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A History of the English Church in New Zealand

The first catechists were town artisans


the work of the past eight years had not been altogether in vain was proved by the altered demeanour of the Maoris. When the bell rang on Sundays at Paihia, they came along the beach, dressed in European clothes and carrying their books with the utmost propriety. It was only a fashion, but it meant something. At the two older stations some of them could repeat prayers and sing hymns. At Marsden's departure his ship struck on the rocks while working out of the Bay, but the natives of the island of Moturoa treated the shipwrecked passengers with kindness, and forebore to plunder their goods.

This was not much, but it carried hope for the future. The real hope, however, lay in the change of workers and the change of methods. At the time of the wreck, Marsden had with him several of the older settlers whose connection with the mission was now dissolved. In their places new names gradually appear. Fairburn came with Henry Williams in 1823; Clarke and Davis followed in the next year. Hamlin accompanied the Rev. W. Williams in 1826. In 1828 came two clergymen--Yate and Brown--besides a lay catechist, Baker. Chapman arrived in 1830, Preece in 1831, Matthews in 1832. Puckey and Shepherd had in the meantime come from Australia. King and Hall were left at Rangihoua, but the latter was compelled by an asthmatic affection to leave New Zealand in 1824, and for a time helped Marsden in his work among the Maori youths at Parramatta.

justify;">It is evident from the above list that the "settlement" policy still held its ground. And indeed settlers of the right type were urgently needed. As Mr. Saunders points out, the mission had suffered greatly through the lack of a skilled agriculturist. The first catechists were town artisans, and so were most of those that followed. They had tried hard to grow wheat, and not altogether without success. But on the whole the settlements had failed to support themselves. After the establishment of Kerikeri, Marsden had refused to send more flour from Sydney. He himself had been so successful with his farm that he expected others to do the same. If they would not work, he said, neither should they eat. But he could command the labour of convicts to do the work: this the New Zealand missionaries could not do. For long they had only hoes and spades; the Maoris would not help them; the soil and the climate were unfavourable. Some improvement there was when in 1824 Richard Davis, a Dorsetshire farmer, joined the staff. But even he was beaten again and again in his attempts at wheat-growing. It was not until 1830, when a move was made from the mangrove-lined shores of the Bay to the higher and more English country twelve miles inland at Waimate, that farming operations really began to succeed: then they prospered in marvellous fashion.

On the whole, the "settlement" scheme was a failure. It was too high for average human nature. The drastic regulations which Marsden left behind him in 1823--regulations which forbad even the slightest transaction between individual settlers and the trading ships--were tantamount to a confession of a breakdown of the system. As for Henry Williams, he determined on a change almost from the first. He would not try to raise produce at Paihia. Seek ye _first_ the kingdom of God, he said. For years he left himself without anything that could be called a house, but he must have a church at once, and not only a church, but an organ. The church was soon built, and a pipe organ, which delighted his Welsh ears, was sent out by some of his friends at home. For the first two years he devoted much of his time and money to the building of a vessel, which should bring flour and groceries from Sydney, gather children from other districts for his schools, and collect pork and potatoes wherewith to feed them. In this 60-ton schooner, which was launched under the name of the _Herald_ early in 1826, the missionary made several voyages to Australia, to Tauranga, and to Hokianga, but she was wrecked on entering the last-named harbour in 1828.

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