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NEW ZEALAND MARTYRS.

Ilf ARCHDEACON MACMUBRAY.

EARLY MISSIONARY DAYS, 'j

The recent commemoration at Opotiki of the martyrdom of Carl Silvius Volkner, which took place there over half a ceil- , tiny ago, brings home to us that New Zealand has made her contribution to the noble army or martyrs. It is a fine instinct which honours the martyr spirit. Our lads who have nobly died at Gallipoli 1 were imbued with a kindred spirit, though probably they were unconscious of it. One of our officers writing of the evacuation of Gallipoli bears testimony to the deep feeling in the hearts of those who survived about the noble dead they left behind. He write? that as they, in silence, and at night, passed Ihe graves of the dead heroes, they could not keep the tears from rolling down their faces. All honour to them for honouring the dead heroes who laid down their lives in a noble cause. hen Samuel Marsden and his little j band of missionaries landed in the Bay of Islands in 1814, they had, humanly speaking, a. great chance of winning the martyr's crown. There are few things which ought to tell more strongly in favour of the Maoris of that time, than the fact that though mission stations were imperilled, and missionaries threatened, , not one missionary lost his life at their hands. The First Martyrs. The first martyrs in New Zealand who iost their lives for preaching the Gospel were not pakehas but Maoris, and their story ought to be kept in remembrance. here were in 1346 in the Wrmganui district. which was then in the charge of the Rev. Richard Pavlov, a C.M.S. missionary, two Maori teachers, or lay evangelists, named Te Manihera, and Kereopa. Captain (filbert Mair writes of them that they were in deacons orders, but this is a mistake, as the first Maori deacon, Rota Waitoa, was ordained in Auckland in 1853, by Bishop Selwyn. On Christmas Eve, 1846, the Rev. Richard Taylor held a prayer meeting with his leading Maori converts. To Manihera said they had received the Christian Faith from the distant. country of England, and it was surely their duty to carry the Gospel to their own heathen countrymen, and offered to go to Taupo as a missionary. He knew that the Taupo natives were at deadly enmity with his own tribe, the Ngatiruanui, because a body of Taupo natives had some time previously attacked the Ngatiruanui natives, and been defeated ; the remnant surrendered, were fed and treated as friends, but were after-

wards put to death. When Te Manihera offered to go to Taupo he knew he was placing his life in great peril. I Kercopa said that in former times the apostles went out two and two, and ofI fered to go with Te Manihera. I A Perilous Journey. On February 6, 1847, they left Wanganui, travelled to the East Coast, and thence to Rotorua, where they called on , Mr. Chapman, the missionary at Te Ngae of Waiariki, Te Manihera preached to the

Maoris, .and said that ■ his time was at hand, for he felt that before another sun set he would be an inhabitant of another world. Captain Mair tells as that the Taupo chief had sent a fierce warning to stay away with their new " Puka-puka" (Bibles), that if they persisted in their journey he would use their Puka-puka for cartridge paper. But nothing daunted these devoted teachers went fearlessly forward, and on reaching Rotoaira Lake were ordered to return by Te Huitahi, a very truculent character of that place. When they came to Pukenamu, a little hill close to Tokaanu, the missionaries were met by an armed party, who ordered them to go back They declared their trust in God, and declined to return, and eventually they were escorted to the principal pa on March 12, 1847. • Death of the Martyrs. The devoted teachers were led to the place of execution on a little ridge outside the pa. They asked for time to pray which was given, and after robing themselves in their white garments (surplices) they knelt and prayed fervently, using the prayer of St. Stephen, and uttering words of love and forgiveness to their murderers. Both fell wounded at the first volley, and one (Te Manihera) rose to a sitting posture, still praying, and after being struck with a tomahawk, he carefully arranged his white robe over his body and gave up his heroic spirit. They were buried at Waiariki. A native teacher, speaking of their death, likened them to a lofty kahikatea tree, full of fruit, which it sheds on every side around, causing » thick grove of young trees to spring up; so that although the parent tree may bo cut down its place is more than supplied by those which proceed from it—this is but a Maori way of saying the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church. The Rev. R. Taylor tells us that Huitahi, the murderer, afterwards gave land as a site for a mission station, and built a nico little church upon it, and when Mr. Taylor went to conduct the opening service at it, he found some thirty Maoris asking for baptism. The Volkner Martyrdom. The martyrdom of Carl Silvius Volkner took place on March 2, 1865. He had gone (o Auckland to place his wife and child in safety, and then with the R-ev. T. Grace returned to the post of duty, which was also the post of danger. On the arrival of the schooner at Opotiki. both missionaries were seized and dragged ashore by the Maoris, among whom was a semi insane renegade, named Kereopa, strange to say, a namesake of one of the Taupo martyrs. Both missionaries were in imminent peril, and Volkner was told he was to be killed. A nieht of miserable suspense followed, and they found comfort in the Psalms for that evening (March 1). The next morning ho busied himself in kind offices among his people. His companion. Mr. Grace, wrote in his journal : " I could not help noticing the calmness of his manner, and the beautiful smile that was on his face." About 2 p.m. lie was taken away, his companion not being allowed to accompany him, to a willow tree near the bank of the Wai-o-weka Stream, about midway between the mission house and the church, and there he was banged.

Carl Volkiier was a German, but a German in the days before the Germans were forced by Bismarck into a military materialism, when they were in the main a nation of idealists, and he had belonged to tho noblest band of idealists in Ger-many-the Moravians—before he became a CMS missionary. Let lis hope that when the military power of Germany is crushed that Germany will forsake her idols of materialism, and give to the world more men of the type of Volkner. When »be does her Kaiser may boast more truthfully than ho now does, that the Germans are the salt of the earth. J

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NZH19160318.2.90.8

Bibliographic details

NEW ZEALAND MARTYRS., New Zealand Herald, Volume LIII, Issue 16181, 18 March 1916, Supplement

Word Count
1,171

NEW ZEALAND MARTYRS. New Zealand Herald, Volume LIII, Issue 16181, 18 March 1916, Supplement

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