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No. 62 (March 1968)
– 63 –



Three of the early missionaries in New Zealand arrived under the auspices of the Lutheran North German Missionary Society. The best known of these German missionaries is probably the Revd Carl Volkner, who later joined the Church of England, and in 1865 was murdered at Opotiki by Hauhaus. The Revd J. F. H. Wohlers is also well known, both as a dedicated missionary in Southland and as an important collector of Maori myths and folktales.

The other man was the Revd J. C. Riemenschneider, the subject of Mr Greenwood's biography. Riemenschneider has been a comparatively obscure figure; he is, for example, the only one of them who does not rate a mention in the official ‘Encyclopaedia of New Zealand’. Yet there is much in his career that is of interest.

From 1846 to 1860 Riemenschneider worked among the Maori people of Warea, in Taranaki. During these troubled years he was a witness to many of the circumstances that led to the outbreak of the war in 1860. When war came he was forced to leave Taranaki, and he took his family to Otago. For several years he worked as a missionary there, but his health was failing and in 1866 he died, aged 51.

The chief interest of Mr Greenwood's book is in the detailed information it presents on aspects of Taranaki life during those 14 crucial years, and especially on the complex series of events that led to the Taranaki War. It will be of value to people who have a special interest in Taranaki history.

The book does not, however, contain much that is likely to be of interest to the general reader. Much of its more useful material is published in undigested form, in the eight appendices that occupy 56 of its 143 pages. The author is uncritical in his approach to his subject, and does not succeed in making him interesting as a person. There are too many domestic details of a trivial nature, and far too many quotations from the florid passages of religious rhetoric to be found in Riemenschneider's letters. Some of the eight pages of illustrations are of only slight relevance, and would have been better omitted. A good map would have been more helpful.


Mr D. G. Ball, Chairman of the Maori Education Foundation, has announced the appointment of Miss L. J. Shaw as Pre-School Officer of the Foundation, to succeed Mr A. Grey. Miss Shaw is at present studying for a Diploma in Social Science, and will take up her appointment towards the end of the year. Until then, Miss M. Pewhairangi is acting as Pre-School Officer.