Deadline set for book on Marsden

02:30, Dec 17 2012

The author of a "very long book" about one of New Zealand's first missionaries is taking on a new role as the University of Waikato's writer in residence in 2014.

Emeritus professor of political studies at the University of Auckland, Andrew Sharp is writing the history of the Rev Samuel Marsden and he intends to finish the book during his time as writer in residence.

"I've already written many of the projected 25 chapters and I'll be working on the final few during my Waikato residency," he said.

Marsden arrived at Rangihoua in the Bay of Islands in December 1814 and held the first Christian church service in New Zealand on Christmas Day.

The book will trace Marsden's journey as he takes religion from England to New South Wales and New Zealand and establishes New Zealand's first Christian mission.

"It's not a biography - more a history of his life and opinions, and the lives and opinions of the people he lived among," Sharp said.


"Having the Waikato residency means I can complete my New Zealand research. I still have a lot to do - not just in libraries but also on location."

Sharp will go to several places for research, including the Bay of Islands and the Firth of Thames, and he will follow Marsden's return to Northland through Auckland and the Kaipara Harbour. Sharp hopes to have the research completed before 2014.

"The year 2014 marks the 200th anniversary of the founding of the mission and I want to commemorate that with the book."

Writing and literature expert at the University of Waikato's English department Sarah Shieff said Sharp's project was exciting and his work on Marsden would add a hugely important dimension to what was already known about the missionary.