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THE MARSDEN CENTENARY

No. I. The present year of 1914 is very important' to nil those who aTe interested in the history and progress of New Zealand: it is the centenary of that it. which Samuel Marsden, our great mitsionarv, filled with love and guided by the Holy Spirit of God, ventured almoet alone and quite unprotected among a people the news of whoso savacery kept weaker spirits at a safe distance. During the period which elapsed between the discovers of these islands by Captain Cook in 1769 and the -first landing of Marsden in 3814 their shores were visited by many adventurers. Whalers and testers made their headquarters in the bays and river mouths; traders came for cargoes of timber and flax; the long, Btraieht trunks of the kauri pine were in demand for_ the maets of ships, and the valuable qualities of phormium tenax were highly appreciated. The conduct of those early visitors was not always such as to produce a crood impression on the native inhabitants. Their possession of firearms gave them a superiority over the Maoris, and their distance front civilisation afforded them a freedom from restraint which in many instances led to deeds of great cruelty. Brats' crews, in their ignorance of. nativecustoms, violated the law of tapu, cutting down trees in prohibited areas, and when the Maoris sought to avenge the sacrilege severe punitive measures were taken. Natives were lured bv specious promises to ship as sailors, and afterwards subjected to harsh treatment. The temptation to take advantage of their ingcnuoußnees was often yielded to, and there were occasion* when boys, and even girls, were kidnapped and carried awav bv force. The daughter of the chief Te Pahi was stolen and afterwards sold into slavery in Penang. The notorious mascscre of the crew of the Bovd way due to the kidnapping of a chief named Taia. Naturally the Maoris became suspicioae of the white men, and when they got the chance retaliated. That they were of cannibal habits made their retaliations seem the more fierce and terrible in the eyes of the Europeans, and won them the" reputation of beinc exceptionally hostile and dangerous. The raw which we know to-day as peaceable and law-abidinir citizens was a hundred vears ago dreaded as among the most cruel and bloodthirsty on the earth. All the more does it redound to Samuel Marsden's credit that he not only conceived the irrepressible detire to bring to them the blessings o* Christian civilisation but set foot amor/g them armed with no weapon but Christion love and benevolence. ******* Like Cook, Marsden was a Yorkshireman. He was of Wesleyan parentage, but the Wesleyan secession was yet so young that it seemed quite natural to him to accept the invitation of the" Elland Society for the training of clergy and prepare for orders in the Church of England. The influence of early associations, bowever, was seen in his* broad-minded 6yni: pathy and his readiness to co-operate with other branches of the Church in missionary and benevolent work. He was ordained and appointed chaplain to the New South Wales Colony in 1793. The following year saw him settled in his home at Parramatta with his young wife, Elizabeth Tristram, feeling his way in his new duties and discovering directions of usefulness outside tho ordinary routine. There, was scope enough for his devoted and selfdenying labors. There was misery to lelievt- and injustice to right and cruelty to protest aga'.tJrt;. a»A,"jt wr-n man.of jest Marsden's calibre, with a sane commonsense' combined with a devout religious faith, who was wanted for such work. His activities took him down to the Sydney wharves, where he met and talked with the sailors from the ships, helping and couneelling them, and conducting divine pervice on their behalf. On those wharves he first made the acquaintance of the Natives of New Zealand. Young Maoris of adventurous spirit, inspired by curiosity to see the lands from which the pakehas with the whitewinged ships came, used to work a passage across the Tasman Sea. Numbers of them, turned adrift by heartless skippers, found themselves alone and friendless in Sydney. Marsden was struck with their fine appearance and their intelligent faces. He became interested in them and played the part of friend to many of them, whom he helped to regain their native country. His interest grew through the early years of his Australian ministry, until at length he conceived tho project of founding a mission to the Maoris and himself carrying the message of the Gospel to the fierce cannibals of New Zealand. ******* Marsden's intercourse with his Maori visitors in his house at Parramatta was not without difficulties, and was sometimes fraught with grave anxieties. On one occasion, for example, he had as guests a certain chief and his little son, whom ho had brought with him to see the world. The boy, it happened, fell ill and died. His father grieved bitterly over him. According to Maori custom he should have killed a number of slaves, so that their spirits might accompany the boy's into tho spirit world. But he knew that such a thing would not be tolerated in New South Wales. Still, he would have run the risk, for he had some slaves with him, had he not been prevented by his host. Convinced that his son's spirit would suffer for his neglect, the poor man became profoundly melancholy. It seemed as if he, too, would die. But Marsden, by his sympathy and tactful conversation, succeeded in inspiring him with a new hope and comforting him with a new faith. ''You must not grieve," he said; "it is wrong to grieve. Our loved ones are with God. They arp in His care, and all He does is well." The words were characteristic of Marsden's beautifully simple way of presenting "the good news to unsophisticated minds. He has left us a clear statement of his method of teaching. "In every place," he says, " I endeavor to explain to the natives that there is but one true' and living God, who made all things and that one God is also their God ; that none other can heal their wounds, preserve them from danper, restore them to health, or save them from death; but that our God, although they know Him not, can do all these things for them." *******

As time went on Marsden's determina- | tion to carry his project of visiting New J Zealand into effect bncame more resolute. | He turned over plans in his mind. He | took every opportunity that offered of | making friends with the Maoris who came to Sydney, and of obtaining some insight into their modes of thought. At length, with his heart full of the enterprise, he went Home to England to lay his purpose before the Church Missionary So.iety. He met with the fortune of so many pioneers. I The Church Missionary Society knew little or nothing about New Zealand and its fine native people. Nobody was inter- ; ested in the country; nowhere was there ■ any vision of its importance or its possibilities. The stories of the number, the ferocity, and the cannibalism, of the natives, while tbey saved New Zealand from becoming a convict settlement, de- . terred even thoughtful persons from contemplating any scheme of colonisation. Marsden met with indifference, and even opposition. But he persevered, in spite ot tue difficulties which were put in his : way, and finally succeeded in persuading the society to allow him to make the experiment. An annual grant of £SOO was put at his disposal, and details were I kit pretty much to his own wisdom. He

T as A? f^ r ahead of his times Mto chooea tor the form of his experiment what in later days came to be known as an industrial mission. He understood that until the attention of the natives is gained and ?° nd industrious habits are introduced little or no progress can be made in teaching them . the Gospel. "In all on mankind," he wrote, I have rarely known an industrious man become an idle one, or an idle man become industrious." His first business was to choose his companions. . He sought men of missionary spirit, skilled in useful arts, who could teach the natives' trades and lead them in the adoption of civilised ways of living. Ultimately he lighted on William Hall, a carpenter and shipwright, and John King, a flax dresser and spinner. His greatest difficulty was to secure an interpreter, for though ha had made several Maori friends on the Sydney wharves, he had not mastered their language. The manner in which an interpreter was found was certainly marvellous, and Marsden himself never hesitated to describe it as providential.

A certain young chief of the Ngajmhi Tjibe, in the Bay of Islands, by name Ruatara, being of an ambitious and adventurous temper, had shipped some year* before on board the whaler Argo, then lying at anchor off his native shows. The poor youth had been beguiled by many fair promises, but once at sea he met with. nothing but hard work and ill-treatment. After a time he found himself wandering in Sydney penuiless and friendless. There he saw Marsden, though he never spoke to him. He watched him at work among tile sailors by the waterside, and lingered on the outskirts- of the little crowds who listened to his preaching. Ho heard him talked of as a good and generous helper of those in distress, but he could not muster up courage to make himself known to him. In his need he chipped again on board a vessel bound for Bounty Island to capture seals. The seals were plentiful and easily caucht. but before the skins could be put in hales and placed in the hold they had to be dried in the sun, and the captain, wearying of the delay, left a party >n show to look after the cargo while he took the ship to Norfolk Island for water and supplies. ' Ruatara was one of those who were left. After a year of waiting they realised that they had been abandoned, and were glad to r.ufc themselves and the sealskins on board the first ve-isel that called, though she was bound for London. The captain of this ship, when she reached Londoi, turned the Maori lad adrift onoe man without a penny of waives. It was then that Ruatara shipped on board the Anna as 6he was about to sail for Sydney. A persistent ill-fortune dogged him wherever he went. Here, too, he was fll-used. He was lyincr in the hold aching and bleeding after a cruel flogging, when some passengers came aboard. The passengers were no other than Marsden and his missionary party, and the surprise of the poor Maori at seeing the face he had known so well on Sydney wharves was only equalled by the astonishment of the missionary at hearing himself nddr'fised by the wretched victim"in the hold as " Marsden, minister." Marsden was lost in wonder and amazement. He epeedily [rave help and cheer to the sufferer, and throughout the voyage watched over him with caTe and sympathy. Hod had indeed placed in his band th-3 instrument he needed to act as interpreter between him and the Maoris to whom he was making his way. and henceforward Ruatara was his friend and companion so long as he lived. (To be continued.)

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Bibliographic details

THE MARSDEN CENTENARY, Issue 15683, 23 December 1914

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1,899

THE MARSDEN CENTENARY Issue 15683, 23 December 1914

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