| Our Empire Story|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|Vivid and picturesque account of the principal events in the building of the British Empire. Traces the development of the British colonies from days of discovery and exploration through settlement and establishment of government. Includes stories of the five chief portions of the Empire: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and India. Ages 10-16 |
HONGI THE WARRIOR
 MR. MARSDEN could not stay long in New Zealand, for his
work was in Australia. But there came with him two
missionaries, and they stayed when he left. One of
these missionaries taught the Maoris how to build
houses and boats; the other taught how to make
fishing-lines and other useful things. For Marsden did
believe in teaching the savages only to be Christian.
He thought it best to teach them first how to live
decent and comfortable lives, and how to trade. "You
cannot form a nation without trade and the civil arts,"
Before he left New Zealand Marsden bought about two
hundred acres of land, paying twelve axes for it to the
chief to whom it belonged. Upon this the missionaries
built their houses and schools, and this was the first
piece of land really possessed by the British in New
Zealand, and their title to it was duly set down in
writing. "Know all men to whom these shall come, that
I, Anodee O Gunna, King of Ranghechoo, in the Island of
New Zealand, have, for twelve axes to me in hand now
paid and delivered by the Reverend Samuel Marsden,
given, granted, bargained, and sold, all that parcel of
land in the district of Hoshee, in the Island of New
Zealand, for ever."
This writing was signed by two Englishmen, and as Gunna
could not write, Hongi drew a copy of
 the tattooing on
his face upon the parchment, and Gunna set his mark to
it. Thus the white man first set his hand upon the
This bargain being settled, Marsden returned to
Australia. He was gladly received by his friends there,
for they had hardly hoped to see him return alive from
the dreaded cannibal islands.
Although Samuel Marsden was a clergyman and wanted to
make the Maoris Christian, he thought the best way of
doing that was to teach them how to live better lives,
how to plant wheat, build houses, and live in peace
with their neighbours. "Hoes, spades and axes," he
said, "are silent but sure missionaries."
So he encouraged them to trade. But one thing he would
not sell to the Maoris. That thing was firearms. He
sent a blacksmith to live among the heathen and teach
them his trade. But he was forbidden to make or mend
any weapon. No missionary was allowed to sell guns, and
when Marsden discovered that one had disobeyed his
orders he was sent away in disgrace.
But Hongi, although he had made peace at Marsden's
bidding, was a fierce, proud warrior. He lived for
revenge, and loved power. "There is but one king in
Britain," he said, "and there shall be but one in New
Zealand." He resolved that he should be that king. But
before he began his conquests he paid a visit to
In England Hongi was feted and made much of. For it was
almost as good as going to a wild beast show to dine
with a cannibal chief. He became a "lion" and went from
one fine house to another, being everywhere loaded with
presents. Hongi saw many wonderful things, but he liked
best to watch the soldiers and to wander among the arms
and armour in the Tower.
Hongi went one day to see the king, and he, knowing
love for soldiers, gave him a suit of old armour. Of
all the presents he received, Hongi prized his suit of
At last, his mind filled with all the splendours he had
seen, Hongi sailed homeward. On his way he stopped ay
Sydney, and there he sold all his fine presents, except
only his armour. With the money he bought guns and
ammunition, and once more set out for New Zealand.
Then Hongi began his career of conquest. None now could
stand against him. Battle after battle was fought.
Wooden spears went down before his thunder of guns, and
after the battles the victors rejoiced in horrid
revelry upon the bodies of their foes.
Thousands were slain, hundreds more men, women, and
children were led captives as slaves. From end to end,
North Island was filled with wrath and tears. Hongi
stalked in conquering pride, glorying in the numbers he
had killed and eaten.
The missionaries were in despair. All the good they had
done, all Marsden's peacemaking, seemed to have been in
vain. For six years the country was filled with
slaughter and woe, and the beautiful fernland was
turned into a desert, where men wandered seeking
revenge and blood.
But at last Hongi's career of war and triumph came to
an end. Other tribes saw that their only safety lay in
getting guns to fight guns. And guns they got. And so
the slaughter was made worse, until at length Hongi was
wounded and died. He died a warrior, "Kia toa, kia
toa," he said, "be brave, be brave."
Hongi lived and died in the shedding of blood, yet he
never harmed the missionaries. They were doers of good,
he said. He was Marsden's friend, and he sent his
children to the missionary schools, but he himself
never became a Christian.
 After Hongi's death the missionaries once more became
peacemakers, and they persuaded the lawless tribes to
lay down their weapons. But it was uphill work, for
bad, white men were constantly undoing the good which
the missionaries did. So battles, and murders, and
horrid cannibal feasts went on.
Sometimes, too, without meaning it, white men made the
Maoris angry. It was, for instance, a great crime to
touch anything which, for some reason or another, had
been declared to be "tapu," that is sacred. White
people did not understand the rules of tapu, and often
in sheer ignorance they broke them. According to Maori
law this was a sin which could only be wiped out by
blood, so, often for seemingly harmless deeds, white
men were horribly murdered.
Yet in spite of all dangers, in spite of the dark tales
of horror, some settlers were at length lured to the
shores. For the land was wonderfully fertile, and
people hoped to make great fortunes. So a shipload of
colonists arrived, determined to make their homes in
But just at this time the islanders were at war with
each other, and soon after they landed the colonists
saw a war dance. It was night time. Fires and flaring
torches lit up the dusky forms of five or six hundred
warriors, who stood in four long rows, swaying and
stamping in time to the chant of their leader. With
waving arms and rolling eyes they joined in chorus.
Thrusting out their tongues, grinning horribly, in the
flickering light they seemed like dancing demons. Now
uttering loud yells, now hissing like a thousand
serpents, now crashing their weapons together, they
danced on. Bending, swaying, hissing, yelling, they
went through all the actions of war, in fancy killing
and eating their enemies. The sight was too much for
the new-come colonists. Filled with
 horror and dread,
they fled from the land as quickly as possible.
Yet in spite of all their wild savagery Marsden loved
the Maoris. He returned again and again to visit them.
Him they always greeted with joy; him they were always
ready to obey. When for the last time he came among
them he was an old white-haired man, unable to ride or
walk far. But, glad to serve him, the Maoris carried
him about in a litter, and when he spoke of trying to
ride they were quite hurt. Soon after his last visit to
New Zealand Marsden died, regretted and mourned by all
who knew him, but by none so much as by the Maoris, who
had lost in him a good friend.
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