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First Christian mission established

25 December 1814

Painting of Marsden's first sermon
Painting of Marsden's first sermon (Alexander Turnbull Library, B-077-006)

At Hohi (Oihi) Beach in the Bay of Islands, Samuel Marsden preached in English to a largely Māori gathering, launching New Zealand’s first Christian mission.

The Ngāpuhi leader Ruatara translated Marsden’s sermon. The two men had first met in Port Jackson (Sydney) in 1809. In 1814 Marsden sent Thomas Kendall to consult Ruatara about establishing a Church Missionary Society (CMS) mission at his kāinga (village), Rangihoua.

Ruatara assumed the role of protector and patron of ‘his Pākehā’ – the CMS lay missionaries Kendall, John King and William Hall, who arrived with Marsden on the brig Active on 22 December.

A site for the mission station was chosen the following day. After cattle and horses were landed, Marsden rode along the beach, to the astonishment of Māori onlookers.

The day after Marsden’s sermon on the significance of the birth of Jesus, the Active left Rangihoua to obtain timber with which to build the mission station. By 13 January the missionaries, their wives and all their stores were ashore, and a large hut had been erected.

Ruatara’s death in early March left the future of the mission uncertain, but it survived under the protection of senior Ngāpuhi chief Hongi Hika.

How to cite this page

First Christian mission established, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated