The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District]
The Rev. James Buller
The Rev. James Buller, who left England as a missionary of the Wesleyan Church, landed at Hokianga on the 21st of April, 1836, and remained in the district for three years. He was afterwards at Kaipara for fifteen years, at Wellington five years, and at Christchurch six years, and after that he was superintendent minister at the Thames. page 612 Altogether he was for more than forty years engaged in missionary and church work in New Zealand. During that time he was successively president of the Australian and New Zealand Wesleyan Conference. In his work “Forty years in New Zealand” he has a great deal that is interesting to say concerning the characteristics of the Maoris and the labours and the lives of the early missionaries and colonists. Shortly after his first arrival at Hokianga Mr. Buller set himself to master the Maori language. He had neither lexicon nor grammar, but the language had been reduced to writing, and with the aid of some printed translations of church manuals and of some portions of the Bible, and by daily intercourse with the Maoris, he prepared a grammar and vocabulary for his own use, and in that way fitted himself to help in missionary school work. At the end of his first year's residence at Hokianga he made his first attempt to preach in Maori. His sermon aroused much interest amongst his native hearers, who were profusely polite in their appreciation of his efforts to instruct them and open their minds to new ways of looking at life. This encouraged Mr. Buller, and must have been of great value to him at the outset of his long, arduous, yet vigorous, and in the main, successful apostleship. His work is still much more than a memory in the Hokianga and Kaipara districts, and the charm it had for himself, notwithstanding all its dangers and drawbacks, given the attraction of a fine atmosphere to much of his “Forty years in New Zealand. During his later years Mr. Buller lived in retirement in the neighbourhood of Christchurch, where he died on the 6th of November, 1884.