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



James Stack (“Te Taka”), who was born at Southsea, England, in 1801, was associated with the Wesleyan mission station at Whangaroa when it was broken up by Hongi's orders in 1827. He was then stationed at Hokianga from 1828 till 1831. Whilst he was in England in 1834 he became an Anglican missionary. With the Rev. J. Hamlin he was driven from the Mangapouri station (near Te Awamutu) in 1836. After serving at Rangitukia (1842–46) he was, in 1848, invalided Home. He died at Southsea in 1883. Mrs. Stack had died in 1850. A son, Canon J. W. Stack (born at Puriri, Thames, in 1835), also entered the New Zealand mission field, but most of his work was undertaken in the South Island. He died at Worthing, England, in 1919.

Known to the natives as “Kihirini,” the Rev. George Adam Kissling (born at Murr, Wurtemburg, on 2 April, 1805) joined the Church Missionary Society in 1833. Four years later he was sent to Liberia (West Africa). His pupils at Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone, included the negro ex-slave who, upon his baptism, took the name “Samuel Crowther” and who, ultimately, became a bishop. Upon Mr. Kissling's return to England he was ordained and, in 1842, sent out to New Zealand. Mrs. Henry Williams, in her diary, describes him as “an old German missionary,” and Mrs. Kissling as “a well-educated Englishwoman.” He was stationed at Kawakawa (E.C.), which was afterwards named by the natives “Te Araroa” on account of the fact that he formed a long, box-edged path from his gate to his front door. His church, which would hold 500 worshippers, stood close to the beach.

Shortly after Mr. Kissling's arrival at Te Araroa many native families dispersed to their own lands. It became a strict practice among them, however, to return each Sunday for the church services. He had a nice garden and orchard and ran cows on an adjacent area which he leased from the natives. J. G. Baker says that he met with much obstruction from Iharaira te Houkamau, whom he describes as “a blustering chief residing at Hicks Bay.” Becoming ill in February, 1846, Mr. Kissling went to Auckland. His doctor would not permit him to return to the East Coast. When his health was restored he took over the administration of the Maori work at Kohimarama, and became the minister of the Church of St. Barnabas. In 1852 he was appointed Archdeacon of Waitemata and placed in charge of St. Mary's, Parnell. He died on 10 November, 1865.

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The Rev. Charles Lucas Reay, B.A. (born in England in 1780), was vicar of Swanburne (Bucks) for some years. He was stationed, first of all, at Cloudy Bay, and then at Nelson before he was transferred, in 1847, to Rangitukia, whither he brought an assistant named Tamati Takao, who, subsequently, became a lay reader at Akaroa. Mr. Reay died on 31 March, 1848. A tombstone which his widow had intended should be placed over his grave was found, in pieces, in a garden in Shortland Crescent, Auckland, in 1914. It was repaired and erected in the locality in which he was buried at Rangitukia, the exact site of the grave being unknown.

The Rev. Rota (Lot) Waitoa—the first Maori to be admitted to Holy Orders—was stationed at Te Araroa in 1848. Rota (according to J. G. Baker) entered upon his work with much zeal, but Iharaira te Houkamau, who had thought it bad enough to have had European missionaries to contend with, regarded as an insult to his dignity the placing at Te Araroa of a Maori deacon whose people at Otaki he looked upon as bitter enemies. By tact and patience, however, Rota won the day, and Iharaira became as docile as a child. After a while he offered himself as a candidate for baptism, and, as a further token of his penitence, begged Rota to appoint him “church sweeper and bellringer to the House of the Lord.” Rota died in 1866 and was buried at St. Stephen's (Parnell).

Mokena Kohere (born circa 1814) took the forename “Mokena” (or Morgan) upon becoming a Christian on account of the high esteem in which the Rev. John Morgan—who, with the Revs. J. Preece and J. A. Wilson, opened a station at Puriri, Thames, in 1834—was held by the Maori people. As far as is known, Mr. Morgan never visited the East Coast. J. G. Baker (Life on the East Coast in the 1850's) described Mokena as “brave and powerful, yet of an extremely kind and gentle disposition, excepting when aroused, and then he became like a firebrand.” Mokena proved a staunch Anglican and an unswerving upholder of British rule. He and Wi Tako (Waikanae, Wellington district) were the first Maoris to receive seats in the Legislative Council. With reference to Mokena, Governor Bowen, writing to the Earl of Kimberley, said: “He is a chief of high rank and commanding influence in the great clan of the Ngati-Porou, and he was recently presented by Her Majesty with a Sword of Honour for his long and excellent services in fighting for the Crown.” Mokena died on 4 March, 1894. Two grandsons—Reweti T. Kohere, of East Cape, and Canon P. M. Kohere, of Rangitukia, are well-known Coast residents. Second-Lieutenant Henare Mokena Kohere (another grandson) was mortally wounded by a high-explosive shell on the Somme (France) on 15 September, 1916, and died next day.