercised a kind of fascinating influence even over our men, as many instances might be brought forward to prove. But all this must be viewed as the efforts of a bold and determined race, to preserve their nationality in face of the formidable foe they had to contend with; and we should be unjust to suppose, because they have thus acted in a time of war, that they will continue the same in a time of peace. If war brings its warlike appearances, peace likewise has its peaceable aspects. Already this is beginning to be seen, and Hauhauism is declining; and even amongst these worst forms and greatest departures from former teaching, we look page 83 for a great reaction and revival; the past seed sown, though long dormant, when the season becomes propitious to its germination, will again shoot forth.

These remarks apply solely to the hostile portion of the race. Another remains to be alluded to—the neutral one. It is the belief of many that the Maories have greatly diminished; in proof of this the last native census is referred to,—the disproportion of females to the males, and the diminished offspring. On the other hand it may be said, the former census is not to be relied upon; to the writer’s certain knowledge many of the returns were merely rough guesses; the actual native census has never yet been taken. Parts could be mentioned which, so far from having their population given, have never been visited by those who were commissioned to make the returns. That of the country inland of the Nga-ti-rua-nui, between Mount Egmont and the Wanganui, has not yet been visited by any European but the writer. It had its villages when he visited it; and he has every reason to believe, that many who were disinclined to war, retired there for peace and security. The district of Mokau likewise, and the inland parts of the country in general, have without doubt a considerable population, which has greatly increased during the war, and will soon show itself on its termination; to say nothing of that portion which has remained openly peaceable, and of the loyal natives in general.

In searching up members of the congregation who had long been lost sight of, it was astonishing to find into what out-of-the-way places they had stowed themselves. Anxious to maintain their own, many had gone to reside in spots where no one would expect to find any one living. This has been especially the case with those who have been peaceably inclined, and who wished equally to avoid coming into collision with either the European or their own countrymen, and therefore concealed themselves in those retired and hidden localities. But when peace is established they will, I am persuaded, come forth from their hiding-places, and astonish those, who thought only of their euthanasia, by the supposed decrease of their numbers. The general use page 84 of European clothing and food will likewise aid in preserving life, so that for the future we may expect increased health and decreasing mortality.

What, then, is the real state of the Maori race in the present day, and what is its prospect for the future? Are we to look for its decease, and for the hopelessness of any fruit from all that has been done for it? Are all the expectations of the Christian public to be disappointed? Let us briefly consider its present real position.

Reference has been already made to the state it was in when the Missionary first stepped on New Zealand’s shores. Let one of its chiefs of that time be made to re-appear, and be placed by the side of the most turbulent of the present day,—how unlike the one is to the other. Can they be said to belong to the same race? And still a generation has not yet passed away.

Compare the appearance of the former, with his skin daubed over with red ochre and shark’s oil, with the well-clothed native of this time; the former surrounded by his slaves, whose very life depended on his fitful temper; there are no slaves now, and those who went to the present war, went of their own accord; there was no constraint, their force was formed solely by voluntary compact.

The cannibal feasts have totally disappeared. It is true, to harrow up the feelings of animosity against the race, attempts have been made to make the public believe that there are cases of its revival, but such assertions were unfounded.

At Oakura, when the murderous attack was made on an escort party, May 4th 1863, which was the recommencement of the war at Taranaki, the body of a soldier was dragged on one side by a fellow, and supposed to be for a cannibal purpose. Immediately this was known the entire native force arose and protested against such a horrid act. The corpse was thrown into a potatoe pit, and there it was found stripped of all its clothing, but unmutilated.

The conduct of the natives at the Gate Pa may also be mentioned. The noble officers with their sergeants, who page 85 stood their ground when their panic-struck men abandoned them, though they fell, are worthy of all honour for their bravery; and poor Colonel Booth, who, mortally wounded, lived to state, when rescued the following day, that not only did they spare his life, and refrain from plundering his person even of his gold watch—only taking his sword—but that they even treated him with kindness and commiseration, actually lifting him up at his request, and leaning him against a building; and further, when suffering the agony of thirst, one noble fellow volunteered to bring him water at the risk of his own life, and gave it to him, though all were busy in self-preservation, their own position being then most critical, he himself was shortly after killed.

Comparing, then, the state of the past with the worst of the present, there has evidently been a great change for the better.

The war has been a great trial to the native Church, but it may yet be productive of good, as a season of affliction is to the believer: the furnace purifies the gold. The flint is dark and opaque, but the blow given it elicits the spark; and even the solar rays are said to be incapable of giving light until they strike the earth; so may the shock which this war has given the native Church, draw forth a purer and more permanent light.

Let, then, the prospect for the future be considered. The peaceably-disposed, which form by no means an inconsiderable portion of the population, will in times of peace exercise their legitimate influence over the whole. They have kept up the observance of religion even during the most adverse times; they will now continue to do so with increased influence. It is true that the seeds of demoralization have germinated and borne fruit; drinking is now an established vice, deadness to religion is also increased; still, on the other side, must be considered their advancement in the manners and customs of civilized life, in agriculture, in their way of living and general knowledge. The war, too, with all its evils, has not been without some compensating good; the loyal natives and the European Militia frater- page 86 nized, they lived together, fought together, and have thus formed a friendship which will continue for life, and aid in the consolidation of the two races and the future good understanding between them.

In a spiritual point of view, likewise, the prospect is far better than many suppose. The Church of England has treated the native as a brother, it has raised him to the same level with its other members, it has conferred on him the same rank and influence which it has on them; and thus the Maori race at this time, instead of being like a disorganized army, disbanded and without any recognized leader, possess, in addition to their European Bishops and clergy, a body of native clergy, with teachers and schoolmasters as well; therefore, instead of resuming their position with decreased powers, they will stand forth with enlarged ones. Bishop Williams with his Maori Synod on the one hand, and the native clergymen in other places, having stood their ground during the trying time of war, will now be prepared to act on the offensive in the time of peace, and with a more numerous native clergy, will have increased weight with their people, which, by the Divine blessing, will aid in the permanent improvement and increase of their race.