Friday, July 3, 2009

On Raiatea

The missionary ‘Papeiha requested the people to attend a general meeting which was to be held on the following morning… At the appointed hour, the whole of the inhabitants of the island assembled, and, after having spoken to them of the immense labour they formerly bestowed in the erection of the maraes, and in the worship of their gods, he exhorted them to let their “strength, devotedness, and steadfastness in the service of the true God, far exceed.” He then made the following two propositions: first, “That all the maraes in the island should be burned, and that all the remaining idols should be brought to him, in order that he might forward them to us at Raiatea, that we, with our people, might also rejoice in the triumphs of the word.” The second proposition was, “That we should commence immediately building a house in which to worship Jehovah.” To both these proposals the assembled multitude yielded their cordial assent. As soon as the meeting broke up, a general conflagration of the maraes took place; and so complete was the destruction, that, on the following morning, not a single idol temple remained unmutilated.’

John Williams, A Narrative of Missionary Enterprises in the South Sea Islands (London, 1838)

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