Schooling in the Mission, 1820s
Marianne Williams was a Church Missionary Society woman running educative activities in the early CMS mission station in northern New Zealand, whose letters provide a great insight into the nature of the mission, schooling, and the relationships with the local Maori people. The purpose of the paper is to analyze the experts from her letters, as well as to provide a context for them.
Marianne Coldham Williams and Jane Nelson Williams, her relative and fellow CMS woman, resided in the Paihia mission station, established in 1823 under the leadership of Henry Williams, Marianne’s husband. Though the records on the missions are predominantly male (or seem to be so, for when wives, Marianne Williams in particular, wrote for their husbands in their absence, such facts were not recorded), the letters and the diaries of the CMS women prove their great role in carrying out the mission and defining its nature (Fitzgerald, 2005).CMS recognized women’s labor essential to the success of the mission. It has been initially appointed that the purpose of the mission was primarily to improve the condition of the women, who were considered much more degraded than men.
Therefore, New Zealand mission home served a family dwelling, school, and community meeting place; while CMS women, as Christian wives and mothers, administered household, managed servants, organized family and acted as the guardians of the culture of home and family. The mission home was predominantly occupied by women and was considered “a sanctuary from the world outside the fences”, which was non-English and non-Christian. Therefore, to attend the mission school, Maori were required to reside in the home (Fitzgerald, 2005). Life and education in the mission home were organized in the way the nineteenth-century society was organized. An ideology of insistent domesticity and the presence and work of woman's body was the essential concepts of the nineteenth-century home. Women were enclosed in homes, which were still considered the periphery of the economic, social and political life, with the mission of remaining the moral guardians of home and family. Therefore, Tanya Fitzgerald states, “Christian prescriptions of femininity that drew on contemporary nineteenth-century ideology positioned CMS women, as the moral guardians of home and hearth, in a central and authoritative role within the family home” (2005, p. 14).
The mission home did not only represent and produced social hierarchies with the correct social relationships but also defined the space with prescribed limits and boundaries where Maori women lived under control over their lives, activities and bodies (Fitzgerald, 2005). Tanya Fitzgerald stipulates that Marianne and Jane were the voices of the imperial authority who wanted to justify their activities through their writings. She also points out that the voices of local women are absent in the texts where the views of CMS women of the girls are only interrupted by the mentioning of attempts to resist or reject colonization (Fitzgerald, 2005). This remark is true to the letters penned by Marianne Williams. In particular, she mentions it as a great achievement …