1867 - Williams, William. Christianity among the New Zealanders - CHAPTER II: 1815--1822.

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  1867 - Williams, William. Christianity among the New Zealanders - CHAPTER II: 1815--1822.
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CHAPTER II: 1815--1822.

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AFTER the death of Ruatara, the difficulties of the work began to appear. Satan had obtained a strong hold upon the people, and led them captive at his will. They had been trained up in gross superstition, and there did not appear to them any sufficient reason to abandon it. The New Zealanders had no fixed religious system properly so called. Places and persons were made sacred, but there were no idols or temples of worship, and no priesthood as in India, existing as a separate class, and depending upon their craft for support. Still there were deities whom they thought it necessary to propitiate through fear of the evils which might otherwise befal them. There was no idea of a beneficent Being who might bless and prosper them, but of one who was austere and revengeful, ever ready to punish for a violation of the accustomed rites. If a canoe

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was upset at sea, it was referred to the anger of the sea god, for some act of the parties who perished. If their crops of kumara failed, the reason was that some ceremony at the time of planting had been neglected; and the privation suffered by the loss of the crop made them more careful for the future. Sickness was generally attributed to witchcraft, practised by a priest of some hostile tribe, or by an unfortunate slave, whose life was sure to be forfeited. The person of a leading chief was always sacred. His head, his garments, the ground upon. which he sat, the remains of the food he had eaten, were all highly tabooed, and his people carefully avoided them, lest some evil should befal them.

Sometimes incantation was resorted to, for the purpose of causing the death of a person against whom there was a hostile feeling, and an instance has been mentioned of a priest trying his power against one of the old missionaries. The ignorant natives were in a state of alarm, but like the inhabitants of Melita, "they looked when he should have swollen and fallen down dead suddenly;" but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said the New Zealand god had no power over the white man.

But besides the effect of superstition, there was the natural heart, which is enmity against God, and is not disposed to be subject to the law of God. So long as the New Zealander did not commit an open injury to his fellow, or offer a direct insult, he was at liberty to

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do that which was right in his own eyes. From early infancy this principle was instilled into them. To be told, therefore, that it was wrong to indulge in their evil propensities, and that God would be angry with them, was a doctrine they could not understand. The god they believed in would rather punish them if they listened to these new ideas. The missionaries in the mean time repeated the simple message of the Gospel, though it seemed to their hearers but an idle tale. Frequently was the question asked by the chiefs, in answer to the recommendations which were placed before them--"Will you give us blankets if wo believe?" There was much excitement attendant upon their favourite pursuits. In war they could indulge the feeling of revenge, which was sweeter to them than their food; besides which it held out the prospect of gain. If they were victorious in battle, they obtained possession of valuable canoes and mats without the labour of making them; while slaves to cultivate their ground would raise them to a dignity which was always enviable.

The missionaries succeeded in gathering around them a few children, and some of the slaves also were allowed to work for them, but it was not from a wish for instruction. The children were fed and received a little clothing, which though not costly, was of great value in their estimation; and the slaves were conducted by their master to the house of the missionary with a strict injunction that the monthly payment for their labour should be duly given over to him-

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The slaves were encouraged to steal whenever they could do so without detection; and frequently were the children decoyed away from the house as soon as they had been provided with comfortable clothing. It was in vain to remonstrate; while those in authority gave encouragement, their inferiors laughed at the idea of evil consequences.

Religious instruction was only listened to for some ulterior object. It did not enter the heart nor produce any fruit. "I converse with the natives," wrote Mr. King, "on religious subjects as opportunity offers, hut find it difficult to make any impression on their minds of the evil of sin, or of the love of God in Christ Jesus; but I hope and pray that we may see the Gospel have its proper effect on their hearts and lives. We must wait the Lord's good time, resting on the divine promises to make His word effectual to their salvation."

War had been the glory of the New Zealander from the earliest times. Their traditionary history tells us that they are all of one family, and that the tribes which had become most hostile to each other were still relations by blood. But quarrels arose when they were living in close quarters, and the weakest families were obliged to give place to the stronger, and seek a refuge for themselves in some distant part. The natives of Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty once lived in the Bay of Islands, while all the tribes south of Poverty Bay, now occupying from Hawkes' Bay to Palliser Bay, and various parts of the southern

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island, were once living in Poverty Bay, and were driven away by superior force. But they carried the natural heart with them; and as they continued to increase, the same evils were perpetuated without any abatement. The tribes becoming thus scattered over the country, did not allow the recollection of former wrongs to be forgotten, and though generations might have passed away, there was still the record handed down from father to son of some old grievance which was to be avenged whenever an opportunity should occur. Before intercourse had begun with the English at the Bay of Islands, the tribes of that part of the country were often worsted by their southern neighbours of the Thames. But the Bay of Islands became a convenient resort for shipping, and a little experience led the natives to see the great superiority of the arms of the civilized man.

In the early part of this century, a French ship under the command of Marion, visited that part of the island, and the natives massacred a portion of her crew, who were at work in the wood procuring timber. The consequence was a fearful retaliation, in which a number of natives were shot from the ship's boats. At a subsequent period, after the massacre of the Boyd, boats were sent from some whaling ships in the Bay of Islands, to wreak their vengeance on a tribe supposed to have been concerned in that deed. The natives were thus brought to reflect that if they could only obtain a supply of these implements of war which made the white man so powerful, they would

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have the means of gaining the ascendancy over their neighbours. They therefore encouraged the ships to visit their shores by treating the crews with civility, and thus by bartering their produce, they became possessed of muskets, which, though at first few in number, enabled them to gain immense advantages over their weaker enemies.

Temorenga, a powerful chief of the Bay of Islands, was thus enabled to retaliate upon a distant tribe an injury which had been done some years before. A niece of his was taken in a Sydney brig from Bream Head, and afterwards landed at Mercury Bay, where she became the slave of a chief named Hukori. She was subsequently killed and eaten by Te Waru, the chief of Tauranga. When Temorenga heard of her fate, he felt bound to revenge her death as soon as he was in a position to do so. About sixteen years elapsed, when at length he mustered a force of six hundred men, with which lie proceeded to Tauranga, and landed near the mouth of the harbour. Waru came off in his canoe to know what had brought him. Temorenga replied that he was come to demand satisfaction for his niece who had been killed and eaten. Waru replied, "If that is the object of your expedition, the only satisfaction I shall give you will be to kill and eat you." The two parties met on the following day, when Temorenga directed his men not to fire till he gave the word. He had thirty-five muskets, while Waru depended upon his native weapons. Waru charged with a shower of spears, by which Temorenga

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had one man wounded. He then directed his people to fire, when twenty of Waru's men fell dead at the first volley, and among them two chiefs. Waru's party was at once thrown into disorder, and fled. Temorenga commanded his men not to pursue the flying enemy. He was satisfied with the sacrifice that had been made, as two chiefs were killed. His allies, however, contended that though Temorenga was satisfied with the death of two chiefs for the murder of his niece, yet that Waru ought to be punished for his insolent language; and they recommended that the attack should be renewed. Temorenga, however, sent first to know whether Waru was inclined for peace, but was told he was not. The next day they observed that Waru had rallied his forces, and was coming down upon them. They immediately flew to arms, and in a short time made a great slaughter. Many were driven into the sea and perished. Between 300 and 400 were left dead on the field of battle, and 260 were made prisoners. Waru was now completely conquered, and fled to the woods. One day he was wandering alone at no great distance from Temorenga's people, when he saw a man approaching, and watching his opportunity, he sprang suddenly upon him, and had him in his power. "Who are you?" said Waru. The man giving an evasive answer, Waru continued--"But I want to know your name. I am not going to kill you. I am Te Waru, and I wish to have peace." His captive then told him that he was Te Whareumu, one of the leading

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chiefs of Temorenga's party. Waru then gave him a handsome mat he was wearing, and asked to be conducted to Temorenga. As Te Whareumu approached the camp, apparently leading a captive, there was a great outcry; and when it was known that his companion was Te Waru, many were ready to fall upon him. But Whareumu motioned them to keep at a distance, and related the incident of his own capture by Te Waru. This led to immediate peace. Te Waru said he had no idea that the muskets would have produced such an effect. He asked Temorenga if he could give him any information about his wife and children. Temorenga told him they were in the camp, and should he delivered up to him. Waru was much distressed at the death of his father, who had fallen, and requested Temorenga to make him some compensation for his loss. This he did by giving him a musket, with which he was well satisfied, and he then took his departure with his wife and children. After this the victors remained three days on the field of battle, feeding upon the slain, and then sailed with their prisoners and Waru's canoes to the Bay of Islands.

This practice of cannibalism appears to have been universal, but it was not generally practised between tribes nearly connected, because the insult was accounted so great that reconciliation afterwards would be extremely difficult. "I have met with no family," writes Mr. Marsden, "but some branches of it had been killed in battle and afterwards eaten. If any

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chief falls into the bands of a tribe which he has oppressed and injured, by the chance of war, they are sure to roast and eat him; and after devouring his flesh, they will preserve his bones in the family as a memento of his fate, and convert them into fish-hooks, whistles, and ornaments. The custom of eating their enemies is universal. The origin of it is now too remote to be traced. The natives generally speak of it with horror and disgust, yet they expect that this will be their own fate in the end, as it has been with their forefathers and friends. I represented to them how much their national character suffered in the opinion of all civilised nations from this horrid custom. Many regretted that it should be the practice of their country, and said that when they knew better they would leave it off. If the head of a tribe is killed and eaten, the survivors consider it the greatest disgrace that can befal them; and in their turn they seize the first opportunity to retaliate."

The success of Temorenga's expedition only stimulated the other tribes to war. Hongi was the chief of the greatest enterprise, and wishing to obtain the ascendancy, and particularly to make himself superior to Temorenga, he determined to visit England, in hope of obtaining muskets and powder. He soon had an opportunity of doing this, in company with Mr. Kendal, in the year 1820; but when he found that there was no disposition on the part of Christian people in England to encourage his ambitious views, and that they recommended him to give up fighting,

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and cultivate the arts of peace, he began to conceal his object. When he obtained muskets he carefully put them away, and a large portion of the many presents which he received he sold in exchange for firearms, which he conceived to be of greater value. In this way he accumulated a large supply, but did not succeed to the full extent of his wishes. From the members of the Church Missionary Society he had received the utmost kindness and attention, but they opposed him in his favourite object, and he took up the idea that the missionaries had used their influence to thwart him. When he went back, therefore, to New Zealand, there was a marked alteration in his manner towards them. The Committee states--"The return of Hongi wholly changed the face of things. That he should carry back with him a mind exasperated against the Society, will occasion much surprise to those who witnessed the pains taken to gratify him. But that he did return in this temper, after all the kindness shown to him, has been painfully felt by the missionaries who remained in the Bay of Islands during his absence." The manner in which he evinced his altered temper was very trying. He kept aloof for several days from the settlement at Kerikeri. The native sawyers, who had before worked quietly and diligently, caught his spirit and struck work, insisting on being paid either in the favourite articles of powder and fire-arms, or in money with which they might secure them from the whalers. With Hongi's example before them, many of the in-

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ferior chiefs began to treat the missionaries with contempt. They entered their houses when they pleased, demanding food, and stole whatever they could lay their hands on, breaking down the garden fences, and endeavouring to annoy them in every way. They seemed, in short, ripe for any mischief, and there was a continual apprehension that they would seize upon all that was within their reach; but the hand of God was over his servants for their protection.

Hongi's mind was now full of dark designs. When he arrived at Port. Jackson on his way from England, he had been hospitably entertained by his old friend the Rev. Samuel Marsden, at Paramatta. He found there four chiefs from the river Thames, who had gone so far, hoping to get to England as Hongi had done. Mr. Marsden took measures for preventing them from prosecuting their voyage, and Hongi, doubtless with a view to his own interests, strongly dissuaded them from it, urging the injurious effects of the climate upon himself and his companion. He was indeed now meditating a formidable expedition against the districts with which these very chiefs were connected. While they were living together under the same roof, and eating at one common table, he told one of them, Hinaki, the chief of a tribe living at Mokai on the Tamaki, the site of the present village of Panmure, to hasten back and prepare his people for war, for that he should soon visit him. The expedition which he fitted out in the Bay of Islands was very formidable. There were at least fifty canoes, and two

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thousand men, a great number of muskets, and an abundance of ammunition. They intended to sweep the country before them with the besom of destruction. It was their determination to destroy men, women, and children, the party against whom they were going not being able to stand in their own defence for want of the same weapons.

These were dark days for the little band of missionaries who were come to lead them to a better way. In vain did they tell them it was an evil course they were then pursuing. They had power in their own hands, and they felt that they could exercise their savage propensities without control; and being under the influence of the evil one, they willingly did his bidding. Their teachers could only look forward with the eye of faith to the time when all the obstacles now before them being removed, the promise should be fulfilled, that God's word should not return to him void. But the time appointed was long. Many years of anxious toil were to be passed. The bread was to be cast upon the waters, but it was not to be found until after many days.

The results of Hongi's expedition were fearful. Powerful tribes on both sides of the Thames were cut off, and for many years the whole country was deserted. The tribes attacked generally outnumbered their assailants, and rushed boldly to the conflict, being confident of victory; while their enemies, firing upon them from a distance, soon threw them into confusion, and had them at once in their power.

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Many particulars of the events which occurred upon the return of this expedition were recorded at the time. They give a melancholy picture of the extreme degradation and cruelty to which human nature may be reduced when left to itself. The details are horribly disgusting, but it seems necessary to repeat some of them, because at this distance of time some have been disposed to think that the New Zealanders were never the fierce and savage race they have been represented to be; and it was gravely asserted in an article of the Quarterly Review, about the year 1820, that to say that cannibalism was practised by this people was an absurdity. It is desirable, also, that these descriptions should be given, in order that the blessings communicated by the Gospel may be the more apparent, and God's name be magnified in the accomplishment of His own work.

On the 19th of December, 1821, three of the war canoes belonging to this expedition returned from the Thames, and arrived at Kerikeri. They had upwards of a hundred prisoners with them, who might generally be distinguished by their sorrowful countenances. Some of them were weeping bitterly; one woman in particular, before whom they had with savage cruelty placed the head of her brother, stuck upon a pole. She sat upon the ground before it, the tears streaming down her cheeks. These canoes brought the news of the death of Tete, son-in-law to Hongi, who was slain in fight. He was one of the most civilised and best behaved of the natives. His

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brother Pu, a fine young man, was also among the slain. This created great grief in the family. Tete's wife, and Matuka his brother, were watched to prevent them from putting an end to their lives. Pu's wife hung herself on hearing the news, and Hongi's wife killed a slave, which was a customary act on such occasions.

The next day Hongi and his people arrived with the dead bodies of Tete and Pu. Messrs. Francis Hall and Kemp went to see the ceremony of their landing, but very sorry were they that their curiosity had led them to witness such a scene of horror. A small canoe with the dead bodies first approached the shore. The war canoes, about forty in number, lay at a short distance. Soon after, a party of young men landed to perform the war dance and "pihe," a song over the bodies of the slain. They yelled and jumped, brandishing their weapons, and threw up human heads in the air in a shocking manner; but this was only a prelude to the horrid work which was about to follow. An awful pause ensued. At length the canoes moved slowly and touched the shore, when the widow of Tete and other women rushed down upon the beach in a frenzy of rage, and beat in pieces the carved work at the head of the canoes with poles. They proceeded to pull out three prisoners into the water and beat them to death. The frantic widow then went to another canoe and killed a female prisoner.

The missionaries retired from the distressing scene,

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as no interference of theirs could avail; and they were told that after they went away Hongi killed five more with his own hand. In the whole nine persons were murdered that evening, and were afterwards eaten. The prisoners were very numerous, men, women, and children, but chiefly the latter. They were said to amount to about two thousand, and were distributed chiefly among the tribes of the Bay of Islands. The people were now more bloodthirsty than ever, and talked of going again soon, meaning to devastate the whole island. In this expedition they had done all the mischief they had threatened. Poor Hinaki, the chief to whom Hongi had given warning a short time before, was killed and eaten.

The next day Hongi was busily employed in making an inclosure with pieces of canoe, decorated with feathers and carved work, in which to deposit the bodies of the two brothers Tete and Pu. Part of the remains of the people killed the day before were roasting at the fire at a little distance, and some human flesh, ready cooked, lay in baskets on the ground. Hongi had the audacity to ask Mr. Kemp to eat some, and said it was better than pork. A part of one of the poor women killed the day before by the natives was cooked on the side of the hill at the back of Mr. Kemp's house. The head they cut off and rolled down the hill, and several of them amused themselves with throwing large stones at it, until they had dashed it to pieces. Among the slaves who were taken to Waimate on the preceding day, one of them, a woman,

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becoming tired or lame, could not keep up with the rest, and was therefore killed.

A few days later it was reported that Hongi and his people had killed more of the prisoners, making the number eighteen who had been murdered in cold blood since their return. Several heads were stuck upon poles near the mission dwellings, and the tattooed skin of a man's thigh was nailed to a board to dry, in order to be made into the covering of a cartridge-box.

It did not occur to this people that their relatives had fallen in fair fight, or rather that they had brought upon themselves a well-merited death by going to attack those who, by comparison, were defenceless, and perhaps, too, had given no sufficient cause for hostilities. Neither did they bear in mind how much larger a number of the enemy had fallen than the few over whom they were grieving. They had lost their nearest relatives, and they knew of no other way of moderating their grief for this than by the indulgence of brutal revenge.

One of the missionaries writes: --"These scenes of cruelty are very distressing to our feelings, and more than we could bear, were it not for the promises of God's word. We need great faith to enable us to stand our ground. At present we can do but little in forwarding the spiritual objects of the Society. The evil disposition of the natives seems to be at its height. I believe that they have a greater thirst for blood than ever; and until the Lord, by

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His grace, changes their hearts, they will remain the same."

Hongi, who, when in England, left a favourable impression behind him as a man of mild and pleasing manners, was now becoming more and more inured to acts of savage barbarity, and all his family were following his example. His eldest daughter, the widow of Tete, shot herself through the fleshy part of the arm with two balls. She had intended to destroy herself, but in the agitation of pulling the trigger with her toe, she missed her aim. Another poor slave, a girl about ten years of age, was killed. The brother of Tete shot her with a pistol, and only wounded her, when one of Hongi's children knocked her on the head. The circumstance was mentioned to Mr. Hall when he went to dress the wounds of Tete's widow. He inquired if it was so, when they said with a laugh that they were hungry. Such scenes had never before taken place since the mission was established.

In less than two months, another very large armament was assembled to revenge the deaths of Tete and Pu upon the natives of Waikato, who had been in alliance with those of the Thames. In this expedition similar scenes were enacted to those which have been already related. The destruction of life was great, and many slaves were taken. On their return there was a melancholy confusion; wives crying after their deceased husbands, the prisoners bemoaning their cruel bondage, while others were rejoicing at the safe

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arrival of their relatives and friends. Hongi was in high spirits; he said that at Matakitaki, on the banks of the Waikato, his party had killed fifteen hundred persons.

The natives now thirsted still more for blood. It was not sufficient for them that they had taken ample vengeance for past wrongs. The causes for a continuance of warfare were multiplied, so long as any chiefs of note might fall in their often repeated attacks. The assurance of easy victory led them forth from year to year, until every part of the island had been in like manner visited.

During all this period the native mind was in the worst possible state for the admission of the salutary influence of Christian instruction. They were the willing slaves of Satan, and the more they gave themselves up to his power, the stronger was the influence which he exercised over them. This could hardly be called the seed time of the Gospel, because there was no disposition to hear anything on the subject. The people were bent upon deeds of blood; and it was unwelcome to them to be reminded that their whole course was wrong. The missionaries being treated with contempt by the chiefs, those of inferior rank watched every opportunity for taking advantage. Petty thefts were of frequent occurrence, and it was of no avail to seek for redress from the chiefs, where all were under a common influence. Mr. Hall writes: --"A chief came into the yard to-day, and took our iron pot and was going away

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with it. I happened to see him, and took it from him. He said he did it because Hongi's daughter, who had lived with us a long time, and had been treated with great kindness, and had left of her own accord, was not pleased because we had taken another woman in her room." These annoyances were particularly felt when the tribes were assembling from a distance preparatory to going to fight. 1 They then thought they could do any act with impunity, and broke down fences to supply their fires, and laid hands upon whatever might come in their way. It was therefore a relief to see the canoes sailing away, though going after deeds of cruelty, but then their return was looked forward to with horror. The relation of fresh acts of violence was the all exciting subject to those who had been to fight, and to those who had remained at home, while painful proofs were given of the rapid diminution of the people whom the missionaries came to benefit. It was only the year before Hongi's return from England that Mr.

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Marsden had paid his third visit to New Zealand. With untiring energy he had travelled on this occasion in various parts of the country for the period of nine months, and most of the time was spent in the neighbourhood of the Thames and Kaipara. Those districts were then well peopled. The natives everywhere received this good man with hospitality, listened attentively to his advice, and there seemed to be among them a brighter opening for missionary effort than in the Bay of Islands. But now these tribes had been cut off. and scattered, and like the bear robbed of its whelps, they were ready to retaliate upon any persons from the north, whether natives or Europeans, the latter being supposed to have supplied their enemies with the means of overwhelming them. The allies of the Bay of Islanders living as far south as Bream Bay, were obliged to leave their homes and seek refuge farther north, because they felt that they had too much reason to fear a visit of retaliation from their exasperated enemies.

It may seem remarkable that God should have permitted events to take this course just at the time when he had put it into the hearts of his servants to enter upon their work, and that the benevolent plans of Mr. Marsden should thus for a time be thwarted. But we cannot understand his purposes. We only know that all is directed by unerring wisdom.

But while we mourn over these cruelties, and pity the people who were the subjects of them, we are called upon to admire the wisdom of God in making

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those events which seemed to be most adverse, all conspire to bring about the rescue of the New Zealanders from under the bondage of Satan. Worldly policy would not have thought of permitting the sword of persecution to be unsheathed against the infant church, immediately after the commission given to the Apostles to go and preach the gospel to every creature. But this was the means used by God for sending his servants into distant regions, who would not otherwise have been disposed to enter vigorously upon their work. And then the discipline of persecution was continued, as being best suited to promote the healthy growth of that tree which was to overshadow the whole earth. So too in New Zealand the little band of Christian teachers was to be confined to the Bay of Islands, and they were to be restrained by circumstances within very small limits, and every desire to extend their efforts was to be repressed until such instruments as God would employ had grown up. The very opposite to the course adopted towards the early Church of Christ was to be used. The missionaries were not to go to the distant natives, but the distant natives were to be brought to them. This was effected by bringing together a great body of unhappy slaves from all parts of the country, to that spot from which the missionaries were not permitted to move. It was an act which sprung from the worst propensities of sinful men, but like the slave trade on the western

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coast of Africa, it was to be overruled to the furtherance of the gospel. This work of preparation however was to be very gradual. The chiefs and their sons were elated with pride, but the abject slaves just torn from their friends, and from all former associations, were found to be more open to impression. Several of them both male and female were allowed to live in the mission families as servants, and they appreciated the kindness and commiseration they met with there, which was so different from the severity of their masters. The effect of this will be seen hereafter when the seed sown began to vegetate.

In the meantime, as we have been led to notice the horrible cruelties which used to be practised by the New Zealanders in every war which they undertook, we may anticipate a remark upon their manner in later years, when a conflict no less fierce and determined was carried on with the English government, but modified in its character by the benign influence of Christianity. In the year 1845, when an attack was made upon Heke's fortified village at Mawhe by a detachment of English troops, thirteen of our soldiers fell before the enemies' fort, and the commander of the troops, considering that the risk of recovering the bodies was too great to warrant the attempt, left them in the hands of the natives. The next morning Heke directed his people to dig a large grave, and sent for the clergyman from Waimate to

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go and bury them. On a subsequent occasion at Whanganui, one of our soldiers fell and was carried off by the natives. They deliberated as to what was to be done, and gave the poor man Christian burial, a Christian native reading over his grave the church service in their own language.

1   Mr. King used to tell an amusing story of an incident which took place at Rangihoua. Hongi's canoes were lying on the beach ready for departure to the south, when Titore came up to Mr. King and asked for payment for a mat which had been sold sometime before. "I gave an axe for that mat," said Mr. King, "to the person who brought it to me." "But," said Titore, "the mat did not belong to him but to me, and if you do not pay me, I will have your hat." The threat was repeated more than once, and Mr. King thought his hat was in danger, so he went back to the house and put on one which was very shabby, and again placing himself in Titore's way, it was soon snatched off his head to the satisfaction of both.

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