1854 - Richardson, J. The First Christian Martyr of the New Zealand Church - [Front matter]

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  1854 - Richardson, J. The First Christian Martyr of the New Zealand Church - [Front matter]
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First Christian Martyr
New Zealand Church


"In future times this picturesque Valley (Taranaki), as well as Mount Egmont and the smiling open land at its base, will become as celebrated for their beauty as the Bay of Naples, and will attract travellers from all parts of the globe." --Dieffenbach.


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In casually turning over the leaves of the Church Missionary Intelligencer the writer's attention was rivetted by a simple and unaffected narrative of the first Christian Martyr of the New Zealand Church. The impression created upon his mind by the perusal of this and other papers emanating from the pen of the Minister of the Church of Whanganu'i and his missionary wife, induced the desire to rescue the early history of that portion of the Church in connection with the Church of England and Ireland from the oblivion which usually befalls such unconnected and occasional communications. To invest the subject with as much interest as his limited ability would admit of, it appeared desirable to introduce it with an account of the early history of the country, and to intersperse it with allusions to the customs and habits of the inhabitants. Some may be induced to remark, that in selecting "blank verse" as the medium of such communication he has prophetically hit upon an apt designation of the result of

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his labours. He willingly pleads guilty to the justice of the insinuation if the theme which his feeble pen has vainly essayed to illustrate and recommend should meet with a candid, thoughtful, and earnest inquirer. To those acquainted with the history of the Whanganu'i Church it will be matter of regret that a portraiture which is here attempted falls so sadly short of the bright original, whose labours, as those also of his untiring and devoted Bishop, might find a more correct delineation by a reference to a portion of the Apostle's experience, "in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst." Of such, and there are many such in New Zealand, both in connection with the Church of England and the Wesleyan Church, without reference to other Churches, it would be almost presumption to speak in the language of panegyric; their labours are their fittest eulogist, their success their most enduring and most emphatic reward.

By an allowable poetic fiction the writer is reposing on the shores of the lake Taupo when the fit of inspiration seizes him. In the vagaries of his poetic fancy he visits the coast from time to time and depicts passing

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occurrences. The organs which constitute poesy are evidently somewhat deficient, for we find him repeating the same imagery, and unconsciously guilty of something like plagiarism; unconsciously, for though some of the expressions sound even to his own ear as if he had met them before, he cannot tell whence he has absorbed them; but still, though his whims be many, and his unconscious appropriations perhaps not a few, he claims belief in the integrity of his design and the truthfulness of his delineations. To avoid misapprehension, he would state, that with the exception of the martyrdom of Manihera and Keropa, he has so arranged and grouped his facts as to give a general picture of the country and its inhabitants without confining himself to the exact order of time or their connection one with the other.

By an unhappy bouleversement, the concluding note, which should have appeared at an earlier period, has got into an awkward position, still, as it brings the subject of the narrative more naturally before the reader, it would be as well to refer to it at once. The writer is aware that not a few object to the appearance of notes at all; it may be but a lame defence to say that they are a "legal tender," and have, in his opinion, a value not inferior to the current coin of the text, be that great or small.

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Chapter 1, --A description of the Country. Its discovery. The earliest immigrations. Religious belief of the immigrants, and their cannibalism.....5 to 14

Chapter 2. --The first promulgation of Christianity. Its effects on a Chieftain, and the first convert.....15 to 22

Chapter 3. --Abolition, of slavery illustrated. Tradition--its bewildering effects....23 to 32

Chapter 4. --The persecution of the Christians and the resulting war illustrated.....33 to 41

Chapter 5. --The Harvest Home. Missionary's efforts to attain peace. Christmas. The first Native Mission. The Martyr's death.......42 to 51

Chapter 6. --Attempts at reconciliation--its results. The Missionary's Exposition of Scripture......52 to 61

The First Christian Martyr of the New Zealand Church.

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