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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District]


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For a good many years before any attempt at settlement was made in the other parts of New Zealand, the northern portion of the Auckland province, though not then known by that name, was steadily growing into importance. Whalers, mostly Americans, found the Bay of Islands convenient as a whaling station, and the missionaries—Episcopalians, Wesleyans, and Catholics—all decided that the northern extremity of New Zealand was preferable to all other parts as a basis of operations.

As early as 1814 the agents of the Church Mission Society selected the Bay of Islands for their headquarters, and in 1823, the first Wesleyan mission station was located at Whangaroa. The Roman Catholic missionaries chose Hokianga, and settled there in 1838, Bishop Pompallier arriving on the 10th of January in that year.

Commerce, never slow to follow in the wake of the missionaries, soon added a third agency in the preparation for systematic settlement. Traders brought rum, tobacco, muskets and gewgaws, taking away mats, flax, spars, preserved human heads—sometimes chosen during the life of the victims—greenstone, and
Junction of Waipa and Waikato Rivers At Ngaruawahia.

Junction of Waipa and Waikato Rivers At Ngaruawahia.

page 18 other curios, and such produce as it was in the power of the natives to supply. That the good work of the missionaries was seriously retarded and injured by the bad influence of the whalers and traders was but too painfully apparent. Yet, notwithstanding the very poor specimens of civilised humanity, which, through whaling and trading, came too frequently in contact with the natives of this country, the missionaries, aided by their own nobility of character, were instrumental in imbuing the Maori mind with an exalted conception of the virtues of the British nation. The protection afforded to the British Resident, and the cordial welcome extended to Captain Hobson, must for all time be credited to the brave bands of missionaries, who, with so much characteristic earnestness, and, up to that point, with such encouraging results, endeavoured to christianise the Maoris.

Thus colonisation really began at the North, though little remains to-day in the appearance of the country to support the assertion. How and why Governor Hobson selected the present site of the City of Auckland for the seat of Government and subsequent capital of the country, is all shortly but interestingly told in the early pages of Volume 1, and is alluded to further on in the section devoted to “Old Auckland.”