From Marist Studies
Jump to: navigation, search

Fr Jean Forest to Fr Jean-Claude Colin, Bay of Islands, 26 March 1843

Translation and introduction by Br Edward Clisby FMS Click here for Quin's translation

Clisby Letter 35

AM 152-169


This letter confirms the fears Forest expressed in his letter to Epalle (Letter 33) for the lives of Fr Borjon and Br Deodat missing at sea. The rest of the letter is a report to the Superior General of a visitation of the southern stations. Faithful to his mandate, Forest confines himself to describing the religious life of the Fathers and Brothers of the mission, though his account of his travels give a vivid picture of the difficulties and hardships the missionaries encountered daily. The letter is of special interest to us for the comments on the various Brothers.

The stations Forest visited included Auckland, Tauranga, Opotiki, and Whakatane as well as the Bay of Islands. Detailed descriptions of Auckland, Opotiki, and Whakatane will be found in the introductions to the relative letters 42, 61, and 65. The Tauranga mission, founded bv Viard in 1840 and based on Otumoetai, covered the area around the harbour and inland beyond the Kaimais to Waikato and the Waipa. Forest and Reignier also stayed a night at Maketu, on the coast between Tauranga and Whakatane, where Borjon and Justin had established the centre of the Rotorua mission in 1841. When Reignier took over this mission shortly after this letter was written, he moved his base to Ohinemutu at the southern end of Lake Rotorua. Brothers Euloge and Justin had arrived in New Zealand together in June 1841. They accompanied Pompallier to their appointments some six weeks later. Euloge (Antoine Chabany 1812-1864), a blacksmith by trade, had onIy just made his temporary profession as a Marist Brother when he left for the missions. He made his final profession in New Zealand in 1841. According to Garin he had some difficulty adjusting to mission life. After helping Seon reconnoitre his new mission at Matamata, he was assigned to help Pezant at Tauranga. He was there until 1844 when he moved to Rotorua. Justin (rf L 45) had been at Opotiki since mid 1842. Despite Forest's assurance that Pompallier was going to transfer him to the Bay of Islands that year, he was not moved until March 1845, and then to Hokianga. Brief biographies of Jean Yvert and Br Colomb can be found in the introductions to Letters 22 and 42.

The arrival of three new missionaries, all priests, [29] was a timeIy one. In the course of 1842 Pompallier had transferred five of his men from New Zealand to the tropics, and had lost two at sea. But he must have had second thoughts about his plans for them [34]. There was no attempt to continue with the Akaroa station. Moreau joined Bernard in going to Hokianga. However, it was Lampila and ClaudeMarie who opened the new station there later in the year (rf L 36). Chouvet went to Opotiki. We do not know precisely what difficulties Petit-Jean had run into in Auckland, nor how long Garin remained there with him. Certainly by the beginning of 1844 he was back at Mangakahia.

There are several references in the letter to newspaper reports, both French and English. In terms of reliability there seems to have been little difference between them. There was talk of a coadjutor for Pompallier [37] but he had been asked to chose one from among his own missionaries. EventualIy Rome gave him Viard as he had requested. The Dublin rumour may have arisen from the bishop's suggestion that the next Vicar Apostolic for New Zealand should be English (cf Wiltgen p 250). And Polding did bring back with him to Sydney from Europe a party of about twenty (18 in fact), but only eight of them were priests (Wiltgen p 347). All were for his own diocese.

Most of this letter, published in the "Annales des Missions", has appeared in translation in "Fishers of Men", a work edited by Fr (later Cardinal) Peter McKeefrey to commemorate the centenary of the Catholic Church in New Zealand in 1938 (pp 79-95).

Text of the Letter

Very Reverend Father,
This is the seventh letter I have been fortunate enough to write to you since my arrival in New Zealand. The first was dated the beginning of April 1842 from Cook Strait, the rest in the course of that year from the Bay of Islands.
I reached my destination in New Zealand in May 1842. I had a good dose of illness for about a month to help me acclimatise.
On the 2nd of July I left for Auckland with Br Deodat. I had three main reasons for this trip. First, I wanted to visit the 500 or so Catholics of the capital of New Zealand, almost all of them Irish. Although I didn't know English well enough to be able to carry out all the functions of the sacred ministry, I could easily perform baptisms and marriages, conduct all the Sunday services, and read the instructions in English. I even had the satisfaction of preparing a poor Spanish sailor for death. He had some English. I took him the sacraments in public just as in France. We are not restricted on that point here, thanks be to God.
Second, I also wanted to wait for Frs Borjon and Rozet who had to pass through Auckland from their stations on their way to [Port] Nicholson with Br Deodat. They were going to start a new mission among the Europeans and natives of that locality. But how unfathomable are God's designs! Fr Borjon arrived some time after my arrival in Auckland. He had no money. The 30 pounds sterling sent him from the Bay of Islands for his and Fr Rozet's fare, had been stolen, together with some letters, on the ship to which Fr Garin had entrusted them. I had to pay their fare and the passage from Auckland to Nicholson out of the small funds I had. In the meantime, we were notified that a ship was on the point of setting sail for Nicholson, and we considered it was a good opportunity to see Fr Borjon and Br Deodat off. Since he had not yet arrived, Fr Rozet would leave later.
Lucky he was late, for if he had left with poor Fr Borjon and Br Deodat he would very likely be with them at the bottom of the sea. Alas, very reverend Father, I am sorry to inform you that the sad news I gave you in my previous letters is only too well founded. Since the first of August 1842 when the Father and the Brother set out for Nicholson, we have heard nothing further of either the ship or the two missionaries. The only news we have had is that some people told us that the broken remains of masts had been seen out at sea off East Cape, and that the masts had been recognised as belonging to that ship. The one who saw them and recognised them was the man who had made them himself. He was passing by that spot. If that's true, we have no more hope of seeing them in this world. We have all been greatly afflicted by such a loss. In taking from us Fr Borjon, God has taken one of our best missionaries. We can say the same about Br Deodat, the model of his brothers in religion. May God's holy will be done!
Finally, third, the aim of my trip was to go on from Auckland to Tauranga and Opotiki, to visit our priests at those stations according to your wishes and your instructions. But I had spent all my money on the Fathers' voyages. I had learnt, as well, that Monsignor Pompallier had returned to the Bay of Islands, and I was very pleased I would be able to come to an understanding with him before doing anything, just as you recommended. So after a stay of about three months in Auckland, I went back to the Bay of Islands. I sent an account of my voyage to Fr Epalle in France to let him know how desperate is our situation which obliges us to travel without funds.
With His Lordship's permission and a little money to pay the Fathers a visit, I took ship once more at the end of December (1842), and after three days of quite pleasant sailing, I arrived in Auckland. There I found Fr Petit-Jean, who had replaced me, and Br Colomb.
This good Father seemed to me to be full of zeal and enthusiasm. In the less than three months he had been there, he had already had a little chapel built to serve as a church for the faithful on Sundays and as a school during the week, a little house for the teacher, and another for himself, and all that from the donations of the faithful in Auckland alone. Those good Irish love their priests, but they are very poor in general. The rich in the town are all Protestant. They are officials sent by the English government.
The same ship which had brought me from the Bay of Islands was to take me to Tauranga. So I left Fr Petit-Jean and Br Colomb who had just made a short retreat. After a voyage of three days and nights, we reached the port of Tauranga, but not without serious problem. Our ship was entering the harbour for the first time. It just missed foundering on a rock in the middle of the harbour. When I landed I saw the good Br Euloge coming towards me with a big party of his savages. The children were completely naked, the adults in general clad only from waist to knee. The good Brother took me straight to his little house, with all around this crowd of Maoris who had all come to touch me by the hand and wish me their 'Tenara kokoe' (Welcome). I was glad to see expressions of satisfaction and joy on all their faces. I admired the change our holy religion had brought about among these poor people. A few years ago, they would have cooked and eaten any stranger unlucky enough to be shipwrecked on these shores. The Brother informed me that Fr Pezant was not at home, but would be back in a day, and that Fr Seon had just left on his way back to his mission, only a day's walk away. If I wished he would send someone straight after him to call him back. That is what we did. The mission house was close to the sea in the middle of Maori houses. Like those of the natives it is a little hut of ropo, but a bit higher than theirs. You have to stoop to enter. You see three chairs, two little tables, a small crucifix, and a miserable bed set on top of a sort of chest of drawers, the only place he has for storing the contents of his sacristy and all his personal effects, two tiny windows a foot square, with panes of strips of calicot. Such are the luxurious apartments of our missionaries in New Zealand!
Frs Pezant and Seon came next morning. What joy we felt on seeing one another again on these distant shores! Forgetful of their tiring travel, they immediately asked for news of you, my reverend Father. How was the Society faring? Had there been any new establishments, etc? They had not made their retreat, so they were in a hurry to make one. As for me, reverend Father, would you believe it, I became the chief preacher - and, I may say, the first priestly retreat preacher in New Zealand. This retreat lasted eight whole days, and we were as without disturbance and as peaceful in our little hut as in the seminary at Belley. Just as at Belley we had our little programme, our reading during meals. Just as at Belley we could say: "How good and how pleasant to live as one like brothers." Only one thing was missing - the presence of our good Father Superior-General to give us some of those words which do the soul so much good! Each day we had our three meditations of an hour each, and two conferences, one for the good Brother, the other for the Fathers.
The good Fr Seon is always full of zeal and courage. He has been alone for some time, without a Brother. He is one of our best missionaries. Monsignor holds him in high regard. He is always even-tempered, always content, always a fervent religious. Fr Pezant is totally devoted to his travelling ministry. Br Euloge, who is with him, is full of good will and leads the life of a good religious, as much as one can in this country.
After about ten days, I left for Opotiki, the station of Frs Comte and Reignier. After two day's sailing we arrived at the entrance to the port at sunset. We ran into a much more serious danger there than the preceding one. To enter the port you have to cross a bar, as the sailors call it, following a channel worn by the waters. Our captain lost his way, and the ship ran up on a sand bank. Unable to shift it, the waves smashed against the sides and kept washing over the deck. The passengers, most of them natives, jumped into the water to swim to land. But what was to become of me - I swim as well as a lead brick. I prayed to our good Mother, the most holy Virgin. You are never more fervent than in such circumstances, and you never feel more how weak and powerless you are either. Mary did not abandon me. I was able to climb down into a little boat by means of a rope, and reach land amid the tumbling breakers. We were on a little island. We were not as fortunate as St Paul after his shipwreck, and we found no one to give us hospitality. Like him, though, we collected some wood to make a fire and dry ourselves. We could do that without fear of being bitten by snakes, for those creatures are unknown here, and so are other harmful creatures we have in Europe. Still, darkness fell and we had no hope of a quick departure from our island. I was walking along the water's edge looking for a patch of grass where I could rest until daybreak, when suddenly some savages called to me: Ariki! Arikl! They had found a little boat, and they offered to take me to the Fathers’ house, about three quarters of an hour away. I gave thanks to the Lord who never abandons his own. However, I was still afraid. To get to the shore we had to make our way past dangerous places in a frail canoe, in the middle of a very dark night. What would happen to my belongings and those of the Fathers - wouldn't they be rifled on the ship? Finally I left, leaving everything under Mary's protection. We reached the Fathers' house without trouble. They were sound asleep. The next day our ship reached port safely with my belongings intact. How admirable Providence is! How good Mary is!
Our Fathers had made their retreat a fortnight ago, together with Br Justin who is with them. However, we had some conferences all together on the rule, and on the means of bearing up under our trials. We had some of your letters, very reverend Father. You would not credit the good they do. We preserve them preciously. Please write to us as often as you can.
Fr Comte is very happy in the sacred ministry. He enjoys good health and he is also a good religious. Fr Reignier is very well, he is busy studying the language. Br Justin is a bit discouraged. I have spoken about him to His Lordship, and he will give him a change of assignment and recall him here. For the rest, they live together in the closest harmony, and observe their religious rule well. Br Justin renewed his three vows in my presence. As far as material matters are concerned, they are poorly housed. In winter they have three or four inches of mud in the house. I gave Monsignor a detailed picture of their miseries, and now he is going to have a fine wooden house built for them, like all the other European houses in these lands. And the same for Tauranga. Otherwise, they are quite well catered for. They have plenty of potatoes, pork, flour. Br Justin has a little poultry-yard with a good number of fowls. They have two goats, a vegetable garden, etc.
Opotiki is nearly thirty leagues from Tauranga. Not finding a ship for returning, I had to do the trip on foot. In this way Providence let me experience the difficulties of the tracks, and the trouble our poor missionaries have travelling in this country. Fr Reignier was happy to be my companion on this trip.
The first day we had no native to carry our packs. So we had to load on our backs everything we needed for a four day's journey. And what do you need to travel in these parts, you will ask me? You need a lot for yourself and for others. For yourself you need a blanket which serves as the missionary's bed for the night. You need some provisions if you don't want to run the risk of dying of hunger. Blocks of good quality chocolate would be very useful here. The ordinary fare of our poor missionaries, potatoes, are no good for rebuilding strength. If you want to eat pork, you have to carry it. You have to carry what you need for administering the sacraments if necessary. You must always have with you as well a good supply of plugs of tobacco. This is the currency among the natives, especially inland. Ten or fifteen pounds of tobacco are scarcely adequate for a single journey of a fortnight. Then you must carry books, rosaries, for distribution to the natives. Fr Reignier and I had all these goods on our backs. We had hardly gone a league when we were covered in sweat. To give us a break we came across a deep river. It could not be crossed except by swimming or on the shoulders of a sturdy Maori. Providence arranged that there were two of these fishing not far away. We offered them some tobacco and immediately they helped us across. I took the one who looked strongest and healthiest. I was the heaviest, but not the one best provided for. Once we were in the middle of the river, he decided he would have a little fun with me and at my expense. He stopped and told me he had a need he wanted to satisfy there. In vain I complained; he didn't listen; I had to be patient astride his shoulders though I found it hard to keep my place. With my hands clasped around his neck, I held my legs in the air as best I could, trying not to get too wet. When he finished he told me he was going to toss me into the water. Like a skittish horse wanting to play with its rider, he shook me with all his strength. I had to give him there and then the promised tobacco. All this took place in the middle of a fast flowing current, and I was afraid of falling at any moment.
Two leagues further on we came across a bay about three quarters of a league wide. To cross it, this is what you did. You light a big fire on the shore and this produces a lot of smoke. A European lives on the little island in the middle of this bay. When he sees the smoke he sends, or not, depending on his mood, a native to ferry the traveller across in a waka or canoe. After an hour and a half we saw coming towards us a Maori rowing a little dinghy which kept on disappearing among the waves. The sea was high. We climbed on to this little tree trunk and committed our lives into the hands of this poor savage. The further into the bay we advanced, the stronger grew the wind, and the waves soon began coming into our wretched little craft. I rowed with all my strength to get to shore faster, while Fr Reignier baled out the water. All three of us worked our hardest to escape death.
To pay our young pilot we gave him a good supply of tobacco. He told us he was epikopo, ie a Catholic, and that he would appreciate a crucifix and a medal. When he received them, he kissed them reverently. He accompanied us a little further to show us the way. It was a very narrow path, scarcely visible among the briars. Towards noon we came to the foot of a high mountain. It took us four hours to climb. The heat was stifling, we could hardly breathe, and we kept on falling under the weight of our packs. How we would have appreciated a few sips of fresh water, like that which flows down the great underground tunnel of Pilata from Fourviere!
At sunset we arrived at a spot called Wakatane. There are a lot of Maori there, most of them Catholics belonging to the Opotiki mission. They came to us, wishing us tenara kokoe, Greetings. They asked us a thousand questions, but forgot the most important ones of all for us at that time, whether we were hungry or thirsty. After an hour and a half, though, a European living there, whose wife is a good Catholic, offered us something to eat. We needed no second asking, we accepted gratefully. Fr Reignier then distributed some books to the Maoris and took them for prayers. Once they were over, we lay our blankets on the ground in the same house we had been praying in, and soon we were sound asleep, while the natives sang, talked, and smoked all around us. Day had hardly broken when we were awakened by the sound of someone beating on a shovel to call the natives to prayer. Our bellringer had placed himself on top of a Maori storehouse in order that his beautiful chimes could be heard in the distance.
No doubt, reverend Father, you will find it interesting to hear how these Maori storehouses are built. They are normally set up three or four paces in front of the sleeping house. To construct one, they plant in the ground four thick pieces of wood in a square about ten feet apart. At a height of twelve feet or so these posts are joined to one another by other pieces of wood to form a platform. A tree trunk with notches cut at intervals to provide footholds serves as ladder. All these lengths of wood are bound together simply with korari [flax], a kind of very strong vine. They store all the household provisions there. You can see huge heaps of fish drying, whole sharks, quantities of fern root. The women are the ones who look after the supplies. It is a really curious sight to see and hear them at certain times of the day when they are up on their storehouses. They chatter away all together. You can hear their conversations all around for a good half-hour. You might imagine you are at a big fair with the merchants standing on scaffolds bawling out advertisements for their wares.
Prayers over, we set out on our way. Two natives were happy to take over our packs and serve us as guides as far as Tauranga. They took some potatoes for their lunch and ours. The European gave us some ships biscuit to serve as bread on our route. We walked along the edge of the sea, on sand which yielded under our feet. After two hours walking, our natives wanted to have lunch. For that, they took us a little way off the path, near a spring, the only one for seven or eight leagues. They lit a little fire to cook the potatoes which we ate with good appetite. We continued on our way reciting the prayers in Maori, and chanting the litanies of the Blessed Virgin. We formed two choirs, Fr Reignier and one of the natives chanting the invocation e hata Maria etc [Hail Mary], the other Maori and I chanting the response inoi mo matou, 'pray for us'. We experienced a joy impossible to express in being able to mingle these consoling chants to the Queen of heaven with the sound of the foaming breakers dying at our feet.
Towards sunset we came to a Maori pah containing about thirty people, twenty-four of them Catholic and following the prayers of epikopo. On our arrival we witnessed a tanghi, the welcome Maoris give their relatives if they have not seen them for a long time. In fact we were going to stay with the sister of one of our guides. When this woman saw her brother she started this ceremony. It consists of a mutual rubbing of noses, then she began her tanghi, a tearful chant in which she described the joy, the happiness she had shared with him in times past.
Once the tanghi was over, they said prayers. Then a Protestant native came over to ask us what we had come looking for here, why we wanted to establish a false and evil Church. The best instructed of our guides took upon himself to reply. The discussion took at least an hour and a half and ranged all over sacred history. The Catholic always had the best of it. After the meeting I expected we would be offered something to eat, but this time we would have had to go to bed without supper if we hadn't had some biscuit left. Our guide's sister offered us room in her house. It was three feet high, and the door was from a foot and a half to two feet high and served as chimney for the fire which was always lit in the centre of the house when it was time to retire. But afraid that we would not find it easy to slip in through this hole, and of being suffocated when we were inside, Fr Reignier and I preferred to stay outside under a sort of overhang sheltering the door to the hut. Alas! In taking this place we did not realise what a disturbance we were going to cause. This was the dogs' place during the night. They came growling again and again as if demanding of us by what right we had taken over their place. They went away, they came back, we sent them away again. Eventually we were saved by the coming of day. Our hostess was first to come out of the hut and got busy lighting the fire and peeling some potatoes. Then she dug a little hole in the ground, lined it with some grass, put in the potatoes, then another layer of grass, then some embers, and the soil on top of that. That is what they call the capo maori.[1] Half an hour later she uncovered her capo and showed us the potatoes as clean and as good looking as those cooked in our pots in France. We ate some with very good appetite, and then we departed.
That evening we reached Maketu where there are many natives; it was poor Fr Borjon's station. We asked the directions to his house. We were told we could not stay there, that it was tabou, that a short time before two men slain in battle had been cooked in the house - the killer was still living there. Not afraid of either the tabou or the killer, we went to look for the house. It is on the seashore below other Maori houses which overlook it from the rise. It is in the centre of a little garden surrounded by a fence. It has three quite presentable little rooms. The murderer who lives in it gave us a good welcome and was eloquent in justifying himself. He was a fat man who must have devoured good helpings of human flesh. He.has three wives. He let us have one of the rooms in the house. We were able to sleep there on some fern peacefully all night. Fr Reignier wanted to have evening and morning prayer but only three people turned up. The natives, more than five hundred in number, are, I believe, neither Protestant nor Catholic. Poor Fr Borjon had had many trials and struggles and little satisfaction. We saw the hole they had made in the house to rob everything while he was away on mission. It would be necessary to have two missionaries there. As everywhere else we had to present our host with a lot of tobacco, although he was the one who should have been paying us rent.
At last on the fourth day we were on the outskirts of Tauranga. We had no more than a large bay of a league and a half to cross. All at once we saw Fr Pezant's boat coming towards us. Two Maoris were rowing it; they were going to carry a letter from the Father to the English soldiers stationed nearby to prevent wars between the natives of Maketu and those of Tauranga. They informed us that Fr Pezant had left that morning with the Brother and they would not be back for a fortnight. However, they had not taken the key to the house and we were able to get in.
Divine Providence allowed us to find that there were plenty of provisions there. After a stay of three days, Fr Reignier set out again with our two guides to join Fr Pezant who was visiting the Maori tribes along the coast near Opotiki. Fr Comte was going to meet them from his side.
All that took place. Fr Comte himself wrote to me that he had been astonished to see the upper and lower Auvergne meet on the soil of New Zealand.[2]
After Fr Reignier's departure I had to stay by myself at Tauranga for a week waiting for a boat headed for Auckland or the Bay of Islands.
I left Tauranga at 11 pm on 5 February on a wretched little vessel with an even worse crew. By their evil conduct the Europeans are New Zealand's greatest curse. On the 9th we came into Auckland. There I found the priests newly arrived from France. I could not tell you how joyful I was. We all gave thanks to God together for their happy crossing. Five or six days later we all left for the Bay of Islands. We arrived there on the 18 February to find Mgr Pompallier and Frs Baty, Garin, and Tripe.
Since my arrival we have had an eight day retreat. Mgr Pompallier opened it and gave a conference each day, alternating with Fr Garin. Here again I was the chief preacher! Frs Tripe, Rozet, Moreau, Bernard, Chouvet, Brs Pierre-Marie, Florentin, Emery, Basile, and Mr Yvert took part. The letters of St Francis Xavier were read at meals. Listening to the readings you would think you were hearing an account of our tribulations in New Zealand. The retreat ended with the renewal of vows. Only Mr Yvert, who has not yet made them, did not take part. His Lordship closed the retreat with an instruction on the Blessed Virgin and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
I am leaving next Monday, the 27th of this month, to begin a new retreat at Hokianga, a day and a half away from the Bay of Islands. Frs Petit and Lampila and Br Claude-Marie are at that station. Fr Garin and Br Luc from the Bay of Islands will also take part.
How contented I am that soon I will see that all the children of Mary in New Zealand have made a retreat! His Lordship observes with great pleasure the obvious change for the better that has taken place. So do all the Fathers. We attribute it to your beneficent prayers and to the intercession of our martyr Fr Chanel.
Fr Garin will be shortly going to Auckland to join Fr Petit-Jean. That excellent missionary in his enthusiasm has created some problems for himself. For some time there have been five priests in residence at the Bay of Islands, not counting the new arrivals, five Brothers and Mr Yvert. The latter renders great services to the mission by his work in the printery and by keeping the accounts.
I will not comment on the progress of the faith. It has been better in New Zealand since Monsignor's return. The natives have been coming back to prayer, but things are not on a solid footing yet. What is the number of Catholics in this country? I could not give you an exact figure, but what I am sure of is that it is much lower than the one we have read about in the letters received from France. I very much doubt we have half of the forty thousand the French papers have spoken of. Even the English joke that the Catholics count more people in their following than there are inhabitants. One cannot deny that the Protestants have a large number of adherents among the natives. I am not far wrong, perhaps, in saying that they have a good half of the population, if not more. I repeat, however, that at the present time there is a quite perceptible movement towards Catholicism.
A word about the Brothers. In general, they have a good spirit and are faithful to their religious exercises. Br Pierre Marie is here at the Bay of Islands, with Br Basile who does the cooking and works at his shoe-making the intervals. Br Emery is tailor, Br Luc, carpenter. Br Claude-Marie is at Hokianga with Fr Petit, Br Colomb with Fr Petit-Jean, Br Euloge with Fr Pezant, Br Justin with Fr Comte, Br Elie with Fr Rozet. The greatest danger that our Brothers run here is from the Europeans they might come into contact with. They have little to worry about with the Maoris.
We have read in the Sydney paper that a coadjutor has been named to Mgr Pompallier for New Zealand. This coadjutor would be coming from Dublin. Another edition of the same paper informs us that Mgr Polding is coming from France with about twenty priests. Will there be any for us?
I send my respectful regards to Fr Cholleton and to Frs Terraillon, Girard, Seon, Chartignier, Poupinel, and all the Fathers of Belley and Valbenoite.
The statue of the Blessed Virgin we brought with us has worked marvels. People come from all parts of New Zealand to see the big "Maria". The poor savages are quite astounded to see it, and ask how such a thing can be made - perhaps on the press! They want to know everything about it, why the crown on its head, who the little child in her arms is. I propose to write a letter of thanks soon to the good ladies who helped us buy it.
Once the sun is up I leave for Hokianga. We have a walk of three days to make, the same for returning. What is more, we have a heavy pack to carry on our backs, no vehicle, no horse, and very difficult tracks through bush, ravines, rivers, and swamps.
I am afraid I am one of those the Imitation of Christ talks about when it says: "One who wanders much rarely becomes holy." Please continue to pray for me, my very reverend Father, and for all your children here in these islands.
I have the honour of being, my very reverend Father, your very humble and devoted child, the most unworthy and weakest of all,


  1. capo maori: probably kapa maori - Maori copper, copper being the cauldron used for cooking and washing in common use among Europeans.
  2. It appears that two of the priests came from opposite ends of the mountainous Auvergne region to the west of Lyon in the Massif Central.

Click here for Quin's translation of the same letter

Previous Letter Letters from Oceania Next letter