Letter from John Gare Butler to Josiah Pratt, March 26th, 1821
March 26th, 1821.
Revd. and Dear Sir,
As I have copied my journal, and sent it within a few days of the present date, I have nothing new to communicate, any further than stating that we are at this time on the most friendly terms with the natives, and possess both their confidence and esteem.
My natives, whom I employ in farming and fencing, gardening, etc., etc., go on exceeding well, and improve very fast.
I shall not want any more wheat from Port Jackson for my family, and I hope to be enabled to relieve the settlement very much next year, as I have ten acres of land fit for wheat this seed time.
I have eight native sawyers cutting timber for my house at this time. The farmers and sawyers under my care are all victualled at our place—eighteen in number, and as Mrs. Butler has no assistant, poor woman, she is almost worked off her legs, but we assist each other, and do the best we can.
I have now an excellent garden full of vegetables of various sorts, and also a pretty good stock of young fruit trees, but no gooseberries or currants. I need not inform you how I have spent my time in New Zealand, as my journal will furnish you with every information on this subject.
As we have no school at present, nor means of supporting one, I endeavour to instruct the natives in temporal and spiritual things in the best way I can, and to the utmost of my power. In beginning a new colony or settlement, there is an amazing deal of work and labour to be done before it is possible to set on foot any regular spiritual instruction.
I apprehend the Committee are not sufficiently acquainted with local circumstances. In this heathen land there is no market to go to, therefore everyone is obliged to kill his own pork, and if he wants any comforts for his family, he must obtain them by his own industry, or be content to go without them, as New Zealand produces nothing but potatoes and pork.
On this account I am obliged to be engaged on many more secular affairs than I otherwise should be.
If the Committee would be so kind as to allow me a steady middle-aged man and his wife (without encumbrances), as servants, they could be a real blessing—the woman to assist Mrs. Butler in the female department, and the man to act as steward for me. This would ease my mind from a great deal of anxiety, as well as ease me of a great deal of labour, such as milking my cow, killing my hogs, going with the natives constantly, etc., etc.
As it is the desire of the Committee that I should attend especially to the native language and my ministerial duties, they would therefore enable me to do what is at present out of my power, which is, to devote the whole of my time to my proper duties and calling.
My son, Samuel Butler, is now returned from Port Jackson, and will assist me in getting my house forward, and other business, as well page 163 as improve himself as fast as possible in the native language, and assist me in instructing the natives in every possible way.
The brig “Hope” came into the harbour on Wednesday evening last, bringing stores for our settlement, and having on board Mr. Haywood, Mr. Wilson, and their wives, for Otaheite. Mr. Marsden had intended to send down a little spirit to the settlement, but there was not room to get it on board.
Captain Grime informed him he could spare a little, and he ordered him to leave it at New Zealand, and get a bill on the Society in England for the same.
I have purchased eighteen gallons off him at 10/- per gallon, for to be divided amongst us, and I have drawn on you, Sir, for nine pounds, which you will have the goodness to pay, and charge the same to my account.
In my former letter I ordered some porter for my family. Messrs. Hall and Kemp desired me in this letter to order them two barrels each, to be packed in cases to prevent plunder. Mrs. Butler, myself, and family are quite well, and we present our affectionate love to you and all our dear friends.
Yours very affectionately,
Butler to C.M.S. (Evidently Josiah Pratt).