free ebooks

A History of the English Church in New Zealand

The case was referred to Marsden

Two days later the expedition reached its destination, and the _Active_ cast anchor off the Bay of Rangihoua. From her deck the mission families could now gaze upon the scene of their future home. The bracken and manuka with which the farther slopes were clad might remind them of the fern and heather of old England, but their gaze would be chiefly attracted to an isolated hill of no great height which rose steeply from the sea on the left side of the little bay. To this hill had come the remnant of Te Pahi's people after the slaughter on the island, and it was now crowned with a strongly fortified _pa_. Ruatara's residence was on the highest point; around it were crowded about fifty other dwellings; outside the mighty palisade neat plantations of potatoes and kumaras seemed to hang down the steep declivity; an outer rampart encircled the whole. At sight of the vessel the inhabitants rushed down to the beach with cries of welcome, and greeted Marsden, on his landing, with affectionate regard. He seemed to be no stranger among them, for his name and his fame were familiar to all. The horses and cows caused a temporary panic among people who had never seen animals so large before, but fear soon gave way to admiration and a general sense of excited expectancy.

Ruatara's home-coming was not free from pain to himself. Misconduct had occurred in his household during his absence, and the next morning was occupied with a trial for adultery. The case was referred to Marsden, who advised the application of the lash to the male offender. Thirty strokes were given, and the honour of the chief was vindicated. Next morning (Saturday) he treated his guests to a scene of mimic warfare. Led by himself and Korokoro, four hundred warriors in all the pomp of paint and feathers rehearsed the details of a naval engagement. The brandished spears and blood-curdling yells brought forcibly to the imagination of the white men the perils which might be in store for them, but as the day wore on the arts of war were succeeded by preparations for the preaching of the Gospel of peace. Ruatara caused about half an acre of land by the Oihi beach to be fenced in; within this area he improvised some rough seats with planks and an upturned boat; in a convenient spot he erected a reading desk and pulpit which he draped with black native cloth, and with white duck which he had brought from Sydney; on the top of the hill he reared a flagstaff; and thus prepared his church for the coming festival.

The account of that Christmas Day of 1814 must be given in Marsden's own words, which have already attained a classical celebrity:

"On Sunday morning when I was upon deck, I saw the English flag flying, which was a pleasing sight in New Zealand. I considered it as the signal and the dawn of civilisation, liberty, and religion in a benighted land. I never viewed the British colours with more gratification, and flattered myself they would never be removed till the natives of that island enjoyed all the happiness of British subjects.


eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us