The arrival of
the missionaries at Huahine was soon known throughout the group; and visitors
from all the other islands, some prompted by curiosity, and others by more
worthy motives, came in haste to see them.
But of these " arrivals," the most important and interesting was Tamatoa, the king of Raiatea, who, accompanied by all his principal chiefs, had left his home for the sole purpose of inducing one or more of the missionaries to reside amongst his people.
The station and evident sincerity of Tamatoa, and his compatriots who formed this embassy induced the brethren to entertain their proposal.
But there were other considerations from which it derived additional weight; especially the position, history, and existing circumstances of the island; and these had considerable influence in determining Mr. Williams's preference for this sphere of labour ...
page 8x ???
communications to the Directors and his family contain other information
of a similar kind.
From a letter, dated Sept. 5, 1819, he thus reports the progress of the Mission :
" We have opened a neat little place of worship at Tahaa, in a district called Tivaa, and there is another erected, which we intend to open shortly, and visit regularly, in the district of Patio, where we expect a congregation of five hundred or six hundred persons.
We intend, likewise, to place two of our most intelligent and consistent Raiateans over the school, to which we shall ourselves pay particular attention on our visits.
We are all much pleased with the prospect of usefulness which the new station presents to our view ...
These rapid changes
in the circumstances and habits of the people were not less surprising
than valuable, as all will admit, who consider their character, prior to
the residence of the missionaries among them.
Extremely indolent, save when excited by pleasure or passion; the subjects of few artificial wants, and dwelling in a relaxing and luxurious climate, which, in a great degree, relieved them from labour, by supplying, either spontaneously, or with but little cultivation, their necessary food, motives of more than ordinary power were requisite to arouse them to vigorous and persevering exertion. Walking in the steps, and adopting the customs of their ancestors whose dwelling-places they inherited, it was not to be expected that to gratify strangers, or from the hope of benefits which they were unable to appreciate, they would readily change their manner of life.
And such a voluntary transition was the less probable, from the congeniality of those habits which they were required to relinquish with their strongest natural propensities.
To pluck and eat the ripe fruits of their generous clime, or to slumber in the deep shade of the luxuriant trees upon which they clustered; to fish or sport within the placid waters of their lagoon; to ride in triumph upon the crested wave; to race, wrestle, and recite their traditions, or at evening, to mingle in the wild frolic, or the favourite dance were among the chief occupations and enjoyments of their life, except, when inflamed by revenge or stimulated by fear, they girded themselves for the battle.
What a task to induce them to exchange such a state, for the patient and continuous labour of acquiring knowledge, and forming habits, the importance of which they could but dimly discern!
But this was accomplished;
and by the only means adequate to so great an effect.
While presenting every secular motive which the natives could understand to excite them to labour, the missionaries knew well that the force of all such considerations as their personal and domestic comfort, would, if urged alone, ...
... be insufficient
to overcome the habits and propensities by which they were opposed.
But their reliance was not in these.
It was in the Gospel.
This they deemed " the mighty power of God" for promoting the civilization no less than the salvation of the people; and proceeded upon the belief, which the result of the experiment fully confirmed, that the transformation of the rude and lawless community around them could only be effected by the manifestation of evangelical truth.