A NEW ZEALAND NATIVITY
This introduction can be stand alone or used as an introduction to
the Nativity Play.
Marsden was born in the small English village of Farsley on 25th
June 1765. His father was a blacksmith who owned a small farm.
As a boy Samuel was used to working hard.
His parents were influenced by John Wesley and his evangelical
movement which was popular in England at the time.
Samuel was able to attend the village school but it was not until
he was 24 years of age that he was sent by the Elland Clerical
Society to Hull Grammar School.
In 1790 Marsden entered Cambridge University but did not
complete his degree. For, in 1792 through the influence of William
Wilberforce he was offered a the post of Assistant Chaplain to the
New South Wales Convict Settlement. In April 1793 he married
Elizabeth Friston and was made a priest on 26th May 1793 .
There were a number of young Maori living in the settlement and
training to be sheep farmers. Marsden’s door was open to these
Maori men and he was humble and wise enough to listen to the
needs of their people and consider how they could be helped.
In 1807 Marsden went to Norfolk Island on a convict ship and met
a destitute and ill Maori sailor, a chief named Tuatara who had
been robbed. Marsden befriended Tuatara and sent him back to
his home in the Bay of Islands with gifts of seeds and tools.
At this time Marsden heard of the Massacre of the sailors on the
“Boyd” at Whangaroa . Marsden was hoping to go to The Bay of
Islands and establish a mission.
A few years later Marsden asked two European men- Kendall and
Hall-to go to New Zealand in a boat he had bought. They brought
back Ruatara and Ngapuhi chief Hongi Hika.
In 1814 Marsden was permitted by the Governor of New South
Wales to visit the Bay of Isalnds and Whangaroa in particular and
left in the vessel “Active”
Questioned about the massacre the Whangaroa chief had been ill,
and was mistreated. This had infuriated his tribe who had taken
vengeance on the crew of the “Boyd”.
Marsden made peace with the Tribe and then moved on to Oihoi
This is a nativity play that includes Samuel Marsden who took the
first Christian service in New Zealand at Oihi Bay in the Bay of
Islands on Christmas Day 1814.
Present were three chiefs – Korokoro Hongi and Ruatara, the latter
being the translator for Marsdens service. The Chiefs had been to
Marsden’s church services in Sydney.
On Chistmas eve there was a mock battle and then Korokoro’s
people cooked food on the beach.
Ruatara spent the evening preparing for Christmas Eve. He
fenced an area, and created a pulpit, a reading desk and seats
out of old canoes. The pulpit and reading desk were covered with
Christmas morning was calm and clear in Te Puna Bay –today
known as Oihi Bay – and the “Active” was lying still at anchor
below the rock face of Rangihoua Pa.It is reported that
Pohutakawa was in bloom on the beach and on the headland.
Marsden and his party went ashore at 10am. Marsden announced
the first hymn – All people that on Earth do dwell- and reported in
his dairy that he felt his “felt his very soul melt within” as he
viewed his congregation.
A New Zealand Nativity Play
Author-Rev. Roly Letham
This play can be performed by using the Marsden character as the
only speaker and using as many, or few cast as you wish. All or
some speaking parts can be removed.
For example it can be
A full Nativity Play
A shortened nativity play – no dialogue –only Marsden
speaks. Kapahaka group sing wiata
A shortened nativity play without angels. Kapahaka group
A normal service with Kapahaka group taking part.
Ruatara’s speech to Maori is the translation of Luke Chap. 2
Verses 9-11 from Ko te Kawenata Hou .(the New Testament)
On one side of the church is a manger and room for the Mary and
Joseph, shepherds, angels, and wise-men.
Marsden side-On the other side are a group of Maori (May be
School Kapa Haka Group), three chiefs, Marsden in a white robe
and some seamen.
Shepherds - 0ne spokesman
Angels- Gabriel has dialogue
Maori Chiefs-Ruatara Korokoro Hongi-
Marsden- Main speaker
The centre of church
Angels are gathered
Marsden tells the Christmas story and as he tells of each event the
manger scene is populated.
What follows is the complete Nativity play. As mentioned above if
you have difficulty filling roles you can have Marsden as the only
speaker and all the rest of the roles can be mimed. However it
would be preferable that wiata are performed.
The kapahaka group sing waiata as Marsden walks down the aisle.
Then kapahaka group sits around Marsden.
Marsden- Haere Mai, Greetings, Friends we are
gathered together today in the name of
Christ. Let us start our service by singing
the Hymn All People who on earth do
Sing Hymn; All people who on Earth do dwell
Marsden-Today I want to tell you the story of the
birth of our saviour Jesus Christ and our
text comes from:
Luke Chap 2. verse 10: “Behold I bring
you Glad Tidings”
The story begins when Mary and her husband Joseph
come to Jerusalem to complete the census. Mary was
expecting a child.
Mary and Jesus enter up aisle and after miming
animated discussion with Inn keeper go to Manger.
They had difficulty finding accommodation and ended
up living in a manger where Mary gave birth to a son
whom they named Jesus.
Carol: O little town of Bethlehem
A number of shepherds watching their flocks in the
hills were surprised to see an angel who told them of
the birth in the manger of a saviour who is Christ the
Lord. The Angel said you will find this special baby
wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.
Carol: While shepherds watched there flocks
Shepherds come down aisle where they are stopped by
Gabriel : Glory to God in the highest and on earth
to those on whom his favour rests. Good evening folk,
I believe you are looking for the baby
Simon : Yes we were up on the hill looking after
our sheep when a group of angels came and told us
that the saviour would be born in Nazareth in a barn.
Gabriel: That is correct the special babe is over
there in the manger.
Simon: Well we will go and see this special baby.
To his friends – Come on lets go.
The angels retreat to the alter area and the shepherds
go to the manger.
Marsden:-Three wise men had been travelling for sometime
following a star. They had come from the East and travelled far.
They had called on King Herod and asked him where the child was
who they described as being born King of the Jews. Herod wanted
them to find the child and contact him as he saw Jesus as a threat
to his reign. They go to Nazareth to find the Baby saviour
Wise men walk up the aisle
Gabriel goes to meet them
Carol-We three kings
Gabriel: Welcome Gentlemen where are
Wise man: We have travelled for days on our camels through
desert storms and snow filled mountain passes. We were following
this star from our homes in the East. On the way here we visited
King Herod. Boy is he upset. He is really concerned that his baby
we seek will be king of the Jews and consequently a challenge to
We did not tell him but we are seeking this special child.
Gabriel: You have arrived at your destination because the child
has been born in that manger over there.
Marsden: The wise men went to the manger and worshipped the
babe. They then went home without telling King Herod they had
found the child.
Ruatara speaks to Maori .
Nā tū ana tētahi anahera a te Ariki i o rātou taha, a whiti ana te
korōria o te Ariki ki a rātou a tāwhio noa; a nui whakaharahara tō
Nā ka mea te anahera ki a rātou, Kaua e mataku: ta te mea he
kaikauwhau tēnei ahau ki a koutou mō te hari nui, meake puta mai
ki te iwi katoa.
Nōnāianei hoki i whānau ai he Kaiwhakaora mō koutou i te pā o
Rawiri, arā a te Karaiti, te Ariki.
(And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone
round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of
great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the
The kapahaka folk sing waiata as the folk in the manger scene go
out –Mary and Joseph last