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Historical Records of New Zealand

Rev. S. Marsden to Alex. McLeay and Others

Rev. S. Marsden to Alex. McLeay and Others.

Parramatta, April 25th, 1826.


I have long wished that a corresponding committee might be formed in this colony to co-operate with the Church Missionary Society in promoting the Society’s benevolent intentions towards the natives of New South Wales and New Zealand. As an auxiliary C.M.S. is now established here, the parent Committee consider that this circumstance affords a fair opportunity to form a corresponding committee, and have expressed their views on this subject in one of the last communications I have received from London, which I will take the liberty to lay before you. I shall also solicit your permission page 659 to submit to you an epitome of the present state of the mission in New Zealand. I need not tell you what difficulties that mission has had to struggle with from those who are nominally called Christians.

Had it not been for the special protection of Divine Goodness this mission would long since have ceased to exist. I flatter myself that the great difficulties and dangers which have threatened this mission are now over, unless the number of Europeans who are now likely to take up their abode amongst the natives stir them up again. The missionaries have experienced comparatively few difficulties from the natives. The natives have generally behaved kindly to them, nor is there much danger to be apprehended from the natives in future. The evils that have affected the mission have originated from the misconduct of the Europeans, and these evils are still to be feared. From the increasing communication with New Zealand both from Europe and this colony, and from the more frequent visits the natives make to Port Jackson, render it a matter of great importance to have an efficient corresponding committee established here, to give strength, stability, and duration to the exertion of the parent Society.

At present there is none but myself in this country acquainted with the particular state of the mission, and if I should be removed before some other friends to the cause should gain the necessary knowledge of the Society’s concerns, the interest of the mission might be seriously injured. A corresponding committee would watch over the interests of the Society, and greatly strengthen the hands of the parent Committee, and afford encouragement to the missionaries in New Zealand in the faithful discharge of their respective duties.

I have already mentioned my intention of laying before you a short statement of the concerns of the mission, in doing which I shall first give you the names and duties of the persons in the actual service of the mission:—

The Revd. Henry Williams and the Revd. William Williams: These gentlemen are employed in the exercise of their clerical duties; Wm. Williams has studied medicine, and also contributed to the benefit of the natives in that capacity. John King, by trade a shoemaker, is employed in teaching the natives at Rangheehoo and the neighbouring villages as a catechist. James Kemp is a smith, and acts as a storekeeper; he also teaches the natives at Kiddee Kiddee, as his time will admit, in conjunction with George Clarke, who is also a smith. Richard Davis is a farmer, and attends to agriculture and the instruction of the natives at Kowa Kowa. William Fairburn, Charles Davis, and William Pucky are carpenters, and employed gene- page 660 rally at their trades. Hamlin is a flax dresser and weaver. James Shepherd, no trade; he is generally employed in itinerating amongst the different tribes, instructing them in the Christian religion, as he understands the language better than any of the other missionaries. William Spikeman, herdsman. William Hall is a carpenter, and at present resides at the seminary at Parramatta, on leave of absence for the benefit of his health.

The total number of men is 13; of women, 10; and children, 36 : total, 59.

Each man and woman have £20 per annum salary allowed for cloaths, wine, spirits, and other little comforts, and also a ration; £10 per annum with a ration is allowed for each child. The estimated expense of 59 men, women, and children is £28 each per annum, inclusive of everything, amounting in the whole to one thousand six hundred and fifty-two pounds. This sum will vary a little according to circumstances, but I apprehend not materially.

It may not be improper for me here to submit to you the official rules, regulations, and instructions which the parent Society have established for the government of this mission, as these documents will put you in full possession of the Society’s views and intentions relative to it. I beg further to observe in 1823 I was in New Zealand; several of the missionaries’ children at that time required instruction such as they could not receive in their situation. I consulted with some of their parents, to know what could be done for them to prevent their children from becoming heathenish in their principles and behaviour. It was thought that the most prudent means that could be adopted was to establish a seminary in New South Wales for them and some of the chiefs’ children who might be disposed to visit Port Jackson. On my return to the colony I consulted some of my friends here, who very much approved of the proposition. I immediately wrote to the parent Society, informing the Committee what my intentions were, and without waiting for their answer began the building on my own responsibility. In due time I received the sanction of the Society for establishing the seminary.

When the building was ready for the reception of the New Zealaders who were then living with me they removed into it, and some have continued in it ever since.

Mr. and Mrs. Shepherd and Mr. and Mrs. Hamlin resided there while they remained in the colony, and Mr. and Mrs. Hall and family are there at the present time. In the accompanying letter which I addressed to the Society, my views and intentions are more fully stated.

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The building is still my property, no part of the expense attending it has been charged to the Society, nor for the support of the New Zealanders, who from time to time resided in it. As it was a concern entirely under my own direction I was unwilling to make any demand upon the Society until the premises had been surveyed by competent judges, and some sanction given by persons of respectability in the colony for me to draw upon the treasurer of the Society for the value of the building.

Should a corresponding committee be formed, and the seminary found upon trial to answer the intended purpose, in that case I shall leave it to the option of the Society to purchase the building or to pay the colonial interest for the amount of the money that has been expended, so long as the seminary may be required for the original purpose. I shall with this view make out an account of expenses and lay them before the Committee, and the Committee may then form their own determination on the subject.

I have, &c.,

Samuel Marsden.

To Alexander McLeay, Esqre.; Saxe Bannister. Esqre.; Revd. Wm. Cowper; Revd. Richard Hill.