Aspects of New Zealand - Part 3
MAORI AND SETTLER - (1642-1870)
The missionary did not merely aim at converting the Maoris to Christianity. to him many Maori customs seemed as abominable as the superstitions, Christianity seemed synonymous with western European manners as well as morals. The evangelical spirit which induced the Englishman to become a missionary, also led him to emphasize, in his teaching, his own puritanical code. The Reverend Richard Taylor, an Anglican missionary, related how he reformed an old man called Ake who insisted on maintaining the custom of working nude in the cultivations.
I repeatedly spoke to him but in vain. Our day, however, when I was going over the river to the town with my wife and daughters, I saw old Ake in his usual state. I ran on before and hid bid him go into a house and put on his mat; he refused, I said he should, he declared he would not, I pushed, he resisted, at last I saw there was no alternative but force, so I put my arms around him and fairly pushed him into a house, to the great amusement of the natives who stood by. he was conquered, but I dearly pad for the victory; Ake's skin had been anointed with red ochre and oil, which, I found to my coast, had completely destroyed my best black coat. Ake never attempted to go about naked again.
Why was it that, in the eighteen-thirties, the Maoris were for the first time willing to listen to the missionaries' message? Their society was being undermined and their confidence with it. Increasingly they were unable to cope, by traditional means, with the new complexities of life. For instance a new problem had arisen by the end of the thirties. The Bay of Islands Maoris had told half their land for European goods. A missionary suggested that they should make an agreement to tell no more and in 1839 they did try to establish a 'confederacy' for this purpose. But there were deeper problems which led to bewilderment or apathy. Their tohunga could not cure the new disease sometimes the missionary cold. The missionary was impervious to the powers of their atua (god) and of makutu (witchcraft). Maoris grew careless of tapu - sometimes intentionally defied it without ill effect. Above all there was the feeling, openly expressed, that the Maoris were dying out. The ngarara, lizard of death, was gnawing at the heart of the people. They began to wonder whether it was not the European atua who was punishing them. he must be propitiated. First of all at the Bay of islands, then elsewhere, losing faith in their own gods and culture, they turned in hope or despair to the Europeans for guidance.
It is clear that one of the important causes of the Maori conversion was the spread of literacy among the Maoris. They found learning to read and write their own language enormously exciting, and all they could read in it was the Bible and other religious works.
At the same time as the Maoris began to be converted in numbers thee appeared at the Bay of Islands a 'resistance cult' which might be regarded as an effort by Maoris to meet their new situation in their own way. In about 1833 the Serpent of the book of Genesis, called Natkahi (Nahash) by the Maoris, appeared in a vision to a Maori and commanded that he be worshipped. The Maori, Te Atua Wera (the Red God or Fiery God), founded a new religion, Papahurihia (one who relates wonders). It rejected the European God yet contained Christian elements including heaven - an abundant and amorous paradise. There was a strong note of millenarianism - an expectation of the arrival of great treasures. There were Hebraic elements including the appointment of Saturday as the Sabbath. The missionaries had implanted the idea that the Maoris were descended from the Lost Tribes of Israel and the followers of the new god came to be called Hurai (Jews). There was also a stratum of Maori religion. Nakahi was associated with the Maori lizard ngarara. The god Nakahi appeared at night and was worshipped round a flagpole. His priest seems to have practised ventriloquism and other tricks to add to the mystification. this cult survived until at least the end of the century at Hokianga.
During the eighteen-thirties Christianity and exhaustion called a halt to the tribal wars. Missionaries induced many tribes to forgo their claims for revenge. but in other respects the missions hastened the decay of tribal society. The chief source of tribal law and authority, of tribal cohesion, had been Maori religion, but once the old gods died their commandments had no sanction. The chief was no longer tapu; his mana, his power and prestige, suffered accordingly. Christian chiefs put aside their extra wives, gave up killing and cannibalism, freed their slaves, only to find that the ex-slave - and often the younger generation - no longer fearing the chief, would not obey him. the Maoris were no longer fully members of their old society nor of the new European one,. By 1840 they inhabited a disordered world. By 1838 there were about two thousand Europeans living in New Zealand. Five or six hundred of them had settled round the Bay of Islands, where Kororareka had become a busy little town. A good many visitors or residents have left us portraits of the early settlement, few of them very flattering.
The only bright spot which Charles Darwin could discern when he visited the Bay of Islands in 1835 was the mission season of Waimate:
At length we reached Waimate; after having passed over the many miles of an uninhabited useless country, the sudden appearance of an English farm house and its well dressed fields, placed thee as if by an enchanter's wand, was exceedingly pleasing ... At Waimate thee are three large houses, where the Missionary gentlemen, M(ess)rs: Williams, Davies and Clark, reside,; near to these are the huts of the native labourers. On an adjoining slope fine crops of barley and what in full ear, and others of potatoes and of clover, were standing, but I cannot attempt to describe all I saw; there were large gardens, with every fruit and vegetable which England produces, and many belonging to a warmer clime. I may instance asparagus, kidney beans, cucumbers, rhubarb, apples and pears, figs, peaches, apricots, grapes, olives, gooseberries, currants, hops, gorse for fences, and English oaks! and many different kinds of flowers. Around the farm yard were stables, a threshing barn with its winnowing machine, a blacksmith's forge, and on the ground, ploughshares and other tools, in the middle was that happy mixture of pigs and poultry which may be seen so comfortably lying together in every English farm yard. At the distance of a few hundred yards, where the water of a little rill has been dammed up into a pool, a large and substantial water-mill had been erected. All this is very surprising when it is considered that five years ago, nothing but the fern here flourished. Moreover native workmanship, taught by he Missionaries, has effected this change - the lesson of the Missionary is the enchanter's wand. The house has been built, the windows framed, the fields ploughed, even the trees gratified by the New Zealander. At the mill a New Zealander may be seen powdered white with flour, like his brother miller in England.
For the rest Darwin found New Zealand 'not a pleasant place; amongst the natives there is absent the charming simplicity which is found at Tahiti; and of the English the greater part are the very refuse of Society'. In the eighteen-twenties the debauchery natural to a whaling port took place mainly on board visiting ships. In the thirties it moved to numerous 'grogeries' ashore. 'The Beach', as Kororareka was called, was not that fabled 'Beach' which the explorers had sought: the dissolute men known as 'the beachcombers' found no gold nuggets; they made a living by preying on women in one way or another. J.R. Clendon, the first United States consul (appointed in 1838), reported to Washington that some of them got a livelihood 'by decoying seamen from their ships and shipping them at an enormous advance on-board of any other vessel that may have been in like manner distressed'.
According to F.E. Maning, the 'Pakeha-Maori' who was mentioned earlier, the 'beachcombers' were 'a sort of nest of English, Irish, Scotch, Dutch, French and American runaways from south Sea whalers, with whom were congregated certain other individuals of the pakeha race, whose manner of arrival in the country was not clearly accounted for, and to enquire into which was, as I found afterwards, considered extremely impolite ... they lived in a half savage state, or to speak correctly, in a sage-and-a-half state, being greater savages by far than the natives themselves.' Regarding the origins of most of the northern population J.D. Lang, the senior Presbyterians minister in New south Wales, was more blunt. In 1839 he wrote that 'with a few honourable exceptions, it consists of the veriest refuse of civilized society - of runaway sailors, of runaway convicts, of convicts who have served out their term of bondage in one or other of the two penal colonies, of fraudulent debtors who have escaped from their creditors in Sydney or Hobart Town, and of needy adventurers from the two colonies, almost equally unprincipled.'
Kororareka had some sober citizens. There was a British Resident and an American Consul. thee was a doctor. There were several sawyers, a blacksmith and other tradesmen who found plenty of work repairing ships. A number of merchants, such as Gilbert Mair, J.R. Clendon and J. S. Polack, who had their warehouses at Kororareka or in the vicinity, engaged in general trade. They victualled or repaired ships, owned their own small vessels, which traded along the coast, and exported local produce. by 1840 they formed a thriving little business commuh9ityh. In 1839 a land company and a bank (which commenced business in 1840 were both float4d at Kororareka. some of the missionaries, if not as prosperous as the merchants, had excellent prospects. twelve of them were said to have either four children - and the Church Missionary Society had authorised the expenditure of 50 pounds from its funds on land as a provision for the maintenance of each child. No modern system of social security will ever rival this. since land was to be bought for a few axes and blankets, fifty pounds would purchase a large farm, which a large family was security for an estate. when the early land purchases were investigated in the eighteen-forties, several Anglican missionaries claimed ten or twenty thousand acres.
The rise of a middle class indicated that settlement had been successfully established and gave promise that it would be permanent, but it did not please everyone. The Reverend J. D. Lang feared that, unless the British Government intervened, those land dealings with the Maoris would 'elevate the family of the Fairbairns, of Mount Fairbairn, or the Polacks of Polack Hall, to the rank and dignity of an illiterate, narrow-minded, purse-proud, heartless colonial aristocracy'. 'Fairbairn, who had bought a large area of land, Polack was a Jewish merchant, far from illiterate - he left us three verbose volumes. Neither was to realize their critic's fears. Just as Australian historians long minimized the role of convict transportation in Australian colonization, so New Zealand writers have traditionally made light of the importance or influence of commerce and settlement before 1840. Scholarship has thus followed public opinion, for in both countries the settlers who arrived after 1840, the year when New Zealand was annexed by Great Britain and when transportation to New South Wales was abolished, preferred to forget most of their hardy but not always respectable precursors. Nevertheless, the first traders and settlers played an important role in New Zealand history. They established the first colonies, as we shall see in the following Web site, they were largely responsible for the annexation of the country; their influence upon the Maoris helped to determine the future course of racial relations. the export of timber, corn and other 'primary produce' marked the effective beginnings of the modern New Zealand economy. It is difficult to judge what lasting effect the earliest prisoners may have had on the European community. elsewhere they were suddenly swamped by organized settlement, but in the north of the North Island, which became the Auckland Province, and has almost continuously had the largest European population, as well as the bulk of the Maori population, there was no abrupt break in the continuity of settlement. There, one may suppose, the settlers of pre-British and 'Alsatian' days helped to establish the 'levelling' attitude which was to become characteristic of the New Zealand community.
More significant than any direct influence which the first European residents may have had on their successors was the fact that the conditions which moulded the character of pre-1840 settlement also helped to shape the destiny of the later colonies. for this reason, much of the future history of hte country was foreshadowed in the earliest northern settlement. Kororareka was a Pacific port, though, because of its unique environment, it differed from the home towns of the Australians or Americans, settlers or seamen, who played the chief part in its foundation. It was, in particular, given a special character by the presence, not of Australian Aborigines or Red Indians, but of Maoris, New Zealand was to remain, for many years, part of the Pacific frontier.
The mission farms, upon whose astonishingly English appearance Darwin remarked, also seem to cast a long shadow across the history of New Zealand.
|remain for as a father, a judge, a peacemaker. You must not allow as to become slaves. You must preserve our customs, and never permit our lands to be wrested from us ... Stay then, our friend, our father, our governor.|
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