Art. LIX.—Some Account of the Beginnings of Literature in New Zealand: Part I., the Maori Section
[Read before the Otago Institute, 11th September, 1900.]
In 1894 I read a paper before this Institute entitled “Some Account of the Earliest Literature and Maps relating to New Zealand,”* bringing the subject down to the beginning of this expiring century, when Dr. Savage, in 1807, published his short work. The contributors to this literature were those who, sojourning here for a short time, described the newly discovered country, and gave us their impressions of its products and people. On this occasion I propose to speak of the beginnings of a literature that has sprung up amongst ourselves, and which has developed into that which may be characterized at least as something very extensive indeed. The subject is plainly divisible into two sections, that connected with the Maori language—first, of course, in point of time—and that when English newspapers, pamphlets, and other publications inevitably followed in the train of our colonisation. The subject is as interesting as it is extensive, and requires much better treatment than it can possibly receive in the short time properly allotted to our Institute meetings. I must thus promise to resume it at a future period, and on this occasion shall confine myself to laying before you a sketch of the Maori or first division, illustrating the same by various exhibits.
The earliest of our countrymen to take up their permanent dwelling in New Zealand were the “lay missionaries,” or “lay settlers,” as they were called, and in referring to them I shall go over no old ground beyond that requisite for the purposes of illustration. Amongst them sprang up the first germ of our literature. Wherever the British race has spread the translation of the Scriptures and of other religious publications has always been viewed as most important, not only from a philological point of view, but as a duty incumbent upon the British people when brought into contact with those of an inferior race. It was in 1815 that Samuel Marsden, ever to be honoured as the Apostle of New Zealand, stationed at the Bay of Islands three simple, pious men—Kendall, Hall, and King; and later on a fourth joined them—James Kemp. In accordance with Mr. Marsden's excellent theory their duties were to instruct the natives at one and the same
[Footnote] *See Trans. N.Z. Inst., xxvii., p. 616.
time in the arts of civilised life and the truths of Christianity, and for this their callings fitted them. One was a blacksmith, another was a flax-or rope-spinner, and the third a carpenter, occupations in which the natives were especially interested. Kendall had had some experience as a teacher in the Home-country, and he was thus able to undertake and complete within the first year of his new labours what is indeed the first literary production of this country. It is a small 12mo primer or school-book and vocabulary of fifty-five pages, printed at Sydney in 1815. It is entitled “A Korao no New Zealand; or, the New Zealanders’ First Book: being an Attempt to compose some Lessons for the Instruction of the Natives.” The book is, of course, extremely rare, if not unique, the only copy known to me being that in the Auckland Museum. Those of us having the least acquaintance with Maori will recognise how primitive is the first portion of the title, “A Korao no New Zealand,” nay, of what dog-or pidgin-Maori it consists; and the same may be said of the contents. But it was a necessary and praiseworthy attempt to open communication between the two races, and as such it now holds its pride of place. Doubtless, too, it was quite abreast of the schooling requirements of eighty-five years ago. From the accounts which have descended to us from those early days it seems very clear that the relative position of teacher and pupil was entirely reversed, and that the latter had the former under control. The pupil came or played truant as he pleased, and it was quite as dangerous then to administer reproof or punishment as it is to-day in our own State schools. The surest method of securing the attendance and attention of these wayward ones was the promise of a meal of potatoes or some other of the new pakeha foods. But this too often sadly reduced the scanty rations of the missionary, who was too fastidious to supplement them with the roast joints of the country.
Reverting to the contents of Mr. Kendall's book leads me to remark upon the different renderings that have been imposed upon the Maori tongue since its first few words were made known to us by Captain Cook. Like other branches of the great Polynesian language, it is an oral and not a written tongue, and the first attempts to reduce it to writing were not only confused, but ludicrous. Its soft harmonious sounds when presented in English syllabary became grotesque: Each one spelt according to his fancy or untrained ear, with the result that, whilst he might recognise his word again, no one else could. An example or two will suffice: Wai, water, was whi, wye, wi; nose,ihu, was eshoa, ahewh, ehoo; come here,haere mai, was iremi, harrymy, haromai, aire mai; Hokianga was Jokeehangar, Shukiehanger, E'Okianga; Hauraki was
Howraggy, Howracki, Shourackie, E'Orackee. No less a person than Dr. Forster, one of Cook's companions, wrote pooadughiedugghie for putangitangi, the paradise duck, and diggowaghwagh for piwakawaka, the pretty fantail. And when words were converted into sentences the puzzle was complete. How great, then, was the advance when a fixed value was given to the consonants and the vowels were pronounced in the open or Italian way. Quite an interesting digression could be made on this portion of the subject if time permitted. The credit of this method belongs principally to the London and to the Church Missionary Societies; and the language, or rather dialect, which was thus first reduced to order was that of Tahiti, or, as Captain Cook called it, “Otaheite.” The Tongan was the second, and very skilfully this was accomplished by Dr. John Martin in 1818. To this gentleman's zeal and ability we are indebted not only for a most valuable contribution to philology, but also for securing to us what must otherwise have been lost—“Mariner's Account of his Residence in Tonga as a Castaway Sailor from 1805 to 1810.” This interesting and important book owes everything to Dr. Martin's editing. The New Zealand was the third in order to undergo this process of reduction to grammatical rule. “Fixing” was the term used by the Church Missionary Society. Yearly it became more important that this should be effected; for want of it the progress of the mission was seriously impeded, and so in 1820 Mr. Kendall visited England, accompanied by the great Ngapuhi chiefs Hongi and Waikato. It was the former who, upon his return to New Zealand, converted the valuable presents he had received into guns and gunpowder, and with these new and unaccustomed weapons marched through the North Island waging a cruel and relentless warfare upon his helpless countrymen, who were armed only in native fashion.
Considering the vast distance Mr. Kendall and his companions had come, their sojourn in England was very short, being of but four months’ duration. Doubtless Hongi was restless to carry out the sanguinary schemes he had so long contemplated and so secretly concealed. Two of these four months were spent at Cambridge, under the auspices of the Church Missionary Society, in conference with the Rev. Professor Lee, who was known as the society's Orientalist. He was a man of remarkable linguistic attainments, and his history is well worth a moment's digression. A native of Shrewsbury, he followed the humble occupation of carpenter, but managed to devote considerable time to his favourite study of languages. His facility in acquiring them was so great that when but twenty-five years of age he had gained a very competent knowledge not only of Latin, Greek, and
Hebrew, but also of Oriental languages, Arabic, Persian, and Tamil. Accident brought him under the notice of the Church Missionary Society, who sent him to the university, where his success was signal. After taking his degree he was ordained, and speedily became Professor of Arabic. In this eminent position he rendered constant and valuable service in translating the Holy Scriptures into the various languages of those for whose welfare the society laboured. With extraordinary capacity he unravelled the structure of every tongue, and thus it was that in a very short time the previously obscure language of the savage Hongi was reduced to law and order—was “fixed.” The part that Kendall undertook in the task was probably not much more than that of interpreter. The result was the publication in 1820 of the valuable “Grammar and Vocabulary of the Language of New Zealand,” in 8vo, of 230 pages. It contains phrases, dialogues, translations, and some native songs. The edition consisted of 500 copies, now, of course, very rare. Some were printed on coarse, strong paper for the use of the natives.
A final word may here be said of Kendall. Like two or three others of the early missionaries, he fell from his high estate, and in 1823 was consequently dismissed from the mission. He behaved treacherously to the society, was guilty of trading with the natives in guns and powder, and sinned against morality. After his departure from New Zealand he traded in spars and other products of the country with Valparaiso and New South Wales. His schooner was, I believe, wrecked at sea when entering the Sydney Heads, and he was then drowned. This would be about the early thirties.
This system of “fixing” the language was not free from certain disadvantages, one of which may be shortly touched upon. Perhaps it was unavoidable, because much of the phonesis, or tone-sounding, of some languages is not accurately represented by the values given to the vowels and consonants of a syllable even when proper accent is added. It was this fact that explains some of the various spellings and pronunciations of which examples have been given. Every one, both Maori and English, nowadays says “Hauraki,” “Hokianga,” “Hongi,”—the pronunciation is “fixed” but he who seventy years ago said “Shouraki,” “Shukianga,” “Shongi,” as above given, was nearer the bottom of that well where truth lives. At the bottom he would have uttered a rather indescribable sh sound, something like a suppressed sneeze, a mixture of weak sibilant and strong aspirate—yhou, yhong. Take, again, the word so well known to us as “kauri,” and nothing else. Its liquid r was so lightly sounded that it might have been taken for l or d, and thus it was frequently written; nay, indeed, sometimes its presence
was so slightly marked that it was all but elided, approaching in this respect so many Samoan words, where a lost consonant is represented by an apostrophe, which, as R. L. Stevenson so well put it, “is the tombstone of a buried consonant.” I had the good fortune to be taught the true sounding of these words more than twenty years ago by that thorough Maori scholar Archdeacon Maunsell, whilst we were travelling together through the classic ground of the Bay of Islands, and, as is incumbent upon me, I pass on the knowledge to the younger portion of the audience, who, in turn, will again hand it on. I am not forgetful in rehearsing these pronunciations that there were dialects amongst the Maoris as with ourselves, and that they were as strongly marked.
For years the whole literature of New Zealand was solely represented by these two books. No steps had been taken towards translating even portions of the Scripture, important as the work was. It seemed as though the very existence of the mission trembled in the balance and was threatened with extinction, and this not only through Hongi's devastating wars and the restlessness and turbulence of the natives, but by dissension amongst the lay settlers themselves. Such a disaster was alone averted by Mr. Marsden's energy. sound sense, and zealous exhortations to the settlers, to whom he paid three visits, in the years 1820, 1823, and 1827. In those days a journey from New South Wales to New Zealand meant hardship and peril, especially to one who, like Mr. Marsden, was advanced in years. But his visits were always productive of the greatest good; he was a great favourite with the natives, and was always welcomed by them, and alone he travelled under their friendly escort for weeks together. Thus he insured the safety and security of those in whose lot and duties he was so deeply interested. In 1823 he brought with him from Sydney one who was a very important accession to the strength of the mission—the Rev. Henry Williams, who had been sent out by the Church Missionary Society, and who was joined three years later by his younger brother, the Rev. William Williams, well known in after years as the first Bishop of Waiapu. William Williams was an Oxford graduate and a good scholar, and to his scholarship and untiring industry, aided by the labours of others presently to be named, we are indebted for the Maori version of the Holy Scriptures. Little by little was this great work accomplished, and it was not until 1868 that the completed Old and New Testaments—“Te Paipera Tapu”—were bound and issued. This date marks the long period of forty-one years, for it was so far back as 1827 that the first instalment of the Scriptures saw the light.
So far as I am aware, no full account has been given of this interesting piece of history by those who were its makers. It is therefore important that the results of whatever information and research I have gathered from many quarters should be recorded. It was a standing instruction from the Church Missionary (or parent) Society that members of the mission should take every opportunity of extending their knowledge of the language with a special view to translation. This, however, was carried out in an ineffective way, though it is fair to state that so early as 1824 Mr. James Shepherd, whose special function was to instruct the natives in agriculture, had compiled a good vocabulary, translated some hymns, and was engaged in translating the Gospels. But after the arrival of the Williams brothers individual efforts such as these were compared and systematized. The members met at stated times and discussed whatever underwent the process of reappearance in the new tongue. This was the germ of the future translation committee. By the middle of 1827 there were ready for publication the first three chapters of Genesis, the 1st of St. John, the 20th of Exodus, the first thirty verses of the 5th of St. Matthew, and the Lord's Prayer, and, in addition, seven himene, or hymns, altogether forming a worthy beginning of this country's literature and an admirable selection—the story of creation, the divinity and humanity of Christ, the Ten Commandments, and the Beatitudes, This precious collection was taken over to New South Wales, or “the colony,” as it was invariably called in those days, and printed at Sydney. This third contribution, which is quite as rare as Kendall's “Korao,” is a small 8vo of thirty-one pages; it has no title-page, and 400 copies were printed at a cost of £41, G. F. Eagar, of King Street, being the printer.
It was in the beginning of the following year—1828—that another notable clergyman joined the increasing band of labourers. This was the Rev. William Yate, a man of considerable intelligence and observation, and the author of an excellent “Account of New Zealand.” It is grievous to relate that he also, like one or two of his brethren before him, made sad default, and that, in consequence, his connection with the mission was closed in 1836. Nevertheless, his name must be recorded as one of the early translators.
Ever remembering that the chief amongst them was the Rev. William Williams, whose education and culture specially fitted him as leader in this work, this is a suitable place to refer to those others who also were contributors. Placed as nearly as possible in the order of their arrival in New Zealand, their names are: John King, one of the earliest lay settlers; James Kemp, a smith; James Shepherd, whose duties were
to teach the natives agriculture, and who became proficient in the language, gathered together a large vocabulary, and commenced a translation of the Gospels so far back as 1825; W. G. Puckey, an artisan, who also had an excellent knowledge of the language; George Clarke, a smith, well known afterwards as Protector of Aborigines; Richard Davis, who conducted farming operations; Charles Davis, a carpenter; William Fairburn, also a carpenter; Charles Baker; Rev. A. N. Brown, of Tauranga; Thomas Chapman, of Maketu; James Preece, Joseph Matthews, J. A. Wilson, and Rev. G. A. Kissling. It is impossible in this long list, which extends but to 1832, to apportion to each his due share; but all were expected to do something, and were encouraged to suggest and criticize.
As the result, then, of such ceaseless labour the Rev. W. Yate proceeded to Sydney in the beginning of 1830, and carried through the press the fourth book on our list. It contained the first three chapters of Genesis, the first nine of St. Matthew, the first four of St. John, and the first six of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, all printed in double columns. Then followed, in single columns, Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and the Commandments. After these were the 1st and 2nd Catechisms and the hymns, now increased to nineteen in number. This interesting book, which is as rare as its predecessors, is a 12mo of 117 pages, printed by R. Mansfield for the executors of R. Howe, the Government Printer. Five hundred and fifty copies were printed, at a cost of £90. Great was the delight of the natives as well as the missionaries when this valuable freight reached the shores of New Zealand in August of 1830. The natives willingly gave a month's labour for a copy, or something equivalent in the way of pigs and potatoes, for it was wisely considered that the value of these books would be vastly enhanced in native eyes by making a substantial charge for them. On this occasion Mr. Yate brought back with him from Sydney a printing-press, the first New Zealand press. It had been sent by the Church Missionary Society at the earnest request of the missionaries, who hoped to do serviceable and economical work with it. Mr. Yate took the precaution to bring also a youth of fifteen, named James Smith, who had enjoyed some trifling experience in the Sydney Gazette newspaper-office. This youth was probably no more than a printer's devil, and, as Mr. Yate was not even that, it is probable that the efforts of the pair resulted in besmearing themselves and their paper and then forswearing the business as hopeless. It is certain, however, that they succeeded in printing the slips of a few hymns and also a small catechism, for in a letter to the society Mr. Yate says, after thanking them for the gift, “You
will perceive, by the copy of a hymn forwarded, that we shall be able in a short time to manage it.” There is something suspicious about this sentence; at any rate, I have not been able to learn from any source that their expectations of use and economy were realised. Still, this has the fame of being the first press, and Mr. Yate that of being the first printer. This fact detracts nothing from the honour of William Colenso, who, with his efficient press, arrived four years later.
What became of this old press? In a rare little pamphlet, written nearly sixty years ago at Paramatta, entitled “A Short Account of the Rev. Samuel Marsden,” &c., the last paragraph reads as follows: “It is rather singular that this little work respecting Mr. Marsden should have been printed at that very press which that reverend gentleman introduced into New Zealand. The press (in consequence of the arrival of others better adapted for the Church mission) was sold by the society to Mr. Isaacs, who brought it with him to Paramatta.” This Mr. Benjamin Isaacs was a printer, and, if I mistake not, printed and edited one of the earliest New Zealand newspapers—the Bay of Islands Advocate, which commenced publication in November, 1843, at Kororareka, and lived for about a year. The work of translation and revision now proceeded rapidly, that of final revision being left in the hands of the Revs. W. Williams and W. Yate and Mr. Puckey.
Again Mr. Yate was sent to “the colony,” in November, 1832, where he remained until the following August, returning with a still more extensive freight. The scriptural portion of it contained the first eight chapters of Genesis, the entire Gospels of St. Matthew and St. John, the Acts, Romans, and First Epistle to the Corinthians, all printed in double columns, and forming an 8vo volume of 170 pages, printed by Stevens and Stokes. Separately there was a 12mo, containing four catechisms, morning and evening prayers, sacramental service, baptismal, marriage, churching, and burial services, and twenty-seven hymns. In all there were 3,300 volumes, and the cost was £500. Curiously enough, out of this large number barely one is now to be found. In one of these little books—a catechism given to me some years ago by Mr. Colenso—he writes, “Perhaps the only one existing! always for sixty years very scarce.” It is plain that this more complete version did not give unalloyed satisfaction, for the Rev. Henry Williams says it “abounds in typographical errors—not less, I should think, than two to a page. It must not be offered without correction. So much for colonial work; it is a sad place. The translation is very good, and in many passages may be denominated elegant. This is principally William's indefatigable work.”
The 30th December, 1834, must always be one of New Zealand's earliest red-letter days, for on that date arrived at the Bay of Islands in charge of William Colenso what, for reasons given above, must really be considered our first printing-press. Repeated applications had been made to the Church Missionary Society for one, and for a competent printer, with the result that Mr. William Richard Wade was sent out as superintendent of the press and Mr. Colenso as the printer. Mr. Wade, however, never took any active duty of the kind, so that the whole work from the first devolved upon his companion. Mr. Wade was appointed to ordinary missionary duties instead, and these he discharged until 1842, when he retired from the mission, chiefly on account of his views on baptism. He then went to Hobart, where for years he remained minister of the Independent Church. He wrote an interesting little book entitled “A Journey in the Northern Island of New Zealand,” which was published at Hobart in 1842. But it is with Mr. Colenso we have to deal. The 3rd January was a day of immense rejoicing, amongst the natives especially, who shouted and danced upon the sandy beach as the pukapuka was safely landed. This was no easy operation, as the press and type were very heavy, and there were no facilities in the way of boats or jetty. However, the difficulty was overcome by lashing together two canoes, upon which the precious burden was placed, and dragging them ashore.
All sorts of difficulties beset the zealous printer, of which he gives an interesting account in his “Fifty Years Ago.” Many necessary articles were wanting, and the printing-paper had been actually forgotten. Fortunately, a small supply was found in the store-room at Kerikeri, doubtless some that had escaped the experiments of Mr. Yate and his “devil,” and the missionaries contributed a little of their writing-paper. Amidst these difficulties it was not until the 17th February that the first printing was begun, the little office being then crowded with spectators to witness the remarkable performance. The famous first book was the Epistles to the Ephesians and to the Philippians. It is a small 8vo of sixteen pages, in double columns. Twenty-five copies were first printed as presents to the mission folk—the ladies bound them in pink blotting-paper—and afterwards 2,000 were printed for general distribution amongst the natives. In December following, and uniform with the Epistles, the Gospel of St. Luke was printed, in sixty-seven pages, and the three were bound together. Of this 1,000 were printed during 1835. Mr. Colenso's hands were now quite full. With great ingenuity he constructed from very simple materials those necessary adjuncts to his press which, in such an unaccountable
and careless manner, had been left behind in England. His first assistants were two or three natives, who, though at first highly honoured and delighted with their new occupation, speedily became tired of it and deserted, leaving Mr. Colenso to work alone. He, however, succeeded in getting from time to time a much better stamp of assistant, though from a very unlikely quarter—from the crews of American whalers which visited the bay to “refresh”—that is, to take in stores and water, and generally to enjoy such pleasures and excitement as Kororareka afforded. Amongst them was an occasional pressman who had turned whaler, and was but too glad to take a turn on shore and escape for a time the dangers of his wild life. Imagine these wild rough men as co-labourers in the gentle work of issuing the Gospels.
Not to interrupt the tenor of this narrative by a recital of other press operations, which will presently be considered, I shall continue the story of the Maori Scriptures to their final completion. The work of translating the entire New Testament was the one from which Mr. William Williams never stayed his hand, and in this his chief helpers were Messrs. Shepherd and Puckey, who have already been referred to as excellent Maori linguists, Mr. Puckey, who came as a youth to New Zealand, being especially reckoned by the natives as the best speaker of their language. For six years they had been engaged upon it—ever since 1829, indeed—and in July, 1836, they were enabled to commit it to the new press. On the 30th December, 1837, the work was complete, and was indeed worthy of all who had been engaged in its preparation. In Colenso's short journal, which has been found since his recent death, occurs this entry: “1837, Dec. 30.—Finished printing New Testament—5,000 copies. Glory be to God alone!” It is a large 8vo, in double columns, of 356 pages, and was bound very strongly, if not elegantly, mostly by the indefatigable printer himself. With great consideration and in a spirit of excellent brotherhood 1,000 copies were issued to the Wesleyan Mission, whose seat of operations was at Hokianga, on the west coast. A quantity of strong brown paper was forwarded at the same time, doubtless for wrappers, for in those early days most of the publications were sewn or bound in paper of this description. This New Testament is conspicuously the chief contribution to our first literature, and it is again singular that out of so large an issue so very few are extant, so few as to be absolutely rare. But the conditions of life sixty or seventy years ago did not conduce to the preservation of anything literary. The desire of the natives for the wonderful pukapuka—and it was great—was much of the same kind as that of the child for a new
toy, and its fate was too often the same. On their journeyings it was dragged about as a valuable piece of personal property, with the inevitable result. Later on it was found that they were suitable for conversion into gun-wads and cartridge-paper, a sad application of the power of the Word.
It was impossible that the small New Zealand press and its one printer could supply the demand of the natives for the Testament. Accordingly the British and Foreign Bible Society speedily stepped to the front, accepting those duties which it views as peculiarly its own. In 1841 it accordingly sent out to New Zealand no less than 20,000 reprints, which were divided between the Church and the Wesleyan Societies; in 1842 a further 20,000 copies were forwarded; and again a similar number in 1844. This noble society circulated no less than 120,000 copies of various portions of the Scriptures in the Maori tongue by the year 1861, at a cost to itself of £6,000. An amusing specimen of pidgin-Maori occurs at the foot of the title-page of the earliest copies, where “Printed by the British and Foreign Bible Society” is rendered “Beritihi mo te Poreni Paipera Hohaiete.”
So far but little had been accomplished with regard to the Old Testament. Now the time and the man came, when, in the latter part of 1835, the Rev. Robert Maunsell joined the mission. He was a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, and was specially fitted by education and his classical tastes to undertake the work of this translation. His headquarters were at the Waikato, where he remained for thirty years amongst his favourite Maoris. Afterwards he came to Auckland, where, for the succeeding twenty years, he held the incumbency of St. Mary's. He died in 1894 in his eighty-fourth year. He was one of Bishop Selwyn's first archdeacons, whilst Trinity College, his Alma Mater, conferred upon him the honorary degree of LL.D. in recognition of the ability he had displayed as chief translator of the Old Testament. To him I am indebted for much valuable information connected with early history. He was, it is needless to say, an accomplished Maori and Hebrew scholar, thoroughly conversant with the use of those particles and enclitics on which refined Maori so much depends. In 1842 he published a grammar of the language, which was dedicated to Captain Hobson, our first Governor. He acquired the language whilst travelling about with his Maori companions, and to insure perfection he stipulated that whoever detected him in a blunder should receive a piece of tobacco for reward. It might seem that this was rather an expensive way of learning; but not so, said the Archdeacon, for he would raise a dispute on the point, which was entered into with great zest by the natives, sure to be of great value, and was well worth an inch of tobacco. It
would be tiresome here to specify minutely the work done and the order in which it was done.
Whilst Mr. Maunsell was undoubtedly the chief translator and reviser of the Old Testament, it would be as incorrect as unjust to omit reference to others who took a large share and interest in the work. The parts as they appeared, even a few chapters, underwent constant criticism and revision. A new revising committee was formed, of which Archdeacon Williams was chairman, his brother William and Messrs. Maunsell, Hamlin, and Puckey being the chief translators. As time passed on additions or alterations in this staff were made. Two Wesleyan missionaries, the Revs. John Hobbs and Thomas Buddle, were added to it; Mrs. Colenso, the daughter of Mr. William Fairburn, and an admirable speaker, was another. Mr. Colenso himself did some translation also, with Mr. Kissling and Mr. Maunsell's son George. The name of Leonard Williams, the present Bishop of Waiapu, author of many Maori works, must by no means be forgotten. The missionaries were supplied with what were called “probationary copies”—that is, interleaved copies of all new translations—which were strongly bound in canvas and suited for the pocket. In these they were expected to make their notes, and to return the whole within twelve months to the final judges, the Messrs. Williams and Mr. Maunsell.
Such is an example of the extraordinary care taken in the perfecting of this great work. I exhibit a few of these earliest translations as they proceeded from Mr. Colenso's press—all small 8vo, and all jacketed in brown-or drab-paper binding. The translations began in 1839, and as they sufficiently accumulated they were bound in rough canvassed boards and distributed. Three of these bound accumulations made up the complete Bible from Genesis to Malachi—rare to meet with, like their predecessors. Again, and with its wonted generosity, the British and Foreign Bible Society reprinted the three instalments as they appeared, which was at long intervals, and sent thousands of copies out from London. The first of these reprinted instalments, or volumes, appeared in 1848. It is an 8vo, of 343 pages, containing the first six books—Genesis to Joshua. The second volume appeared in 1855, and contained the following twelve books—Judges to the Psalms, paged from 345 to 817. In both these the old pidgin imprint has disappeared, and is replaced by “Na te Komiti ta Paipera” (the Bible-printing Committee), which is an improvement. The third and last volume was issued in 1858, and contains the last twenty books—Proverbs to Malachi, 377 pages. Here the imprint is a judicious mixture of the two languages: “I taia
tenei Pukapuka mo te Bible Society” (the book printed by the Bible Society).
In 1868 appeared the first issue of the complete and perfect Bible—Old and New Testaments—a handsome, portly volume of 1,199 pages. It varies but little from the translation of the three preceding component volumes. Whilst going through the press at Ranana, or London, it was carefully supervised by competent persons who happened to be visiting the Home-country—the Rev. George Maunsell (a son of the Archdeacon), Mrs. Colenso, the Rev. W. Mellor, the Rev. W. Williams, and Bishop Selwyn.
A sad calamity befel Mr. Maunsell in 1843, when, owing to some carelessness, his house took fire, and in an hour was burnt to the ground. He lost everything, including his valuable books, the manuscript of a dictionary he was compiling, and many of his biblical translations. But with undaunted spirit he immediately commenced the work of years afresh, whilst his sympathetic friends subscribed £200 to re-place his important critical library.
The barest reference only can be made here to the other religious books which were issued from Mr. Colenso's missionary press at Paihia. Amongst them were catechisms, portions of the Prayer-book, various pious addresses, tracts, and a little primer of twenty-three pages for Maori pupils. Of this latter no less than twenty thousand were issued between 1839 and 1842. It may here be stated that for some time I have been engaged in collecting and cataloguing not only these, but all publications whatsoever in the Maori language of which I have any acquaintance. But there were a few issues of quite a different character, which are of historical interest, to which further reference should be made. The first is the so-called “Declaration of Independence,” which was signed in October, 1835, at the Bay of Islands by thirty-five chiefs. The occasion was that for some time rumours prevailed that France proposed annexing the Islands of New Zealand. Circumstance was given to these when the Baron Charles de Thierry formally declared himself Sovereign Chief of New Zealand, and that it was his intention to assume an authority, which would be maintained by the force of an armed vessel. Full details of this incident in our history I laid before this Institute some years ago. Mr. Busby, the British Resident, at once took steps to thwart these pretentions, and this “Declaration” was the outcome. It declared that all sovereign power and authority vested in the chiefs and heads of tribes themselves, who proposed meeting in congress once a year to frame suitable regulations for the purpose of justice, peace, and trade. A copy of this document was sent to King William recognising the good feeling between the
two countries, and entreating him to become the Protector of the alliance. These are the principal features of the document, a copy of which I now show, printed by Mr. Colenso.
In February, 1840, began British government in New Zealand under Governor Hobson. The success of the effort to establish a treaty between the two races hung tremulously in the balance. It was opposed not only by the Roman Catholic priests, who had landed in the country two years before, but also by the Americans, and less openly by some of our own nationality. Four hundred copies of this “Treaty of Waitangi,” as it is called, were printed and distributed amongst the natives, and here is a specimen.
From this time onwards and for a few months occasional Government notices and Proclamations were printed at the missionary press. In the latter part of June, 1840, the New Zealand Advertiser and Bay of Islands Gazette commenced publication at Kororareka, or, as it is now called, “Russell.” It was violently opposed to the Government, and attacked the officials with a libellous vigour. In point of time it was the second newspaper issued in New Zealand, and the first to appear in the extreme north, which was then a stirring, busy place, the seat of the infant Government and the expected site of the future capital. It was perhaps with a view of giving a sop to Cerberus that the few official notifications were advertised in its columns. But matters went from bad to worse, and Cerberus not only refused to be appeased, but declined at last to advertise anything of Her Majesty's, a course that to-day no opposition paper, however virulent, would sacrifice its pocket to follow. Recourse was then had to the missionary press, which in December issued a Gazette Extraordinary, No. 1. This was almost the last official work it performed.
Though digressing, it will be interesting to complete this feature of a story. The Government took speedy and effective measures with the offending newspaper. It suspended it from publication by applying to it the provisions of a New South Wales Act which made short work with troublesome editors, who, if not beheaded, were at least suspended, and that usually meant extinction. The Government then proceeded to issue weekly its own Official Gazette, and, to complete reprisals, in addition to its own advertisements admitted those from the outside public, and gave shipping and general news. Thus it happens that in a New Zealand Government Gazette, published by authority, a notice appears that “a few gentlemen can be accommodated with board and lodging, or board only, by applying to Mr. O'Neill, next door to the Russell Hotel, Kororareka.” Spiced beef is also offered for sale, and there is a raffle at £4 tickets. It is necessary to add that
the infant newspaper died within a year of its birth. It will be noticed what a contrast there is between the excellent paper and good workmanship of Mr. Colenso's No. 1 and the rotten rags and poor execution of Her Majesty's printer. Seventeen such numbers appeared, and when the Government became fairly settled in the new capital of Auckland it issued, on the 7th July, 1841, the first number of that Gazette which has continued uninterruptedly to the present day.
And now for the closing history of this celebrated press. In 1843 Mr. Colenso ceased his connection with it and went to Waimate, preparatory to his being ordained deacon by Bishop Selwyn in 1844. A person named Telford was sent from England to take charge of it, but little more seems to have issued from it, at Paihia at least. I am much inclined to think that when the Bishop took up his permanent residence at Auckland the press went with him, though of this there seems no certainty. Mr. R. Coupland Harding, a well-known pressman at Wellington, who takes great interest in all details connected with his business, thinks that it was broken up in Auckland for old metal.
A word or two must be said in respect to the literature proceeding from the other two presses that were in existence before the advent of our British Government—the Wesleyan and the Roman Catholic. I do not think that much issued from either of them. The Wesleyans received their press in 1836, and printed, after the manner of their Church brethren, a few of the biblical books, catechism, tracts, pamphlets, and some hymns. The Roman Catholics, in the person of Bishop Pompallier, arrived at Hokianga in January, 1838. He was reinforced within a year with six assistants and a press, and he then moved his quarters to Kororareka, which he made the head of his whole apostolic vicariate extending throughout Oceania. The first prints of his press contained an abridged doctrine of the Roman Catholic faith, morning and evening prayers, and a method for learning reading; then followed the inevitable catechism, and a long pastoral letter refuting the errors of Protestantism. This latter was evidently considered a highly necessary publication, for the attitude of the two rival Churches was of the most bitter and controversial character. This press was sold amongst the early fifties to the New-Zealander newspaper, where the peculiar form of portions of its type, which is French, may be seen. Indeed, as might be generally expected, with the increased facilities for printing which followed in the wake of British government, the private presses were routed, and their work was done more effectually by those which drove them from the field.
Having thus said farewell to these faithful servants, regretfully because their remains are nowhere preserved for our veneration, we pass on to the next era, marked by the year 1840. It will preserve the order of this recital if, for the present, our first English literature—newspapers, pamphlets, &c. —remains unnoticed, and place be still given to the Maori, which becomes of increasing interest. No sooner had Captain Hobson established himself in Auckland than steps were taken to carry on that system of native instruction which the missionaries had always viewed as a prime duty. The facilities for doing this were considerably greater, and those who took an active interest in the work much more numerous. The list of these, from first to last, is a very long one, and it redounds to our credit as colonists of Great Britain that the performance of this great duty was never neglected, and that every effort was made to carry on that civilisation which Samuel Marsden began in simple homely method. No humane person can view but with deep regret the gradual disappearance of the noble people who first owned these lands, and the question has often struck the writer whether we, as their keeper, exercise at the present day as much interest in their welfare as was the case thirty years ago. Four years since I rode from East Cape to Gisborne, a distance of a hundred miles, passing through magnificent country, nearly all being native lands. It was painful to see the half-ruined kaingas, the trifling cultivation, barely sufficient for need, the squalid, idle appearance of the natives, and the general air of desolation. Coming from the south, with its rich farms and cultivations, the whole of this district seemed desolate and depressing. The valuable asset of these rich lands was certainly theirs, nor could they starve upon it, or fritter it away by a sale in which the Government had no voice. Still, these questions force themselves upon us: Cannot these people be saved from themselves, and stimulated by proper measures to practise the simple virtues of cleanliness, activity, and industry? To compass this would be a statesmanlike policy, and it might be effected by selling these lands, or a sufficient portion, and disbursing the proceeds in raising the unfortunate owners from the depth of sloth and ignorance in which they are sunk. Until some measures of the sort are taken it must appear that we are not now doing our duty. War is over, and can no longer destroy or disturb our best efforts. Amongst those former lovers of the race—men who gloried in the name of “philo-Maori”—may be mentioned Sir William Martin, the first Chief Justice, and his wife, Bishop Selwyn, William Swainson (the Attorney-General), Dr. Shortland, Mr. Mantell, and Sir George Grey. This is but a fraction of the number, but it contains the
names of men pre-eminently champions of the race at a time. when it had but few friends.
On New Year's Day of 1842 the first number of the Karere o Niu Tireni, or New Zealand Messenger, made its appearance. It was of foolscap-folio size, usually of four pages, published monthly, and diffused amongst the natives much varied and interesting information. It also contained occasional addresses and letters from the Governor of a conciliatory and judicious kind. It ceased publication, after an issue of forty-seven numbers, towards the close of 1845, in consequence of the disturbed state of the natives and the outbreak of the war in the north, but reappeared as a demy folio—the same size as the New-Zealander newspaper, at which office it was printed and published—in January, 1849. In other respects it was considerably altered: its title was the Maori Messenger, or Karere Maori, and it was to all intents as much a newspaper as the New-Zealander itself. But its great feature, and the one that makes it so valuable to us at this day, is that every alternate column consisted of an English translation of the Maori text. It was issued fortnightly until the end of 1854, and then, in January, 1855, it entered upon its third and last stage of existence as a small 4to in a bright wrapper, presenting somewhat the appearance of a magazine. It usually made its appearance fortnightly, and varied in size from eight to even seventy-nine pages, and is full of a section of history to be gained nowhere else. This valuable periodical gradually curtailed its pages, and closed its existence in September of 1863, after a life of nearly twenty years. It was always well edited, such men as Dr. Shortland, David Burn, C. O. Davis, and Walter Buller conducting it. Its influence upon the Maori race was great and good, and, though since that date a periodical of some kind has never been wanting, none has thoroughly supplied its place or been conducted on the same lines.
Throughout this comparatively long period of twenty years no efforts were wanting to elevate the Maori from his previous state of barbarism by means of the wide diffusion of literature. Time will not permit more than the barest reference to this; indeed, the subject is one so extensive and so interesting as to merit an additional chapter, which must some day be laid before you. To make this bare reference I must avoid all narrative of the numberless religious publications which the increased facilities for printing brought forth. Points of interest attach to many of these. Lady Martin, for instance, was an indefatigable bookbinder, her implements being merely thread and needle strong brown paper, and a pair of scissors. Piles of these publications owe to her deft
fingers and unwearied work their neat appearance and preservation; and it should be noted that some of the school-books were prepared by her for publication. To Governor Grey is due the chief credit of instituting these efforts. Part of his native policy was to publish interesting books in the Maori language, the chief of which were undoubtedly “Robinson Crusoe,” John Bunyan's “Pilgrim's Progress,” or, as the translation calls them, “Ropitini Kuruho” and “Hoani Paniana.” These were translated by Henry Tacy Kemp, who was Native Secretary and Interpreter, and a special feature of them is that they contain illustrations—so far as I can recollect, the first ever done in New-Zealand. These were executed by Dr. Thomas Shearman Ralph, who practised at Wellington between the forties and fifties, and who was, moreover, the secretary of the New Zealand Society, founded in 1851, the precursor of our New Zealand Institute. They were published respectively in 1852 and 1854, and as both stories were exactly suited to native taste they were in high favour, until the inevitable Killjoy made it known that they were allegories, and then all interest ceased. Hence, no more books of the kind were issued.
As something that still appealed to taste, and was much more practical, an interesting little treatise on the “History and Cultivation of Tobacco, or Tupeka,” appeared, which gave such a spur to native industry that no kainga was to be found without its tobacco cultivation. In connection with this it may be mentioned how brutal a trick was played upon some natives in the Thames district just before the days of colonisation. A departing captain exchanged with them for some pigs and potatoes a packet of tobacco-seed, which they planted and carefully tended. It developed into a crop of docks, which overran the country. No wonder that base conduct of the sort was speedily followed by that Maori law of retaliation known as utu.
Other practical works appeared on the value of money and the use of savings-banks, some descriptive of the beneficent laws under which the English had flourished for so many generations, and some relating to the care of health and avoidance of disease. At one time there was some fear that the scourge of small-pox would find an entry to the country. Immediately a booklet was spread broadcast giving an account of the disease and the best mode of avoidance. As is so often the case in introducing new terms and new ideas, there was great difficulty in labelling the disease with a suitable Maori name; but at length, referring to one of its peculiar features, it was called “i mate koroputaputa” (the sickness with holes, or pits, in the ground). One of ourselves taking up this pamphlet would be hopelessly puzzled with its title-page.
Hundreds of such useful little pamphlets were printed upon a press of which so far no mention has been made—that brought out by Bishop Selwyn in 1842, and known as “the Bishop's, or the College, press” (te Perehi a te Pihopa, or a Kareti). This small press issued its publications for many years, and was longer independent of outside competition than the other clerical ones, the fact being that when the Bishop founded his College of St. John, which was a few miles out of Auckland, he was possessed with great ideas of the future, and so laid its foundations upon those of his own Eton. In early days he lived there, wishing to make it the centre of all Church work. But gradually as time progressed he saw good reason to modify his views, and one work after another had to be given up. The Maoris were provided for at St. Stephen's, Parnell, and the Melanesians removed to Norfolk Island. The hospital was a disastrous experiment, and the farming soon a failure. But in its heyday there were students, scholars, bursars, and lay associates, who, in addition to their school duties, divided the charge of the whole College appanage—farm, dairy, buttery, bakehouse, kitchen, apiary, hospital, press, and bookbinding, amongst others. Thus the departments, if not self-supporting, were worked at a minimum expenditure, and thus the press was well able to hold its own. Its fate is not quite certain. Mr. Harding, in a letter to me, thinks it belongs to himself, but is not quite certain. After purchase he leased it to a printer, who became bankrupt, and it passed into other hands. To recover it would cost more than its value, but Mr. Harding keeps a strict eye upon it, and hopes to see it some day safely in some nook of the Colonial Museum. The Rev. William Charles Cotton, who came out with Bishop Selwyn as one of his chaplains, was a great bee-master, and it was he who gave to the Maoris, through his College press, the little treatise on the bee—“Ko nga pi.”
Some conception can now be formed how faithful and extensive have been the earliest efforts to impart a varied knowledge to those interesting people whose heritage has almost disappeared from them. The proof of those efforts, extending over a period of forty years, forms the earliest literature of this country, and reflects honour on those who were its authors. A little of this interesting portion of our history I have shown you this evening, and must promise to return to it shortly.