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July 23, 2012 | by  | in Opinion |
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On Campus

JEAN FRANÇOIS YVERT

Jean was born on 10th June 1797 in Pleuville, France. He immigrated to New Zealand at the ripe age of 45, and worked here in raucous port town Kororareka as a printer for the Marist Catholic Mission (bleak).

Jean, what brings you to New Zealand, and how was your voyage?

I had heard of the plight of the noble savages and their need of spiritual enlightenment. It was a calling that saved me from my crazy ex-wife. The seas were like mountains and my stomach in valleys! We were at sea nigh on sixty days, not one of them without incident! [French prone to hyperbole.]

What were your first impressions of our fair capital, Kororareka? Any trouble with the locals?

The locals have been quite accommodating and are keen to trade; the whalers and sealers however have not taken well to our goal here. They distract the Maori with grog and gambling. Pokies and piss!

How is the preaching going?

Swimmingly! The locals gag my sermons and have largely abandoned their heathen deities. Pretty classic.

This has been called the land of milk and honey, better than Pleuville?

Jesus, it’s been great! Last Friday’s saloon party went off. Although Hone Heke turned up toward the end, which was more awkward than a police raid in the Ureweras…

We all know Kororareka is a bit loose, been hitting up the local variety?

You know it. It’s a real treat after all my work in the field.

A lot of missionaries think the local tribes have been getting a hard time from the whalers and sealers – truth?

Not overly, although the sailors do make for wily merchants…

Thoughts on flag-feller, Hone Heke?

I think he gets a bad rep amongst the Brits and their supporters—he’ll probably go down in history as a loose cannon.

Hone Heke told his warriors not to attack the French Mission. Were you hiding out at HQ during the Flagstaff War?

Oui oui! I was in the cellar with my dear friend the Bishop, cosying up with the whiskey and reciting psalms.

The papers seemed to predict a showdown between Heke (plus his gaggle) and the Brits. Were you surprised that the British gapped?

Not one bit, it’s typical for them to up and leave when they fuck up.

How noisy was it outside when the lads went ransacking?

No louder than the standard hullabaloo of this lawless frontier town. The Bishop and I were quite content in our studies.

European law hasn’t exactly taken off here, is it a good time residing here?

As a bachelor, I’m enjoying every minute, but sometimes things do get out of control.

How do you see the future of Maori-Pakeha relations? Have the French got a look in?

Unlikely. It’s hard to imagine peace will last, especially following the discontent Treaty terms have brought. It’s a shame Napoleon wasn’t here to lock the place down, now I’ve had to learn Anglais (Jean winces dramatically).

R.I.P Jean 

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