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Through Ninety Years

Chapter XXVIII

page 266

Chapter XXVIII.

1869–1870. Bishop Williams's Reports For 1869 and 1870. Funds Raised by Mrs. Heathcote's Appeal. Te Aute School Decided on and Timber Ordered.

On December 8th, 1869, Bishop Williams wrote to the Secretaries of the Church Missionary Society: “In proceeding to give you a general account of the year which is now closing I must first mention the political state of the country. The last year closed with the dreadful massacre at Poverty Bay. This was followed by operations against Te Kooti under the command of Colonel Whitmore with a Maori contingent and the English constabulary. Te Kooti made a stand at Ngatapa, a fortified pa, which eventually came into our hands, but not until Te Kooti with a number of his people had got safely away. After this Te Kooti recruited his strength and made a raid upon Mohaka, a village on the coast about 40 miles from Napier. The natives of this place are among our most exemplary Christian natives. Several of the people were killed at their farm, being taken by surprise, but the rest made a vigorous stand against a great superiority of numbers. Then further attempts were made to overpower Te Kooti in the centre of the country, but the operations were badly conducted and were attended with no favourable results. Happily in July there was a change of Ministers, and a new policy was introduced. Te Kooti was followed up with as much vigour as before, having taken up his quarters in the fastnesses behind Taupo, but it was well understood among the King natives that Mr. Maclean being at the head of affairs, there was a greater probability of a reasonable hearing of their grievances. The Waikatos had shown a disposition of peace for many months before, and indeed had abstained from any overt act of hostility for the last three years. Before the session of page 267 the General Assembly was over, they had sent a messenger to open a communication with Mr. Maclean. As soon therefore as the Assembly had closed Mr. Maclean visited Whanganui and Taranaki where the feeling of the hitherto doubtful natives was encouraging. At Taranaki it was remarked by the newspapers that a large body of the natives who then came together had not been into New Plymouth since the year 1860. Mr. Maclean then proceeded to Auckland, and at the request of the King natives at Waikato he went to open communication with them. The full particulars have not transpired, but it is stated that the preliminaries are satisfactory. There is at length therefore a prospect that peace may be again restored. God grant that it may be so.

“The condition of the native church is much affected by the state of the country. We cannot look for order in a time of general commotion. It is so in civilised countries, and still more in a country emerging from barbarism, and where the salutary influence which ought to arise from intercourse with civilised man has been reversed by the force of circumstances.

“Before the breaking out of the war it might be said that Christianity was prevailing over the whole country, and although as was to be expected there were very many who had received the word gladly but were afterwards offended, yet Christianity had so far an influence over the whole community that there was a more strict outward observance of the sabbath than among our own people. The good practice too was kept up of ringing the bell morning and evening when a large proportion of the inhabitants of the village assembled for family worship. Then came this unhappy war, the causes of which it is not necessary to enter into, though it is easy to show, and moreover has been acknowledged by the House of Representatives, that we were wrong at Waitara where the war commenced. The natives then considered that they were standing up for their rights and doing what most Englishmen would have done in like circumstances. When the war had commenced it was no easy page 268 matter to discontinue it, but after a time there came a-cessation of hostilities. It was at the end of the Taranaki war, before the war broke out in Waikato, there was an opportunity of arranging peace, and it was only in consequence of the cross purposes of the Governor and his Ministers that peace was not settled. After the hostilities in Waikato had proceeded for some time, and after the battle of Rangiriri there was again an opening for reconciliation. The natives invited it, and the Governor was ready to encourage it, but again there arose a misunderstanding between him and the Ministers, and the war was allowed to go on. The natives were worsted and confiscation of land ensued at Waikato and elsewhere. Up to this time the natives continued their Christian profession, how far it was sincere I am unable to say. At length the Hauhau superstition was set on foot. The natives were under the influence of deep irritation. They believed they had been wronged. They had persevered throughout in praying to God for victory, but it was in vain, and now when another way was put before them by the originator of Hauhauism, with the assurance that certain success would follow, they said they would try the new doctrine which would do so much for them. This then will sufficiently explain why the body of natives who were in arms against the Government cast off the Christian religion which they had received not very long before, and took up a new form which was a mixture of Christianity with much superstition. And yet many were soon tired of this and acknowledged the folly of it. On the occasion of a visit from Dr. Maunsell to a Hauhau party in Waikato, a chief said ‘We are glad to see you and to have our old service again. We get no benefit from our Hauhau Karakia. It is like a person trying to cross a river in a large square box, there is neither head nor stern, and when we try to steer it we cannot get it to move rightly.’ I believe that those natives who have turned Hauhau will if peace is established be generally inclined to come back again. As to the idea that the Maoris as a people are Hauhaus and rebels, it is a great mistake. I have just made a rough estimate of the page 269 population at the present time, which agrees with what I see to be the Government estimate. After making large deductions for the loss of life during the war, there may be about 35,000 including all ages and sexes; of this number there are only 9,000 who belong to the King or Hauhau parties. It will naturally be asked, how is it if the proportion of Hauhaus is so small, that they give so much trouble? The reason is that they are located in the inaccessible parts of the country, and like the bushrangers in Australia and the Bandits in Italy they are hard to catch.

“Then too as to the idea that neither Christianity nor civilisation have taken root among them. Let us follow up the simile of a root. Seed may be planted in the ground and grow, but afterwards it is trampled down and hardly a vestige of it remains, but in time it begins to show signs of life because the root is there. Now this is somewhat like the native church. At the time that Christianity was beginning to take hold upon the people, the country was colonised. The natives would expect to find among the people of their instructors an illustration of those good lessons which had been inculcated upon them. Instead of this there was a limited amount of good with a great admixture of positive evil. There was much bad example especially of drunkenness and a facility of indulging in the habit of intoxication, and in a large part of the English community a lamentable indifference to religion. Then the facility of obtaining property by traffic, though good in itself, brought with it many attendant evils, but the great demoralising influence has been the war. In the minds of the Hauhaus there were embittered feelings, which as I have already explained resulted in the adoption of the Hauhau superstition. The war too has had a very evil influence upon the friendly natives who have been fighting for us. There is a recklessness and indifference to religious matters which follows in the train of war in all countries which are too well known to require any explanation. Here there is an amount of sifting to which the native Church in New Zealand has been exposed, to say nothing of the innate page 270 wickedness of the human heart which inclines to evil, and that continually, and yet Christianity has so far taken root that it continues to show signs of life. I find at the Native villages a much larger proportion of the community attending service than there is of the English people, and the attention and the orderly deportment are good. Not that their Christianity is in a healthy state, I should wonder if it was under so many depressing circumstances. It is a great blessing in the midst of all our trials to see that the native clergymen are faithful in the work which has been committed to them. What then is the prospect of the future? We look to God to cause the light of his countenance to shine upon us and we trust that the dawn is near at hand. All things seem to be working together to this end. Our great drawback is that a stop has been put to our efforts to increase the native pastorate. There are thirteen native clergymen labouring faithfully at their posts, and there are applications for others, and the means for their support are forthcoming, but there are not men under preparation.

“The efforts I have made since the year 1865 have been often before you, but no result has followed. The Government has done nothing, and are indisposed to do anything. They have withdrawn the support which they used to give, and though they have talked of supporting schools it was with the stipulation that they should not be schools for the preparation of religious teachers. But even the idea of this secular education seems to have fallen to the ground in the confusion occasioned by the present troubles.

“In our extremity we lift up our eyes unto the hills from whence cometh our help. Our help cometh from the Lord which made heaven and earth. God is now answering our prayers, and we believe that the time is near at hand when we shall have better tidings to give.”

On receipt of Bishop Williams's letter mentioned in the previous chapter, Mrs. Heathcote published the appeal, and worked with such prompt energy that in addition to earlier private gifts for which he thanked her, the Bishop wrote that on December 24th, 1869, the page 271 Secretary of the Church Missionary Society had advised that he had received from Mrs. Heathcote subscriptions amounting to £333 12s., so that including the Society's grant of £250 he could now draw for £583 12s. By the end of September, 1870, the Bishop received further remittances of £800. With the amount now in sight it was decided, after consultation with Archdeacon W. L. Williams and Rev. S. Williams, that a school house and dwelling for a resident master should be built at Te Aute for the Te Aute College, on the understanding that the money now advanced should be repaid by the Trustees of the Te Aute School Estate, which now under the skilful management of Rev. S. Williams, was producing a satisfactory income. On December 26th, 1870, Bishop Williams wrote:

“It is settled that the school shall be built a short distance from Samuel's house.

“The master will reside at the school, but Samuel will be close at hand to superintend and take part in the religious instruction. The timber is now being sawn in the neighbouring forest.”

The Committee of the Church Missionary Society had authorised the payment of £100 per annum for the master's salary which was drawn for when the school was occupied.

On November 28th, 1870, Bishop Williams wrote the following report: “The prospects of our Missionary work are much bound up with the native war. I will begin therefore by giving a brief sketch of what has occurred during the past year. In the early part of December, 1869, we heard that Te Kooti, having as was supposed about 300 followers, was at the head of the Whanganui river. There had been several skirmishes before this on the borders of lake Taupo between Te Kooti and the friendlies. Towards the end of January he was attacked in force by Colonel Macdonald and a large body of our allies, and driven from his position with loss. He was then pursued towards the interior of the country, and was again attacked by the natives of East Cape and Whanganui in the month of April at page 272 Waioeka which is a branch of the Opotiki river. A considerable number were killed and others were taken prisoners including the women and children, but Te Kooti as usual contrived to escape at the last moment with a few followers, said to amount to about thirty. Since that time he made an unsuccessful descent upon Tolaga Bay with a very small party, his object no doubt being to obtain ammunition. It is reported, however, that since that time several of his people have left him, so that he is now a wanderer in the forests of the interior. There is then reason to hope that this trial is near to its termination, and if only he could be secured, there would, I believe, be no further cause for apprehension, for the accounts we hear of the proper King party at Waikato are more and more assuring every day.

“In the month of December I had an opportunity of paying a visit along the Coast in the Government steamer S.S. Sturt. January 15th and 16th were spent at Wairoa where we have a native clergyman, and I was able to look around upon all the people who were within reach, but the district was in an unsettled state, and many of the natives were away after Te Kooti at Taupo.

“December 17th, 18th and 19th I was at Turanga. A number of the scattered remnants of the natives are living there and on Sunday I administered the Lord's Supper to 17 communicants.

“On the 20th we called at Opotiki where I visited poor Volkner's grave. The district presented a very forbidding aspect at that time, the native population being much connected with the English constabulary, and partaking of all the worst influences of a military camp. December 21st and 22nd were passed at Tauranga, and we then continued our course to Auckland.

“In the month of March I was to have met my son the Archdeacon at Waiapu, and have held there an ordination of two of our native teachers, but being disappointed with the movement of the steamer I did not reach Turanga until the Archdeacon was on his way back and the ordination was deferred. During my stay there from March 13th to 23rd there was a great excite- page 273 ment in consequence of a report that Te Kooti had surprised a pa at Opotiki and killed 200 natives. It was apprehended that he might make another descent on Turanga; both whites and natives were all under arms for many days. It turned out that Te Kooti had gone to the said pa under a mutual understanding with its inhabitants in order to possess himself of a large quantity of ammunition.

“On September 30th I went to Wellington, where on 9th October, Archdeacon Hadfield was consecrated Bishop of the diocese of Wellington. This change I doubt not will meet with the approbation of the Society in these days of threatening danger when we need so much sterling wisdom and sound piety in those who shall occupy the high places in the Church. In respect too of the native church the usefulness of the new Bishop will be still more increased.

“Immediately on my return from Wellington on October 14th I embarked for Turanga and remained there till November 5th. On October 30th, I ordained two of our native teachers to the office of Deacon, and two of the older Deacons were admitted to Priest's orders. The two former were pupils of long standing in our school at Waerenga-a-hika, and have in the interval been employed as teachers in those localities to which they are now appointed as ministers. During the three following days we held the Native Church Board, for which provision was made at the last General Synod (see Statute III 9-16). The object of these boards is explained in the said Statute. The district over which this Board has authority extends from Table Cape to Hicks Bay. We had present the Archdeacon, four native clergy and eight Lay representatives from the various parochial districts. There were also with us two other native clergymen as visitors. The chief business which demanded our attention was to arrange for the appointment of Churchwardens and Vestrymen for the various parochial districts, and also to explain the duties to be attended to by them. The chief of these are the erection and repairs of Churches and Schools, and the collection page 274 of funds to supplement the salaries of native ministers, and also the payment of native schoolmasters. It is proposed to raise these funds by having one common cultivation for maize, wheat and potatoes to be worked by the whole district, the proceeds of the sale of the same to be devoted by the parochial authorities to the said objects. The natives seemed to enter with great interest into these proposals, and it is to be hoped that much good will result.

“There has been a strong expression of desire for the establishment of the school which it is proposed to have at Te Aute, and it is certain that there will be some students at least who may become candidates for ordination. It is encouraging to know that there is a demand for several native ministers, but the difficulty is to provide them. I hope that the Society will be able to respond to my last application for help, so that by your assistance together with the funds collected by Mrs. Heathcote, we shall be able to proceed at once. I ought rather to say we have already taken action, for the timber is ordered for the buildings. At the same time I am in communication with the Government, for they are bound in honour to fulfil the promises they have made, but we shall not allow the work to stop if they do not fulfil them. I hope to forward the correspondence I have had with the Government by next mail.

“Upon a review of what is going on in the Archdeaconry of Waiapu, and in the province of Hawke's Bay: the regular attendance upon Christian worship, though in many cases it be less numerous than it used to be, the return of several to Christian worship who had forsaken it, the number of regular communicants, the desire for books, and the application in several instances for native clergymen, we have indeed great reason for thankfulness. The clouds are breaking, and there is a prospect that the Sun of Righteousness will arise upon us with healing in his wings.”

Changes in the diocese consequent upon the recent troubles soon became evident. The land taken by the Government at Wairoa in 1867 was surveyed at once, and page 275 sections at Marumaru were awarded to military settlers. After the purchase of land by the Government at Turanganui in 1867, the township of Gisborne was surveyed, and the first sale of sections took place in 1870, and now land in the district became more available for settlement. Military settlers were awarded sections at the village settlement of Ormond.

After Mrs. W. L. Williams with her sons had been settled in their house at Parnell, she arranged in 1870 to take as boarders four other boys who attended the Grammar School; two of these were her own nephews. At the end of November the Bishop took his four granddaughters to Auckland where the family spent two months together.