Art. LI.—The Early Days of Printing in New Zealand; A Chapter of Interesting History.
[Read before the Hawke's Bay Philosophical Institute, 13th August, 1900.]
The details of the early settlement of New Zealand are getting to be better known year by year. We have still fourteen years to run before a century will have passed by since the time when English people first landed in this country for the purpose of establishing a home. They were not settlers as is usually understood by the term, but their mission was the training of the natives in “peace and good-will,” as well towards one another as towards those who might come and wish to dwell among them.
Although a paper bearing upon the history of New Zealand may be written without reference to the earliest comers and workers, it is impossible to write a true history of the country—of its earliest known condition and the effect of the first operating influences upon the natives—without dealing in some measure with the missionary work that took place between 1814 and 1843, when an English bishop came to reside in the country. Our philosophical society debars—and rightly so—the consideration of religious topics; but there is a wide gulf separating historical fact in which missionaries are concerned and the discussion of topics bearing on religion and dogma. Had it not been for the work of the missionary there would have been no New Zealand history as now understood, and it is doubtful whether efforts would have been made to add the country to the list of England's colonial possessions.
That great man Samuel Marsden, whose history has yet to be written, and whose power and worth are as yet so little understood by the English nation, was the first to realise the importance of New Zealand as a field of missionary effort. It is true that Governor King, of New South Wales, during the period of his Governorship of Norfolk Island, was equally attentive with Mr. Marsden to two young natives of New Zealand—Tooi and Huru—who were kidnapped, and subsequently taken to Norfolk Island for the purpose of instructing the convicts how to prepare the Phormium tenax, or native flax, the island being used by the British Government as a convict settlement. The two young men were taken to the island in H.M.S. “Dædalus” in April, 1793. They were treated with much consideration during
their stay on the island by both Governor King and Mr. Marsden; and in November of the same year the Governor made a special journey to New Zealand, carrying with him the two natives, who had been taught many useful things, among which may be named the way to cultivate maize. Subsequently Mr. Marsden greatly interested himself in certain New-Zealanders whom he met on board ship on his way from England to Sydney. So determined was he to render help to the natives of New Zealand—who were at the time known as cannibals and savages of the worst type—that he decided to visit the country with a certain Ruatara, who had been his ship companion from England, and from whom Marsden obtained much information concerning New Zealand. This was towards the close of the year 1814. From that time onward, for more than twenty years, the history of New Zealand is mainly on the pages of missionary effort. As showing the practical side of Mr. Marsden's character, it is only necessary to quote from a letter which he addressed to the secretary in England of the Church Missionary Society from Paramatta, near Sydney, on 4th March, 1817. He therein commends two young natives of New Zealand to the good offices of the society—one named Tooi, in Mr. Marsden's school at Paramatta for three years, and the other, whose name was Teeterree, had been there for eighteen months. “The time had arrived,” wrote Mr. Marsden, “when they might visit England, to enlarge their ideas and prepare them for great usefulness to their countrymen; for,” continues Mr. Marsden, “I still entertain the same idea of New-Zealanders that I have for years past—viz., that they are prepared for receiving any instruction which we can give them.” And then the practical side of the man comes out: “If you could get any person to form a vocabulary of the New Zealand language while they remain in London it would be a great advantage to the mission. Tooi is very quick, and can speak the English language pretty well; so that I think this may be done better in London than Mr. Kendall can do it in New Zealand. I wish on no account that these young men should be idle, and if they cannot be employed in assisting to form a vocabulary they should be put to learn rope-making. The New-Zealanders have been considered the most ferocious cannibals and the most warlike savages in the known world. Cannibals they are, and readily admit it. They are warlike also; but they are very noble, and naturally kind and affectionate, and in many moral qualities they would put our nominal Christians to shame.” Such was the estimate of the New-Zealanders in 1817, and the proposals made by Mr. Marsden with a view to their emancipation and civilisation are among the most practical and humane that have ever been suggested. Three years
after Mr. Marsden addressed his letter to London the Rev. Samuel Lee published a Maori grammar, based in a large measure upon one which the Rev. Mr. Kendall had prepared during his residence as a missionary in New Zealand.
The difficulties of settlement in a new country, and among a people possessing no literature, and whose language had to be learnt and systematized, can hardly be realised by those who dwell in civilised communities. It was useless to appeal to the natives on abstract questions of religion, and admirable judgment was shown by Mr. Marsden in his selecting men for the conversion of the natives who possessed qualifications of a practical character, such as would appeal to the daily wants and social needs of a people. Men capable of using axe, saw, spade, plane, hammer, and plough were of the kind, most useful in the early days of settlement. Instruction, in the arts leading to the social betterment of the race was eminently practical, and convincing even to a savage people; and if that injunction of Mr. Marsden's, “I wish on no account that these young men should be idle,” could have been carried out fully and completely the native race would have to-day promise of a great future.
In 1823 Henry Williams landed in New Zealand, at the time when Mr. Marsden was making his fourth visit to the country; and it is interesting to find that the first letter that he wrote to London after his arrival contained two requests—one that his brother William might come, the other that a printing-press might be sent. Both of these requests were supplied in due course, but William Williams anticipated the arrival of the press about eight years, and it was well that the events took place as they did. William Williams had a great capacity for work, for organization, and for learning the native language, and it was not long before he grasped the position of affairs with respect to the native race. There had been what was termed a “language committee” at work before the arrival of William Williams, but some of the members possessed small scholarship, and, although the native language had been learnt, it had hardly been arranged in a way suitable for literary purposes. A new committee, known as a “translation committee,” was set up, consisting of Messrs. William Williams, Yate, and Puckey, and it is to these three persons, but mainly to the former, that the native language of the Maori was fixed in its present written form. Translation was comparatively slow, but in the year 1829 sufficient progress had been made with parts of the liturgy and certain chapters of the Bible to warrant the committee in having the same published for native use. With this end in view, Mr. Yate was sent to Sydney to superintend the issue of the first Maori book from the press. The issue num-
bered bered 550 copies, and the contents were as follows: First three chapters of Genesis, eighth, chapter of St. Matthew, first four chapters of St. John, seven hymns, and four catechisms.
On the 31st July, 1830, it is recorded that the schooner “Active” arrived at the Bay of Islands from Sydney, having on board Mr. Yate, with his books, and a James Smith, printer, among the passengers. James Smith was a lad fifteen years of age. The date of the arrival of the schooner is a very important one in connection with the history of printing, for the Missionary Register of January, 1831, page 67, says, “The Rev. W. Yate took a printing-press with him to New Zealand on his return to the mission in July last from New South Wales. The press had been sent from this country at the instance of the missionaries.” In the same Register Mr. Yate says, “I am about to take with me to New Zealand a youth aged fifteen years, very strongly recommended by Mr. Marsden; he is to assist in printing, for which purpose I have put him in the Gazette office till we sail.” On the 1st September, 1830, Mr. Yate wrote, “Employed with James Smith in printing off a few hymns in the native language. We succeeded beyond our most sanguine expectations…. You will perceive by a copy of a hymn forwarded by this conveyance that we shall be able in a short time to manage it.”
There appears to be no copy in this country of any work done by Mr. Yate and James Smith, but I believe several copies are among the records of the Church Missionary Society in England, and I have seen a photographed copy of the catechism which is said to have been printed in the year 1830. The short time “referred to in the above-quotation seems never to have arrived, for the press, the printer, James Smith, and the type disappeared as mysteriously as they appeared. Where* the press was set up —whether at Waimate or Paihia—is a mystery, and no one, as far as I can find, has ever been able to discover anything about the press, for which Mr. Yate sent thanks to London, and about which he never once made mention, either in his book, published in 1837, or in his many communications during the seven or eight years that he remained as a missionary in the country after his return from Sydney. It could hardly be supposed that the “translation committee,” of which Mr. Yate himself was a member, would be unacquainted with the press and the printer that arrived in
[Footnote] * Since writing this paper I have heard from Alex. H. Turnbull, Esq., of Wellington, that the Church Missionary Society has a copy of a Church catechism printed at Kerikeri in 1830.—H. H.
1830; yet we find the committee continuing their labours of translation, and in the latter half of 1832 Mr. Yate was again commissioned to proceed to Sydney to superintend the issue of a more complete book for the use of the Maori Church.” On the 2nd March, 1833, he reported to the other members of the committee in the following words: “I have completed the liturgy, catechisms, and hymns”; and on the 21st May he again reported: “I am happy to say I have at last finished the printing” With his letter he sent two bound volumes of the new book, containing morning and evening prayers, sacramental service the services of infant and adult baptism, services for marriage, burial, and the churching of women. There were also four catechisms, twenty-seven hymns, the first nine chapters of Genesis, Gospels of St. Matthew and St. John, Acts, Epistle to the Romans, and First Epistle to the Corinthians. The issue consisted of three thousand books for the Church Missionary Society following and three hundred for the Wesleyans at Hokianga, who used the same books in teaching the natives the art of reading and writing.
At this period the schools for instruction were very active, and, judging by the anxiety shown among the natives from all parts of the North Island to acquire the art of reading, much value must be attached to reading and writing as important adjuncts in the civilisation of a people. It is curious to observe, however, that the natives were carefully kept from acquiring a knowledge of the English language. Communications, converse, correspondence were all carried on in the language that had been acquired by the incoming teachers and settlers.
The early efforts of the missionaries were directed to the training of the natives in European, or rather English, habits and modes of living, whilst the language that was to amend and modify a nation, and which in itself contained all that could be expressed of the ways, customs, and aspirations of a people, was to remain for both Europeans and Maoris alike. But about this time increased vitality began to be manifested. The two religious bodies had hoped to keep the Maori communities under their own particular control. It was impossible, however, to keep back the traders who flocked to the country from Sydney and America, and the new contact was by no means satisfactory. What the religious orders taught by practice and precept was directly opposed by the precept and practice of the sailors, runaway convicts, and others who landed at different times in the vicinity of Hokianga and the Bay of Islands, where European settlement first took place. And what had been done as yet for the uplifting of the natives in the direction of civilisation?
For the first fifteen years of New Zealand's contact with a civilising race the controlling influences were industry and religion. It was not the English language or literature that operated to regulate and influence the actions and habits of the natives. As already pointed out, it took twenty years for the issue of 3,800 books to the natives in their own language, and at the same time hardly a step had been taken to instruct the Maoris in the English language. The influence of the religious teachers had been great in the way of modifying the instincts of a savage race that had lived long in isolation and had been untouched by external agencies. Intercourse is the mother of change in all conditions of being, and the isolation of the natives when brought into contact with what represented the highest form of the religious side of civilisation was slow to imitate, though it regarded with respect, the men who “preached and practised “—a new thing to the people. The real influence of the religious teacher consisted in his skill and his ability to supply the higher comforts and conveniences of life, and the provision that was made for the betterment of the social condition of the people was the secret and source of the influence exercised by the teachers of religion. The new contact of the natives with sailors and others of like aspirations broke the spell of religious seclusion in the country.
The ten years between 1830 and 1840 may be termed the “second period” in the process of change through which the natives went before coming under the direct control of England. The books issued to the natives between 1830 and 1834 may be set down as the first fruits of the new period; but, though the aim was to foster the religious life, they acted in the direction of creating a desire for other books, and that desire was not long in being met. But it could not be met by the isolation of language that was preached and hoped for by the teachers of the day. The natives were not taught the English language, but those of them who were brought in contact with the rabble that often gathered together from the ships at Kororareka and other places in the Bay of Islands soon acquired the power of expressing themselves in the not too elegant English of the sailors, ex-convicts, and others who delighted to throw difficulties in the way of those men and women who strove to raise the natives to purer aims and hopes. It was the meeting at the “cross-ways” in the thirties, where we can trace the growth among the natives themselves of wider ambitions and wider views than was possible so long as they followed the course laid down for them by their first teachers.
Things in the Bay of Islands flourished in a widely different way to what had been expected by those who, fixing
a foundation, had hoped to maintain a predominating influence over the native race. But the new influences came in through advancing trade and more frequent intercourse with the external world. The time had come for the arrival of a new factor in the educational enlightenment of the Maoris.
On the 30th December, 1834, there arrived in the Bay of Islands a printing-press sent out direct from London. Mr. William Colenso, a young man twenty-three years of age, was also sent out as the printer in charge. The description given of the event shall be told by the words of those who were concerned at the time. Mr. W. R. Wade, who was the superintendent of the press, in a letter dated the 10th January, 1835, says, “The arrival of the press is, as we expected, hailed by our friends here as a memorable event for New Zealand, and, as for the natives, those who assisted in bringing it ashore shouted and danced in the sand when told it was ta pukapuka (a book-press, or book-making machine). There is an extraordinary demand for books all around.” In a letter written by Mr. Colenso about the same time, after describing the reception he received at the time of landing he says, “The next morning the natives surrounded us, crying ‘Kapai miharere’ (very good morning), uttering exclamations of joy, and tendering their hands on every side; and when the Rev. Mr. Williams gave them to understand that I was a printer, and came out to print books for them, they were quite elated. No hero of olden times was ever received by his army with greater éeclat; they appeared as if they would deify me. During the week I was busily employed with the natives in landing the goods, and on Saturday, the 3rd January, 1835, a memorable epoch in the annals of New Zealand, I succeeded in getting the printing-press landed. I was obliged to unpack it on board, but I am happy to say it is all safe on shore. Could you but have witnessed the natives when it was landed: they danced, they shouted, and capered about in the water, giving vent to the wildest effusions of joy, inquiring the use of this and the place of that with all that eagerness for which uncivilised nature is remarkable—certainly they had never seen such a thing before. I trust soon to be enabled to get it to work. Throughout the island there appears to be a universal movement, a mighty striving of the people. The chiefs of distant tribes come down to Waimate and this place for books…. I have seen them myself gladly bring their store of potatoes for a book.” It is a strange circumstance that the words in italics were never contradicted. The missionary authorities in London and the translators on the committee in New Zealand, who must have been aware of Mr. Yate's press, would hardly have permitted such a statement
as that made by Mr. Colenso to pass by without contradiction, and certainly Mr. Colenso was too careful of what was right and honourable to take to himself any honour which rightly belonged to another.
Mr. Yate went to England at the end of 1835, and he reached Sydney, on his way back to New Zealand, on the 13th June, 1836. In the thirty-seventh annual report of the Religious Tract Society, pages 52, 53, it is reported: “The Rev. W. Yate during his residence in England reported to the committee the progress made in New Zealand in the publication of useful books. The committee have granted to Mr. Yate copies of the Tahitian and Rarotongan books published for the South Sea Islands, and copies of their juvenile works. Mr. Yate hopes soon to commence printing some tracts in the native language, towards which object the committee will be happy to contribute.” It is difficult to harmonize this statement with any claims that are put forth on Mr. Yate's behalf that he was the first to print anything in New Zealand. He recognises the publication of “useful books” as having taken place before leaving for England in the later months of the year 1835, and those books consisted solely of the Ephesians, Philippians, and the Gospel of St. Luke, which were printed by Mr. Colenso; for in July, 1835, Mr. Colenso reports to London: “I have been employed in cleaning and setting up the press, making and getting tools to rights, laying types in cases, composing and working off two thousand of the Epistles to the Ephesians and Philippians and folding and sewing the same, composing and working off six hundred tables, and numerous little things for the station, as cutting out boards, and mounting lessons, writing, &c.”
On the 5th January, 1836, the work of the second half-year of 1835 is thus summarised: “I have been engaged in composing and printing one thousand copies of St. Luke's Gospel and a 12mo. book of sixty-seven pages, since which I have bound in leather and cloth upwards of four hundred of these Gospels. I have also printed seventy-five circular-letters in English and seventy-five in the native language for the British Resident.”
If it be true that Mr. Yate printed certain hymns and a catechism in 1830 at Kerikeri, then the statement that “he hopes to commence printing some tracts in the native language” had already been accomplished, and as he was not the printer, and had nothing whatever to do with printing in 1835, it is difficult to understand the position taken up by this forceful and not over-particular missionary. In any case, it was stated by Messrs. Coates and Beecham, of the Church Missionary Society and Wesleyan Mission, before the Com-
mission held to inquire into the “Present state of the Islands of New Zealand,” the report of which was ordered to be printed by the House of Commons on the 8th August, 1838, “that the press was first introduced into New Zealand in 1835, and that Mr. Colenso was the first printer” (page 196). The press that was set up at Paihia under the direction of Mr. Colenso was erected there for three reasons—(a) In order to be near the editor of the New Testament, William Williams; (b) to be away from the constant interruptions pertaining to a station at the harbour; and (c) to be safe from Maori inroad and pillage. These reasons are stated by Mr. Colenso in his paper “Fifty Years Ago in New Zealand,” 1888.
At the time of setting up the press a motley gathering of nondescripts was to be found in various places within the bounds of the Bay of Islands; but it is a curious reflection for the thoughtful to find that no heed appears to have been paid to the state of the wild English and Americans, who appeared among the natives like the seven devils among the swine. The press and the teachers were for native use, and traders, whalers, and ex-convicts were to go their own ways and supply their own wants in the manner that might seem to them best.
It can hardly be understood at this period as to the state of the people in the numerous settlements to be found in the Bay of islands at the time of setting up the printing-press. There was no regulating authority whatsoever, for, although a British Resident, in the person of Mr. Busby, had arrived from Sydney in 1833, he could exercise no control, having no executive power and no means of enforcing his decrees. The state of affairs grew so serious that the principal natives of the north took up the matter and decided to do for themselves what it had been their hope would be done for them by the English Government. At an important assemblage of chiefs on the 28th October, 1835, they declared for national independence in the following words:—
“1. We, the hereditary chiefs and heads of tribes of the northern parts of New Zealand, being assembled at Waitangi, in the Bay of Islands, on the 28th day of October, 1835, declare the independence of our country, which is hereby constituted and declared to be an independent State, under the designation of the united tribes of New Zealand.
“2. All sovereign power and authority within the territories within the united States of New Zealand is hereby declared to reside entirely and exclusively in the hereditary chiefs and heads of tribes in their collective capacity, who also declare that they will not permit any legislative authority separate from themselves in their collective capacity to exist, nor any function of government to be exercised within the
said territories unless by persons appointed by them and acting under the authority of laws regularly enacted by them in congress assembled.
“3. The hereditary chiefs and heads of tribes agreed tc meet in congress at Waitangi in the autumn of each year for the purpose of framing laws for the dispensation of justice, the preservation of peace and good order, and the regulation of trade, and they cordially invite the southern tribes to lay aside their private animosities and to consult the safety and welfare of our common country by joining the confederation of the united tribes.
“4. They also agree to send a copy of this declaration to His Majesty the King of England, to thank him for his acknowledgment of their flag, and, in return for the friendship and protection they have shown and are prepared to show to such of his loyal subjects as have settled in their country and resorted to its shores for the purposes of trade, they entreat that he will continue to be the parent of their infant State, and that he will become its protector from all attempts upon their independence.”
This Proclamation was signed in the presence of the British Resident, and there were four English witnesses, two of them missionaries and the others merchants. This is a translation of the circular which was printed by Mr. Colenso at Paihia. It bears the heading, “Wakaputanga o te Rangatira tanga o Niu Tirene.”
Although this claim for independence by the natives was made at a great meeting on the 28th October, 1835, the following entry occurs in Mr. Colenso's “Day-and Waste-book,” which is in my possession, and extends from May, 1836, to the 24th July, 1843, and contains all dealings connected with printing at the missionary press that was set up at Paihia. The entry runs as follows:—
26th April, 1837. James Busby, Esq.: Printing, &c., 100 foolscap folio “Declaration of Independence of Native Chiefs,” £1 1s.
The information contained in the “Day-and Waste-book” is of particular public interest, and, were space available, I should like to give extracts that have never yet been made public. I shall, however, limit the work to extracts that have particular reference to matters of historic importance during the years in which Mr. Colenso was connected with the press.
It is curious to find that the printing of the “declaration of independence” in the native language, several copies of which are in my possession, should have taken place eighteen months or so after the meeting at which the declaration was made. Why this course was adopted cannot now be dis-
covered, but the years 1836–38 are perhaps among the worst and most lawless through which natives and colonials have passed; and perhaps the assent of the British Government had not been received by the Resident to the claims set up by the natives. Comparatively little printing was done at the missionary press beyond what was required for the instruction of the natives, but there are several important exceptions, such as the following: In May, 1836, the state of things in and about the Settlement of Kororareka had become so dreadful that a few of the better class, who had not lost all sense of decency and self-respect, determined to do something to stem the tide of disorder and drunkenness that dominated the whole, or nearly the whole, of the population such as had gathered together in the vicinity of the shipping-places in the Bay of Islands. In May, 1834, it was decided to call a public meeting at Kororareka for the purpose of establishing a temperance society, and the following placard—the first issued in English in New Zealand—was published:—
On Wednesday, the 11th day of May inst.,
Will be held in the
Church at Kororareka
For the purpose of establishing a
The attendance of all Persons desirous of promoting Peace, Order, and Sobriety is most earnestly requested.
The British Resident will take the chair at 12 o'cock.
Dated May 4th, 1836.
Paihia: Printed at the Press of the Church Missionary Society.
The above is a literal copy of the placard I have, and which is the only copy known as far as I can gather. I remember that Mr. Colenso, a short time before his death, related the circumstances of the placard and of the printing of the first English book, which was a report of the New Zealand Temperance Society. A brief reference to each of these publications will be found on page 12 of Mr. Colenso's Jubilee paper, “Fifty Years Ago in New Zealand,” a paper of surpassing interest to students of early history and settlement.
On the 5th October, 1836, the following entry occurs in the “Day-and Waste-book”:—
James Busby, Esq., British Resident: Printing 75 folio copies fools cap circulars relating to Baron de Thierry, £1 1s.
And on the 12th October:—
James Busby, Esq.: Compositing and printing 70 foolscap 4to circulars in native language relative to Baron de Thierry, 10s. 6d.
No other printing is entered as having been done during 1836–37 beyond the work connected with the printing of the New Testament. This highly important undertaking was carried on by the appointment, on the 14th November, 1836, of John Bevan and Henry Mann in the printing-office at £1 10s. per week; but on the 28th January, 1837, their services appeared to have ended, as full payment of wages was made on that date, and no further mention is made of them. A few days afterwards—i.e., the 15th February—there is the following entry:—
Engaged James Powell, pressman; 16th, commenced.
Feb. 22. Engaged C. F. Opham, pressman; commenced; 7s. day.
Feb. 27. Agreed with J. Powell and C. Opham at 25 cents per token—i.e., 1s. English money.
Oct. 4. Printed first part sheet grammar, demy 12mo.
Dec. 30. Finished printing New Testament, 5,000 copies, demy 8vo.
“Glory be to God alone!”
I possess a copy of the grammar and of the New Testament as printed on the dates named, and, whilst both works represent an inestimable amount of labour, of scholarship, and evident desire to be of some benefit to the native race, one cannot help expressing the view that much more good would have resulted by following along the lines laid down by the first missionary. Assimilation comes quickest through and by means of language, and every effort should have been put forth to teach the natives to speak the language of their teachers, for then a new line of thought would have sprung up in the case of the younger generations. The fostering of the language as spoken by the natives simply intensified the peculiar religious notions of the native race, and affected in a marked manner their subsequent conduct socially and religiously. The completion of the New Testament reflected the highest credit upon the translation committee and Mr. Colenso, who was responsible for the printing.
Much historical importance attached to the printing of circulars in English and Maori relating to the Baron de Thierry, because at this time New Zealand was declared to be independent, and yet the British Resident deemed it proper to issue an address to His Britannic Majesty's subjects who were then resident in New Zealand. This address is referred to by the Rev. J. Beecham, general secretary to the Wesleyan Mission, in his evidence before the House of Lords in 1838 as having been issued in 1835 (10th October), but, as shown above, the entries in the “Day-and Waste-book” are 5th and 12th October respectively, 1836. Baron de Thierry's address to the white residents of New Zealand is dated Sydney, 20th September, 1837, and I have it from Mrs. Allen, an old lady at present residing at Farndon, that she was at Hokianga as a
servant to the Rev. Mr. Turner at the time when Baron de Thierry arrived, in December, 1837. Mr. Turner was present at the meeting, and strove to settle the disagreements between the natives and the Baron. As in the case of the “declaration of independence,” it may be that the circulars were printed some time after the actual events took place; but, in any case, the printing of circulars relating to Baron de Thierry and to the “declaration of independence” are entered in the “Day-and Waste-book” in the order of their happening, though neither at the time when the event actually took place or is reported to have taken place.
In 1838 little printing was done. Both the editor of the translation committee and Mr. Colenso were granted leave of absence, and we find them journeying towards the East Cape, and the latter began that work of collecting New Zealand plants for which in later years he became justly noted. The only printing that was done were two tracts—one being the consecration of a burial-ground, four pages, of which one hundred copies were issued; the other the confirmation service, of which two hundred copies were printed. As usual, they were in the native tongue, and were printed for the convenience of Bishop Abraham, of Sydney, who visited New Zealand in the summer of 1838, to find that a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church was already working in the country: and from this time forward there was remarkable activity in the printing-office at Paihia, for many thousands of books were issued in the native language, all of which, however, were made up of prayers, catechisms, and formularies of some kind or other.
The condition of the people in the Bay of Islands—both native and European—was indescribably bad. Whilst the natives were being saturated with forms of prayer, and creeds, and catechism which to them could not possibly have the slightest interest or meaning, the white population were permitted to go their own ways and do almost as they pleased. Each was a law unto himself. Duty as a principle of conduct could not result from the instruction given by the teachers, and as soon as the native mind came within the grip of the lower influences of human nature such as were to be found in all their ugliness at Kororareka and other places the weakness of the training of the natives was quickly seen. The chief found pleasure in gratifying his new-found friends, whilst he was at the same time able to obtain without difficulty what he could not obtain as long as he remained under the tutelage of formularies that tied him down to a form of life that he did not understand and could not utilise for his benefit. Many thousands of religious books or papers were issued, and it is evident that the printing-office was hardly
pressed for want of help. It is not necessary to give the different books that were printed and issued, but the following items will be of interest:—
July 29. James Busby, Esq.: To compositing and printing 200 copies of prospectus of Victoria Institution, £1 1s.
Aug. 10. Compositing and printing circular-letter, 70 copies, for calling meeting at Kororareka, 7s. 6d.
Aug. 12. Compositing and printing “placard” calling meeting, 40 copies, 7s. 6d.
May 1. To paid Iretoro and Tame, two natives, for presswork, one pair jacket and trousers each.
May 3. James Richards: Pair trousers, 5s.; hat, 4s; pair stockings, 3s. 6d.; waistcoat, 5s. 6d.—about 20s., with articles to him before these for sundry jobs during the last four months in printing and binding.
The meetings at Kororareka became more frequent as time went on, for matters were in an utterly disorganized state. So bad, in fact, had become the condition of the place that in May, 1838, a few of the leading men of business, with the captains and officers of the ships in the bay, formed them-selves into an association for the purpose of mutual safety and protection. Like most things that were started in those times, the rules that were drawn up were sent to Sydney to be printed, and the documents containing the rules of the association of householders at Kororareka were printed and issued from the Herald Office, Sydney, on the 11th June, 1838. The only existing copy of the rules that were drawn up by the householders is in the possession of Mr. A. H. Turnbull, of Wellington.
Whilst the better class of people in the Bay of Islands were taking measures to protect themselves from lawlessness of all sorts, the House of Lords in England was holding an inquiry into the state of New Zealand. The news from New Zealand had reached the British Government through the Governor of New South Wales and the secretaries of the missionary societies; but the immediate cause of the inquiry was on account of a proposal, made by an association termed the “New Zealand Association,” for the colonisation of the country: “The New Zealand Association consists of two classes of members—First, heads of families—fathers—who have determined to establish themselves in the proposed colony; secondly, public men, who, for the sake of public objects alone, are willing”—to use their own words in addressing Her Majesty's Government—“to undertake the responsible and not very easy task of carrying the measure into execution.” The report of the Royal Commission was issued in August, 1838, and the information it contained—which was based on the evidence of men intimately connected with the country—was such that no civilised Government could permit
such a state of things to continue such as the evidence disclosed. “Such is the depravity evinced by some Europeans, Americans, &c, at the Bay of Islands that one place is termed ‘Hell’”; and the same authority says, “A wicked New-Zealander will turn on one sometimes, when reproved, and say, in reference to our countrymen, ‘ Physician, heal thyself.’ It is a lamentable fact that where European society increases there is in proportion also a laxity of morals among the heathen with whom they reside…. I could write facts which would make a modest person blush for our countrymen” (“Report on the Present State of New Zealand,” page 311).
Following the issue of the report the British Government decided to take a more active part in the maintenance of law and order in New Zealand, and on the 14th August, 1839, Lord Normanby issued to Captain Hobson, on his appointment as British Consul, certain instructions, from which the following extract is taken. These instructions are to be found in New Zealand parliamentary papers, 1840, pages 37, 38, and they show the views held by the British Government at that date as to the rights of the New Zealand chiefs to independence: “We acknowledge” (so runs Lord Normanby's instructions, and speaking for his Government) “New Zealand as a sovereign and independent State, so far as it is possible to make that acknowledgment in favour of a people composed of numerous dispersed and petty tribes who possess few political relations to each other and are incompetent to act or to deli-berate in concert. But the admission of their rights, though inevitably qualified by this consideration, hangs on the faith of the British Crown. The Queen, in common with Her Majesty's immediate predecessor, disclaims for herself and her subjects every pretension to seize on the islands of New Zealand, or to govern them as a part of the dominion of Great Britain, unless the free and intelligent consent of the natives, expressed according to their established usages, shall be first obtained.”
Captain Hobson, R.N., arrived in New Zealand on the 29th January, 1840, in H.M.S. “Herald,” He was authorised to assume the title of Lieutenant-Governor in the event of the aborigines being “willing to recognise Her Majesty's sovereign authority over the whole or any parts of the country.” Mr. Colenso's “Day-and Waste-book” gives us information that is of unusual interest and public importance, and, as it is entirely new and deals with matters bearing upon the events that are of historic value in the history of this country, I shall quote them in full. On the 30th January, 1840, occurs the following entry:—
Captain Hobson, R.N.
To compositing and printing 100 4to foolscap circulars for assembling natives at Waitangi, 12s
2 ¼ quires foolscap for same, 2s., 4s. 6d.
To compositing and printing 100 foolscap folio Proclamations, £1 1s.
To compositing and printing 100 foolscap folio Proclamations, £1 1s.
4 ½ quires foolscap for ditto, 2s. 9s.
In vol. ii., pages 11, 12, of the “Life of Henry Williams,” referring to the part taken by Mr. Williams in connection with the Treaty of Waitangi, it is stated: “On the night of the 30th January I was called up (at Waimate) by a messenger from the bay to say that Captain Hobson had arrived in the bay as Governor of New Zealand, and that he wished to see me as early as possible.” (Mr. Williams had only just returned from an extended journey through the island by way of the Wanganui River to Taupo, the first that had ever been made by a European.) “In the afternoon I went on board H.M.S. ‘Herald,’ and was met by Captain Hobson, to whom I expressed my gratification that he had arrived to put an end to the great excitement then existing in the purchase of lands, caused by the sudden influx of Europeans arriving by every vessel from the colonies.” At this date he had not received any intimation that the Government were contemplating any movement towards New Zealand, though much correspondence had transpired in consequence of the proceedings of the New Zealand Company. It will have been noticed that the order for printing circulars calling together the natives at Waitangi is entered 30th January, or the day following that on which Captain Hobson landed in New Zealand. It would appear, therefore, that the Lieutenant Governor that was to be lost no time in communicating with the British Resident, Mr. Busby, who lived at Waitangi, and that action was immediately taken to assemble the natives. From the original copies of the Treaty of Waitangi, it is evident that Mr. Busby had a good deal to do in formulating the terms in which the treaty was to be submitted to the natives at the meeting which had been called by printed circulars. “On the 4th February, about 4 o'clock p.m.,” says Henry Williams, page 12, vol. ii., “Captain Hobson came to me with the Treaty of Waitangi in English for me to translate into Maori, saying that he would meet me in the morning at the House of the British Resident, Mr. Busby, when it must be read to the chiefs assembled, at 10 o'clock.” At the meeting that took place the Rev. Mr. Williams acted as interpreter for Captain Hobson.
The descriptive account of the proceedings of the native meeting that took place on Wednesday and Thursday, 5th
and 6th February, at Waitangi, at which missionaries, settlers, and natives assembled to meet the Lieutenant-Governor, will be found in Mr. Colenso's paper entitled “The Signing of the Treaty of Waitangi,” published by the Government in 1890. It is full of historic incidents, and shows how carefully the natives discussed the prospects of their position, and the benefits likely to result by asking the Queen to become their ruler. Undoubtedly Captain Hobson showed admirable tact in dealing with a matter of such importance. I shall not give here the terms of the treaty or enter the Proclamations that followed the signing of the treaty; but, as the printing necessary for the requirements of the new Government had to be done by Mr. Colenso at the missionary press, it will be found of interest to give in regular order the printing that was done after the meeting had been held at which the treaty was first signed:—
Feb. 17. Captain Hobson, R.N.: Compositing and printing 200 copies of treaty, foolscap folio, £1 10s. 6d.; 4 ½ quires of foolscap paper for above, at 2s., 9s.
Mar. 31. Captain Hobson, R.N. (ordered by W. Shortland, Esq.): Compositing and printing 100 impounding notices, £1 1s.; 2 quires folio post paper for same, at 3s., 6s.
No further printing appears to have been done for the new Administration till the 27th April, when the following entry occurs:—
April 27. Captain Hobson, R.N.: Compositing and printing 100 foolscap 4to circulars, 12s.; 2 ¼ quires foolscap paper for same, at 2s., 4s. 6d.
May 4. Lieutenant-Governor Hobson: Compositing and printing 100 folio post Proclamations, £1 1s.; 2 ¼ quires folio-post paper, at 2s. 6d., 5s. 8d.
May 6. Lieutenant-Governor Hobson: Compositing and printing 200 demy 4th Proclamations in native, £1 1s.; 2 quires demy paper for same, 5s.
May 11. Printing 200 ditto, ditto, 8s.; 2 quires demy paper for same, 5s.
May 22. Lieutenant-Governor Hobson: Compositing and printing 100 copies of folio foolscap Proclamation asserting Queen's sovereignty over Southern Islands, £1 1s.; compositing and printing 100 copies of folio foolscap Proclamation asserting Queen's sovereignty over Northern Island, &c., £1 1s.; 4 ½ quires of foolscap for above, at 2s., 9s.
June 16. Government of New Zealand: Compositing and printing 100 Proclamations, corrected copy, asserting Queen's sovereignty over New Zealand,£1 1s.; 2 ¼ quires of foolscap for above, at 2s., 4s. 6d.
It will be noticed here that a corrected Proclamation was issued on the 16th June, it having been discovered by Mr. Colenso that a serious error had occurred in the wording of the Proclamation which was printed and issued on the 22nd May, which ran as follows: “Now, therefore, I, William Hobson, Lieutenant-Governor of New Zealand, do hereby
proclaim and declare to all men that from and after the date of these presents the full sovereignty of the islands of New Zealand, extending from 34 degrees 30 min. north to 47 degrees 10 min. south latitude, and between 166 degrees 5min, to 179 degrees of east longitude, vest in Her Majesty Queen Victoria.” Of course, every one is aware what this Proclamation was intended to include, but its peculiar wording implied the extension of New Zealand in a northerly direction as far as Japan. I saw the original Proclamation a short time before Mr. Colenso died, but what has become of it since I am unable to discover.
The day before the amended Proclamation was issued— that is, the 15th June—the first paper was published by G. A. Eager and Co., of Kororareka, and bore the title of the Bay of Islands Observer. This paper was naturally used by the governing authorities as an advertising medium for official notices, but a misunderstanding between the authorities and the proprietors took place, and on the 15th December the paper ceased to exist. This, no doubt, accounts for the item that appears in the “Day-and Waste-book” for the 30th December, thus:—
Government of New Zealand.
Compositing Gazette Extraordinary, No. 1, 4 pages, demy 4to (12 columns of matter),£6 6s.
Printing 150 copies of same, 18s.
3 ½ quires demy paper for same, at 2s. 6d., 8s. 9d.
The Government were seemingly in want of funds, for the amount of this item was not paid till the following September, and it is entered in the “Day-and Waste-book” as follows:—
Received of Colonel Godfrey (Land Commissioner) a cheque on bank for amount of bill for printing, £7 12s. 9d.
All the other items for printing on behalf of the New Zealand Government had previously been paid on the 22nd December, 1840, by G. Cooper, Esq., the final amount being £14 12s. 7d.
There are several entries during the period covered by the years 1840–41 which might be given here as showing the growing importance of the printing-press and the increasing value of the books that were being constantly issued. The entries of sales for Testaments at 4s. each are numerous, but sometimes “free” copies were issued, such as the following:—
Jan. 28, 1840. Testament presented to Patume on his baptism.
Feb. 20, Received for five Testaments from J. Busby, Esq., £1.
April 2, Presented to Commodore Wilkes, American squadron, one Testament, one prayer-book, one catechism.
May 4. Received for a Testament from French Commodore, 4s.
May 13, 1841. Presented to Lady Franklin one Testament, one psalter, one grammar, one primer, one prayer, &c.
Entries of this kind might be indefinitely extended, but these are given to show the new influences that were beginning to act upon the new colony.
It has already been explained that the years 1839—40 were years of remarkable activity in connection with the printing-press, of which Mr. Colenso was at this time the superintendent. Quite a staff of printers appear to have been at work, and soon new buildings were needed, and new presses to complete the many publications that were deemed necessary to supply to the natives. The removal of the press, cases, type, &c., to the new printing-office took place in March, 1840, and the following curious entries appear in the “Day-book”:—
March 21. By paid Tame, one guernsey frock, 3s. 9d.; paid Pua, one guernsey frock, 3s. 9d.; paid Hoka, one guernsey frock, 3s. 9d.; paid Ruru, one flushing jacket, 5s.; paid Baker's lads, in soap, tobacco, and pipes, for assisting in removing press, &c., 1s. 6d.
For the five months ending May, 1840, over seventy thousand copies of different tracts, prayers, catechisms, &c., were issued and ready for distribution, and the entries showing the districts to which the several publications were sent from time to time show also the movements of the missionaries over the different portions of the North Island.
By the end of 1842 all parts of the Island had been visited, and new forces were beginning to operate in the work of settlement and civilisation. It would prove an interesting chapter in the history of New Zealand to deal with the opposing forces that came into play immediately following the Treaty of Waitangi, but my purpose is merely to trace as briefly as may be the part played by Mr. Colenso as the first printer in New Zealand.
The arrival of Bishop Selwyn in 1842 altered the course of Mr. Colenso's life, and, although he continued to play an important part in the history of the colony, Mr. Colenso ceased to have anything to do with the press after July, 1843, the last entry in the “Day-book” being the 24th July. From this date Mr. John Telford became press superintendent; but the subsequent events at Kororareka and elsewhere in the Bay of Islands, and the establishment of Auckland as the capital town of the colony in September, 1840, eventually caused the removal of the Church Missionary Society's press to Auckland. Mr. Colenso's work as a printer had been done.
It seems but yesterday since we had Mr. Colenso with us—a man whose noble bearing won the respect and admiration of all. When he came to New Zealand at the end of 1834 the population other than natives consisted of only a few hundred persons, made up mostly of whalers, run-away sailors, ex-convicts, and nondescripts from New South Wales.
His work was for the natives, and he gave his whole energy and skill to the performance of that work. As a printer few have excelled him, and to-day his books will stand comparison with the best issued in the country. He played a part, and he played it well, at an important period in the history of his country. He ever strove to foster the welfare of the natives, and no man can say that he ever used his vast knowledge of Maori customs for the advancement of his own interests as against those of the natives. Of his ministerial work nothing need be said, as it is outside the purview of this paper. Suffice it to say that as a citizen, and as one of the founders of this branch of the New Zealand Institute, his name is held in honourable esteem, and among the historical names that will pass down to posterity not the least one will be the name of William Colenso, F.R.S., printer, scientist, and philanthropist—the man who printed the first book in New Zealand, who discovered more new plants than any one else in New Zealand, and by his bequests has shown how much he loved the outcast and the wanderer, whom he was ever ready to help and succour.