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A History of the English Church in New Zealand

The Ngapuhi eagerly welcomed these new comers


and retreat; check and recovery; failure of methods which seemed direct and divine; compensating success through agencies that looked hostile; the winds of the Spirit blowing where they list--none able to tell beforehand whence they are coming or whither they will go: such are the outstanding features of the long journey of the Christian faith across the globe; such will be found to mark its history when established in this land.

First Period.




Every noble work is at first "impossible." In very truth: for every noble work the possibilities will lie diffused through immensity, inarticulate, undiscoverable except to faith. --_Carlyle._

For the seed-plot of Christianity and of civilisation in New Zealand we must look away from the present centres of population to the beautiful harbours which cluster round the extreme north of the country. Chief among these stands the Bay of Islands. This noble sheet of water, with its hundred islands, its far-reaching inlets, its wooded coves and sheltered beaches, was for more than a quarter of a century the focus of whatever intellectual or spiritual light New Zealand enjoyed. Here the Gospel of Christ was first proclaimed,

and the first Mission stations were established. Here were founded the first schools, the first printing press, the first theological college, the first library. Here the first bishop fixed his headquarters, and here he convened the first synod. Here was signed the Treaty of Waitangi, by which the islands passed under British rule, and here was the temporary capital of the first governor. Here, too, was the theatre of the first war between Maoris and white men; here stood the flagstaff which Heke cut down; from these hills on the west the missionaries beheld the burning of Kororareka, whose smoke went up "like the smoke of a furnace."

At the opening of the nineteenth century this important locality was occupied by the warlike and enterprising tribe of the Ngapuhi. The soil was generally infertile, but the waters teemed with fish, while the high clay cliffs and the narrow promontories lent themselves readily to the Maori system of fortification. The safe anchorage which the Bay afforded early drew to it the whaling ships of Europe, especially as the harbour was accessible from the ocean in all weathers. The Ngapuhi eagerly welcomed these new comers, and prepared to take full advantage of whatever benefits the outside world might offer.

Among the various _hapus_ of this tribe stands out pre-eminent that which owed allegiance to the chief Te Pahi. This warrior had fortified an island close to Te Puna on the north side of the bay. In readiness to receive new ideas, and in the power to assimilate them, he and his kinsmen, Ruatara and Hongi, were striking examples of the height to which the Maori race could attain. Hardly had the century dawned which was to bring New Zealand within the circle of the Christian world, when word came to Te Pahi of the wonders to be seen at Norfolk Island, and of the friendly nature of its governor, Captain King. To test for himself the truth of these tidings, the chief, with his four sons, set forth (about 1803) across the sea to the great convict station. The friendly governor had left the island, but Te Pahi followed him on to New South Wales, little thinking of the mighty consequences which would result from his journey. Everyone at Port Jackson was struck with the handsome presence and dignified manners of the New Zealander. He was received by the governor into his house at Parramatta; he went regularly to church, where he behaved "with great decorum;" and loved nothing so much as to talk to the chaplain about the white man's God. His enquiries met with ready sympathy, for the chaplain was no other than the Reverend Samuel Marsden.

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