“New-Zealand Chiefs in Committee Drawing Up a Reply to the Society's Jubilee Letter”

BIPOC Voices in the Victorian Periodical Press

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CHRISTMAS-DAY is Midsummer in New Zealand. At that season numbers of Native Christians of different tribes—men who had once fought with each other and contended as enemies in deadly strife—meet at Wanganui, the Station of the Rev. R. Taylor, from different parts of his immense district, to unite in prayer and praise, and benefit by the instruction of their Minister. The last Christmas Meeting of which we have received an account, that of 1849, was numerously attended, and deeply interesting. In that year Christmas-day fell on Tuesday. On the previous Sunday, the 23d, the Congregation was so large, that, the Church was not being capable of containing it, the pulpit was carried into an adjoining field. The day was fine, and the congregation attentive; Mr. Taylor, in his sermon, remarking that the present assembly proved the power of God: no earthly cause would have brought so many tribes together: God's word had done it. After the Service, the Sacrament was administered to 295 individuals, and a collection made, amounting to 2l. 13s.

The 24th as a lovely morning, most suitable for the purpose for which it was intended—a Missionary Meeting; to those who possess the spirit of Christian Missions, and know their value, a delightful and animating occasion. At five A.M/ Morning Service was held, and after breakfast about 2000 Christian Native assembled in the open air, in God's own temple—for "the Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath He established the heavens"—the pavement carpetted with the grass which He makes to grow, and the clear blue sky of New Zealand extended as a canopy over their heads. The proceedings commenced with singing the hymn in Maori,

"Salvation! oh, the joyful sound!
What pleasure to our ears!"

Mr. Taylor says—

I then opened the Meeting by stating that a Letter had been addressed by the Church Missionary Society to them, in common with the rest of their countrymen who had embraced the Gospel through the instrumentality of the Society; that a similar one had been sent to all parts of the world where they were labouring to spread the Gospel, and that now they were assembled to hear the Letter read; that it was filled with love to them; that the Society style themselves elder brethren, but, for my part, I thought they were rather entitled to the name of fathers, as they had begotten them to be a new people in Christ Jesus; that very large Meetings had been held in England to spread the Gospel throughout the world; and that they had sent this Letter of love to confirm their faith, and interest their hearts in the same glorious cause. But, to explain more fully the object of the Letter, I had also written an introductory one, which we had got printed, together with that of the Society, which should now be read to them. I then called on Mr. Baker to read the introductory Letter, and that of the Society.

Several Resolutions were then moved and seconded, in suitable speeches, by Native Chiefs and Catechists. The first was by Tamehana Te Rauparaha, the son of the warrior and cannibal Rauparaha, who in his day slew multitudes of his countrymen. This is his speech—

Listen to these words. You have just heard the Letter of the Church Missionary Society read to you, and you see that we ought to be united in spirit and love towards them, as they are towards us. To do this we must write them a Letter. We have seen and felt the power of the Gospel, for all our old customs have been given up through its instrumentality. Now we have begun a new work let us not go back, but strive to go forward. Some have foolishly tried to continue their evil ways, but have found they can do so no longer. The Missionaries first drew our feet out of the mire, and placed us on a firm foundation. We are now called upon to thank the Church Missionary Society for our Ministers. They are a peculiar blessing to us: they are but few in number, and therefore ought to be more highly prized. For, whilst we can at all times get plenty of merchants and settlers to come amongst us, who only come for their own interest, we cannot so easily obtain Missionaries. I feel much for our Ministers, for they have to contend with Europeans as well as Maori, and have truly the care of all the Churches upon them. It is to them alone we owe our present state of civilization; and now we are called upon to show that we are aware of our obligations to the Church Missionary Society.

Another speech, made by Matini Wiwi, was as follows—

Are there not many still amongst us who were once strongly attached to all our old customs, and the superstitions of our forefathers? Let me ask them, what was it that made you forsake those ancient customs? My friends, it was the Word of God, which sunk deep into your hearts. We did not lay them aside as a man does an old garment when it is no longer fit to wear. No! but because it opened our eyes to see the folly of them. St. Paul truly says, that though our bodies may be separated according to the flesh, still the spirits may be near. This is the case with the Members of the Church Missionary Society. We do not know them personally, nor the place where they live; but we know them in our hearts as our sincere friends, and the remembrance of what they have done for our welfare will always claim our love.

After five Resolutions had been duly moved, seconded, and in some instances supported, so many were anxious to address the Meeting that Mr. Taylor called upon all the principal Chiefs to do so. The Meeting concluded with a hymn translated from

"Jesus, immortal King, arise!
Assume, assert, Thy sway!"

After prayer and the blessing all quietly dispersed, apparently much interested.

* This Letter is printed in the Society's Jubilee Volume, p. 298. [back]

Digital Publication Details

Title: “New-Zealand Chiefs in Committee Drawing Up a Reply to the Society's Jubilee Letter”

Creator(s): Anonymous; R. Taylor; Tamehana Te Rauparaha; Matini Wiwi

Publication date: (1851) 2022

Digital publishers: One More Voice, COVE

Critical encoding: Kenneth C. Crowell, Cassie Fletcher, Jocelyn Spoor, Adrian S. Wisnicki

One More Voice identifier: liv_026003

Cite (Chicago Author-Date): Anonymous, R. Taylor, Tamehana Te Rauparaha, and Matini Wiwi. (1851) 2022. “New-Zealand Chiefs in Committee Drawing Up a Reply to the Society’s Jubilee Letter.” Edited by Kenneth C. Crowell, Cassie Fletcher, and Jocelyn Spoor. In “BIPOC Voices,” One More Voice, solidarity edition; Collaborative Organization for Virtual Education (COVE). https://onemorevoice.org/html/bipoc-voices/digital-editions-amd/liv_026003_HTML.html.

Rights: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

Accessibility: One More Voice digital facsimiles approximate the textual, structural, and material features of original documents. However, because such features may reduce accessibility, each facsimile allows users to toggle such features on and off as needed.