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The New Zealand Evangelist

The Chatham Islands.—German Mission.—

The Chatham Islands.—German Mission.—

The Chatham Islands lie in 43° S. lat. and in 177° W. long. They are nearly due east from Bank's Peninsula, and are about the same distance from Wellington as Otago is. There is one large island, and several smaller ones around, some two of which are inhabited. The number of natives is about 500; one half of them aborigines; the other half natives of this island, who a number of years ago proceeded thither, attacked and conquered the original inhabitants, and reduced the remains of them to a sort of modified slavery, in which they still hold them. The New Zealanders or Maories call the aborigines of the Chatham Islands Paraiwhara, or “Black-fellows,” a slang term they have learned from the whalers, who had previously applied it to them. We are rather surprised that Bishop Selwyn could not discover the meaning of this word, as he states in his last published journal. There are a few white settlers on these islands. The natives cultivate potatoes, wheat, and other productions; keep pigs, and are obtaining cattle from the settlers; but their distance from any regular market, and their little intercourse with the colonists, damps their activity in producing exports.

The Gosner Missionary Society of Berlin has had a settlement in the Chatham Islands for the last page 318 seven years. This Society takes its name from the Rev. Dr. Gosner, an eminent Evangelical Minister of Berlin, who has been the principal originator and conductor of this Association. It has sent forth about 60 or 70 Missionaries to India, Africa, the West Indies, Australia, the South Seas, and the Chatham Islands. The Mission in the Chatham Islands consists of the Rev. F. F. A. Schirrmeister, and four lay assistants. The assistants are all mechanics, and they support themselves principally by their own exertions. The whole of them live in one establishment. Three of the brethren are married. As the most of the natives belong either to the Church of England or the Wesleyan Missions, the Germans endeavour to promote their improvement, not so much by preaching to them or by teaching them, as by exhibiting before them a well regulated Christian establishment; and so far as they come in contact, training them to Christian practice. Their mechanical operations have greatly benefitted the natives. They have erected a wind-mill for grinding wheat, and are anxious to have a small vessel built with which to carry on a trade with the different adjoining settlements in New Zealand. They met with so much opposition from the natives for a long time, that they proposed to leave these islands and to proceed somewhere else; but as the natives have become more favourable towards them of late, they will most likely continue on the Chatham Islands, for the present at least. May the Lord protect, bless, and prosper them, and all similar disinterested benefactors of their race!

For practical convenience, we believe, they regulate their time by ours; but as we are in the 175° E. long., and they are in 177° W. long., on strict geographical principles, the Sabbath and other days with them should begin only a little more than half an hour before ours is ended. Our young readers will try to understand the reason of this.