Williams and Maori

For the families, encounter with Maori was a daily event - in their homes, at school, conducting services, and generally moving about the country. Much of the contact was on a casual basis and went unrecorded, although more significant events were relayed in their daily journals and correspondence. Their relationships often tested the boundaries of culture, language and belief. But beyond seeking converts, the roles that the missionaries played in advancing literacy, mediating in disputes, passing on skills in enterprises such as agriculture, and attending to the sick or injured, were things that blunted the harsher edges of colonialism, which had a growing impact as the century wore on. 

What is less well known is the view of missionaries taken by Maori. Those that accepted conversion to Christianity tended to remain loyal to the missionaries - at least in the localities where they had the greatest influence. In some places, modifications to Christianity emerged, promoted by leaders or prophets whose views clashed with those of the missionaries. In modern times the missionaries have been subject to a variety of views as they have joined in the general debates about colonialism, Maori land and Treaty making. The following pages address some of this history.