Thursday 9 June 2011

On a Mission

Today had a theme: missions. I started before dawn driving literally across the country to Mangungu to a little wooden Wesleyan missionary’s house (the house little and wooden, not the John Hobbs the missionary, who was rather good-looking in a remarkably modern way, and very clever with his hands) on the Hokianga Harbour. Small and sleepy, but it’s seen some excitement in its day: NZ’s first honey bees, first Post Office, first execution, first pub…

Then to Waimate North, which was the only bit of NZ that Charles Darwin liked – and who wouldn’t, the church and mission house there are so very pretty, and the surrounding countryside just like England, even with hedges.

And then over to Russell on the ferry, to Pompallier House to get the Catholic side of the story, and surprised to find not another house with beds and dining tables, but a working factory – a tanner’s and bookbindery, where 65,000 religious texts were printed for free distribution by three hard-working Marist brothers who not only did all the hot sweaty work (it takes some effort to print a page on that literally medieval machine, I found) but also wrote them first - by translating Church Latin into Maori. Impressive stuff.

And of course, being the daughter of a printer and having been so very recently in Mainz looking at Gutenberg’s magnificent work – and so knowing all about dog-skin inkers and upper and lower case (actual cases), I felt I made some great connections today.

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