« AnteriorContinuar »
RECOLLECTIONS OF NEW ZEALAND,
By a Staff Officer of the Indian Army.
(Continued from page 63.)
During my whole tour in New Zealand, I was very particular in noticing the work which had been executed by the natives who have been thus instructed in the arts. I visited the workshops at Paihia and Waimate when the natives were at work, and they seemed to handle our carpenters' tools with the same facility as European artificers; whilst the articles of household furniture, panel doors, sash windows, roofing materials, and agricultural implements, were certainly superior to the specimens of the same descriptions of work received from New South Wales, the production of English artificers. Tables, chairs, boxes, bedsteads, and other household furniture, are now made up entirely by the New Zealanders, and the plain joiner's work is inferior to none that I have seen elsewhere, whilst it was much better finished than the generality of what I saw in both of our Australian colonies. 350,000 feet of timber have been sawn by the Waimate natives for the Mission; 40,000 bricks were in like manner made and burnt in the last year. Some natives are learning the wheelwright trade; some are employed at the blacksmith's forge, making and repairing agricultural implements; whilst others are learning the management of horses, and are found to make excellent hands at the team. The dairies at each station likewise employ some, and a few fill the situation of domestic servants in the different families of the mission.
The importance of thus encouraging the acquirements of the arts of civilized life, and of introducing a taste for English manufactures, by infusing artificial wants among a savage people, so sunk in barbarism as the New Zealanders; and the power which is thus exerted in co-operation with Christian principles in the improvement of their mental and moral condition; and in thus raising man above the brute, placing him in his proper situation amongst his species here, and at the same time preparing him for a better world hereafter, appear not to have been lost sight of by the Church Missionary Society, or the excellent persons whom that Society has sent out to New Zealand. Accordingly we find them instituting an annual examination of their schools, at which the public are invited to attend; when prizes are awarded to the best specimens of artificer's work, and needlework, produced by the natives. The last annual examination was held at Paihia, in December 1832, when upwards of 800 natives, from various and remote districts in the island, are said to have attended as spectators; a convincing proof of the increasing interest which the subject of Christian instruction is now exciting in that country. On this occasion a field-gate was one of the articles of native workmanship produced, which received a prize; and, of a quantity of needlework which was thus exhibited, I was permitted to take away promiscuously a few articles, such as pinafores, frocks, &c. which by competent judges have been pronounced very superior to the generality of the like work performed by the inmates of our charitable institutions in England. The shirt-collars, &c. were certainly much neater than any I have ever seen made by the tailors
in India; and these, be it remembered, are the productions of grown-up women, many of whom, but three or four years ago, were barbarous savages, nay, brutal cannibals. So much then for the degree of credit which those statements deserve that would make us believe that the improvement of the natives in the arts is limited to what the dictates of self-interest may prompt, in furtherance of the present comfort and convenience of the members of the Mission.
Of all the departments of missionary labour in New Zealand, none appeared invested with so much interest as the public schools; for, unlike those which contemplate exclusively the benefit of the young, a steady and uniform attention to whom makes such large demands on the patience and perseverance of those under whom they are placed, we now behold our less favored fellow creatures voluntarily assembled for the purpose of mutual instruction-chiefs and subjects, old and young, bond and free, all classed according to proficiency and merit, without any reference whatever to former distinctions-friends and foes dropping long indulged animosities, and all bent on the one grand object of obtaining instruction. The only text books are the holy Scriptures and Liturgy of our Church, which they read, and from which they write by dictation; thus, so far as human means go, engrafting the morality of the gospel, and infusing its spirit and moral tendency into minds matured and anxious for their reception. Nor let all this be styled the picture of our hopes rather than of what is actually passing amongst this interesting people; for I have not indulged my fancy, but expressed my conviction from what I saw whilst sojourning amongst them.
I accompanied Mr. Clark, the morning after my ar rival at Waimate, to the usual Morning Prayers of the station, at a little after five o'clock. The people were all assembled, as usual, by ringing the bell, and the little church was nearly filled when we entered. We were not expected, and being a few minutes late, we found them engaged in singing the opening hymn of the service. Mr. Clark then offered up the general confession, and the whole congregation kneeling repeated it after him, sentence by sentence, with much apparent seriousness and devotion. After the morning prayer, the whole adjourned outside, when the male school was formed according to the system of mutual instruction by circulating classes, as adopted at Paihia. The classes commenced by writing on slates from dictation, and it was remarkable how few mistakes the upper classes made, which may be accounted for from the peculiar simplicity of their orthography. They have in the New Zealand language dispensed with several of our letters, retaining only these which admit of one simple sound, and the learner has consequently much less difficulty in catching the correct orthography of the language. The Roman characters are used, and the letters of the alphabet are as follows.
Vowels, A E I OU; Consonants, MN RW HK PT and NG, inaking only fourteen letters in all, including the compound one NG. The writing of many was most creditable, being a well formed, even, and legible hand, much superior to that of the generality of schoolboys in England. Indeed it seems to be the general opinion of the Missionaries, that the New Zealanders acquire a knowledge of reading and
writing much quicker than is generally done in England. Natives have been known to read fluently in the short space of three months during which they have attended these schools, when they have again repaired to their homes in the interior, taking with them a copy of the printed portions of the Scriptures and Liturgy; where their contents have been generally made known, and divine truth been thus far more extensively diffused than had its publication been restricted to the medium of the English, or any other foreign and unknown tongue, as advocated by some who have hazarded their opinions on this subject.
In the Waimate school, they at present have under instruction males and females 120, and there are three similar schools in the surrounding villages. The females here learn reading, writing, and needlework, as at the female school at Paihia; and the specimens which were shewn me were equally neat and creditable to both the scholars themselves, and their excellent instructors. The proficiency of the women in every branch of their instruction speaks volumes for the assiduity and attention that must have been bestowed upon them by the ladies of the Mission, as well at this station, as at the others in that country; and, considering how large a share these ladies have taken in the instruction of the natives, both in the female schools and when at home, their important labors in the mission, though unobtrusively performed, and perhaps but little noticed by the superficial observer, will not fail to obtain for them the highest meed of praise from every benevolent mind.
The Station of Waimate, coupled with that of