Page:Picturesque New Zealand, 1913.djvu/90

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48
PICTURESQUE NEW ZEALAND

tribes, and their powers and duties were manifold. They were the people's guides, they discharged many offices in times of peace, and exercised much authority in times of war. In all cases, however, their authority as priests was limited to things in which the interference of the gods could be discerned.

To-day the Maoris, as a people, know not the religion of their forefathers. In the main the pakeha's religion has become their religion. Thousands of them are church communicants, many of them can quote long passages of Scripture from memory, and the voices of others are heard in daily family worship. A Mormon missionary told me that some native families are such zealous Christians—outwardly, at least—that they have family prayers both morning and night. The majority of Maoris are communicants of the Church of England, but within recent years an astonishing number have embraced the Mormon faith.

Although, generally speaking, the Maori has accepted the fundamental principles of Christianity, his ethical viewpoint often is totally different from that of the European. This was well illustrated in a parliamentary inquiry into alleged "grafting" by a native member of Parliament. The charge, "accepting payment in connection with petitions," apparently astonished the Maoris. In this they could see no more wrong than in the Opposition leader's legitimate acceptance of a present of one thousand pounds from his constituents. In defending his colleague, Dr. Te Rangihiroa said that