Maori and Missionary: Early Christian Missions in the South Island of New Zealand
Chapter Seven — The Rev. Charles Creed
The Rev. Charles Creed
“Whatever noble fire is in our hearts, will burn also in our work.”
Sir Frederic Leighton.
It is True That The Rev. James Watkin was the First missionary pioneer who blazed the trail in the South Island and who established the first organised Christian church. He cut his way unhindered by handicaps, undaunted by any tasks, however difficult, and left behind him a trail for others to follow. The Rev Charles Creed was the second pioneer. He not only followed in the tracks of the first herald of the Cross in the South Island, but he penetrated localities and native settlements untouched by his worthy predecessor.
Charles Creed was born at Hembridge, Somersetshire, England, on October 8th, 1812. In 1836 he became a student in the Theological College, Hcxton. After his ordination, he, with the Revs. J. Waterhouse, H. Bumby, S. Ironside and J. Warren, left Gravesend on September 20th, 1838, in the ship James, to reinforce the Wesleyan Mission staff in the South Seas. Upon arrival at Hobart the missionary party was entertained at Government House by Sir John Franklin, who later won fame as an Arctic explorer. Several of the missionaries remained for a time at Hobart. The others, including Mr. Creed, reached Hokianga on March 19th, 1839. At Hokianga and Kaipara, Mr. Creed acquired a full knowledge of the Maori language and acquainted himself with the customs and legends of the native people.
After serving the church in the above-mentioned places he was in 1841 appointed to Taranaki. A fine picture by Baxter depicts the Rev. J. Waterhouse, general superintendent of Wesleyan Missions, conversing with a chief about the prospects of the Mission. An old chief has thrown his patu to the ground to convince the missionary of his willingness to accept the Gospel of Peace. As soon as Mrs, Creed approached the shore in a boat, the native women began to cry, “E Mata! E Mata!” and seven women immediately ran into the sea up to their shoulders and caught her in their arms and carried her on shore—the first white woman they had ever seen. Mr. Creed is depicted as directing the landing of his goods. The missionary ship, the Triton, is shown at anchor.page 77
Mr. Creed commenced his work at New Plymouth with a keen sense of the responsibility resting upon him. Opposition never daunted him; on the contrary, his courage rose with danger. Upon the Maori people he made an impression that has been handed down to the present generation. He was the first resident missionary among the Taranaki Maoris, and Mrs. Creed was the first European woman to settle among them. Mr. Creed's appointment to Taranaki helped to meet the needs of the Maoris, who at that period were returning from Cook Strait to their ancestral homes, and also of the returning exiles who were being emancipated from slavery in the Waikato. Of such importance was his appointment regarded by the Maoris that the chief, Reihana Toko, escorted him all along the coast during the first year of his work.
When the immigrant ship, the William Bryan, arrived on March 31st, 1841, Mr. Creed was on the beach to meet the men of Devon and Cornwall who founded the European settlement, and he was a source of inspiration to them as they faced the difficulties of the situation.
Charles Creed was an expert horseman. The chief surveyor of the settlement had purchased a horse for which he had paid £79, but the animal was beyond control and used to deposit his rider in the nearest ditch. He sold it to Mr. Creed for £29. Creed found the animal a spirited but useful servant, though some of the Maori people may have regarded it as a taniwha (monster).
In 1844 Mr. Creed, who was 32 years of age, was appointed to succeed Mr. Watkin in the South Island, with Waikouaiti as his headquarters. He sailed from Wellington with Mr. F. Tuckett, surveyor, on the schooner Deborah. The Rev. J. F. Wohlers, missionary bound for Ruapuke, was also a passenger. Arriving at Port Cooper (Lyttelton) on April 5th, Mr. Creed met for the first time the chief, Taiaroa (with whom later he had much to do), and Tuhawaiki, a chief of great standing among the Maori people. Both these chiefs were clad in sailor's suits. On Sunday, the 7th, Messrs. Creed and Wohlers set out for Port Levy to visit and conduct services for the Maoris where Mr. Watkin had appointed two native pastors. On their way they became hopelessly lost among the mountains. At last they arrived at Lake Waihora (Ellesmere), and Wohlers wrote:
“Here we are, lost, hungry and tired, no roof and no food.” They subsisted on wild turnip and native berries. On the morning of the third day, weary and faint, they despaired even of life. On the fourth morning, continuing their journey over the mountains, they rose above the clouds, and saw in the distance Port Cooper and the Deborah once more—a welcome sight.
They reached Waikouaiti Bay on April 19th, and were met by Mr. Watkin, who gave them a hearty welcome. Wohlers wrote of Watkin: “He is a clever and experienced man and knows how to page 78 take people in the right way, and his labours are, with the blessing of God, successful as well among the Maoris as the Europeans,” Creed wrote as follows: “I am well pleased with the success which has attended his (Watkin's) exertions. The knowledge of the natives is more than could have been expected, considering the disadvantageous circumstances under which this isolated station has been labouring. The natives here may be classed with those of the older stations; they would do no discredit to those in the Northern Island, either in Scriptural knowledge or general information. The unwearied exertions of Mr. Watkin are truly praiseworthy.”
Mr. Creed began in commission under more favourable conditions than his predecessor. He was better equipped, having a good supply of service books and Bibles in the Maori language. The natives who could already read were charmed with these, and Mr. Creed, being a ready speaker, was listened to with great attention. The missionary did not lose much time in visiting the various settlements of his parish.
Mr. Watkin, prior to his departure, had prepared many converts for baptism. The Register shows that on July 14th Mr. Creed baptised five Ruapuke candidates; on August 11th he baptised seven, and on September 15th twenty-two Ruapuke people. In addition to these, there were candidates from Moeraki, Waikouaiti and Otakou, These figures show how thorough Mr. Watkin's work had been before leaving for Wellington. The accessions gave Mr. Creed a good start and were an encouraging augury for the future. Among those baptised on August 11th appear the names Haora Piharo, Hohepa Tahao and Mohi Moki. On September 15th appear the names Wiremu Parata, Tare Weteri Hape, Nera Weteri Pohau, and Anara Turi. Mr. A. W. Traill, schoolmaster at Stewart Island, informed the writer that Mohi Moki proved himself to be a man of excellent character, and was highly esteemed by Maori and pakeha. He died at Stewart Island in July, 1910. Two of his daughters were sent to the Maori Girls' College, Turakina, where they became so proficient that Mr. Hamilton, the superintendent, desired them to remain as teachers.
Like his predecessor, the new missionary had to face obstacles placed in his way by unprincipled Europeans. He reported to the Mission Board, London, his regret regarding the evil habits into which some of the younger Maoris had fallen due to this cause, and wrote: “This, alas, is no otherwise than can be expected from the company in which they had been brought up, viz., European whalers, many of whom delight in making the natives as bad as themselves. The consequence is that in some cases we have a sad combination of native and European vices. Many of the Europeans use their art and influence to draw the people away from religion. Mr. —– (no name given) gave the natives a bucket of rum. I need scarcely page 79 add that several of them became intoxicated. Such a scene, I never witnessed before, I hope never to see again. At another time a European presented a draw knife to the throat of a native two or three times and told him he would kill him; and many things too numerous to mention. I trust when the settlers arrive at New Edinburgh a different influence will be exerted on the minds of the natives, and that a stop may be put to the loose, and in many ways outrageous, conduct of some of the Europeans.”
When Mr. Creed came to Otago he called at Port Cooper (Lyttelton) en route, and was much impressed with the needs and prospects of the work in the northern part of the Island. He made up his mind to visit these fields as soon as possible. With the shattering of Cloudy Bay Mission consequent upon the Wairau tragedy on June 17th, 1843, the boundaries of his charge were enlarged. His circuit, which already extended to the remotest south, was extended to cover also the territory as far north as the inland Kaikouras. This second visit of Mr. Creed to Banks Peninsula took place in the latter part of 1845. Accompanied by three native teachers named Rawiri Te Maire, Wiremu Patene Te Aowangai and Hohepa Maru, he left Waikouaiti Bay on Monday, September 22nd.
Letter to the General Secretary of the Mission Board: “For a long time I have been exceedingly desirous of visiting the people on Banks Peninsula, and along the coast, and had determined to make the attempt the first favourable opportunity…. I heard of a schooner which was going to Wellington and might probably touch at Akaroa. I immediately made arrangements to go in her. We were four days and four nights on board, having had contrary winds; we came to anchor in Akaroa on the 26th September. I then commenced my overland tour; visited Akaroa, Pigeon Bay, Port Levy and Port Cooper on Banks Peninsula; and from thence travelled along the coast to Waikouaiti: the whole distance I had to walk was about 270 miles. After leaving Port Cooper our way lay along an extensive plain 150 to 200 miles long and perhaps 30 miles wide; we generally kept near the coast and can therefore say little as to the nature of the country. We travelled 50 or 60 miles without seeing a tree or shrub with the exception of the ti-tree, which in some places is very abundant. We generally had to depend on driftwood for fuel. The rivers on this coast are often very dangerous in consequence of the very great floods occasioned by melting of the snow, and the falling of the avalanches from the immense ranges of mountains inland. In this respect I would thankfully acknowledge a kind and gracious Providence in preparing our way before us, the weather being dry and the waters in the rivers very (comparatively) low. One of them, which we forded, was nearly to the loins and very rapid. The natives assisted me through the water. Another, the Waitaki River, we were obliged to cross on a page 80 raupo or reed boat. Altogether this journey was one of the most arduous and fatiguing I have ever undertaken. Through the Divine Blessing I reached home in safety, devoutly thankful to God for all the mercies to me and my beloved family during my absence. As to the state of religion among the natives generally, I would gratefully say that Christianity has already done much for them, both from a civil and religious point of view. They have their regular services for Divine Worship and their schools for instruction, conducted by native teachers: knowledge is keenly communicated and received in all their villages; and although we cannot expect to find them as far advanced as those who reside near the Mission Stations, their progress is considerable, both to themselves and their teachers. Some of them, I trust, are sincere seekers of salvation. The New Testament may truly be said to be the New Zealander's companion. Many of them can read with fluency and their knowledge of Scripture is encouraging. Everywhere I was received as a messenger of mercy, and I never felt more delighted in preaching the Gospel than latterly; and although I had no listening thousands, yet the scattered tribe of Ngai-tahu gladly gathered round their missionary to listen to the Word of Life. Brethren, pray for us, that the Word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it was with you…. During my stay at Port Levy, I heard the particulars regarding a number of natives, two hundred or more, residing on the West Coast, nearly in the same latitude as Banks Peninsula. They have generally embraced Christianity, and have been waiting for the last three or four years for a missionary to visit them,1 I baptised a young man from thence, who has returned home, and with him I sent some Testaments. He was very urgent for me to visit them, should Providence direct my way. Since my return from the north I have visited Otakou and Purakanui; south of this place, etc.
I remain, etc.,
Extracts from Creed's Diary, and further to the foregoing letter:
“September 22nd, 1845: About 8 a.m. the schooner belonging to the natives, in which I intend to proceed to Banks Peninsula, came out of Otakou. I made all possible haste to be ready. At 10 a.m. she came off Waikouaiti. I commended my dear wife and family to the merciful keeping of our Heavenly Father, took my leave of them, and went on board without delay, as the vessel did not come to anchor. When we got out to sea, the wind became contrary: we beat to and fro, but made very little headway. I became very sick and ill.
1 See Journal, October 12th, and baptism of Riwai Watene.
“September 23rd: Strong head winds. Very sick. The motion of the schooner being very quick made me worse than in a larger vessel.
“September 24th: Wind still against us. I felt a little better.” (He was much perturbed by the conduct of some on board, and hoped to be able to do them good; however, at 3 p.m. the wind changed, and he added) “so we were not tossed about so much. I preached to the people in the hold of the vessel: I believe all felt the presence of the Lord. Afterwards I had a service with the European whalers who were on board. The Lord enabled me to warn them faithfully, as well as the natives. I endeavoured to set before them the necessity of repentance and faith in Christ. The subsequent part of the evening our little vessel was like a schoolroom—reading the Scriptures, repeating the Catechism, etc., I felt truly thankful and much refreshed in mind.
“September 25th: The wind continued from the north, so we have made very little progress, although this is our fourth day from Waikouaiti. My mind became much depressed. I was induced to lay our cause before the Almighty, praying He would grant us a favourable wind. That passage of the Scripture was applied to my mind, ‘whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.’ I felt encouraged to pray more earnestly. I opened my Testament on the chapter containing the account of St. Paul's shipwreck, knowing that several vessels had been wrecked on the coast. I looked to the Lord for help and direction and the 34th verse was powerfully applied to my mind—‘Therefore I pray you, to take some meat, for this is your health, for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you.’ I immediately sent for some food, which I ate with thankfulness, still waiting upon God. In the evening I had an interesting service with the natives.
“September 26th, 1845: During the night the wind continued from southward. A little before midnight those on board, fearing we might get too near the shore, it being very dark, we lay to for a few hours. At daybreak we put on full sail and by 10 a.m. came safely to anchor in Akaroa. I went on shore immediately, and, after taking some refreshments, walked about two miles to the European settlement. I called on Mr. R., the police magistrate, with whom I spent an hour or two, and returned in the evening to the Maori village.” (The resident magistrate was Mr. C. B. Robinson.)
“September 27th: This morning I preached to the natives. In the afternoon I went to the settlement and dined with Mr. R. This settlement is not advancing very rapidly. The harbour is very good and extensive, but the adjacent country is not very eligible for a settlement, it being mountainous and at a considerable distance from the main Akaroa, being situated to the south-east extremity of Banks Peninsula.page 82
“September 28th: Sabbath. At 10 a.m. I felt considerable liberty in preaching to the natives, exhorting them to turn to God with full purpose of heart. On returning from the service I found one of the Europeans who came in the schooner so much affected that he begged the liberty to offer up a prayer in which he humbly confessed his sins and unfaithfulness. I found he was the son of an old Methodist in England, and that the instructions which his father gave him had never been erased from his mind during all his wanderings. In the afternoon I married a European and a native woman and baptised their three children. In the evening I preached again to the natives and afterwards had service with two Europeans' (We may here interrupt the quotations from the diary by stating that it is to the credit of the Europeans who had contracted alliances with the Maori women according to the usages of the native race, that in most cases they grasped the opportunity presented by the visit of the first European missionary to have their existing unions sanctified according to the Christian ordinance of marriage.)
“September 29th: Aobut sunrise preached to the natives and married a couple (Anglo-Maori), and at 9 a.m. crossed over the bay and proceeded on the way to Port Levy. I called on Mr. H. at Pigeon Bay.” (Mr. Ebenezer Hay, who arrived at Pigeon Bay in March, 1843.) “Found the mountain which lies between Pigeon Bay and Port Levy rather difficult to ascend in consequence of so many loose stones in the path. It is very fatiguing to travel, not having quite recovered from my late attack of lumbago. We arrived at the native settlement a little after sunset.
“September 30th: I preached this morning to the people from Matthew, chapter 5, verses 25 and 26. In the course of the day I visited seven sick natives, one of whom died a few hours after I had seen her. In the evening I preached from Galatians, chapter 6, verses 7 and 8.
“October 1st, 1845 Early this morning I preached again to the people. Had a long conversation with one of our principal men, an elderly chief, who, I trust, will be a blessing to his people. About 5 p.m. I buried the native woman who died yesterday. A pretty large congregation collected around the grave. I preached to them on the solemn occasion. Many of them appeared much affected. In the evening I conducted a school and was much pleased with their advancement in knowledge, considering they had only native teachers.”
The native teachers, as already stated, were Taawao, who came from the West Coast, and Hoepa.
Opening of the Whare Runanga by the Hon. Peter Fraser on December 1946. The author is on the right, and Mr. F. T. Tirikatene, M.P., on left.
To continue Mr. Creed's Journal:
“October 3rd: Preached this morning from Luke 15. O Lord, make me a blessing to this people! In the afternoon met some of the candidates for baptism. At noon visited the sick natives, and at 5 p.m. preached from Rev. 20:11–12. Had a very interesting meeting this evening with some of them in propounding and answering questions.
“October 4th: About sunrise I preached from the account of Cornelius, Acts 10. In the afternoon I set before them the example of Abraham. In the evening I met the people and organised classes.
“October 5th: Sabbath.' Prayer meeting this morning at sunrise. At 10 a.m. I preached from John, chapter 3, verses 14 and 15, to a good congregation. I felt considerable liberty in setting the Gospel before them in all its freeness and fulness. Afterwards I baptised nineteen adults and ten children. Immediately I had closed the native service, the Europeans, ten or twelve in number, assembled. They had come over from the other side of the Port. I preached to them from John, chapter 3, verse 16. I afterwards married three of them to native women with whom they had been living for several years. I also baptised three children belonging to one of them. In the afternoon I married nine couples of natives. In the evening I preached to a good congregation from Hebrews, chapter 12, verse 1, etc.
“October 6th: Preaching at sunrise. A goodly number present. I baptised one adult and one half-caste child. I visited for the last time one of the sick natives (Meri Kaihau), to whom I administered page 84 baptism. She may linger for a few weeks, but cannot hold out for long. I made arrangements for starting homeward. Took leave of the people, and walked round to Port Cooper. My mind is deeply affected with the destitute (religious) state of the people on Banks Peninsula and the neighbourhood. There are about 300 natives residing at Port Levy and from 150 to 200 at all the other villages in this part of the district. Were it not for the more powerful claims of other places I would recommend that a European missionary, or at least an assistant missionary, be stationed at Port Levy. There are two principal karakias at this place, that of the Wesleyan and that of the Church of England. The cause of pikopo (Bishop Pompallier) has nearly dwindled to nothing. At Port Cooper (Whakaraupo) I called on some Europeans. At sunset the boat came round from Port Levy with my things, and my travelling natives (Rawiri Te Mairi, Wiremu Patene and Hohepa); we crossed over to Rapaki, a small village, where we found a few natives with whom I held a Divine service.
“October 7th: About sunrise I preached to the few natives and proceeded to the head of the harbour in a boat. From there we went to the Waihora Lake (Lake Ellesmere). We had to go round by a circuitous route to the head of the lake. I could easily recognise the place where Mr. Wohlers and I descended from the mountains when we were lost in he thick fog about eighteen months ago. In proceeding on our journey we met a fishing party (Maoris), to whom I preached the Gospel. We then travelled on till quite dark, and halted for the night. This is the last day of my 33rd year. How many mercies and blessings have I experienced in my short career…. In meditating on the goodness of God and the love of God, I felt His love fill my soul. I lay down to sleep very happy in God
“October 8th: About midnight the wind changed to the south-west, and shortly after it began to rain a little, which continued all night; not having a breakwind, our things got wet. We started early in the morning, and after travelling about 15 miles with the wind and rain in our faces all the way, at noon we reached Taumutu, the end of the lake, where a few natives are residing. After breakfast and changing my wet clothes, I felt refreshed. In the evening I preached to the people. I am now entering upon another year. I think I never felt more determined to live for God than now. May this be the best year of my life!
“October 9th: This morning 1 preached from St. Luke 18. One of my travelling natives had his foot so swollen that I was obliged to leave him behind, and get another to supply his place. We left at 8 a.m. and, travelling along the coast, saw the wreck of a boat, supposed to be one that left Moeraki about three weeks ago for Tewaiatemate (near Temuka), to which place we are now travelling. At 10 a.m. we came to a river called Ohineware. The water was page 85 very rapid, and about to the loins. We crossed all at once, so that the force of the water was broken before it came to me. These rivers are exceedingly dangerous, especially in the summer, when the north-west or hot winds blow. The snow on the immense ranges of mountains inland melts so rapidly, and the falling avalanches cause the rivers to be swollen so very high as to render fording them impossible. The next river we came to was the Korakaia (Rakaia), generally much worse than the other; we crossed one, two and three branches, which were dried up, expecting to come to the principal stream in due time; we toiled on, and to our great astonishment, found that also dry; thus we crossed this much dreaded river nearly dry-shod. Such, thought I, is often the case with the true Christian: trials expected much exercise the mind; death often perplexes, but like the river we have just crossed, and of which I have heard so much, when the trembling Christian is called to meet those trials which had caused so many anxious fears, the Lord has been before him, and prepared his way, etc. We sat down and took some refreshment, and then proceeded on our way. We travelled until 4 p.m., when we came to a place where we expected to find water, but it was dried up. We had no alternative but either to spend the night parched with thirst, or travel about fifteen miles further on to the next water. We walked hour after hour, and being very much fatigued, were obliged to lie down on the stones several times and rest awhile, and then on again. It was about midnight when we reached Hanganui, a freshwater lake. Here we gladly halted for the night. The distance we travelled was about forty miles, and what made it worse was the last ten or twelve miles, having to walk on a loose shingle beach. After prayer, we lay under a bunch of flax, thankful to God for all His mercies.
“October 10th: Early this morning we proceeded onward, crossed the Wakatere River, the water to our knees. At 8 p.m. we reached Pakihaukuku, raised a little breakwind, and having a pretty good fire, lay down for the night.
“October 11th: We started early this morning and soon came to the Rangitata, a river very dangerous to cross when flooded. We found the water a little above the knees. We proceeded from thence to the Hapi, an outlet for the waters of a small lake; the tide being high, we could not cross. We had therefore to ford the upper part of the lake. The water was above the waist, but there being no current, we crossed with safety. About noon we reached Tewaiatemati, a small native village, the population being about 80 souls, including children. This village is situated on one of the most extensive grass plains in New Zealand. We have been travelling along it since we left Banks Peninsula, and have not seen a tree, with the exception of a grove about five miles from this village. Further than the eye can see is nothing except an extended plain, page 86 north and south, and in a westerly direction about 30 miles distant are those immense ranges of snowy mountains which extend from Kaikoura to Waitaki. So far as I can learn, this plain must be from 200 to 250 miles in length, and averaging about 30 miles in width; and no doubt will ultimately be made available for very extensive cattle and sheep runs. In the evening I preached to the people from Matt., 5th chapter.
“October 12th, Sabbath: Early this morning I held a prayer meeting. At 10 a.m. preached from Acts 2:38, 39. In the afternoon met some candidates for baptism. At 5 p.m. preached from Rev. 20:11, etc. The word appeared to take effect; many of their countenances seemed to express their earnest desire to have a place at God's right hand. Afterwards I baptised eleven adults and children, and married two couples. I was particularly impressed with one of the men who was baptised. During the ordinance his whole soul seemed engaged with God. I felt a quickening influence resting upon us while I blessed the name of the adorable Trinity. Lord, seal them to all eternity. In the evening a prayer meeting.”
One of those baptised was Riwai Watene Kahi. He came from the group of Maoris on the West Coast and returned, no doubt, to pass on the blessings he had received.
“October 13th: At sunrise preached from Heb. 11:7. The subject appeared greatly to impress their minds. At 5 p.m. preached. In the evening, school; was pleased with their progress and their understanding what they had learned. Some natives returned this evening from Timaru. They had started to go to Waikouaiti, hut the wind being contrary, and hearing that I had reached the village, they came back to see me, so that through a kind Providence, I shall have an opportunity of sending to my dear wife, who has not heard from me since I left home.
“October 14th: Preached this morning from Luke 16:19. The Lord enabled me to warn them faithfully. From all I can hear, the boat which was wrecked at Taumutu left Moeraki with nine on board; one European and eight natives, men, women and children, all have perished. One of the native men, Hoepa Kirihauka, was a teacher from Waikouaiti, on his way to visit his friends at Port Levy. I have great hope in his death, etc. At 5 p.m. I preached in the open air to a good congregation. In the evening I met a few more candidates for baptism, they being from home on Sunday last.
“October 15th: This morning I preached from Rom. 8:26–27; afterwards baptised ten adults and children and married one couple. Lord, bless these people with a saving knowledge of Thy truth. About 11 a.m., I took my leave of them and proceeded to Timaru, a distance of ten miles. The rain coming on heavily hindered us from going farther. In the evening I had a class meeting with my travelling companions and the other natives who are going in a boat. The page 87 Lord was with us.
“October 16th: This morning I addressed them from I Thess. 5, and at 8 a.m. directed our way to Waitaki. We reached Makihikihi, where we halted for the night.
“October 17th: At sunrise I prayed and proceeded on our way. The sun set before we had reached the small village on the Waitaki River. We had some difficulty in finding our way—it being dark. About 8 p.m. heard the barking of a dog, which soon directed us to the place. We found seven or eight natives, including children. We had travelled thirty miles today, etc.
“October 18th: Preached this morning from St. John 14:16. We went about five miles inland to another village on the other side of the river, but found all the natives away from home, and there being no ‘Mokihi’ we could not pass over. We lighted fires as signals for the scattered people to come to the village and waited till sunset. No one came, so we had to remain where we were for the night, having a hut for our accommodation.
“October 19th: Sabbath. This morning had a prayer meeting with my travelling natives, and then returned to the village which we left yesterday. Took breakfast and had a service with the people. I preached from Gal. 6:7–8, and felt considerable liberty in urging them to forsake their sins and serve God…. Doubtless the Lord had a wise end in view in permitting us to go inland yesterday; had we not gone in search of the people, I think it more than probable I should have been persuaded to have proceeded onward toward Moeraki, as the food is very scarce in this place, and under the circumstances, there would have been no alternative for us but either to spend the Sabbath on the coast without a house, and very little or no food, or, otherwise, to have travelled on to Moeraki on the Lord's day, which however justifiable in case of necessity, might be much abused hereafter, both by natives and Europeans. I feel truly thankful to the Almighty for His goodness in preserving me from the necessity of travelling on Sunday. One of my natives fretted a good deal under the disappointment, and would have proceeded on the journey today, had I most determinedly refused to travel on the Sabbath. At 5 p.m. preached to the people. I took the parable of the lost sheep, and endeavoured to persuade them to return to Christ, the true Shepherd. In the evening, school and catechetical instruction.
“October 20th: I preached at 6 a.m. from St. John 3:16–17 and then started for Moeraki. We crossed the Waitaki River on a mokihi, or reed boat. There are several channels in addition to the principal one. The water is rapid in its course; we crossed in perfect safety. The river appears to me to be the only important obstacle to horse travelling, from Banks Peninsula to Waikouaiti, and even here a horse accustomed to New Zealand travelling might cross with page 88 care, when the river is not flooded. We walked five miles, and took some refreshment, one of my natives having got some food from a distance. We have had very little to eat these last few days. We travelled on till 8 p.m., and reached a small river called Kakanui, where we rested for the night.”
The mokihi was a boat-shaped raft constructed of bull-rushes and flax-flower stalks bound together with green flax. It was the only means of crossing this river, and was reasonably safe, provided the crossing was not attempted near the river mouth. The mokihis were often carried down stream for a couple of miles before the opposite bank was reached.
“October 21st: At sunrise we set forward. It was a rainy morning, travelled five miles, and had breakfast. Met with a white man, with whom I had much conversation. I proposed reading and prayer, which was readily assented to; at last I found that he was a poor backslider, having been united with a Christian Society in America; his mind seemed to be fully open to conviction. I hope he will return to the Bishop and Shepherd of our souls. In the afternoon we reached Moeraki, heard from my beloved wife. All well at home, and I feel unfeignedly thankful to the God of all mercies for His continued goodness to us. In the evening I preached from Eph. 6:23–24.
“October 22nd: Preached this morning, and at 5 in the afternoon. In the evening met the classes. I hope the work of Grace is deepening in the hearts of many of the members. Since I was here last one of the members has passed out of time into eternity. There was hope in his death.
“October 23rd: About sunrise preached from St. John 8:12, felt the power to set before them Christ the True Light. Baptised two infants and married one couple—Te Reihaua Pururu to Mokiho. At 5 p.m. I preached from Hebrews 11:29. In the evening met the people in the school, was much gratified with their advancement in Scriptural knowledge.
“October 24th: This morning I addressed them from ‘Casting all your care upon Him, etc.’ Immediately after service, I started for home, walking eight miles, and took breakfast. We travelled on, and at 5 p.m. reached Waikouaiti. Found my dear wife and child well. Bless the Lord, O my soul, for all His mercies to me and my dear family during my absence from home.”
Thus terminated Creed's pastoral visit to Canterbury. He was an indefatigable traveller, as subsequent events proved. The triumphs of his courage and genius over physical disadvantages cannot be overestimated.
As already stated, prior to Creed's visit, services had been conducted by native Wesleyan preachers on Banks Peninsula and in Canterbury in 1839 and 1840, and many of the people had accepted page 89 Christianity.1 Mr. Creed was anxious to visit these converts and further instruct them in the truths of the Christian faith. Accordingly he held services in the native villages, prepared and baptised converts and conducted marriage ceremonies. These marriages were witnessed to by native pastors, and their names appear in the Register. Some of these marriages were between pakeha men and native women. On foot the missionary and his guides travelled across what is known today as the Canterbury Plains, and Creed gave it his opinion that this area, in the future years, would become extensive sheep and cattle runs. This dream has become a reality.
The traveller in those days was confronted with many obstacles of which the present generation can have no conception. Even in the more open country the grass was always knee-deep, with a tangled, spongey mass of decaying vegetation below. Frequent detours were necessary to avoid lagoons and swamps, and dense growths of flax and toetoe had to be penetrated. Dangerous rivers were crossed, where it meant “swim or sink”. Drenched through by the rain; sleeping in the open air, or at best a cave or deserted whare, and weary and hungry by reason of scarcity of food, were the experiences of Mr. Creed and his Maori travelling companions. They “endured hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ”.
Mr. W. A. Taylor, of Christchurch, an authority in early history, in a newspaper article has written:
“Charles Creed must always rank with the best of those staunch pioneer missionaries of the pre-settlement era: men who smoothed the way for the early settlers: men of great faith and of great courage, and still greater endurance. They lived for the most part alone amongst the Maoris, and at a time when peace was by no means stabilised with the pakeha.”
1 When the first emigrants arrived at Akaroa in August, 1840, to establish the French Colony, Captain Lavaud stated that on Sunday he visited the Maori settlement and found 40 men, women and children engaged in singing prayers taught them by a Protestant native pastor, and that they had small printed books in their native language.—The French at Akaroa, T. Lindsay Buick.
The residence of Mr. Jones, the “Big House”, as it was called, was an attractive mansion for those days. The timber was pit-sawn from Jones's bush at Hawkesbury. The doors were made of cedar from Australia. The residence is now, at the time of writing, occupied by the Bannatyne family, who keep the house in excellent order, much as it was in Mr. Jones's time. The grounds are beautifully kept, and the whole property reminds one of an English squire's palatial residence. The house, although erected more than a hundred years ago, is in a wonderful state of preservation. Windows, doors and timbers are the originals. The coach-house, stables, barns and outhouses are much the same today as they were when erected.
The following incident shows that due to the missionaries' influence the Maoris gradually accepted the Christian way of life. Mr. Creed felt it to be his duty to interpose on behalf of a young Maori whom some of the old chiefs were taking as a slave in consequence of his having shown disrespect to some of the old-time native observances. They seized him and placed him at the feet of the old chief whose tapu he had not regarded. Mr. Creed went first to one of them and then to another, endeavouring to quiet the bursting flame. He then went to the old chief at whose feet the young man was still lying. He reasoned with him and with the other chiefs who were present. The old chief seemed to have made up his mind to retain the slave. The missionary set before the chief the evils of slavery and how wrong it was to collect the natives from different places, and to raise a dispute which might end in the loss of many lives. Mr. Creed then went home and wrote him a letter, determined by God's blessing to put a stop to such proceedings. Not long afterwards the old chief came to the Mission House and requested Mr. Creed to go down to his house with him, explaining that he was now anxious to free the young man. Mr. Creed accordingly accompanied him and had the gratification of seeing the young offender liberated.
Notwithstanding various discouragements, the missionary's heart was cheered by tokens of spiritual achievements, and he reported to the Mission Board:
“April 27th, 1846.
“I know that you will be thankful to hear that amidst the many difficulties and discouragements with which a New Zealand missionary has to contend … the God of all consolation does not leave His, servants without some encouragements…. It will rejoice your heart to know that from this, your extreme Southern Station, there are some who have lately passed into the world of Spirits, to join page 91 the triumphant host before the Throne of God. I often think that the words of our Blessed Saviour are being literally fulfilled in our day, ‘And they shall come from the east and from the west, and from the north and the south, and shall sit down in the Kingdom of God.’
“Four of our people, in this place, have died within the last few weeks, and have entered into the rest of ‘the people of God’, two of whom were young men, the one about twenty and the other twenty-one years of age, they were both lying ill together in the same house: one of them died in peace while I was from home visiting the people at Otakou. He was an intelligent native and one of the most fluent readers I have met with amongst the New Zealanders. He was just beginning to act as a teacher when he was taken ill, and was thus removed in his youth to a better world. The other I found still lingering on my return, he conversed freely with me on the state of his mind. He was happy in God. I enquired when he felt the inward change, ‘While lying in the other room with the young man who is just buried,’ he answered. He said he was not afraid to die, and when I asked if he knew where he was going to, he unhesitatingly replied, ‘To heaven’. Two days after this interview he fell asleep in Jesus.
“There was another, an old man, a cripple, I suppose 60 years of age. I frequently visited him in his illness, and conversed with him about his soul. A few weeks previous to his death he said that one part of his heart was light, but the other part was burdened with sin. I pointed him to the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. A few days before he expired he said that now the darkness and burden were removed and all was light. I baptised him in the Name of the Holy Trinity, feeling fully assured that he was also baptised with the Holy Ghost. He continued in a peaceful frame of mind to the last. I do not remember ever pronouncing these solemn words, ‘We therefore commit his body to the ground, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in sure and certain hope of eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ,’ over any corpse with greater assurance than over the remains of this old New Zealander. The fourth was a woman about 35 years of age, a mother of a small family. During her continued illness, I constantly attended her, and I was for a long time much distressed, especially so as the old woman, still adhered to her old superstitious observances, much wished to get her away and subject her to the former mode of incantations for the sick. Of course I used all my influence to prevent this, and am thankful to say was successful…. After this she lay for several weeks, and a few days before her death, as I was conversing with her, she said, ‘For some time past I have been wavering and in doubt, but now light has come into my mind; all my desire is to lay hold of the feet of Christ.’ I could not but praise God for His page 92 mercy in thus rescuing this poor woman from the delusions of the devil and translating her into the Kingdom of His dear Son. She died in peace. I trust these successive happy deaths will be blessed to all the natives; that they may seek and find the same Grace and thus become the crown of our rejoicing ‘in the day of the Lord. This tribe is fast disappearing, so many of all ages, and in every place so rapidly dying; may many of them be found at the last day with the sheep on His right hand.”
He further reported to the Mission Board: “Some of the encouraging features of the work here are the great attention of many of the elderly people to religion; the fact that some of the old chiefs who have been tapu all their life have recently renounced their observances, and are now desirous of finding their way to Heaven. Their constant attendance on the means of Grace, their desire of being instructed in the things which make for their everlasting peace, prove at once their sincerity, and also that the Gospel has begun to take effect on their hearts.
“During the last few months I have baptised three old men above 70 years of age. The work of conviction appears to have been progressive in their minds, until thus, in their old age, they were induced to come forward, and openly profess their belief in the Saviour and have been baptised in the name of the Holy Trinity….
“Had a very interesting Love Feast (Agapae), fourteen spoke, some of them much to the purpose. Several of our members, I believe, enjoy true religion. We rejoiced together for the consolation of the Gospel, that while those who adhere to their superstitious observances were perplexed and troubled, we who in Christ believe, could rejoice and be glad in our Saviour's love.”
The Register shows that previous to the foregoing, Charles Creed kept in touch with the far south, where Watkin had adherents. On June 29th, 1845, several persons from Jacobs River presented themselves for baptism. Their names are: Horomona Pukuheti, Aperahama Kaimata, and Ihaka Mako.
A very prominent figure in the missionary days was an aged chief and tohunga (priest) named Korako, often mentioned by Mr. Watkin. This chief and priest remembered, in his youth, the visit of Captain Cook, who gave him a tomahawk, which he regarded as a great treasure. With this weapon he had been a terror to his enemies. He had used it to cleave asunder the heads of his foes and had, according to ancient Maori custom, drunk their blood, that the valour of his victims might be united with his own.
The old chief bore in his body the scars and marks of many a conflict. The old warrior loved to talk with Watkin about the customs, language and beliefs of his people; although he felt that his atua was angry with him for visiting the Mission House, yet he dared to face the danger and risk the loss of prestige.page 93
During Mr. Watkin's ministry he often attended the services, but he still adhered to the old Maori faith and customs. At this particular time the aged chief became more deeply interested in the Christian way of life, and Mr. Creed reported on October 15th, 1846: “I buried a native child this evening, and preached to the people on the subject brought before us in the burial service. Had a conversation with one of the old chiefs, Korako, who informed me that he intended coming to the class on Sunday next.”
“October 18th: Prayer meeting in the morning at 10 a.m., preaching from Acts 3:6, ‘Silver and gold have I none.’ … At class immediately after the service I was thankful to see the old chief, Korako, there…. May the Lord awaken his soul, and may he be a ‘brand plucked from the burning’…. I endeavoured to show the people that it was for their eternal interest especially, that the Gospel was preached to them … some interested Europeans having endeavoured to draw the natives from attending the services. The subject appeared to have a good effect upon some of them.” Mr. Creed then proceeded to refer to Korako: “He said that when my predecessor was here, he attended the services, but as soon as he got outside, his heart went after other things, and so it was for a long time after my arrival here; ‘but latterly,’ he added, ‘it had been different, ever since you talked to me so much about the late disturbance in reference to Titoke’ (the young man whom they had taken for a slave, but was set at liberty again through my interposition).”
A gradual change had taken place in the old man's life. It seemed to have been a hard struggle, but by the Grace of God he had won through and made the “great decision” for Christ. According to ancient Maori custom, being a chief, he had two wives. One was quite a young woman named Hamiria and the other was named Kupukupu, the aged wife of his youth. Before he could be baptised and received into church fellowship, he must be the husband of one wife. This was a difficult problem. It was a testing time and trial of faith, and it had to be faced. Ultimately he decided to stand by the aged Kupukupu who had shared the burdens and cares of the years. They were baptised upon confession of faith on July 19th, 1848, and the entries stand in the Register: “Te Wakena Korako, old man, and Mata Wakena Kupukupu, adult; New Zealander. Signed, Charles Creed.” The old man had chosen for his own name Te Wakena (Watkin) and his wife chose hers, Mata Wakina (Mother Watkin), and the same day they were married with the rites of the church, and the witnesses were Joseph Crocome, surgeon, and Pahepa.
The old couple witnessed a good confession for the remainder of their days. Korako was a close student of the Bible, and Mr. Creed said of him that he was particularly interested, and compared page 94 the sacred history with their own Maori traditional events which seemed analogous to those recorded in the Sacred Volume. Korako lived only four years after his baptism and was buried at Waikouaiti in 1852.
It was always a difficult problem when chiefs with several wives became Christians. The present writer remembers how the Rev. W. Gittos, the veteran missionary, once solved the difficult question. A powerful chief who had several wives became a Christian. What was to be done? He was very sincere and anxious to be received into church fellowship. He said, “There is my first wife, the wife of my youth, I don't see how I can give her up. There is my second wife. She is a good cook. How can I give her up? There is my third wife, who is useful in the garden and plants my potatoes What can I do?” One day, after much thought, he went to Mr Gittos and said, “The problem is solved and my mind is made up. There was much conversation and much questioning, and the chief said, “I will stand by my first wife, the companion of my youth and the mother of my children. She is old now and I must care for her.” Mr. Gittos asked, “What about the other two wives, what will you do with them?” The chief replied, “Mr. Gittos, you can have them. I will hand them over to you.” The problem was truly solved and the missionary, I presume, had to find suitable husbands for them with whom they could live in happy relationship.
One of the most intellectual of the Maoris at the Waikouaiti Mission was a chief named Maru. He was a priest (tohunga) and chief. He had renounced witchcraft and emancipated himself from the crude superstitions of the people and from belief in malignant deities. He had never eaten human flesh or fallen into vicious practices. For some years he kept aloof from the missionaries, but was searching after a god of noble worth. In Io, the supreme head over all things in the Maori theological system, he saw the shadow of “One” from whom all things proceed. During Mr. Creed's ministry, Maru began to attend the services of the Church. He would enter quietly and sit in a corner farthest from the preacher. Maru told Mr. Creed that the people of his tribe had been dreadful cannibals.
One night as Mr. Creed was preaching from the words, “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God”, he illustrated his theme by reference to Maui, the incarnate God of the Maori; Maru shouted out, “Koe-a, Koe-a” (Yes! Yes!). As the preacher proceeded to show how Jesus incarnated the power of God, the old tohunga, deeply moved, exclaimed, “Kamou te Korero” (your words are true). From that time Maru was a new man, and was duly received into church fellowship by Christian baptism. The record stands in the Register: “No. 497. May 30th, 1847. Hohepa Entwistle Maru, 70 years.”page 95
He was a good example to all, and through his influence others believed, gave up polygamy, and remained true to the Karakia, or Christian worship. As his new life unfolded itself, it became apparent that he had a new feeling towards God as his Father in Heaven; a new consciousness of himself as a moral and responsible being, and a new sense of the worth of his soul and of the souls of all men, because of Christ's sacrificial death.