Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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'[T]he Sound of the Bell Amidst the Wilds':  Evangelical Perceptions of Northern Aotearoa/New Zealand Maori and the Aboriginal Peoples of Port Phillip, Australia, c.1820s-1840s

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posted on 2021-11-09, 00:18 authored by Ritchie, Samuel Gordon Gardiner

This study investigates evangelical missionary perceptions of northern Aotearoa/New Zealand Maori and the Aboriginal peoples of the Port Phillip district of New South Wales, Australia, during the 1820s-1840s, a period when evangelical humanitarianism was at its height and European racial thinking was in a particularly formative stage. The thesis uses three case studies: the Church Missionary Society missionaries George Clarke and the Reverend William Yate in northern Aotearoa/New Zealand, and the Wesleyan Missionary Society missionary the Reverend Francis Tuckfield in the Port Phillip district of New South Wales, Australia. Clarke, Yate, and Tuckfield's perceptions of the indigenous peoples they sought to 'save' are explored through an examination of journals, letters to missionary society secretaries in London, personal correspondence, and in the case of Yate, evidence presented to the ' House of Commons' Select Committee on Aborigines (British Settlements)' and his published Account of New Zealand (1835). Particular attention is paid to how these men's perceptions changed over three key stages: prior to arriving in their respective mission fields, the initial period following their arrival, and after a significant period of residence. Evangelical missionary endeavour in both Aotearoa/New Zealand and Australia is compared in this thesis because in the early nineteenth century these two places were part of a common Tasman world. The similarities in evangelical experiences in the Tasman world during this period reveal an evangelical community within which ideas and information flowed freely. Comparative exploration of evangelical perceptions of northern Maori and the Aboriginal peoples of Port Phillip reveals that adaptation and evolution occurred through missionaries' experiences. Evolution of evangelical ideas is revealed in missionary encounters with a number of non-European populations, which further shaped missionary ideas about those they sought to 'save'. Adaptation of evangelical ideas is reflected in the different evangelical experiences in Aotearoa/New Zealand and Australia. These differences, most significantly the opposing experiences of success in Aotearoa/New Zealand and failure in Port Phillip, Australia, indicate that evangelical views of non-Europeans were not static, but rather they were altered as a result of experience.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Master of Arts

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations


Muckle, Adrian; Macdonald, Charlotte