Aspects of New Zealand - Part 1


MAORI AND SETTLER - (1642-1870)

After the spread of the Polynesians, none of the main tides of world history reached new Zealand for a very long time. The great religions, Hinduism, Buddhism and Catholicism, swept down from Europe or India past Malaya and broke up in the Indonesian archipelago. for centuries the Polynesians kept their myriad islands to themselves, but they could not permanently hide such treasures from the curious European. While the first immigrants were hunting the moa in New Zealand, the feudality of Europe was embarking on the crusades; it was not much later that Marco Polo reached the China seas, and his countrymen heard of the fabulous province of 'Beach', which supposedly lay to the south. The expansion of Europe had begun. Before it ended, in our own time, the greater part of the world, including the scattered islands of the Pacific, was to be seized by an insatiable civilization, greedy for spices or for realms of gold; for land, mere novelty, or for souls. Magellan sailed the ocean which Balboa had first scanned from that peak in Darien, and in the late sixteenth century Mendana discovered some northern Polynesian islands. Soon Te Ika a Maui and Te Wai Pounamu, the largest of the Polynesian islands, were once more fished up from the depths of the south. the new discoverer was a Dutch seaman, Abel Janszoon Tasman, who was looking for something more marvellous and hoped he had found it.

In the early seventeenth century the extent of the African, American and European continents was roughly known, but it was believed by many seamen and scholars that an unknown continent, of which the partially explored northern coast of Australia might be one limit, must stretch across the Pacific between south Africa and South America. The existence of this Terra Australis Incognita was argued on several grounds supposedly scientific; but the chief reason why so many believed in it as that they hoped it was there. Perhaps the Dutch or the English could discover the place called 'Beach', a land richer than the Spaniard's continent. Drake had already sought it. Now, in 1642, Tasman was sent from Batavia 'for the discovery and exploration of the supposed rich southern and eastern land'. should he fall in with civilized folk, his instructions from the Governor-General and Councillors of theDdutch East Indies enjoined that he should try 'to find out what commodities their country yields, likewise inquiring after gold and silver, whether the latter are by them held in high esteem; making them before that you are by no means eager for precious metals, so as to leave them ignorant of the value of the same.'

On 13 December, the crews of the Heemskerck and the Zeehaen sighted 'a large, high-lying land'. It was part of the west coast of the south Island of New Zealand. A few days later, in golden Bay (which Tasman named Murderers' Bay) they were visited by two 'praus' full of men who called out 'in a rough, hollow voice' and blew on an instrument which sounded like a Moorish trumpet (it would have been a shell trumpet, which was used, for instance, to announce visitors). Next day Tasman had a closer view of these men. Their colour seemed between yellow and brown and they wore their hair on the top of the head and decorated it with a large white feather. They wore mats or 'cotton stuffs' and paddled their double canoes at considerable speed. A cock boat was sent out to make friends but one of the canoes rammed it. In this first encounter between Maori and European, four Dutchmen were killed. Despite musket-shot and gunfire from the ships, the aggressors escaped to the shore.

Tasman charted part of the west coast of the country, which he called Staten Landt, hoping that the Staten Landt which had been discovered by one of his countrymen off Tierra del Fuego might stretch so far; but he did not linger long on this inhospitable shore. the Governor-General and Councillors were disappoint4d. True, Tasman had discovered Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania) and Staten Landt (which was soon renamed Nieuw Zeeland, after the Dutch province, when the original Staten Landt was found to be an island); but 'in point of fact no treasures or matters of great profit' had been found. Niuw Zeeland was left to its savage inhabitants for another century, though its existence was recorded in a few charts and books.

The next captain to sight the islands was James Cook, a labourer's son who rose from his apprenticeship in coal shipping to become the greatest seaman and navigator of his day and to explore perhaps more of the earth's surface than any man before him. he was sent by the royal society and the Admiralty to visit Tahiti in order to observe a transit of Venus. thereafter he was instructed to search for the legendary southern continent. If this search were unsuccessful, finally he was to explore the coast of New Zealand. he failed only in the second impossible task, but he had the satisfaction at least of feeling that his circumnavigation of New Zealand mean t 'the total demolition of our serial fabrick called Continent'. On this occasion, in 1769, he established that New Zealand was not that fabulous land; three years later he proved that, apart from Australia, the southern continent did not exist at all.

Seldom can an expedition have added more to knowledge than Cook's first Pacific voyage. The Endeavour carried two distinguished botanists, Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander, whose observations and collections gave the first glimpse of a new world to European scientists. New Zealand has been so long separate from other land that it is sometimes regarded as forming a distinct botanical region: as much as three-quarters of its flora is unique. It must, moreover, have been isolated before the appearance of mammals. In the New Zealand ecology, birds have come to occupy many of the positions held elsewhere by mammals. For instance, in the absence of competition from mammals, several species of flightless birds have developed. Once is the Notornis which, as the moa once did, grazes on the grasslands, another, the kiwi, forages in the bush.

Geography as well as botany and zoology gained from the expedition. Apart from two obvious errors, Cook's chart of New Zealand was superb, especially in view of the fact that he relied on lunar observation to determine longitude. His charts revealed to the world a country a thousand miles long, extending over thirteen degrees latitude, about the size of Italy or Great Britain. It lies at the centre of the water hemisphere, almost as remote as possible from the land masses of the globe. It is nearly 1,300 miles (as far as is London by air from Malta, or Paris from Moscow) from the east coast of Australia, 6,000 miles from the Asian or American continent; and twice as far from Great Britain. The southern island has a mountainous backbone, rising to over 12,000 feet, which was Tasman's first glimpse of the country' the northern island is extremely rugged. The climate is sub-tropical in the north, sub-temperate in the south, as befits a land lying at the antipodes of Gibraltar and Portugal.

The information which the expedition collected about the Maoris was a great stimulus, not only to the romantic, but soon to the missionary and the ethnologist, who were often the same person.

At Tahiti Cook took on board Tupaia, a chieftain and the principal priest of the local religion, who picked up a little English and whose presence enabled the British to communicate more easily with the Maoris. What restlessness, what curiosity, what courage, one wonders, could have led him to entrust himself to these strange white men who, only to years before, had first visited his island in their great ships? with the Maoris, Cook's relations were at first as unfortunate as Tasman's. Several initial encounters resulted in the death of natives, following what the Europeans interpreted as hostile actions on their part. Eventually, however, cook 'learned how to manage them without taking away their lives' and came to think of them as 'a brave, warlike people, with sentiments void of treachery'.

To picture how these undreamed-of strangers must have appeared to the Maori, we must imagine what our reactions would be if we suffered a Martian invasion. According to one Maori chief, Te Horeta Taniwha, who as a small boy, was present when Cook came to Mercury Bay, the Maoris at first thought the white men were goblins and their ship a god. Eighty years later the old man recalled their astonishment when one of the goblins pointed a walking-stick at a shag and, amidst thunder and lightning, the bird fell down dead. there was one supreme man in that ship. We knew that he was the lord of the whole by his perfect gentlemanly and noble demeanour.' This chief goblin  gave the little boy a nail which he long kept with great care as a tool and a god.

Many other explorers followed Cook before the end of the century. De Surville arrived two months after Cook and before he had left. His unnecessarily brutal treatment of the Maoris was followed by the massacre of his countryman, Marion du Fresne, three years later. George Vancouver, D'Entrecastaux, and the Italian Malaspina who led a Spanish expedition, came later. And so New Zealand became part of a world greater than the Polynesian . cook had praised the country, remarking on the quantity of excellent timber and the native flax, noting the fertility of the soil. He had fancied that were it 'settled by an Industrus people they would very soon be supply'd not only with the necessarys but many of the luxuries of life'. It seemed to him that the natives were too much divided among themselves to unite in opposing settlers. It could not be long before the islands and their inhabitants would be drawn into the net of Europe's commerce and the grip of its power.

For the European history of New Zealand, trade came second, close in the wake of the first navigators. Trading and whaling vessels calling at New Zealand ports kidnapped Maoris, or signed them on as crew. A prison chaplain, who encountered these tattooed seamen at Sydney, determined to save their people from paganism and exploitation: thus industry and commerce brought the missionaries. Mission and trade led to a residence which became settlement; and the flag followed the settler.

The chief source of almost all these enterprises was Sydney, so that it might be said that for some stirty years before 1840 New Zealand was the colony of a convict settlement; but such a remark, while not devoid of truth, misses the dynamic of this Australian expansion. almost from its foundations in 1798 the settlement at Port Jackson refused to remain a prison. No sooner had the first Governor left than there sprang up among the officials, who were soon joined by other free settlers and emancipated convicts, a group of men, aggressive and far from scrupulous, who began trading and farming on their own account. By means of speculative ventures, and through the unpaid services of 'assigned' convict labourers, they eventually formed a prosperous middle class. so the convict establishment, born of poverty and hatred, gave birth to wealth and hope.

It was this trading class which first took an interest in the profiles which might be made in new Zealand; it would, therefore, be true to say that the story of early European enterprise in New Zealand is substantially the tale of an Australian frontier. In 1792 a vessel from Sydney left a gang of sealers at Dusky sound, a fiord on the south-west coast of the south Island. At about the same time a few whaling vessels began to fish for the cachalot or sperm whale in New Zealand waters. The Fancy, from India and Sydney, spent three months in the Hauraki gulf in 1794-5 collecting a cargo of spars. It was soon followed by other vessels. But such enterprise was restricted by the monopoly of the East India company, which forbade private British vessels to trade, or indeed to sail, between the Cape of good Hope and the Horn. The early British whaling or trading ventures in new Zealand were either licensed by the company or illegal. Originally intended to stimulate British enterprise, this monopoly had become an snachronism, effectively checking any rapid expansion of British trade while offering no hindrance to foreign commerce. In the last years of the century it was slowly whittled away by the British government under pressure from whaling, sealing, and other interests.

After 1800 British, American and French whalers began to fish regularly off the coast. They often called at the Bay of Islands or other harbours in order to refit and to trade with the Maoris. A Sydney firm in 1803 sent a schooner to Dusky sound to resume the hunt for seals and soon the most southerly sounds and islands were the scene of a sad but profitable slaughter. The sealing vessels, American and Australian, would leave a gang at some promising spot; the shore party would establish a rough camp of tents, flax-walled huts, or mere upturned boats, on these desolate shores, for a period of months or even years the sealers would lead a harsh and precarious existence until their ship returned to collect the skins of oil and to drop supplies. Only too often their ships did not return, and the starving survivors had to await rescue by some passing vessel. some of these gangs, finding a spot favoured by the great herds of seals, were remarkably successful. In 1806 one American vessel brought a cargo of 60,000 skins to Port Jackson; in one week in 1810, presumably at the height of the season, cargoes worth over 100,000 pounds were landed there. but the sealers were too efficient: the indiscriminate slaughter of bulls, cows, and pups alike rapidly led to the virtual extermination of the mainland herds of seals. After 1810 most of the gangs of sealers moved off to the Campbell and Macquarie islands. Those who remained continued sealing as a sideline to trading in flax and timber, thus preventing the seals from re-establishing themselves in large numbers.

In the first decade of the nineteenth century the coastal tribes of Maoris were brought into regular contact with Europeans. Maoris helped to cut timber for spars, to drag the great trunks down to sea or river and to load them on to the ships. they sailed in the whalers as crew. A few,, not always voluntarily, visited Norfolk Island, new South Wales and even England. New vegetables such as the potato, and new animals, especially the pig, were introduced into New Zealand. Gradually, mainly at the Bay of Islands, a busy trade sprang up. From the Europeans the Maoris chiefly wanted nails, which could be used for chisels, fish-hooks, axes, and other iron tools superior to their own. They also delighted in acquiring red things, paint or cloth. Red was their favourite colour for decoration and was also used to mark tapu objects. In exchange they provided women and food, including potatoes.

At this time the Maoris had their first opportunity to observe closely the ways of civilization. Needless to say, since the people they met (including a very few sealers, deserters or escaped convicts who settled down with them) were generally of the most brutalized or degraded sort, what they saw was rarely edifying. Visiting seamen infringed Maori law in innumerable ways - defied the tapu, stole the crops, filched weapons or mars for sale as 'curiosities" and kidnapped men or women without scruple. Relations between the two peoples soon deteriorated into what New Zealand's first historian, Dr A.S. Thomson, in the Story of New Zealand (1869), called 'a war of races'. In the south Island about 1810, after a few years of friendly intercourse, the Maoris began to attack isolated sealing gangs and boats' crews. In 1809 a Maori who was working his passage back to New Zealand induced his tribe to revenge the insults and ill-treatment he had suffered. Almost everyone on board the Boyd, which brought him home to Whanagaroa, was killed and eaten. And the same fate befell the crew of another ship wrecked off Cape Brett. For the next few years shipping kept away from the northern ports. new Zealand had acquired the reputation of being one of the most dangerous places in the Pacific. 

The Saint Augustine of New Zealand was the Reverend Samuel Marsden, who had been born the son of a blacksmith, educated by an evangelical society in Yorkshire, and induced by Wilberforce himself to cut short his studies at Cambridge in order to attempt the thankless task of carrying the gospel to his expatriated countrymen in New south Wales. He was a man of sturdy physique, character and views. While chaplain to the convict settlement he acted as a superintendent of public works, where his flock sweated on the chain gang, and employed 'assigned' convicts on his large and prosperous farm. As a magistrate he had the doubtful distinction of earning - in botany Bay - a reputation for the frequency with which he ordered the lash. Like so many other evangelicals, he seems to have reserved his pity rather for the 'poor benighted heathen' (his own phrase) abroad than for the heathen poor among his fellow citizens.

Despite his numerous, exacting duties, for many years Marsden entertained a further ambition: to start a mission in New Zealand. The chaplain's views on missionary work were in keeping with his practical abilities. the heathen, he believed, could not be converted unless they were also raised in the scale of civilization. They should be taught the arts and handicrafts of Europe as well as the gospels. When the missionary landed in a new field, if he haled the cross in his right hand, the axe should be in his left. He thought that the first missionaries should be a few 'mechanics'. As it happened, when the Church Missionary Society agreed to launch the new mission it proved impossible to find any ordained ministers anxious to embark on so hazardous a venture. The humble men who came forward were admirably suited to test Marsden's vies, views which were sheared by many other evangelicals. The first three missionaries whom he took to New Zealand were William Hall, al carpenter, John King, a shoe-maker, who also knew something of rope-making, and Thomas Kendall, a school teacher. Most of their immediate successors were also 'hardy mechanics'.  

On Christmas Day, 1814, the gospel was preached on New Zealand soil for the first time. Marsden's text was from the gospel of St. Luke: 'Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy.' He then returned to New south Wales and left his disciples at the Bay of Islands to a task even more discouraging than his own. those who had undertaken to convert the Maori were untrained as evangelists, unpractised in the disciplines of clerical life which might have enabled them to withstand the ardours and resist the temptations of life in a pagan land. The early missionaries bickered incessantly and bitterly among themselves. within twenty years three had to be dismissed, one for adultery, one for drunkenness, and one 'for a crime worse than either'. the first of these, Thomas Kendall, a tragic, Faustian figure, rendered considerable service to his fifth despite his fall. he was a man whose great imaginative vision was not matched by the intellectual discipline or the powers of expression that might have enabled him to complete his chosen task, which was nothing less than to understand and interpret the Maori world. Perhaps no one in his day, when the concepts of modern social anthropology were either unknown or repugnant to religious sensibilities, could have succeeded.

Kendall saw that if the Maoris were to be converted i8t was necessary not only to speak their language, but to study their own religion and customs: only then could Christianity he explained to them in terms they could comprehend. In much of his conduct arrogant, he yet differed from many of his successors in approaching his task in this humble spirit. But he was too weak to stand intellectually quite alone in a savage world full of what were, to a native and puritanical young man, concepts at once fascinating and terrifying. In a sense he was converted by those he had come to save. As he wrote himself: 'I have been so poisoned with the apparent sublimity of their ideas, that I have been almost completely turned from a Christian to a Heathen.' Marsden's account ws that by 'prying into the obscene mysteries of the natives in order to ascertain their notions of the Supreme Being, etc., his own mind was polluted; his natural Corruptions excited, & his vile Passions inflamed, by which means he fell into their vices'. Unaccustomed to a society frank in sexual matters, to a religion in which 'midwifery' (in Kendall's evasive term) was an intermingled with theology, or to women who did not regard virginity as sacrosanct, Kendall began sleeping with a Maori girl. he did, however, succeed in 1815 in publishing a small Maori dictionary, The New Zealander's First Book. In 1820 he took two famous chiefs, Hongi and Waikato, to England, and there helped Professor Lee, a remarkable linguist at Cambridge, to produce a more accurate orthography of the Maori language.

On the whole the Maoris protected and up to a point respected the missionaries. some of them were willing to learn European methods of agriculture or to send their children to be fed and instructed in the mission schools. But the missionaries failed completely in their main aim. It was nine years before the first Maori was baptized - a girl about to marry a European; eleven before the next and death-bed conversion. No substantial progress was made until the eighteen-thirties. the Maoris showed no inclination to heed the message of the gospel. It was not, said the great chief Hongi, suitable for warriors.

This was the period which an historian has appropriately called 'the Maori domination'. Maori culture was as dominant over European as the Maoris were over local European settlers. The Maoris were not converted to European civilization or its religion. They made use of European goods, but for Maori purposes. A nail would be flattened for a chisel. Red cloth was pulled to pieces to weave into cloaks. European blankets were used as cloaks. Soon muskets were in demand to pursue the traditional objectives of Maori society. The Maoris were still completely confident in the merit and rightness of their own culture. While the Anglican mission was struggling to find its feet, traders and 'southseamen' slowly established a friendly intercourse with the Maoris. During the eight4en-twenties the economic frontiers of the Australian colonies were rapidly expanding. The first bank opened its doors in Sydney in 1817. British capital poured in to finance the squatters' i8llegal westward movement on to Crown lands. Eastwards the trading vessels probed the New Zealand market. The influence of commerce spread to all but the most inaccessible regions, providing a varied scene of Australian and Maori enterprise.

In the eighteen-twenties a considerable trade grew up in New Zealand flax. Sydney firms sent agents to barter with the Maoris for the dressed fibre, which was used to make rope. In many coastal districts, especially in the North Island, tribes were hard at work cutting and scraping flax to exchange for European goods, especially guns. this trade was worth 26,000 pounds in 1831 when it began to decline, partly because the market weakened, partly because the Maori demand for European goods was not yet insatiable. having collected what they considered enough guns, many tribes stopped work and turned to the more interesting task of repaying old debts. the trade in kauri, a pin e which rises sixty and sometimes eighty feet before the first branch, was also worth several thousands of pounds a year to Sydney firms. The depots of their agents formed busy little settlements on a number of northern harbours and bays. At Hokianga there was even a shipyard where several small vessels were both in the late eighteen-twenties.

In the same period a new whaling industry led to the setting-up of twenty or thirty shore establishments, most of them in the south Island. From these stations the men went out in their absurdly small boats to hunt the 'right' or black whale. In the 'off' season they built boats, fished, farmed and raised half-caste families. the scene of the greatest activity was the Bay of Islands, which became the centre of a substantial general trade. Whaling and trading vessels began to call in ever-increasing numbers: ships from Sydney, French ships, British ships, New England whalers from Sag Harbour, Salem or Nantucket, which had outstripped their competitors, and local vessels, the New Zealander or the Tokerau. By the eighteen-thirties there were as many as a hundred-and-fifty ships a year calling at the Bay. The local Maoris and settlers grew prosperous by victualling ships. Resident traders also collected Maori produce, such as potatoes and maize, from along the coast, and exported it to Sydney.

To give some idea of the extent of the New Zealand trade, two figures may be mentioned. The cargoes of the American ships which called at the Bay of Islands in 1839 were estimated to be worth $U.S.1,636,335. According to the records of the New South Wales government, in the same year goods worth 95,173 pounds were exported to New Zealand and produce to the value of 71,707 was imported from the same source. If this was New Zealand's first trade deficit it was not its last, but the suggestion has been made that the discrepancy between these figures was due to ships sailing from Sydney to England using goods loaded in Sydney to purchase cargoes of New Zealand timber for the English market. During the eighteen-twenties and even more so in the thirties, as a result of increasing contacts with Europeans, the northern Maoris came to feel the weight of western civilsation pressing on their lives. Their community bean to pass through a moral and technological revolution more comprehensive and more painful than contemporary industrialization in Europe. Old customs, everyday habits of eating or dress, eventually traditional beliefs were abandoned or altered, not always for the better. In some places the tribal structure itself was tottering.

By the end of the thirties almost all the Bay of Islands Maoris wore European clothing. Men and women generally smoked pipes. the Maoris had known no alcoholic beverages, but now many of them had acquired what often proved a deadly taste. Potatoes had replaced fern-root as a staple food. The Maoris grew and ate wheat, corn and a variety of European vegetables. but far more significant changes had occurred which had reduced the total Maori population by perhaps two-fifths. The main cause of depopulation was undoubtedly the introduction of new diseases to which the Maoris had no resistance. the Maoris appear to have been a relatively healthy people, despite their various skin complaints and a rare form of leprosy. they were long protected by isolation from the arrival of new viruses. But the Europeans brought an armament of disease. there are traditions of eighteenth-century epidemics, resulting from contact with explorers, and many records of early nineteenth-century outbreaks of whooping cough, some form of influenza, smallpox, measles and what were probably typhoid and cholera. Europeans also introduced prostitution eventually on an extensive scale at the Bay of Islands. Venereal diseases became extremely common, taking their toll in lives and fertility.

And the Maoris slaughtered themselves. By 1820 the Bay of Islands Maoris had decided that 'the great god of the white man' was the pu, the gun. he was the first new god to make converts. by about 1815 they wee carried away with desire for guns. Even the early missionaries were forced to take part in the abominable trade in muskets. They had to trade in order to live, and for some time muskets were the only European product for which there was a keen Maori demand. In the twenties there was a huge increase in the area of cultivations at the Bay of Islands, evidently to produce food for trade - the Maoris had entered not a money but a musket economy. When they got enough guns, they set off to even old scores. Because of the ramifications of kinship, each new death involved further tribes in the demands of utu: murder spread out like waves from a stone dropped in the pool of tribal society. Europe came to Aoteraroa like nothing so much as the plague.

By 1819 the Maoris at the Bay of Islands had several hundred pu and the prized tupura (double-barrelled musket). they were regarded with terror for hundreds of miles. In 1821 Hongi returned to new Zealand from his visit to England with Kendall. In Sydney the chief exchanged all the presents he received in London for three hundred muskets. Then, dressed, it is said, in a coat of mail which George IV had given him, he proceeded to terrorize his ancient enemies. Near modern Auckland he killed a thousand men; another thousand at the Thames; as many more of the Waikato tribes, and perhaps twice as many of Te Arawa died on an island in Lake Rotorua. The Waikato tribes recovered and attacked those near Kawhia and in Taranaki. Warriors from Taranaki, Kawhia and elsewhere, led by a formidable Ngatitoa chief called Te Rauparaha, ravaged Cook Strait and invaded the South Island. In the twenties and early thirties these savage civil wars ld to heavy casualties and cannibal feasts unprecedented in pre-European battles fought with stoneage weapons. It is estimated that about forty thousand people were slaughtered. it has taken until the present day for the Maori people to reach anything like their former numbers. A further effect, the disorganization of the tribal structure and the confusion of land titles due to conquest and tribal migrations, produced a difficult situation for European administrators after 1840.

Ideas were as destructive as bullets. The traders gave the Maoris the means of self-destruction the missionaries set out to change the constitution of Maori life. In 1823 the Anglican missionaries found a leader in an ex-naval lieutenant, Henry Williams, who introduced order and discipline into their efforts. They turned away from Marsden's views, being unable to see that 'an Axe was the best Missionary', and concentrated on teaching the gospel. In the circumstances they were justified, for so far civilization in New Zealand had meant guns rather than ploughs, but in the eighteen-forties and fifties they returned to a broader and, in peaceful times, more practical educational policy, which combined agricultural and religious instruction.

The Anglican was joined by a Wesleyan mission in 1822. By 1830, having established firm beach-heads at the Bay of Islands and Hokianga respectively, they wee able to launch an offensive towards the south. Victory was rapid and overwhelming. By 1840 perhaps half the Maoris of the Bay oif Islnds were at least nominally converts to Christianity. Farther south there were a thousand baptized and ten thousand regular churchgoers. Within a few years probably a majority of Maoris had been converted. sometimes a tribe would follow its chief into the new religion. Christian doctrine spread far ahead of the missionaries as converts - notably ex-slaves - carried the word of the Europeans even to the most distant tribes.

The Wesleyans and Anglicans at first worked on friendly rivalry but religious harmony was disrupted by the arrival of a French Catholic mission in 1838. the islands soon rang with doctrinal disputation and mutual accusations of unfair tactics in the competition in conversion. A Roman Catholic priest and a lay millwright were said to have worked their way up the Wanganui river, staying long enough at each village to build a mill, convert the inhabitants and teach them that the Church of England was adulterous. Anglicans sniffed at the lay baptism practised by Wesleyan missionaries both accused the Catholics of pandering to superstition by making a liberal dispensation of crucifixes, medallions, and images, thus 'withholding the second commandment', and of being too tolerant of bigamy, tattooing or other Maori 'vices'.

The Maoris greatly enjoyed the theological controversy, which became as heated amongst themselves as amongst their pastor. When one European traveller arrived at a village to beg lodgings for the night he found the tribe divided between two factions, one of which had secured possession of the gate. Before he was allowed to enter he was asked to what church he belonged. His discreet reply, 'To the true church', satisfied both parties, and a feast was prepared. When in 1843 the Anglican Bishop Selwyn asked Te Heu Heu, a famous chief at Taupo, why he refused to become a Christian, he stretched out three fingers and replied, 'I have come to the crosswroads, and I see three ways - the English, the Wesleyan, and the Roman. Each teacher says his own way is the best. I am sitting down, and doubting which guide I shall follow.' He dallied  too long. Before he had made up his mind he, his wives and many of his followers were buried by a landslide.

Maori And Settler - (1642-1870) - Part 2
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An extract from IN THE STRANGE SOUTH SEAS by BEATRICE GRIMSHAW, published in London by Hutchinson & Co., 1908. 

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