Whakapono : Faith and Foundations
Exhibiting Samual Marsdens's Legacy
This exhibition brought to you by The Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hakena, University of Otago, commemorates the bicentenary of Samuel Marsden's first sermon on Christmas Day 1814.
It explores the drama of early encounters between Māori and Missionaries through the letters and journals relating to the first planned European settlement at Hohi in the Bay of Islands.
This first settlement laid the foundations of the relationship between two peoples, Māori and European that continues today, it is the cradle of Christianity and it is where the first books in Te Reo Māori arose.
Marsden, the Chaplain of the Colony of New South Wales was so impressed by the Māori he had met in England and lived with in Sydney, he persuaded the Church Missionary Society in London to support a mission to New Zealand and oversaw and nurtured its development. This first small community were referred to as settlers rather than missionaries. There were no ordained ministers amongst them; instead they were charged with providing an example of Christian living and with introducing technology, agriculture and literacy to Māori. They came to convert Māori by living a European life by demonstrating the superiority of European culture.
However isolation, differences in class and temperament, changes in the political and economic balance of power following on from Māori having greater access to traders and muskets created a volatile environment in which they lived their lives. They all reacted in different ways to their situation in the Bay of Islands in 1814 and their encounters with the power and complexity of Māori culture affected them irrevocably.
Marsden and his colleagues were aware that they were making history so their letters and journals contain many detailed descriptions of the land and the people they encountered and lived amongst and the everyday moments of life 200 years ago in the North. One of the many important uses that these documents have today is that they describe the first time European culture and Māori culture were bought together in a close living relationship and describe Māori life at the time.
The selected extracts in the exhibition distil the flavour of the times, give insights into the challenges the settlement faced and the characters of the people involved. This exhibition is an invitation to imagine the time when the world of Mana, Tapu and Utu met God, King and Country and an encouragement to delve deeper into the Hocken Collections through the Marsden Online Archive.
We are grateful to the Library's founder, Dr Thomas Morland Hocken, who brought the large collection of Church Missionary Society archives back to New Zealand from London. We also wish to thank the ASB Community Trust for enabling us to share this exhibition with the people of Northland.