| Our Island Story|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|A child's history of England from earliest legendary times delightfully retold. Beginning with the stories of Albion and Brutus, it relates all the interesting legends and hero tales in which the history of England abounds through the end of the reign of Queen Victoria. Ages 9-12 |
VICTORIA—FROM CANNIBAL TO CHRISTIAN
 IN 1769 A.D., Captain Cook landed in North Island, New
Zealand. He cut the name of his ship upon a tree, planted
the British flag, and claimed the land in the name of King
George III. Then he sailed all round the island, proving to
himself and his officers that it was indeed an island. In
January of the following year, he landed in South Island,
again hoisted the Union Jack, and again claimed the land,
and all the lands near in the name of King George.
For many years no white people settled in New Zealand, for
it was peopled by a wild and warlike race of savages called
Maoris. These Maoris were cannibals, that is, people who eat
human beings. After a battle, those who were killed would be
roasted and eaten by the victors. The Maoris fought among
themselves, and they fought with the white traders who came
from time to time to their shores. Yet although they were
cannibals, the Maoris were not nearly such a low kind of
savage as the Australian, and a missionary called Marsden,
hearing about these islands and their people, made up his
mind to teach them to be Christian.
Mr. Marsden was working among the convicts in Australia, and
one day he set sail from there, and landed in New Zealand.
For the price of twelve axes, he bought
 two hundred acres of
land from one of the Maori chiefs, and there he founded a
missionary settlement. Mr. Marsden himself could not stay,
for his work was in Australia, but he left two men behind
him who taught the natives, and he often came back to the
islands and was greatly loved by the Maoris.
For many years Britain did not acknowledge New Zealand as a
colony. Dreadful deeds were done there, but when the British
Government was asked to put a stop to them, the answer was
that the islands were not within His Majesty's dominions.
Yet at other times the Government acted as if the islands
were part of the Empire.
It was only very gradually that white people went to live in
New Zealand. The first colonists who came did not stay long,
for the dreadful customs of the savage Maoris frightened
them away again. That was not to be wondered at, for, in
spite of all the missionaries could do, many of the Maoris
When Queen Victoria came to the throne there were only about
two thousand white people in all the islands. But, as many
of these were British, it was felt at last that it was the
duty of the British to do something to protect their
colonists against the Maoris, and also to protect the Maoris
from being cheated and ill-treated by bad white people, who
went there to steal the land from the native chiefs.
So a governor was sent out from Britain who was told to make
a treaty with these native chiefs. This treaty was signed at
a place called Waitangi, in North Island.
The Governor, with all the principal white people, sat upon
a platform which had been set up in an open space near the
town. Round them sat the Maori chiefs,
 and behind them stood
all the rest of the white people. Beyond gleamed the white
of the British tents, gay with flags, which showed brightly
against the background of waving green trees.
When all were gathered, the Governor spoke to the people,
and, as he could not speak the Maori language, one of the
missionaries translated his words to them. He told them how
the great White Queen in an island far away was anxious that
they should be happy and at peace. And because so many of
the great White Queen's own subjects had come to live in
these islands of New Zealand, she felt that she must send a
governor to rule them and to see justice done between them
and the Maoris. The great White Queen asked the Maori chiefs
to acknowledge her as over-lord, promising that if they did
so she would protect them, their families, their people, and
their goods, as she protected all her other subjects and
Then the Maori chiefs spoke. Some of them did not want to
sign the treaty. "Send the man away," said one, springing up
and pointing to the Governor, "do not sign the paper. If you
do you will become slaves, you will be made to break stones
upon the roads. Your lands will be taken away from you, and
you will no longer be chiefs."
Another chief then rose. He spoke so calmly and so well,
that all the white people were quite astonished. "You will
be our father," he said turning to the Governor, "you must
not allow us to become slaves. You will keep all our old
customs, you will not let our land be taken from us."
This chief was a very great man, very mighty in battle, so
the others listened to him, and, after more talking, it was
agreed that they should think about it
 for a day, before
signing the treaty. Then with cheers from both the natives
and the white people, the meeting was ended.
Next day, with firing of guns and great ceremony, the treaty
was signed. The great chief who had spoken in favour of the
treaty signed his name as the missionaries had taught him to
do, but the others made marks like the marks called
tattooing with which their bodies were covered.
A few months later the chiefs of South Island also signed
the treaty, and the Union Jack was hoisted amid the thunder
of guns and the cheers of the people. So New Zealand became
an acknowledged British colony, nearly one hundred years
after it was discovered and claimed by Cook.
Many years have passed since the signing of this treaty,
and many things have happened of which I cannot tell you
here. New Zealand has become an important part of the
British Empire. Instead of two thousand white people there
are now about seven hundred thousand in the islands. It
is a self-governing colony and, like Australia, has a
Parliament of its own, and in New Zealand the women help to
choose the members for Parliament, just as the men do.
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