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Te Hurinui

posted 12 Dec 2014, 00:54 by Sandra Kirby
History tells us that it was Christmas Day 1814 that missionary Samuel Marsden preached the first sermon in New Zealand. You might recall the Christmas carol
Not on a snowy night
By star or candlelight
But on a summer day
Within a quiet bay 
The Maori people heard
That great and glorious worde
Te Hurinui, Te Hurinui Te Hurinui
Glad  tidings of great joy

I was wondering how they were sure it was Christmas Day - but as he had only come from New South Wales not all the way from London.  I had these visions of the missionaries crossing days off on the calendar as they took the 3 month boat trip - and did they know when they crossed the dateline?  Has our calendar been skewed by the settlement?  

But the week or so from Australia was not so risky for dates.  
However just as amusing are the descriptions of the sermon.  Apparently the Maori men that Samuel Marsden had met several times in NSW was acting as host.  So Ruatara on Christmas Eve set up beach with pulpit, reading desk and canoes set up as pews.  On Christmas Day Ruatara and  Korokoro dressed up in military uniforms and acted as Masters of Ceremonies indicating when people should sit, stand etc.  Marsden apparently did not speak Te Hurinui at all - whole thing was done in English with Ruataka and Korokoro translating.  Lovely statement made "What they heard or understood we do not know". 
Following the service the 300 or so Maori stood up and did a haka as a sign of appreciation.  I suspect we could also say "What  Marsden  saw or understood we do not know".