The Past and Present Of New Zealand With Its Prospects for the Future
Chapter II. The Church
Chapter II. The Church
It will now be necessary, at the termination of this first epoch of the New Zealand Church’s history, to trace the effects produced on the native mind by the establishment of the Christian faith.
Then there was an implicit faith in its truth. The natives viewed the Bible as the inspired Word of God, and everything it commanded men to do, they believed should be done, as far as they were able. The greatest desire was manifested to possess a copy of it, and to be able to read for themselves the message of mercy sent to them in it. I was present when the first case of Testaments sent to Tauranga arrived, early in 1839. I shall never forget the desire expressed by the natives to obtain them. Money they had none; potatoes, however, they had in abundance, and these were brought, so many ketes,—baskets, for a copy. The whole stock was at once disposed of. One man, when he had obtained a copy, said, Now he had a telescope on board his ship which would enable him to see the rocks and shoals afar off. Nor was it page 20 merely the desire to be able to say they had it, they really read it, or rather, devoured it. Old men of seventy have learnt to read; whenever they had a spare moment they might be seen clustering round some one who was reading. On one occasion when going up the Wanganui, Mamaku, the head chief of the Upper Wanganui, was in the canoe, stretched all his length in it, with his Testament in his hands; he kept searching for passages which he could not understand, and asking their meaning; every now and then, when a rapid was approached, he jumped up, seized his pole, and, with his great muscular power, pushed the canoe, beyond the bad place, and then laying it aside again, took his book and resumed his enquiries. For many years almost daily were letters received, written on a leaf of the Phormium tenax with a nail, asking the meaning of different passages of Scripture which perplexed them.
Great was the joy which was felt when the arrival of a grant of New Testaments from the Bible Society was announced; there was no rest until the box was opened and the whole were sold. The proceeds, more than £50, were remitted to that Society, which kindly repeated the grant, and to our Wesleyan fellow-laborers as well, who, having distributed theirs gratis, completely spoilt the further sale. It was therefore necessary to do the same also; but not thinking it altogether prudent to bestow a copy on each applicant indiscriminately, every one was required first to read a verse, which if he could manage to do, and did not possess one, a copy was at once given him, with his name written in it, and making it Tapu, or exclusively his own, to hinder its being given away; in this manner several hundred copies were disposed of. It was wonderful to see how many could read, and write likewise; every day generally brought its Maori mail, with letters on all subjects; one giving information of a quarrel, requesting interference; another containing a petition for books or medicine; another from a teacher, giving an account of his last sermon, and the heads of it, requesting a reply to say whether he had treated the subject rightly; some were filled with queries as to the page 21 meaning of different texts, or to their proper line of conduct under certain circumstances.
Amongst the applicants for books, were some who requested to be allowed to select a verse for themselves to read; this they were permitted to do, thinking they would select some easy part; but they read so very glibly, that they had finished half a dozen verses before in general they could manage to read one. Suspecting some little trick, the book was handed upside down to one of them, when the conjecture was found to be correct; he could read as well one way as the other, in fact, so great was their desire to obtain the Scriptures, that they had taken the trouble to commit a large portion to memory. They were not, however, disappointed, the only stipulation being that they should try and learn to read as soon as possible, and, in the meantime, get those who could, to read the book to them.
Amongst the applicants one day, there was a lady whose head was anointed with red ochre and oil; as this was quite a Heathen custom, she was told that it was not likely she could care for the Word of God whilst she still followed such Heathen customs; she declared she did; then a proof of her sincerity was demanded, and if a book were given her, she was to give her head in return. She enquired with amazement what that meant, and was told it meant that if the sacred book was given her, she must let her head be henceforth sacred to God, and put no more red ochre upon it. She at once acceded to the terms, and so obtained the Testament and a piece of soap as well. She soon returned to show her head, which had been carefully washed, and from that time the red ochre and oil were discarded. At Church, which was never neglected, she generally placed herself in some conspicuous spot, so that it might be seen that she was true to her engagement. One day, however, she was met with a pipe in her mouth; the exclamation was immediately made, that that was an infringement of the bargain, for her head she must remember was sold, and pipes in ladies’ mouths were not approved of. It was true, she replied, that her head was sold, but that did not include page 22 her mouth. She was willing, however, to make another bargain, and dispose of her mouth also, provided she might have a companion for the Testament. The enquiry was made what was the companion she desired; she said, a Prayer-Book. Her terms were agreed to; a Prayer-Book was given; ‘and now,’ said she, ‘I have sold both my head and mouth also;’ and she faithfully kept her promise; the pipe was ever after disused, and both Bible and Prayer-Book were her inseparable companions to the end of her life.
The Word of God being thus spread abroad, and so generally read, often proved an antidote to Popery. One of my scholars was invited by the Priest into his house, where he showed him some of his treasures, amongst which was an image of the Virgin, at the same time telling him that it was very wicked of the Pero * (the name bestowed upon the Protestants by the French Priests) not to worship the mother of God; the boy replied that she was only the mother of Jesus Christ as man. Well, but, rejoined the Priest, she is in heaven, and therefore ought to be prayed to; the boy quickly answered, still being only a woman she could not be everywhere present, and if she was in that part of heaven which was over France, and could hear those who prayed to her there, she certainly could not hear any one in New Zealand, which was so far off. The Priest burst out into a laugh, and, giving him a slap on the back, bid him go about his business.
* Short for Perotehani, probably the French way of Maorifying the word Protestant. Pero means a mangy dog.
So very particular were they during the first war in destroying even English books, lest any of them should be the Scriptures, that many were spared because they looked like Bibles.
Next to respect for God’s Word, was that paid to His worship; daily morning and evening prayer was attended in every place by its inhabitants, and in the larger pas of Waikanae and Otaki there were nearly, if not quite, as many present on week days as on the Sabbath; in fact, all attended. I have seen from five to seven hundred present, morning and evening, at Otaki, which was nearly the entire population of the place. This was also the case in every little hamlet as well; and after service school was kept. Those who could read were formed into Bible Classes, and the rest, comprising young and old, were catechised.
The daylight was scarcely suffered to be clear before the morning bell rang; or, what was far more common, an old gun barrel, suspended from the gable end of the church, was struck, to summon all to prayer; and in many cases, the chief, who in former times had led them to battle, now become their teacher, led them to the throne of grace.
Even during the fishing season this custom was not given up. When the tide served early in the morning, the bell page 24 was frequently rung at the Mission Stations at three or four, which obliged the Missionary to arise at that early hour, so that they might not go to sea without having had prayers. At other times, when the tide served still earlier, and they had to go in the night, they yet did not forget this necessary duty, but one of the teachers accompanied them; and when the Kaupapa—fleet of canoes, which oftentimes numbered as many as seventy, reached the fishing-ground, * the head chief hoisted his flag, as a signal for all to assemble around his canoe; when the teacher stood up a hymn was given out, and the usual service held on the bosom of the deep; then they began their fishing, which continued until the tide turned, when they again hoisted the signal, and returned. And a beautiful sight it was to see the red painted canoes, with their white sails, slowly advancing with the tide to their several homes. And whilst on the subject of fishing, a circumstance connected with it may also be mentioned.
One Christmas the natives had been very unsuccessful with their fishing; and it was the more unfortunate, as they expected many visitors coming from all parts to keep the Christmas with them. They came and enquired what they should do, and were asked whether they had made it a subject of prayer; they said they had not. I bid them do so. They went and did as they were told before going again to fish, and returned with their canoes quite filled with sharks; in two or three expeditions they caught the enormous number of seven thousand! This answer to prayer was so remarkable, that it made a strong impression upon them, and called forth an acknowledgment of God’s goodness to them.
* All along the New Zealand coast the natives have their fishing banks, which are well known by their own peculiar bearings.
In sickness the natives were very particular in having prayer with the sufferer. It was not sufficient to have medicine for the sick. This was not thought much of, unless accompanied with prayer. In acute attacks, where the sufferer has cried out by reason of the pain, the teacher would not cease his prayers until the symptoms became more favorable. And, in some cases, one teacher has been succeeded by another, so that prayer might not cease until the pains also ceased. *
In few countries has the Sabbath been better observed than in New Zealand. The day was strictly kept sacred; no work was done on it; the very potatoes to be cooked were scraped the night before. Previous even to the arrival of the Missionary in the south, the natives had heard that the seventh day was to be kept holy, and they observed it.
* The chief remedy with the Maori for all diseases was oil, or turpentine and oil, with which the entire body was anointed; this embrocation they called Rongoa piro-piro, strong-smelling medicine; this, in fact, appears to have been the most ancient remedy in the East. The good Samaritan had his bottle of oil and wine with him on his journey, in case of accident or sickness, just the same as the Maori has when he travels. The Apostles anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them. St. James exhorts those that are sick to get the elders to anoint them with the usual remedy—oil, to which prayer is to be added, that the remedy might prove efficacious. The Maori, even in his Heathen state, combined prayer with medicine. Prayers were enjoined to be used on every occasion; and the Christian natives have continued the practice, that the prayer of faith may save the sick. And as we may view the word “oil” as being put for medicine in general, we ought to do as St. James exhorts us. The anointing with oil was evidently done to obtain bodily health. The practice, therefore, of the Romish Church, of only anointing those who are supposed to be past relief, is as childish as it is useless, and as superstitious as it is unchristian; in fact, a mere mockery.
During the entire period of my stay in New Zealand, daily morning and evening prayer has never ceased being offered up in my Church. And this leads next to the mention of their Churches. The Maories have no stone-built edifices to attract attention, with long-drawn aisles and fretted vaults. Still they have erected many buildings which have excited the astonishment of all who have seen them; and it is due to them to say, that the finest, largest, and most carefully-built edifices which they ever erected, were those raised as Churches for the worship of God. Many of these are highly ornamented and carved, and are really beautiful edifices; the only pity is, that as they are made of such perishable materials, they only last a few years. But their general character is more unpretending; and the chief object with the Missionary has been to get the people of each place to erect a neat building proportioned to their number, which should be Tapu to the service of God, and never used for any other purpose; not only that they should not eat or sleep in it, but not use it as a whare korero noa—a council chamber, or for idle converse. Many of these buildings were erected by one person alone, who did it as a token of love to God, or as a self-inflicted penalty for something he had done. At Rotoaira the natives of Poutu built a very pretty Church, most elaborately ornamented with arapaki—lattice work, when they embraced Christianity, after the murder of Manihera and Kereopa. It might be called most justly a memorial Church to their honor. But the best memorial to those two devoted men, who laid down page 27 their lives as faithful servants of Christ, was the baptism of twenty-eight of those concerned in their murder, in that very Church; and a more affecting scene it has scarcely ever fallen to my lot to witness; and on the following morning when leaving them, on returning home, the whole congregation walked by the Missionary’s side to the end of their cultivations, and then bid him an affectionate farewell.
Thus, in the place where dragons lay in the abodes of cruelty, have the words of the prophecy been fulfilled: “The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitations of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.” (Is. xxxv. 7.)
And now, in all those places were houses of prayer to be seen literally built of reeds and rushes, dedicated to the service of the Most High; and if they have not beaten their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks, they have made their gun barrels serve as bells, and caused them to utter sounds of love and peace, instead of echoing with the knell of death.
A question often put, is, What is the amount of Christian knowledge which the Maori has gained? This may apply to them individually, or to the Maori race generally.
It is a common practice of travellers and voyagers to speak disparagingly of the religion of savage nations; to make it appear that they have the slightest possible connection with humanity, it is often affirmed that many tribes have either no religion at all, or next to none. Perhaps there is nothing that travellers are in reality less able to speak of than this. Natives seldom permit strangers to witness their sacred rites; and even if they did, without a perfect acquaintance with their language, manners, customs, &c., they could not form a just opinion on the subject. Of the Australian tribes it has been repeatedly asserted, that they have no conception of a God, or of the duty of worshipping Him; and yet, low as the Australian aborigines may be, they have sacred mysteries at which they will not allow a stranger to be present. Is it reasonable to suppose they can have these without also having an idea of some Being whom they are page 28 intended to propitiate? So likewise the Maories have been spoken of as being atheists and infidels: they have been very much wronged by such suppositions. Bad as the religion of the heathen Maories undoubtedly was; still they had one and believed in it, and conformed to its requirements; in fact, it is much to be doubted, whether there is a tribe to be found in any part of the world so degraded as not to have some knowledge of God left, and a fixed manner of worshipping Him. It is not, I fear, amongst savages we must look for atheists and infidels, but amongst professing Christians; amongst those bearing Christian names, and belonging to Christian lands. To their shame be it spoken, that whilst they can live in the midst of light without God in the world, the Heathen, even in their unenlightened state, could not, dared not do so, or run to the same excess of riot as they do.
The Maori race were very particular in observing all their rites; they entered into every thing they did; they undertook no work without first performing a religious service; whether they went to war, to fish, or hunt, they first approached their gods, that the undertaking might be prosperous. When they planted their Kumara, the Priest first invoked their gods; the same also when the ingathering of the crop took place; the first-fruits, whether they were those of the hunt, or fishing, or fighting, were all sacred. In fact, they had far greater fear of the Tapu, as that spiritual law was called, than they had of their enemies; and when they became Christians, in a similar way they earned religion out in every thing; they never took a meal without first begging a blessing upon it, and returning thanks when it was finished.
As a race they were as observant of the Ten Commandments as they had previously been of the Tapu. Polygamy, which before was general, and which was a great means of enabling the chief to maintain his dignity, (for each wife represented a farm with slaves to work it, and thus furnished him with a sufficiency of food to entertain his guests liberally,) was given up, and thus the chief’s resources were greatly diminished.page 29
The honesty of the natives could not be questioned; they lived in peace and quietness amongst themselves. I have passed a quarter of a century with them in one place, and during that long period I have scarcely seen a quarrel amongst them, and never had one with them myself.
Several times hostile visits were paid to them in former days. Iwikau te Heuheu, the late chief of Taupo, headed one of these expeditions; they began plundering the cultivations of the Putiki natives. Mawae, at the head of our natives, went out to them; he asked me to accompany him; he said Scripture told them, if thine enemy hunger, feed him; therefore it was quite right to give this hostile party,—two hundred in number,—food. So he stood on the trunk of a large prostrate tree, which lay about the middle of his potatoe ground, and brandishing his spear he cried out to the enemy, you shall not say I did not give you food, take all, therefore, on that side of the tree, you are welcome to do so, but do not presume to dig up a single potatoe on this side, for I shall fire on the first who makes the attempt. The enemy went on digging on the side given them, and when they had finished that, they quietly marched away.
So, likewise, during the war in the north with Hone Heke, there was not wanting evidence that the introduction of the Christian religion had done much to mitigate even the horrors of war, when waged by the Maories. Hone Heke permitted a neutral chief to drive a herd of swine as a present to the British Camp, and on several occasions allowed oxen to be taken to it which he could have seized, saying, let them go to make the soldiers strong to fight. He never omitted having morning and evening prayer in his camp, and to this he ascribed his repeated successes, and to the neglect of it and of the Sabbath, the frequent reverses of our troops. Even many of our own soldiers have confessed that they felt strengthened for the fight, by hearing the solemn supplications of their native allies to the Almighty for success, in which they shared, although they did not understand the words used. What a pity our own troops cannot act more like Christian soldiers and believers in God’s page 30 over-ruling power also, by asking for His blessing before an engagement!
The natives now are extremely careful of doing anything likely to lead to quarrels and bloodshed. Even when murder has been committed, rather than endanger the peace amongst themselves, they have preferred banishing the murderer for several years to some lonely spot. A case of murder occurred at Waitotara, of one old man in a passion striking another on the head with a fire brand, who was given up by his relatives to be tried by the Queen’s laws; none of her officers, however, thought it concerned them to interfere. He was therefore brought to Putiki and tried by our native judges, who pronounced that he should be given up to me. I was rather puzzled what to do, but as he was declared to be given up to me, I told a native constable to take him to the European magistrate, but when he went to do so his keeper refused to surrender him; the constable told me I must go with him myself. I did so, and found that two old chiefs had taken him into their little marae, barricaded the entrance, and, with spear in hand, defied us; afterwards one of them came up to me and said, “Leave him in my hands, he has only a year or so to live, for he is a very old man, leave him with me and I will be his keeper; he shall not go away.” This appeared the best plan; at any rate it was not my place to take any further steps in the matter, and there he remained for several years.
When the murderers of the Gilfillans were arrested, the only one who escaped was a young man named Rangi-iri-hau; he was an instance of the fear of the retributive justice of God which Scripture teaches. I met him shortly after his escape, far beyond the reach of European justice, exulting in his fancied security; when spoken to of his guilt, he appeared to think very little of the cruel murders he had aided in perpetrating. I told him solemnly that although he had escaped the hand of man, he could not flee from the hand of God, that His eye was upon him; he was warned to repent. He seemed to think very lightly of what was said, and I left him with a deep feeling of sorrow to see his page 31 hardened state of mind. Some years rolled by when I again visited the spot, and enquired after Rangi-iri-hau. I was told he was near his end, and went to see him; it was winter, a hoar frost was upon the ground, still he was laid beneath an open shed, barely large enough to shelter his body; a miserable object, covered with a tattered fragment of a blanket, which, with his skin, was of the same color as the ground he lay upon; by his side were a few unpeeled potatoes, not much larger than marbles, and near his stomach a little wretched fire. The skin of his knees appeared to have been burnt off in his efforts to keep up some degree of warmth; there were also large raw places on his body from being too near the fire. He was himself emaciated to the greatest degree, and instead of the defiant look of youth which he had when I last saw him, he now presented the withered appearance of extreme age, a seared and blasted object. I spoke to him of his state, and reminded him of my last words, which were verified; I said the hand of God was now upon him; yes, he replied, there was no fleeing from His power, he had long felt it. I then asked when the fear of God first came upon him; he said from the time you spoke to me; he could not forget my words; they sank deep into his heart, and caused him to cry for mercy. I demanded whether he prayed to God; he pointed to a Bible and Prayer-Book which lay by his side, almost as dingy as the ground. I read and prayed with him, and told him I could not give him any hopes for this life; his body was the penalty of his crime, but if he indeed feared God and repented of His wickedness, God would heal his soul for Christ’s sake, for “the blood of Jesus cleanseth from all sin.” He said he cast himself entirely on God’s mercy through Christ. Under such circumstances I felt justified in baptising this deplorable victim of crime; with difficulty I got him conveyed to the Church, for he seemed to be abandoned by all. I baptised him; and in two days more he put off that loathsome form of mortality to put on, I trust, Christ.
Another anecdote of Hone Heke must not be omitted.
When Kororarika fell into the hands of Hone, and all page 32 were at his mercy, he actually allowed the inhabitants to carry off the most valuable portion of their goods. A woman and child who fell into their hands he sent with a flag of truce on board the man of war. On one occasion a naval officer was taken prisoner, and he was likewise released with the caution to take better care of himself for the future; and when that officer attacked their fortified camp at Ohaeawae, the natives, who admired his courage, gave him a friendly warning to desist, not wishing to kill him; this, however, he paid no attention to, and he fell. *
* It was the same officer who at the fall of Kororareka, whilst the aged Missionary, Archdeacon Henry Williams, was busily engaged in bringing off the wounded townspeople to “H.M.S. Herald,” swore at him and used the grossest language, calling him a traitor to his country.
Hone Heke and his men also observed the Sabbath during the war, which was more than the troops of Christian England did; and even when their stronghold, the Ruapeka peka—Bats hole, was taken, it was on the Sabbath and during the time of Divine service, in which the natives were then engaged, having gone out of the pa on the sheltered side to be out of reach of the balls.
Another change effected by the Gospel, was the breaking up of that divided state the New Zealand Tribes were in previous to the introduction of the Gospel. Christmas Day at Wanganui was a time of reunion of all the tribes, from Taranaki to the Rangitikei, and inland to Taupo. On Christmas Day, 1846, nearly two thousand natives met at Putiki, which, perhaps, was as large a number as ever assembled together, and most probably many times more than the largest force ever brought against the military during the last war; and nearly six hundred assembled at the Lord’s Table, as brethren of the same household of faith. Men who, only a few years before, would not have met together except with arms in their hands; but then they joined with one voice and one heart in singing the beautiful hymn:—page 34
E Ihu, e te Kingi nui,
Hohorotia e Koe te ra,
E tino whakapono ai
Te ao katoa ki tou ingoa,
Ae e Ihu, tangohia,
Te ao katoa, hei kainga mou.
O Jesus, the Great King,
Hasten the day,
When entirely shall believe
The whole world on Thy Name,
Yes, O Jesus, take
The whole world as Thy Kingdom.
Afterwards all the teachers met at a prayer-meeting and, to my surprise, several arose and offered themselves as Missionaries to their Heathen brethren at Taupo. Two of them were accepted, and solemnly commended to the care of God. The Taupo natives, to whom they went, were the ancient enemies of the Nga-ti-rua-nui; therefore, going there before peace was made between the two tribes, was viewed as trampling upon those who had been killed by their tribe, and by the law of blood they felt it was their duty to put those two devoted men to death. Thus they laid down their lives as true soldiers of Christ; and we cannot doubt they won the martyr’s crown.
It is due to the native teachers here to mention how much credit belongs to them for the aid they have given in spreading the Word of God throughout the land. Indeed, the Gospel could not have made the progress it did, or have obtained such a permanent hold upon the native mind, had it not been for the agency of native teachers. It was by their instrumentality the ground was held which the Missionary had gained. Their number was so small that, without the co-operation of lay agency, it would in fact have been otherwise lost as soon as acquired. In Wanganui and many other places they were the first bearers of the Gospel, and there, too, some laid down their lives.
They who first received the Gospel had their hearts filled with love and zeal, and for years that first love did not grow cold. The first native teachers had, many of them, far greater influence than any of their chiefs, for that which gave to the chief power to do evil, gave the Christian teacher influence to do good, because the oratory of the teacher was only used for what was evidently their welfare.
It is not therefore to be wondered that the memory of page 35 many of those good men is even now cherished. The following lines were composed in memory of one of the earliest teachers of the Nga puhi:—
A Song in memory of Thomas Tarahawaiki.
My love for thee, O Thomas, does not cease,
Thy Bible lies silent in the Church;
I look for thee in thy accustomed standing-place there in the morning. I look for thee in thy teacher’s seat at school.
Giving out the text in the beginning of the * third of Matthew, or the glad tidings of Paul, the guide of the ignorant.
Thou my beloved bird, † my holy friend, hast been withdrawn from amongst us.
My canoe, ‡ which carried me along, fades from the sight;
It sails far away like the bird.
Where is Tamati? He has just disappeared. He sleeps apart in his little canoe, a foreign-fashioned coffin,
Which your brethren and children made, hammering with nails brought from afar.
O Father, from the dust Thy spirit has shot forth,
That you may ascend on high. Open the door of heaven,
You shall enter the mansion of Jesus, that you may drink the living stream,
The water He caused to flow, the Lord’s blood,
Of which you preached to the world and to me.
The following is also a lament composed by a person named Rore, for her grandson, a teacher:—
Great is my love for my grandson;
My heart quivers with love
When I behold his empty seat.
You have died in the midst
Of your work, preaching “in the beginning,”
Or as in John, in Corinthians, or in Jude,
And cast out the anchors,
* The first book printed in Maori contained a few chapters of Genesis, of Matthew, &c., with a portion of the Morning and Evening Prayers.
† Bird. The tui or Kokomako, an emblem of eloquence.
‡ Canoe, i.e., Teacher.
Although the wind was
And drifted on the Isle,
When you stood setting the tune
For the hymn,
Or holding the school,
Or teaching the Book
Of the Great God who made us;
Of Jehovah, of Jesus Christ,
Of the Holy Spirit. Alas!
Ascend, then, to the stone wall; *
Enter thou by the straight way,
The true way, leading to Jesus,
The path of life. Alas!
A dismal mansion,
The mansion of Whiro; †
Who beguiled Eve and Adam,
Returning them to the dust. Alas!
To these laments for teachers a short song of an early believer may be added:—
A Song by a Woman a short time before her death.
I have no desire to be married;
Jesus Christ is the object of my affection,
Who caused His love to appear
On the top of Mount Calvary;
Let me take the Book,
That I may pray,
The Word of God;
And speak of the glory of Thy Holy Name,
That I may pray in truth.
Wash away the sorrow
From within for my sins,
That I may ascend to
The heaven above,
Along the narrow way.
* This refers to the walls of the New Jerusalem.
† Whiro, the Maori God of Evil compared to Satan.
The following short one may be added, as a proof of the true working of the Spirit in the heart:—
What is my sin! O Jesus,
To me dwelling in the world,
That you should abandon me;
It remains, deep fixed in my heart, alas!
I do not truly grieve for it.
Alas! the deceitfulness of my heart;
Take me to Thee, O Jesus, the King!
When the Wanganui district was purchased in 1848, Wiremu Tauri, the head teacher and the first preacher of the Gospel in Wanganui, in a sermon which he preached to the natives who had assembled to receive the purchase-money, thus alluded to the circumstance:—
“When the Europeans saw you were in earnest to sell the land, and had all signed your names, they then gave you the money; but they did not give it before, because they saw you were not agreed. It is thus with God; when He sees you really believe in Him, and put forth your hands to do His will,—when you really desire and strive to bring forth the fruits of righteousness in your lives, then He gives you a vital interest in His Son; but though you may talk ever so much of your faith, and be ever so loud in your prayers, yet, if you do not show any of the fruits of the Spirit in your daily life and converse, God will not acknowledge you as His children.”
Here may be enumerated the earliest religious works published in Maori, as best showing on what the converts had to draw in the beginning:—
The first contained the 1st chapter of Genesis, three first of St. Matthew, a few prayers from the morning and evening services, and four or five hymns; this was printed in Sydney, circiter 1827. It has neither date nor title page. It was followed in 1830 by another, enlarged, containing a few more chapters from the Old and New Testaments, and a few additional prayers.
Then in 1833 a larger edition, in small 4to., containing page 38 portions of Genesis and of the New Testament; morning and evening services, occasional services, hymns and catechisms.
In 1833, the Church Catechism, Watts’ two catechisms and the Assemblies’ short catechism. These were published in Sydney.
In 1835, the four Gospels, published separately, each with one of the Epistles attached.
In 1837, the New Testament, complete; printed at the Mission Press, Paihia. Also, in the same year, Genesis, Exodus, twelve chapters of Deuteronomy, Joshua, part of Isaiah and Daniel.
In 1840, the Prayer-book was printed complete at Paihia.
The Mission Press being placed there, assisted in giving that name to our native Church; it signifies good desires or thoughts. After the Bishop went to Auckland, the Press was presented to him by the Missionary Society, when it was placed at Purewa; and from it other works have since been issued.
Several editions of the Church Catechism have been printed, which, by their different alterations, have much perplexed the Maories; they distinguished each of them by some peculiarity which they had. One edition went by the name of matua tane, matua wahine—male parent, female parent. Another was known as taku waea—my mother (child-bearer, the true Maori word). A third as the ngau tuara—back-biter, this word being coined for the purpose, as there was no Maori word for it. A fourth as mahi Maori—for labor, literally to do Maori works; this is not a happy expression, as some of the Maori works are not very good. These peculiarities have tickled the native fancy.
The Scriptures have now been printed complete by the British and Foreign Bible Society.
Sir George Grey has also had few copies of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress printed.
It is not too much to affirm, that whatever might have been the amount of knowledge possessed by the early converts to the Christian faith, however far behind that of the advanced servants of God at home, still they fully compre- page 39 hended the simple way of salvation through Christ. The state of all by nature was felt, and the power of God’s law was acknowledged. Their faith was the simple belief of the child in the words of its parent—that God has spoken to us by His Word, and that we are bound to yield implicit obedience to it; and the fruits of that faith were evident to all. The Sabbath was not more strictly observed in any part of Britain, or the Scriptures more diligently perused. As a race they became moral. Before the Gospel was received no disgrace was attached to the immorality of unmarried females. On the contrary, it was so general, that the same rites of hospitality, which demanded food and shelter, also bestowed upon the guests he whai aipo, or companion for the night. * Wars became less frequent and barbarous; cannibalism ceased; theft became rare; polygamy was given up.
They manumitted their slaves long before slavery ceased in Christian America, and they became remarkable for their honesty and sobriety. From such effects produced we cannot doubt that God owned and blessed the work as His own. His light—the true light—shone upon the land; the natives saw it, and strove to walk in it, and became the children of light; many died in it, declaring they were “Marama,”—light, or happy.
* Bishop Williams and the Writer visited Poverty Bay in the beginning of 1839. This adjunct of hospitality was actually offered to them at a place where no Missionary had previously been seen.
Shortly after, the war in the north broke out, and its sad effects were soon felt, for although the outward observances of religion were kept up, little of the spirit of it was felt. Hone Heke said his heart was like the summer grass—dried up and withered. In the south, both on the east and west coasts, the work progressed; a general anxiety appeared to be felt to know the way of life. A native, as I was walking with my wife, persisted in going before us, so that we could scarcely advance. I bid him walk by my side. He enquired, by way of reply, whether I knew the history of Zaccheus, and why he climbed up into the sycamore tree. I said, yes, that he might see Christ. So, said he, I walk before you, that I may hear the Word of Life, which Christ gave you to preach.
* The Bishop of New Zealand’s patent gave him from Lat. S. of Stewart’s Island to Lat. 33, but instead of saying 33 S. Lat., by mistake it said N. Lat., which takes in a portion of Japan. When the mistake was discovered the Bishop would not allow it to be rectified, regarding it as being God’s providence that had given him this great extent of diocese, and probably it was this that afterwards led to the founding of the Melanesian Mission.
Our Lord tells us in the parable, that no sooner was the good seed sown in the day, than the enemy came in the night and scattered the bad amongst it. This has ever been the case; it has been so in New Zealand. In the early days of the Church at Paihia, almost as soon as the Word of God had found its way to the heart of the Maori, the bad seed began likewise to appear.
A man named Papa-hurihia broached the idea, because the Jewish Church preceded the Christian, it must be the mother Church, and therefore they should turn over to it; all who were opposed to the Gospel immediately followed Papa-hurihia. They professed to keep the Saturday as their Sabbath, and in fact to be Jews. At one time there were many led away by him; their way of living, however, soon made it apparent, that by whatever name they might go, they were still only Heathen in practice. Their numbers soon fell off, and most of them turned over to the truth.
Ten years later another scattering of the bad seed made its appearance at Taranaki. It seemed to bear some affinity to the spirit-rappings and manifestations of our transatlantic brethren. They said that the spirits of the angels and apostles—nay, even the Three Persons of the Deity—had taken up their abode within them. This was the old Heathen idea, that at times the Gods occupied their bodies. One called himself page 42 the angel Michael, another the Apostle Paul, another Jesus Christ, and one styled himself the Holy Ghost. Having God within them, they possessed the living Word, and therefore they threw away the written one as useless. Possessing God within them there was clearly no need of prayer, for with Him they possessed all things. Thus the Prayer-book likewise was cast aside. When they launched their canoes they repeated the Lord’s Prayer; with each sentence they uttered, a pull was given by the entire company to the canoe, e to matou matua—a pull, i te Rangi—a pull, Kia tapu—a pull; and so on to the end. This was called the Warea delusion, from the name of the place where it originated. One of my teachers hearing of the desecration of their books, went and collected them all in a basket and brought them away, saying, It was like casting pearls before swine to leave those books with them.
The following is a letter written by one of these Warea fanatics to Waikato:—
Warea, Oct. 14, 1845.
A message or dispatch to you.
Go my letter to Horotiu, to Pou; salutations to you and yours. My friends, listen to me. The kingdom of God has been set up at Taranaki. Jesus Christ has come into the world. Listen to me; Jesus Christ has saved me, and made alive seventy men, from the time of His appearing in the world. This is true, true, most true; day by day He has saved me. I have seen Jesus Christ. Do you read this letter of mine to Rei, to Mata mata, to all of Maungatautari, to all the men of Tauranga, to all of Rotorua, lest you should disbelieve. It is true He has wrought miracles, and I am saved, my friends. I am filled with the Holy Spirit, the searching heart, that I may dwell in peace. I am filled with love; it is bound to me with the cords of the Spirit. With the Spirit rests the concern for my body; with you, that is with the Lord, it rests to send for me.
This delusion, however, did not extend beyond Taranaki, neither did it last long. I wrote a letter to the natives of Warea, and took an early opportunity of visiting the part; it had already entirely died out, and was succeeded by a revival throughout the Nga-ti-rua-nui.
A great many letters were written to me on the subject, and although doubtless there was more outward appearance of an inward change than was real, and the fervour of the few carried away the many, yet the general effects produced were good; it caused greater earnestness in the observance of the outward forms of religion, greater attention to the Scripture, increased attendance on the means of grace, and frequent prayer meetings. It also, I trust, led to some real conversions, though there was perhaps with others the idea that they were better and wiser than their teachers. Of the latter I give a specimen: the writer was a young chief and second teacher at Waokena, where Manihera the martyr was the first; this young chief afterwards, at the invitation of Waitere Katotore, took up arms and fell fighting against the party of Rawiri. There was justice on the side of Katotore, and therefore the cause might justly be called patriotic. Katotore sent him an enigmatical letter,—a tatooed potatoe and a fig of tobacco; he eat the one and smoked the other, in sign of his accepting the invitation to join his side; but, alas! he soon found that they who take the sword shall perish by the sword:—
“Friend Mr. Taylor,“Augst. 6, 1845.
“This is my word listen to me. Formerly, when I first began to believe, I thought my faith was correct up to the time of my Baptism. Mr. Mason said to me when I was baptised, will you obediently keep God’s holy will and commandments, and walk in the same to your life’s end? I answered, I will. After my Baptism came the Sacrament. Friend Mr. Taylor, on my first coming to the Lord’s table, you demanded whether I truly desired to partake of the Lord’s Supper? I answered, yes. But after my assent to these great things they were severed from the confession of my tongue (i.e., I forgot my promises). I then thought that page 44 my assent was correct in that state of my belief, but now that I have acquired greater faith I find it was wrong. Friend Mr.Taylor, listen to my talk, behold from this stronger faith I now see the absence of fruit whilst living under the first faith, that is the beginning of my turning to God. Sorrow now first seized me for my preachings in the congregation; before I used to preach saying, be strong, be bold; but I was not strong, neither was I bold. The root of the matter was not really in my heart. I expounded the things of God, but, O, friend, it was not the thing, only part of it. As St. Paul truly says in his Epistle to the Romans, as by the stubbornness (disobedience) of one many were made sinners, (Rom. v. 19,) thence sin increased until it reached my male ancestors and my female ancestors, even up to my father and mother, and to myself also, yes, truly myself; innumerable are my sins in the sight of God; truly my sins are there in His sight; my lip prayers, my boastings, my mockings, my dissemblings, my falsehoods, my many transgressions, more than can be counted. Friend Mr. Taylor, this is what I have seen of the beginning of my faith; it tells me there was a want of care to teach righteousness, therefore weakness was felt, and ignorance, and the many deceits of the world, and therefore also an absence of true righteousness. These evils assaulted me, but when the heart was fixed upon righteousness, none of these evils could be felt, because the law abideth to keep the heart alive to them; therefore it is correct when St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, says, “by the law also sin revived and rendered the lusts of the flesh fruitful within me, severed from the law sin died.” (See Rom. vii. 8.) Friend Mr. Taylor, I was grieved for my sins, so many in the sight of God, and after my sorrow came joy, because I became sensible of my safety; if my feet stand, or my hands hold on; if the shoot of the tree is concealed within the bark, I am dark, because it cannot be seen, but if the shoot appears outside the bark, I rejoice, because it is able afterwards to grow, therefore I am strong to stand on the earth.
“Friend Mr.Taylor, consider my words; this also is what page 45 I have thought. The words of St. Paul in the 2nd Epistle to the Corinthians, he says he is agreeable to suffer weakness, to suffer evils, to suffer tribulation, and strivings and afflictions for Christ. I am also weak, thereby am I strengthened.
“This is all my speech,
“From Philip Newaka.”
“I salute you; great is my love to you. Friend, this is my thought to God, at the commencement of my turning to Him. I was not mistaken in praying for the Holy Spirit to take up its abode within my heart, for I remembered the word of Christ in the 13th of St. Luke and 24th verse, ‘Strive to enter in at the strait gate,’ therefore I have striven in prayer, and the Holy Spirit has entered into my heart. I have seen the greatness of my wickedness; my heart has been filled with sorrow; my sins have made me to stink in my own estimation; my heart has been bitter with sin; my heart was ashamed before God, but not before man; but I was ashamed in the sight of God. I saw hell opening before my face; my heart feared the anger of God towards me, my heart acknowledged that it was just; my heart said to Him, Just is Thy wrath towards me for the greatness of my sins; Thy wrath is not an unjust wrath; it is right that my spirit should be sent to hell. His word came to me, ‘Come to Me thou who art burthened and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.’ My heart responded to Christ; I went sorrowful on account of His death; my heart was satisfied with the atonement made for me; my sins were taken away; I was buried in His death. Then, first, the Spirit consented to my spirit that I should become a child of God; my heart was born anew by the Holy Spirit; my heart was enlightened by the Holy Spirit; my heart gained the fruits of the Spirit; these are the fruits of the Spirit: ‘love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, quietness, temperance: against page 46 such there is no law.’ (Gal. v. 22, 23.) The followers of Christ have crucified the flesh. Friend, my fear of the anger of God is taken away, my only fear is the temptations of the devil. I cannot cease from fearing his temptations. I remember the word of Christ to His disciples. He said, ‘Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.’ Paul also has a word in 1 Thess. v. 16; ‘Rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing.’ (19 v.) ‘Quench not the Spirit.’ (21, 22 v.) ‘Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.’ ‘Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.’ (1 Cor. xv. 58.) Also Jude, 20 verse, ‘My beloved friends, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost.’ Friend, these are words to be treasured up in my heart all the days I live in this wicked world; this truly is my fortress, my defence, and flag, and my rest. Friend, I am jealous with a godly jealousy, for I have compared myself to one espoused as a chaste virgin to Christ, but I fear lest by any means as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtility, so my mind should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. (2 Cor. xi. 2, 3.) Friend, my heart cleaves to Christ as the oyster adheres to the rock and cannot be plucked off by man, so my heart cannot be plucked away by temptations. Friend, I know this world is not my permanent abode.”
The termination of this letter, with the name of the writer, are both lost, but whatever may have been the real state of the heart, I think it evidences a considerable acquaintance with Scripture and the grand outlines of redemption through Christ. I possess several similar letters, and these were selected at random.
The following is an extract from the same Piripi, written a year later than the former:—
“Listen to me; on the 12th of August Manihera page 47 appointed me to preach the sermon; my text was taken from 1 Cor. 10 ch. 7 v. I used this simile: a man adzed a totara tree; he split it into two parts, from one he made a large canoe and from the other a small one; he took them to the sea; the fish were killed by those of the great canoe, so likewise by those of the little canoe. All the people partook of the fish of those canoes; this is a simile for myself. We are one flesh; our minister divides us; one he makes a head teacher, the other a lower one. The fish of the first and second canoes are the words of God, which are to be eaten by the whole assembly. This is all my simile. Then I spoke to them of the meaning of the text. Friends, the word applies to the children of Israel when they went out of Egypt to their inheritance in Canaan; their going out of Egypt was all right until they reached the wilderness, then they began to shew their hardened hearts towards God. He caused them to fall in the wilderness; they did not remember the guide to their promised abode; they turned aside; they accused God; they worshipped the host of heaven. My friends, this is a warning for us; we are journeying through this great wilderness, that is the world; we are travelling to our promised abode, that is the heavenly Canaan; let us journey aright that we may safely reach our destination, because God is our guide, lest it be with us as it was with them. Like a man who drives a pig, if the pig is obstinate in going he only gets worried by the dog and dies; so if we persist in going wrong God will cut us off. Many more were my similies drawn from that verse. I brought forth the word of Jude, ‘the Lord having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterwards destroyed them that believed not.’
“From Piripi Newaka.”
The Nga-ti-rua-nui being at one extremity of the district, nearly a hundred miles from my house, could not be visited very frequently; I had to walk also in former days, which added to the difficulty of paying them a visit, which was generally done about three times in the year; but when they thought it was time for me to see them I usually received a page 48 polite invitation to that effect; the following is one of them, from Rangatapu, dated December 15, 1847:—
“Friend, my beloved father, Mr. Taylor, I salute you; great is my love for you. The time is long that you have been hidden from my eyes and from the eyes of all your children, therefore this is my thought, it will be good for you to come and see all your children; the word of Jesus to Peter was, feed my sheep: this is good as a thing done in remembrance of the Lord, and a means of drawing nearer the believing heart to God. This also, my beloved father, we have continued to abide, watching with desire for you as servants wait upon their masters, so likewise has my heart waited for you every day.“From George Kiwi.”
It was about this time that news arrived of the death of Manihera and Kereopa. I received several very nice letters on the subject from their tribe, all expressive of their desire not to seek revenge as in times of old for the murder of those devoted men. They were all convinced that their death was a glorious one, and in God’s cause, therefore they left the matter entirely with me. I visited the murderers; the tribe were ashamed of the deed, though the murders were strictly in accordance with the ancient Maori law of blood, and were in reality a payment for the death of their head chief Tauteka, and it was in fact at the instigation of his widow that they were killed.
This event was, however, attended with a blessing. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. It raised up greater zeal and earnestness in the cause, and eventually led to the establishment of a Missionary at Taupo, and put an end to an old feud between the interior and coast natives. Peace between them was finally made by my taking Piripi the teacher, who succeeded Manihera in his office, to see them.
The Memorial Monument of the Heuheu Taupo.
Tinirau, their leader, who had been very bitter against the Church, and had threatened, in a letter sent to my natives, to burn their pa, hang their minister over the lintel of his door, and then set fire to his house, soon became himself a believer; he presented himself to me as a candidate for baptism, and sat meekly at my feet, repeating his catechism and answering my questions.
The reaction which took place amongst the Wanganui natives after the war was most extraordinary, and affords another proof, that when the work is the Lord’s, however dark the prospect may be, God in His own good time will remove the cloud, and cause the sun again to shine forth in all its splendour. I recollect the day before the conclusion of the war, making an entry in my journal that there was no likelihood of peace, and that the prospect appeared as dark as ever. That day the natives challenged our troops to fight, which was declined; they then said they could stay no longer, but must go home to plant their potatoes.—The following morning they left, and the war was ended.