No shortage of Coquettish Wenches
October 25, 2018
Reverend Johann Wohlers was a German Missionary, a Lutheran, in the early days of what would become Southland. He was not the first. Many Missionaries of various denominations competed to market their particular brand of Christianity to the New Zealanders. In my opinion it was the Wesleyans/Methodists who seem to have cornered the New Zealand market at that time; Not sure why.
The native people are in the process of dying out.
Wohlers set up shop in this area in 1844 and by the end of the following year had this to say…
“The native people are in the process of dying out. They are already so soft that there is little inclination to marriage. In spite of this, some fornication does happen…There is no shortage of coquettish wenches” – Rev. Wohlers, December 1845
The mainstream account of New Zealand history would say Wohlers was mistaken, that the Maoris did not die out. They’re alive and with us today aren’t they? So they must have pulled though, mustn’t they have?
The people once named Maori are gone
“A considerable number of European men live on the shore of the region, and from the whaling ships that stop, more and more people remain here who like the freedom of this country. All of them amalgamate with the natives and from this a new race is emerging, which will probably devour and fuse with the remainder of the pure natives.”- Wohlers in another passage
That’s the thing. A new race generated by amalgamation emerged and became the stock of towns such as Riverton. The people once named Maori are gone but rather than retire the term ‘Maori’ we keep it and use it to refer to a very different mixed race group who are with us today. To call them Part-Maori or Māori would be a bit less confusing but that doesn’t quite make it clear enough and to discuss the matter requires prefacing and/or caveats every time.
The above quotes I took from Riverton museum last week, right off the wall. Have not double-checked, which is usually a bit of a risk even when it’s a museum! But I’m confident it’s sound.
I see there are still residents of Riverton by the name Wohlers today; So the Reverend’s line appears to have joined the racial amalgam he wrote about. I wonder what he would think about that?
Image ref. Rev. Johann Wohlers; digitalnz.org; Alexander Turnbull Library