Alfred Hamish Reed.

Samuel Marsden, pioneer and peacemaker online

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1^ VERY boy and girl in New Zealand ought to know
J— 1 something about Samuel Marsden, the first to bring
to the Maoris the arts of civilization and the ways of
peace. For this reason he is sometimes known as " The
Apostle of New Zealand," and merits a high place upon
the roll of the good and the great.

Marsden was born at Parsley, a village near Leeds,
in Yorkshire, on 25th June, 1765. In many books you
will find the date given as 28th July, 1764, and it is well
to remember that it was Dr. J. R. Elder, Professor of
History in the University of Otago, and editor of " The
Letters and Journals of Samuel Marsden," who dis-
covered and recorded the correct date. Marsden's father,
a man of good repute, was a farmer and blacksmith.
After learning what he could in the village, Samuel went
on to the Hull grammar school. He then worked for
a time with his father, and later joined his uncle's busi-
ness. By and by he attracted the notice of some friends,
who enabled him to study for the ministry of the Church.

In 1793, through the influence of his friend William
Wilberforce, the slave emancipator, he was appointed
chaplain in New South Wales and, with his young wife,
sailed for Port Jackson (now Sydney) in a convict ship.
Although some of the convicts were sent out for very
small offences, the moral state of New South Wales was,
in those early days, very bad. Only a few days after
Marsden settled in Parramatta some men were convicted
of housebreaking and sentenced to death, so severe were
the laws in those days. The new chaplain was also a
magistrate and a farmer, and rendered valuable service



The portrait, of which this frontispiece is a repro-
duction, was kindly supplied by Miss Elizabeth Betts,
of Gladesville, New South Wales, a granddaughter of
Samuel Marsden. Miss Betts adds the interesting
information that the portrait dates from the period
of Marsden's residence at Cambridge University
(1790-2) and that the original hangs in Magdalen
College, Cambridge.

t the colony by introducing improved methods of agri-
culture. Some people envied him, and others hated him
because he set himself against their evil deeds. Out of
the profits of his farm he built schools, and helped both
the convicts and the Australian natives.

In 1795 Marsden visited Norfolk Island, 1,200 miles
away, then also a convict station. It was there that he
heard something about the New Zealanders which gave
him a great desire to take civilization and Christianity
to this noble race. As the years passed by, Maoris would
often arrive at Sydney on whaling ships. Marsden
sought them out, made himself friendly with them, and
often invited chiefs to stay with him at his own home
— sometimes as many as thirty at a lime — so that his
name began to be known among the fierce tribes over at
the Bay of Islands.

Always Marsden was watching for an opportunity to
plant a mission station among the New Zealand canni-
bals. In 1S07 he visited England, and there made
enquiries for suitable people to help him to carry out his
plans. ( )nce he made a long journey from Hull, on the
outside of a coach, in a heavy snowstorm, for the joy
of securing a volunteer — John King — to go out at
Marsden's expense to teach the New Zealanders the art
ot rope-making.

On his way back to Australia Marsden saw, among
the sailors in the forecastle, a Maori chief, Ruatara, who
seemed to be both downcast and ill. Ruatara had for
some years led an adventurous life on board British
ships, and had at times been very badly treated. Marsden
did all he could to help and befriend him, and on the
arrival of the ship at Sydney took the grateful chief into
his own home, gave him some useful instruction in
agriculture, .and at last found an opportunity ol sending
him back' to his people in the Bay of Islands. Ruatara
was also given some seed wheat which he planted, and
watched its growth with great interest. His fellow -chiefs
had been accustomed to digging in the ground for the
potato and kumara, and becoming impatient, pulled lip

some oi the wheat before ii was ripe. Finding no sign
oi anything eatable amongst the roots, they pulled up
most of the plants and burnt them. The great chief
Hongi, Ruatara's uncle, having more patience, in due
time triumphantly reaped the ripe corn.

Marsden now had great hopes of establishing in New
Zealand the mission he had so long looked forward to.
About this time, however, there was brought to Sydney
the terrible news that almost the whole of the crew and
passengers of a ship — the Boyd — had been killed and
eaten by the Maoris. The Governor thereupon refused
to permit Marsden to proceed to New Zealand, and in
fact no one could have been found to venture to take
the mission party there. It was afterwards found that
the Maoris had, in accordance with their tribal laws,
massacred the people in revenge for wrongs they bad
suffered at the hands of other white sailors.

At last, in 1814, Marsden himself purchased a brig,
the Active, and on Christmas Day a little party of

missionaries landed at the Bay of Islands, where the
Apostle of New Zealand preached the first Christian
sermon ever heard by Maoris on their own soil. It was
now that Ruatara and the other chiefs whom Marsden
had befriended at Parramatta, showed their gratitude
and affection. In the midst of these warlike and savage
tribes the missionary could move unafraid; in fact he
spent the first night ashore in New Zealand unarmed
amongst the very savages who had, five years earlier,
killed and eaten scores of his countrymen.

Marsden could not remain long in New Zealand, but
had to return to his duties in New South Wales. He
left a band of missionaries and craftsmen at the Bay
of Islands, however, and purchased from the Maoris,
for twelve axes, an area of two hundred acres as the site
for a mission station. Sometimes the little group he
left behind him were in great danger, and sometimes they
suffered privations. Still the work was carried on, and
once in a while Marsden was able to visit them, and send
over new recruits. Two of these were the Williams

brothers, Henry and William, who were a lower of
strength to the little community. William afterwards
became the first Bishop of Waiapu, and was afterwards
succeeded by his son Leonard, and later still by his
grandson Herbert.

No less than seven times did Marsden visit his
beloved New Zealanders, notwithstanding that the
voyage always made him exceedingly ill. On one of
these visits he and Williams, by their fearless interven-
tion between the infuriated savages, were able to stop
a tribal war. ( )nce his vessel was wrecked at the Bay
f Islands, but all escaped with their lives. On another
occasion he made a journey across the island, penetrating
to places never previously explored by a white man. On
his last visit he was accompanied by his daughter Martha.
He was then growing old, and his strength was failing
He landed this time on the west coast — at Hokianga.
The Maoris received him joyfully, and about seventy of
them accompanied him in a triumphal journey across the
island, Marsden himself being borne for twenty miles
in a litter, while Martha headed the procession seated in
a chair, mounted on the shoulders of two natives. Dur-
ing this visit, while Marsden was absent to the south-
ward, Martha records in her Journal having, at the Bay
of Islands, witnessed a tribal battle in which many
warriors fell.

On the eve of Marsden's return to Sydney a chief
was observed, seated motionless on the ground at his
Eeet and gazing earnestly into his face. He remained
thus for several hours, and on being gently reproved by
Mr. Williams, said: " Let me alone. Let me take a Inst
look. I shall never sec him again." Main hundreds of
Maoris came long distances to bid a last farewell to
their old friend, and at last bore him affectionately to
the ship, six miles away.

As an example of Marsden's coolness and courage,
an incident that is stated to have occurred in New South
Wales, (hiring bis old age, may be referred to. While
driving with Martha through the bush they were attacked


by two notorious bushrangers. Loaded pistols were
presented at them while Martha was ordered to place the
contents oi her lather's pockets in the robbers' hands.
They threatened to shoot if Marsden said a word, but
the missionary, undaunted, reproved them for their
wicked course oi life. As the bushrangers made their
escape they threatened to shoot Marsden if he turned
round to watch the direction the}' took. lie did so.
how ewer, and while they remained in hearing, continued
to warn them oi the consequences of their life of crime.

Within a year after his return to New South Wales
— on 12th May, 1838 — Samuel Marsden, the Greathear:
of Maoriland missions, passed to his rest. At Oihi, Bay
of Islands, there stands a lofty stone cross, bearing the





Having now followed in brief the story of Samuel
Marsden's life we will accompany him in more detail
in one of his New Zealand exploring adventures.


Samuel Marsden, weather-beaten and travel-stained,
stood upon the strand, looking eastwards across the
Firth oi Thames, scanning the waste of waters in search
ot His Majesty's ship Coromandel, loading spars for the
navy. It was the New Zealand winter, the 1st of
August, 1820. The morning was dark; drenching rain-
storms drifted across the water, while a boisterous gale
lashed the tossing manes of the white sea-horses pranc-
ing in upon the shore. It was Alarsden's third visit to
New Zealand and he had just returned from an expedi-
tion to the Kaipara, spending three weeks crossing rough
country in bad weather. He was glad to board the
( oromandel, rejoin his friends, and once more for a
season enjoy the com torts of civilization.

It was now necessary, however, that he should return
as speedily as possible to the Bay of Islands, to rejoin
His Majesty's ship Dromedary in order to secure his
passage back to New South \\ ales. A friendly chief,
Te Hinaki, offered him the use of a canoe, but the
weather continuing tempestuous, and it being altogether
uncertain when a start could be made, Marsden deter-
mined to set off on foot. The chiefs assured him that
the eastern route was impracticable, and by their advice
he resolved to strike across the island to Kaipara, pene-
trating from thence into the interior in a northerly
direction. On reaching the Wairoa River he was to
proceed by canoe to Mangakahia, thence mainly on
foot to Kerikeri. Undaunted by the privations and
dangers he might have to encounter, and knowing that
he was venturing where no other white man had trod,
Marsden, though no longer young, cheerfully set out
upon the adventure.

The journey was commenced on Wednesday, 16th
August, and the missionary was accompanied by Te
Morenga and several other friendly chiefs. Crossing


over a narrow neck of land they reached wlial Marsden
called the " River Wyeteematta." A slave, being des-
patched to a neighbouring village, there shortly appeared
a fine, well-manned canoe, into which Marsden and his
party stepped, [.ate at night — wet and cold, tor the}*
had come through a rough sea and a gale of wind — they
arrived at the place now known as Riverhead, near
Silverdale, Here there were no huts, but the Maoris
managed to kindle a tire, and they got what comfort
they could.

At dawn next morning they set off again in the
direction of the Kaipara, and after walking for two
hours sat down beside a creek to eat their breakfast.
During the afternoon they reached a village. The chid
and his people had heard of this white friend of the
Maori, and urged him to stav the night with them. His
companions wished to remain, and recover from their
fatigue, hut " Greathearf " seemed as fresh as ever in
spite of his fifty-five years, and being anxious to press
on, prevailed upon a Kaipara chief to accompany him
further. After a three hours' walk over the sandhills
walking, as Marsden says, " very fast," they arrived at
the verge of a small lake 011 the edge of the bush, where
there was a small village, the inhabitants of which had
apparently never seen a white man before, and we can
imagine with what astonishment the hoys and girls, and
their elders, gazed upon him. They watched him lake
off his outer garments, dry them at the fire and put them
on again; eat his supper of potatoes, fernroot and karaka
berries; wrap himself up in his greatcoat; commend him-
self, to use his own words, to " the guardian care of Him
Who keepeth Israel"; and fall soundly asleep.

The resl of his party joined him at this little village,
and together they set off, leaving behind them the
beautiful lakelet and hush, and plodding over the sand-
hills where, Marsden noted, there was neither tree nor
shelter from the southerly and westerly gales, where the
sand drifted hither and thither and quickly covered the
footprints of travellers.

1 1



This map shows what the coast-line was thought to be like before Marsden explored

the North Auckland peninsula. He was the first white man to sail up the Auckland

Harbour, in July, 1820.

This map shows the correcl outline of the coast. Reading the storj in this booklet

you will l>" able to trace Marsden's journey from the northern shore of the Firth

of Thames to the west const and then across to the Baj of islands.

They next arrived at the village of a chief named
W'ai, one of those who had accompanied Marsden from
Mokoia. Here they received a wonderful welcome. The
people were assembled to greet them, headed by the
chief's wife and daughter. A hut had been prepared,
and clean bracken fern put down for the visitors to rest
upon. To crown all, a bountiful feast had been prepared
for them. All this was due. to the kindly thought fulness
of W'ai who, the previous evening, had sent forward a
messenger to inform his wife of the approach of the
part}-, quite unknown to Marsden. Few would have
given a cannibal chief credit for such fine feeling. It was
at this village that, for some reason, the children were
terrified to see the white man, and could not be pacified.
l T suallv children made friends quickly with Marsden,
who was very fond of them, and said there were no finer
children in any part of the world than those of the
Maoris. He said that the parents seemed to love them,
and that they always appeared happy and playful.

Continuing on their journey the} - now passed through
some rich land, where slaves were busy preparing the
ground for potatoes. It was here that a chief singled
out Marsden for a special mark of regard. As a rare
delicacy for his dinner the missionary was offered, sus-
pended by a cord at the end of a long spear — a cat. This
was an awkward dilemma for Marsden, who was the
soul of courtesy and would have been very sorry to
offend his hospitable friends. What could he do? Well,
he was very wise, as well as brave and good. He tact-
fully told the chief that cats and dogs were tapued ani-
mals to white people, so far as food was concerned; and
though the Maoris seemed to think it very strange that
such a tempting meal had to be declined, they brought in-
stead a large fat pig, which the chief Te Morenga and
his servant quickly killed and dressed ready for the cook.
Here the party stayed the night, and until long after
midnight Marsden and the chiefs plied each other with
questions, for there was so much that each wanted to
know about the ways of life of the other.

Starting oft again the next morning, Saturday, they
soon arrived at the village of a chief named Kahu, where
they were entertained at a meal, and clean fern was
spread upon the ground for their comfort. Proceeding,
they passed a well-built and strongly fortified pa, near
which Marsden was told a chief had been slain in battle
a few weeks previously.

At the next village they found the chief, Murupaenga,
and his family ready to receive them, his children having
their heads adorned with feathers, and his wife wearing
a garment of native dogskin. Marsden stayed over the
week-end with Murupaenga, and on Monday morning
desired to make an early start. There were present,
however, several chiefs who wished to deliver speeches
in honour of Marsden's visit, which delayed the depar-
ture for two hours. The Maoris were very fond of
speech-making, which was carried out with great cere-
mom whilst running to and fro before their audience,
and was looked upon with as much serious enjoyment as
a game of bowls or golf to-day. However, they got
away at last, after a large parly of slaves had been col-
lected to carry a plentiful supply of food down to the
river-bank, for thev were now to travel by canoe. Their
direction was down stream, and with the tide in their
favour the canoe sped on with great rapidity. Night
came on, the river was broad, and it was very cold. It
must have been a strange experience lor Marsden as
he sat there, the only white man in the midst of this
warlike and savage people. For a short time they landed
on the beach and made a lire.

At the Inst village they passed in the morning they
heard news which made Marsden anxious. Hongi, one
of the most dreaded warrior chiefs in New Zealand, it
was reported, was out with a /


Online LibraryAlfred Hamish ReedSamuel Marsden, pioneer and peacemaker → online text (page 1 of 2)