A psychological analysis of culture contact : a survey of certain aspects of Maori relationships with the Wesleyan Methodist missionaries, 1822-34
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Much has been written about the effects of Missionary contacts in many parts of the world. Likewise, the present stage of development of inter-cultural contacts in particular communities has been examined by interested social psychologists and cultural anthropologists. But seldom has it been possible for social psychologists or cultural anthropologists to watch a Christian Missionary commence his work among a primitive people and thereby observe the initial stages of such an inter-cultural relationship. Of his opportunities in this respect the Christian Missionary has not been fully aware. He was not a scientist, nor was he devoted to science per se. His calling was to preach the Gospel and the "grand object” of his vocation was to "convert the heathen". Such an object necessarily involved changing a people's beliefs and customs. Of that he was aware. But to him the process of change was unimportant so long as the end was achieved. What then social psychologists and cultural anthropologists could not do, and what the Missionaries themselves cared not to waste time in doing, this study attempts to do in a limited way. The object of this study is to make a survey of certain aspects of Maori relationships with the Wesleyan Methodist Missionaries between the years 1822-1834, and therefrom to attempt an analysis of some of the psychological factors operating in this inter-cultural situation. The scope of this thesis has been limited in various ways. Geographically, the scene of the incidents surveyed is in the Northland of New Zealand, principally about the Whangaroa and Hokianga harbours. The year 1822 marks the arrival of the first body of Wesleyan Methodist Missionaries in New Zealand: the year 1834 practically closes the first phase of that Mission when the initial clash of cultures was over and increasing numbers of converts were offering themselves as candidates for Christian baptism. Of this initial period of culture contacts only certain aspects have been surveyed. Those selected are what the Missionaries would call their "secular" activities, viz. trading, teaching, healing the sick and making peace. And, because the Missionary was a European trading, teaching, healing and making peace, a survey of the Maori reaction to the Wesleyan Missionary as a European has also been attempted. The standpoint adopted is that of the Missionary in his secular activities. The reactions traced out are mainly those of the Maori people. The value of the study has already been hinted at. Today the opportunities for studying the initial contacts between two cultures are rare; Missionaries have seldom seen themselves as those among whom they worked saw them; the lack of training in anthropology still exists in many Colleges preparing Missionaries for the field; a knowledge of how men and their belief may be expected to react to new ideas is not without value. It is therefore hoped that the reconstructed Maori reactions to the various secular roles played by the Wesleyan Missionaries will not be without novelty and usefulness, and that the classification of psychological factors operating in what must have been a period of intense stress, while not new, will at least confirm what has been observed in other stress situations.