Maori and Missionaries
by Anthony G. Flude ©2002.

The Church Missionary Society sent three English families to New Zealand from Sydney, after the Maori chief Ruatara, who had visited both Sydney and London, expressed his desire for a Mission Station to be set up in the Bay of Islands in the year 1814.[see account -Ruatara-a chief of New Zealand.]
Rev.Samual MarsdenA maori chief

Sailing in the Brig Active the Reverend Samual Marsden was accompanied by the three families headed by Thomas Kendall, William Hall and John King. Also aboard his vessel were the Maori chiefs, Ruatara, Hongi Heka and Korokoro whom Marsden had befriended in Sydney. The brig arrived on the 19th December, 1814. By Christmas Day, a missionary post had been established and Marsden came ashore to preach the gospel to the Maori people who had gathered on the beach.

Ruatara was chief of the  Te Hikutu tribe,  who had their pa [fortified village] situated at Rangihoua in the Bay of Islands. He had succeeded the previous chief, Te Pahi, who had, perhaps,  been wrongly blamed for being implicated in the massacre of the crew of the ill-fated vessel Boyd at Whangaroa in 1809 by the Ngati Uru tribe. In 1810 a group of  whalers took their revenge and destroyed Te Pahi's settlement in the Bay of Islands where he was wounded and later died.
No vessels now came to the area for fear of further reprisals. [ see the article "Boyd Massacre"] From this time, until the setting up of the missionary in 1814, all trading in timber and flax from New Zealand's northland coast had declined and the whalers no longer used the port to replenish water supplies and stock up with fresh food and vegetables.
It was now five years since the death of the young 27 year old chief Ruatara in 1815  and the Christmas visit by Samuel Marsden.
Hongi Hika, the maori chief who succeeded him, now wished to encourage these vessels back to begin trading again and had made contact with the Church Society in Sydney, reasoning that a Mission Station would dispel fears from any attack and the ships would return again to trade.

Hongi Hika also offered to help build them a new mission station at Rangihoua, placing this at the base of the pa which would give them full protection. The offer was gladly taken up by the Church Society in Sydney, who dispatched the three missionary families to New Zealand again where they were welcomed to the Bay of Islands. Many willing hands soon came aboard the Active to unloaded her large supply of provisions, horses and cows.

The chiefs residence was situated high on the summit above the pa where he lived in a low rhaupo constructed hut with a flagpole outside. Some 200 Maori people lived on the pa, cultivating the land and growing potatoes, kumera and yams and it was described by the missionary's as being well fortified but also "well kept and orderly, with fences and stiles between each cultivated plot of land growing potatoes or kumera."

With the establishment of the missionary post, trading vessels and whalers from Australia and other places began to call  into the harbour again to begin trading in tobacco, spirits and guns in exchange for timber spars, masts and flax. One of the accompanying family was a blacksmith by trade and his services were eagerly sought by chief Hongi Hika to carry out repairs to muskets and guns and to cast musket balls for the firearms that had been traded with the Pakeha.

Rangihoua Maori Pa
Ship's captain's needed to be aware that all trading and dealings with the Maori needed to be carried out through the rangatira.* If any of the traders tried to cheat this way of dealing, then the offending captain, vessel and crew would be subject to attack. The two vessels Trial and Brothers found this out for themselves in the year 1815 and were forced to quickly put out to sea. *[ The chiefs and head families]

The Wesleyan Mission at Kaeo, Whangaroa Harbour, founded in 1823, was sacked, plundered and burned to the ground by the local  Ngati Uru tribe who had gone on the warpath in 1827.  Those at the mission practiced a stringent code of conduct, and for some reason beyond the understanding of the Maori, had allowed a large amount of goods to built up in their store, which they  refused to make accessible for trade or purchase.

Chiefs Hongi Hika & Waikato
William White, one of the missionaries, had returned to England with his wife and family, but both James Stack and John Hobbs and their families, who were still running the missionary at Kaeo, managed to flee for their lives from the attacking Maori and walked the 20 mile journey to Kerikeri mission. They shortly left New Zealand returning to the safety of New South Wales.
Both Stack and Hobbs soon returned to re-build a new mission at Mangungu, Hokianga, where they found they were well situated. The influx of river trade on the Hokianga was just beginning and the hostilities ceased. White ran the mission on his own in 1831, but neglected his missionary duties in favour of trading in wheat and timber which he found more profitable.

Chief Patuone was head of the Ngati Hao tribe. He sold some of the tribal land at Te Horeke, on the Hokianga River,  to the Sydney firm of Raine & Ramsey in 1826.  These traders set up the first Timber Mill, shipbuilding and timber spar supply station in New Zealand. The vessel Sir George Murray was built at the Hokianga, the Harriet loaded with a thousand  kauri logs and dressed flax bound for Sydney Town.

A second Mission Station was set up in Kerekeri in the year 1819 by the Anglican Church, eager to extend their influence and religion into new areas. Until the 1820's the missionaries were the only white people to remain permanently in New Zealand living among the Maori people.

Dramatic changes began to take place the following year, 1920, which began to bring the Maori and the missionaries into closer contact.
Thomas Kendell, who had been among the first three missionary families to settle in New Zealand, produced the very first Maori grammar book, the earliest written form of the native language, with the help and assistance of chief Hongi Hika and Waikato and also Professor Lee of Cambridge University. The Maori people now had the means to read and write for the first time in their lives.

The Reverend Henry Williams arrived in New Zealand in 1823. He was a strong leader and was an important member of the Missionary Society. Together with his wife Mariannne and his eleven children they determined to quickly learn the Maori language and help in the translation of the scriptures.
Mission StationMany parts of the bible could now be translated and the parables used to teach the Maori, who seemed to be able to identify with its stories. The missionaries were now able to begin to educate and to teach the children and adults in their own language. William Calenso, a printer by trade, brought a printing press to the Paihia Mission in 1834 and by 1837 was producing the first printed Maori version of the New Testament.

Gradually the Christian teachings brought about the release of the Maori slaves captured during the inter-tribal "Musket wars" of the1820's', when over 20,000 maori were killed and thousands captured and enslaved. By the late 1830's there was a great eagerness and demand among the Maori population to learn to read and write. Their new request was for books, slates, chalk and writing materials and the demand for guns declined.
William William's, visiting New Zealand later in 1839-40, wrote that he found some of the East Coast Maori people who did not have easy access to the missionary to acquire chalks and crayons, writing down the Sunday hymns on sheets of paper, using black gunpowder as a substitute.

The young chief Hone Heke Pokai was baptised by the Anglican's in 1835 and became a lay reader. He was to acquire notoriety in 1844, after taking an axe and cutting down the flag-pole flying the Union Jack in an expression of defiance against British authority.

In 1833, the British Foreign Office dispatched James Busby to take up a post as Official Resident Agent. His task was to protect traders and settlers, to prevent outrages against the Maori and encourage the chiefs to keep order among their people. He settled in Waitangi with his wife and children where he remained until his retirement in 1870 when he returned to England.
By 1837 there were eighteen Wesleyan chapels situated along the Hokianga River and the estimated Maori population in the area was placed at some 5000 people. Of these, the Wesleyan missions claimed to have converted and baptised over a thousand Maori to the Christian faith.

The Wesleyan Missionary in 1838, at Mangungu,  was under John Hobbs with his wife and daughter, Emma, where they had built a large church with the family dwelling in front. He erected fences to enclose his cultivated land near the mission, while his mission workers lived in small huts around the boundary.

Busy Whangaroa 1840
In 1836, Raine & Ramsey sold their interests and land to the new owner of Te Horeke, Hokianga, named Thomas McDonnell. He was soon the owner of  a much larger tract of land, negotiated with the chiefs of the northern tribes. He later entered into negotiations with Te Taonui and the Nga Puhi tribe to purchase large tracts of forest in the Kaipara area but found that Ngati Whatua also had an interest in this land.
McDonnell was one of the earliest New Zealand resident agents and trader.

On the 10th January, 1839 the Roman Catholic clergy  arrived and set up a mission at Hokianga under Bishop Jean Baptiste Pompallier. They were supported by the Marist Order who supplied them with clergy.
There was some rivalry between them and the Wesleyan's who were well established in the area. The catholic preachers began causing many Maori to form breakaway groups under the various preachers and when the situation became intolerable, the catholic moved their mission to Kororareka, now called Russell. Arriving late on the scene, the Catholic church found they had only limited success among those to be converted and relied on the white Irish Catholic settlers to support their congregations.

The infuence of the various missionaries and their teachings and the education of their children to read and write had brought about major changes in the lives of the Maori people. It would be just a year before the first  immigrant ships would arrive from England at Port Nicholson followed in 1842 by the first Auckland fleet and its settlers.

By April, 1840, after the signing of the Treaty at Waitangi, the northland Maori chiefs began to voice their concerns about the number of immigrants arriving in New Zealand. They also felt that the missionaries had betrayed and mislead them into signing the document, causing loss of authority among their tribes.  This was further compounded when Governor Hobson decided to move the capital from Russell to Auckland in 1841 and took many settlers from the region with him.

Gradually as Auckland opened up as a port,  the timber and flax trade in the north declined as the ships no longer called into the Hokianga. The Wesleyan Mission reported to Governor Hobson that the maori were suffering extreme poverty in the Bay of Islands through lack of this trade. There were some moves by the government in Auckland to encourage trade back to the Bay of Islands but these came to no avail. 

As more and more settlers arrived in the colony and set up small townships around the capital of New Zealand, Auckland, the northland Maori population gradually moved towards the bigger developing towns to seek employment and a better life for themselves. The old ways of tribal wars between the tribes, cannabilism and slave labour had gone forever and been replaced by the ways of Christianity, education and learning.