The Marsden Memorial Cross marks the approximate site from which Samuel Marsden preached a sermon on 25 December 1814 inaugurating the Church Missionary Society mission here. The land and protection for the missionary settlement were provided by Ruatara, a rangatira of the adjacent Rangihoua pa. Without this assurance of physical safety and support, the missionaries would never have left the UK and New South Wales. The photo above belies New Zealand’s terrifying reputation among Europeans of this period.
For this reason, today marks the 200th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in Aotearoa (give or take – we’re not counting services celebrated by chaplains on visiting European or American ships).
I took this picture at the beginning of December when I visited Oihi for the first time. The cross and beach are now the centre-piece of the new Rangihoua Heritage Park. There are some good interpretative plaques on the way down to the beach, but even if they weren’t there, it’s a spot of outstanding beauty – especially if you have it to yourself at the end of a cloudless summer’s day, as I did.