Through Ninety Years
In January, 1873, the Bishop and Archdeacon Williams went to Auckland to attend the Central Missionary Conference, at which the sale of Mission lands at Tauranga was decided on. While there the Bishop met Rev. R. C. Jordan, whom he later accompanied to Tauranga. Here on January 29th he licensed Mr. Jordan to the cure of the English-speaking settlers there.
At the beginning of the year the Bishop arranged to build a house for Archdeacon Williams in Napier on the south-east corner of his land facing Clyde Road. The carpenters did not begin this until April. When it was finished, some six months later, the Archdeacon and his family at once took possession of it. This house was given the name of “Taumata.”
The Archdeacon continued his usual work among the natives, directing ministers and teachers, and made journeys between Napier and Gisborne and up the coast to East Cape. Making use of his Waikahua cottage while at Gisborne, he held services with the natives, and with groups of English settlers there, as he had opportunity He at times assisted in the services at and in the neighbourhood of Napier.
The additions to St. John's Church, Napier, for which a bazaar had been held the previous year, were begun on May 15th; for a few months while these were in progress the church-services were held in the Provincial Council Chamber and Masonic Hall.
The initial sale of sections of Hicks's farm on the plains, some 12 miles from Napier, which had been laid page 288 out to form the town of Hastings, was held successfully on July 8th.
The Bishop recorded that he had appointed Rev. P. C. Anderson to take charge of Church work at Taradale, though the building of the Church was to be deferred for the present.
In addition to the journeys mentioned by the Bishop in his following report, he travelled to the Bay of Islands in November, 1873, and took part in the Services at the opening of a new Church at Pakaraka near the residence of his late brother, Archdeacon Henry Williams, which were attended by 200 Europeans and 350 Maoris. He also continued organising and directing the Church work among Maoris and Europeans in and around Napier, and on the East Coast, besides taking a full share of the various Services. He also presided at the Diocesan Synod held in Napier on August 26th and three following days.
On December 31st, 1873, Bishop Williams wrote the following annual report: “In presenting a statement for the year which is now closing I will first mention a few particulars of general interest, leaving to others to furnish information respecting the localities with which they are better acquainted.
“Our body of efficient English Missionaries has become very small, and two of those belonging to this Diocese have long been laid aside from infirmity. Mr. Baker was compelled from this cause to withdraw from Waiapu some years ago, and now after successive attacks of paralysis he is drawing very near his end. When I saw him not three weeks ago he was still maintaining his Christian cheerfulness, being ready to depart and to be with Christ.
“Our good brother Chapman, your old missionary at Rotorua, now upwards of 83 years, I left a fortnight ago in better health, though suffering from the infirmities of age, waiting for the time of his departure with his light burning and his loins girt up. His excellent wife was in vigorous health, and carefully watching over her partner, but I hear by telegram that she was taken from him this page 289 morning by a stroke of apoplexy. There only remain of those in strong health, Spencer, Grace, W. L. Williams and Samuel Williams. We have, however, nine native clergymen, most of whom are labouring with much efficiency.
“Referring to the third page of your letter, I may remark that we have not in New Zealand had any difficulty between the English Clergy and their Maori fellow labourers. They have worked together with the greatest harmony. Having been trained by us from the time when they first embraced Christianity they have looked to us for advice and direction; they have not been left in a state of dependence upon their early teachers, but have been placed in positions of responsibility where they are called to the exercise of their own judgment, and have only occasional supervision from an English missionary. The organisation of our Native Church Boards gives precisely that kind of supervision which your letter speaks of. It is that in which the native Laity take a prominent part, and if there should be anything deserving of notice in their proceedings it would not fail to be brought before the Board.
“The importance of careful selection and training of those who are to become pastors to the Maori people is of just as much consequence as it is in an English community. First of all there must be sound religious principle, and then superadded to that as great an amount of general knowledge as can be imparted to them. The school at St. Stephens has done much for us in this matter and the mainstay of that school has been Sir William Martin, whose delight has been to give regular theological lectures to the Maori students. Now I fear that he is about soon to return to England. If that event should take place we shall have to remodel our system, but I will write a separate letter on this subject. This, however, is clear, and is in accordance with the principles upon which the C.M.S. has always acted—that if we wish for able men, workmen that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth, they must be carefully prepared for this work.page 290
“Upon the general state of the Maori districts I am thankful to say that there is a better prospect of a lasting peace than we have had for some years. Much I think is due under God's blessing to Mr. McLean. His course has been to remove as far as possible all cause for irritation, and now the chief centre of disquiet — Taranaki, and that part of Waikato which abuts on to Taranaki, are showing a strong desire for quiet. The Maori King evidently wishes to bring about a better state of things, and the restless spirits among his people seem now to be aware that it is hopeless for them to expect to gain any advantage from war and strife.
“A part of the Government policy has been to establish schools in the Maori Districts, towards the expense of which the Government contributes part, and the natives part. These schools are strictly secular schools and the masters are appointed by a School Board. But while religious instruction forms no part of the regular course, there is no objection made to its being given, so that, as at Turanga, the Native clergyman or teacher, as the case may be, can have access at stated times to give religious teaching. Our old Maori schools which were held formerly every morning in all the villages, and in which nearly all the population had learnt to read, have long ceased, as you have been informed several years ago, and we have been unable to persuade the natives to revive them for the sake of their children. These Government schools are therefore a great benefit, because the children not only learn to read, but they acquire some knowledge of English which now becomes necessary.
“The Te Aute School is in operation and is doing well under its able Master, Mr. Reynolds. There was a disposition at its opening to keep back the children owing to a political feud, which had been stirred up against the Government by some evil minded persons. That difficulty is now disappearing, and the children are being sent to the school. The advantage of this school is that we have it entirely under our own control as to religious instruction.page 291
“My own travels beyond the Province of Hawke's Bay have been two visits to Poverty Bay in March and September, occupying over three weeks, and two visits also to Tauranga and Maketu in January and October. Going to Auckland to attend the Conference in November, I continued my course to the Bay of Islands and was thankful to witness a decided change for the better among the natives of that locality.
“I am not able to report to you as may be done from many parts of the Mission field that all is looking bright and prosperous, but we can say the state of religious feeling in most parts of New Zealand is improving after the long depression it has experienced. You will have more particulars furnished by others. There is yet very much to be lamented in the case of the greater numbers, but a change is shown in the desire to obtain Bibles and Prayer Books and the better attendance at worship.”
Since the town of Gisborne was first laid out in 1870, the English speaking population there and in the adjoining district had increased considerably. It was therefore necessary that provision should be made for building a church and school, and for maintaining a clergyman there. A site for the buildings had already been secured in Derby Street.
Whenever the Bishop visited there, he had continually urged the residents to take steps in this direction. At the end of August, 1873, he was told that £300 had been promised for the Church including £50 grant from S.P.C.K. During 1874 he made a further extensive canvass for several weeks up to August 17th which resulted in the addition of a further £250 to the amount available. The Church committee had called for tenders, which were opened on August 11th and the lowest tender of Mr. Morgan for £880 was accepted on August 19th. The Church, of timber, was completed in eight months, and the Bishop consecrated it as “Trinity Church” on April 11th, 1875. Prior to the consecration the ladies had held a bazaar which realised a further £160 3s. 7d. for the Church fund.page 292
Rev. Mr. Murphy was licensed to the cure in July, 1874, but his ministrations were not successful and he resigned on February 11th, 1875, and was succeeded by Rev. E. Williams who was nominated on May 26th and took up his duties at the beginning of September.
The Bishop presided at the Annual Waiapu Diocesan Synod which was held in Napier on September 22nd, 1874, and following day, when necessary business was completed.
In October, 1874, the Bishop was advised that Mr. Charles Nairn of Pourerere had promised the sum of £10,000 as an endowment to assist Church work in the English Parishes and Parochial Districts of Southern Hawke's Bay, and that Mr. Nairn wished to secure a clergyman from England to work in his district.
On December 27th, 1874, the Bishop admitted Mr. J. C. Eccles to Deacon's orders and placed him to work at Waipawa at the beginning of the following year.
Bishop Williams wrote the following report on December 30th, 1874: “While attending our Conference at Auckland at the beginning of this month I was led to take a survey of the condition of the Society's missions, and of the English agents you have in the country to carry on the work. You have in the Diocese of Auckland, Archdeacon Clarke, Revs. R. Burrows and G. Maunsell who are all in good health. There is Mr. Baker who still lingers in a state of paralysis now so far gone that he seldom recognises those who are about him, Mr. Chapman 84 years of age, Messrs. Ashwell, Matthews and Puckey who are able to do little but are suffering the effects of age and sickness.
“In the Diocese of Waiapu there are four efficient men, Archdeacon W. L. Williams and Revs. S. Williams, Grace and Spencer, Archdeacon Brown is able to do a little, but is no longer equal to undertake the journeys of former time. For myself I cannot say much, but at the age of 74, having been blest hitherto with remarkably good health, it is a wonder to myself that I am able to move about as I have done.page 293
“In the Diocese of Wellington you have Revs. B. Taylor and W. McWilliam who are both active, and Bishop Hadfield who, though not now on the list of Missionaries, does a large amount of missionary work, and our Native Clergy in this island number 18; for the most part they are earnest and laborious men.
“The parts of the country where Christianity has suffered most, and where in many cases a religious profession has been given up, are along the Bay of Plenty from Tauranga to Cape Runaway, and the King Country extending over a good part of Waikato and Taranaki.
“On the other hand, the district around Kaitaia has been preserved from the harassing trials of war, and a large amount of the blessing of God has rested upon the work.
“On the South-west Coast and along the East Coast as far as Waiapu, the effects of the Hauhau superstition and participation in the war are wearing off, and there is a reaction for good which shows itself in a more regular attendance upon religious worship. There is a substantial proof of this in the increased demand for Maori Bibles and Prayer Books, and here I may observe that there is now a call for another edition of the Maori Prayer Book which was printed by the S.P.C.K., and preparatory to a new edition there is a revision going on which will soon be completed. The meetings of the Church Board in the Maori districts have been held during the year at Waiapu, in which the natives have taken much interest; this was presided over by Archdeacon W. L. Williams. There was also a meeting at Omahu, near Napier, in April, but here it is to be regretted that there was not so much interest shown as was to be desired.
“I attended the meeting of the General Synod at Wellington in May and June, accompanied by Archdeacon W. L. Williams, when much business of general importance to the Church was transacted, which concerns the Maori as well as the English community.page 294
“In July and August I spent six weeks in Poverty Bay where the natives are settling down to a state of quietness, and an improved tone of feeling manifests itself.
“The district is now becoming thickly peopled with English settlers; this is a state of things whether for good or evil, which the Maoris have to submit to. However, upon the whole I think it will be to their advantage, because there is a large number of respectable people among our settlers.
“On October 28th I left home in the Government steamer, calling at Tauranga where I remained three weeks. The remnant of the Opotiki natives are settled on the eastern side of the land they formerly occupied, the rest of the district being peopled by English settlers. Before the war these natives were a hard-working people, and carried much of their produce to Auckland, and now that peace is restored they are settling down into industrious habits. They have for their children a Government school, but the great want of this and of many districts along the coast is the lack of Maori teachers, and we have not the means of supplying them. It is very desirable too that for Tauranga there should be a younger missionary who would be able to itinerate over the whole district, and if possible gather in the scattered sheep. I accompanied Archdeacon Brown to one village of which the inhabitants had cast aside their religious professions altogether, but have now expressed a desire to come back again. The chief man had been with Kooti through the war. This is a pleasing indication for good. From Tauranga I proceeded to Auckland to attend the Conference. I reserve for another letter a few remarks upon some of the subjects we had under consideration.
“The school at Te Aute is going on prosperously under our able master, Mr. Reynolds. The boys are making good progress in English, and Rev. S. Williams gives religious instruction in their own language when he is at home. A similar school for Maori girls is now in course of erection near my own house, and will soon page 295 be completed. The expense of the building is being defrayed from private funds. It is from these schools and from that in Auckland that we hope to obtain to some extent at least a supply of a better class of teachers.
“Under the policy of our Native Minister, Sir Donald McLean, we may hope that there will be no recurrence of hostilities, but the evil effects of the war will be long felt, and the demoralising influences too often raise a barrier which it is difficult to contend against; yet there is a wholesome reaction and many are ready freely to acknowledge that it was better with them when they were living under the influence of Christian teaching. We feel therefore that He will grant an outpouring of His Spirit and revive His work.”