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Marsden’s sermon a “publicity stunt” says iwi leader

Media Release
For Immediate Release 3 December 2014

Marsden’s sermon a “publicity stunt” says iwi leader

The Ngapuhi leader David Rankin (the senior descendent of Hone Heke) has controversially challenged the country’s early colonial history, claiming that the Rev. Samuel Marsden was not the first person to preach a Christian sermon in New Zealand.

Most historians agree that the first Christian sermon to be preached in New Zealand was delivered by Marsden on Christmas Day 1814. However, Mr, Rankin claimed that that was just Pakeha propaganda:

“According to our oral histories, Te Pahi, the chief from the Bay of Islands, delivered a service after returning from Australia several years before 1814, where he had been taught about Christianity from Marsden”.

Mr. Rankin alleges that Marsden wanted the credit for planting the Anglican Church in New Zealand, so he stage-managed his Christmas Day service, even making sure the service took p[lace on the most important day of the year, so that it would be remembered.

“What Marsden did was a great publicity stunt, and it fooled all the Pakeha who bought his version of events”, says Mr Rankin. “However, it has been handed down to us from our ancestors that Te Pahi preached to his people several times before he was killed by Pakeha in 1810.”

Mr. Rankin says the issue can be resolved by historians and the Anglican Church correcting their records and apologising for the cultural offence they have been causing to Maori for the last 200 years.


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