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Descendant of Samuel Marsden speaks at Selwyn Village event

17 December 2014

Descendant of the first Christian missionary, Reverend Samuel Marsden, to speak at Selwyn Village event

To coincide with the bicentennial celebrations of the introduction of Christianity to New Zealand by the Reverend Samuel Marsden, his great, great, great grandson – also Reverend Samuel Marsden – will speak at Selwyn Village (Point Chevalier, Auckland) during the launch of a new social history covering the first permanent European settlement that was established at Rangihoua in the Bay of Islands.

Rangihoua: Mission Impossible? is a fresh, new look at the first two decades of life at the Church Missionary Society’s fledging mission, which was established 25 years before the Treaty of Waitangi. It investigates Samuel Marsden’s complex character and motives, as well as the personal experiences and struggles of the original three missionaries – William Hall, Thomas Kendall and John King – and their families.

The author, Kath Hansen, is a resident of The Selwyn Foundation’s Selwyn (retirement) Village. Kath has researched the private diary of William Hall, who was recruited in England by Marsden, and has detailed the interaction between Samuel Marsden and the missionary families, providing a revealing insight into the difficulties and dangers, triumphs and disappointments of those formative years.

Whilst smaller in scale than its American and Australian counterparts, this story of New Zealand’s first bicultural, bilingual community lacks none of their human drama. The arrival of the first European settlers is a foundational event in New Zealand history, ranking alongside the encounters between Maori and Abel Tasman in 1642, Maori and James Cook in 1769 and the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, and marked the beginnings of a new bicultural nation. Yet, the arrival of the first missionaries/settlers has been overshadowed by the signing of the Treaty 25 years later. Rangihoua: Mission Impossible? attempts to tell their story.

The launch of the commemorative, hard cover, limited edition of Rangihoua: Mission Impossible? will be held at Selwyn Village on Saturday, 20 December. The guest speaker will be Reverend Samuel Marsden, the great, great, great grandson of the first Reverend Samuel Marsden, who is visiting from England and who will speak on the close family relationship between the Marsdens and the Hansens that has endured 200 years. During the event, a letter of greetings and best wishes from His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d), Governor of New South Wales (the state from which Revd Marsden sailed in 1814), will also be read out.

Kath’s husband, Stan, is a descendant of one of the first settler families (Thomas Hansen, who captained the brig, Active, which carried the first group of settlers from Port Jackson, Botany Bay, to New Zealand). Kath has written a number of historical works relating to the first permanent European settlement in New Zealand, as well as In the Field – Mud and Blood on the Western Front – all of which have been widely acclaimed. Since 1989, Kath and Stan have worked tirelessly to publicise the Hansen family history and were made the first Honorary Life Members of the 1814 Hansen Family Society Inc, in recognition of their services to promoting the family history and the legacy of Captain Thomas Hansen.

Revd Marsden will also speak at the Hansen Family Bicentenary celebrations to be held in Auckland on 16-18 January 2015 (www.the1814hansenfamilysocietyinc.org/history.html).

On board Marsden’s ship were three generations of one family – Captain Thomas Hansen, Master of the Active, his wife Hannah, their son Thomas Jnr, and their daughter Hannah King, plus a 16-month old grandson Philip King. Together with two other missionary families, of Thomas Kendall and William Hall, plus some European convict helpers on leave from New South Wales, they were to form the first permanent, European settlement in New Zealand.

While most of these Europeans eventually returned to Australia, Thomas Hansen and his sister Hannah King remained as New Zealand’s first permanent European settlers. Thomas returned to Sydney in 1815, married Elizabeth Tollis, and took her back to the Rangihoua settlement. The Hansens and Kings produced 23 children before 1840, all born into a predominantly Maori world, where these two families laid the foundations of a new bicultural nation.

The Selwyn Foundation is a New Zealand-owned independent charitable trust, providing residential care (rest homes, hospitals and dementia care), retirement living and community services for older people, and owns or manages a total of nine retirement villages across the upper North Island. As a not-for-profit organisation, the Foundation reinvests any financial surpluses into the provision of additional facilities and charitable activities aimed at helping the aged. www.selwyncare.org.nz

ENDS

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