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February 2017 Issue
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Marsden Cross Walk, Rangihoua Heritage Park

View of the Bay of Islands from the start of the track. Photo: Heather Whelan
A walk through time

ON CHRISTMAS DAY just over 200 years ago, Māori joined European missionary settlers to celebrate the first Christian service in New Zealand.  At Rangihoua Bay in Northland’s Bay of Islands, the Rev. Samuel Marsden preached at what is now the Marsden Cross Historic Reserve.

In 1814, the bay was overlooked by Rangihoua Pā and it was the local chiefs, Ruatara and Te Pahi, who had invited Marsden to set up a mission in New Zealand. John and Hannah King,  Thomas and Jane Kendall and William and Dinah Hall travelled halfway around the world to set up this outpost of Christendom. It was at Rangihoua that the first European school was built, the first book on te reo Māori was prepared and the first Pākehā child was born. Marsden Cross is where the foundations of New Zealand were laid.

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