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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

“A Noble Sight”

A Noble Sight

Notwithstanding several grievous setbacks, the Turanga station quickly grew in influence. Heavy flooding of the Waipaoa River in 1841 caused extensive erosion at Kaupapa. In 1843, a new site was obtained on higher ground at Whakato, only a short distance away. A new church to supersede the rush chapel at Kaupapa was almost finished when it was blown down just prior to Bishop Selwyn's first visit in November, 1842. It would have accommodated 1,000 unseated natives. The Bishop preached amid its ruins on 27 November to a congregation of over 1,000 natives, who, headed by their chiefs and teachers, took their places “with all the regularity of so many companies of soldiers.” He describes the gathering as “a noble sight,” and says that the attentive manner of the people and the deep, sonorous uniformity of their responses was “most striking.” His text was Acts XV, 16–17, on Christ's repairing the breaches of David's fallen tabernacle. During the service Mr. Williams was installed as Archdeacon of Waiapu.

In 1842, the Rev. J. Stack (forty-one years old) was stationed at Rangitukia; the Rev. G. A. Kissling (thirty-seven years) at Te Araroa; and the Rev. W. C. Dudley (who was middle-aged) at Wairoa. Charles Baker (forty years) was sent to Tolaga Bay in January, 1843, and, two years later, the Rev. J. Hamlin began his duties at Wairoa and the Rev. W. Colenso at Waitangi (H.B.). Towards the close of 1842, Mr. Dudley became afflicted with mental trouble and was taken to Auckland. Ill-health compelled Mr. Kissling to retire in February, 1846, and mental strain forced Mr. Stack to give up his post in November, 1846. Both in 1847 and in 1851 Mr. Baker had to seek treatment for acute rheumatism at Auckland. Early in 1847 the Rev. C. L. Reay (sixty-seven years) succeeded Mr. Stack, but he died on 31 March, 1848. The Rev. Rota Waitoa was then stationed at Te Araroa. Sent to Rangitukia in 1850, the Rev. Ralph Barker page 166 became in ill-favour with the natives and had to be withdrawn in 1853. Mr. Baker went to Rangitukia in 1854, but, three years later, his health again broke down and he returned to the north.

Upon his return from England in 1853, Mr. Williams decided to establish a much larger station in Poverty Bay. Attached to Kaupapa there had been twelve acres, but Whakato was only eight acres in extent. He planned to include a special department for the instruction of candidates for Holy Orders and other departments in respect of industrial training and general education. A larger property was required, but no further land could be obtained from the Manutuke natives. The Whanau-a-Taupara section of T'Aitanga-a-Mahaki offered in 1855 to set aside 593 acres at Waerenga-a-Hika in trust for church and educational purposes. A hitch occurred when the donors found that the land would first require to be the subject of a Crown grant; they said that they wished to make the gift without intervention on the part of the Crown.

Even during the hold-up, steps were taken to establish the new station. The removal of the wooden buildings from Whakato presented a formidable task. In order to reduce the amount of sledging work a punt was built and some of the buildings and their contents were taken up the Waipaoa River as far as Mata-whero. By the end of 1856 most of the buildings had been reerected and about 160 acres had been cleared, fenced and sown either in wheat or grass. The land was ceded on 9 April, 1857. Consequent upon the Hauhau rising, the station was closed in 1865. A college for native lads was erected on it in 1890, but, when the main portion was destroyed by fire on 2 April, 1937, it was closed. Te Rau College, in which native students were trained for the ministry, was established at Gisborne in 1883 and remained open until 1918.