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Through Ninety Years

Te Rau College

Te Rau College

Rev. A. O. Williams of Putiki, who had previously asked if he might join Archdeacon Williams in his work of training native students for the ministry, arrived in Gisborne on January 28th, 1883; when the natives page 320 reassembled he entered upon his duties as tutor. It was later decided to build a house for him to occupy. In due course timber was procured, and a contract was signed with Skeet the builder for its erection. The house was ready for occupation in February, 1884.

Timber for erecting the main building as quarters for the students then began to arrive, and Skeet's tender of £1,359 for building it was accepted on April 18th.

The College was ready for occupation and the students entered at the beginning of February, 1885. A meeting of the Missionary Conference, which was held in January of that year, decided that Rev. A. O. Williams should take charge of the Putiki Station, and that Rev. E. Jennings should take his place as tutor at Te Rau College. The latter arrived at Gisborne on April 5th.

Archdeacon Williams was able to record on July 7th, 1885, that the bedrooms at the College were all full.

In January, 1885, the Archdeacon visited Napier to attend meetings of the Missionary Conference and the Mission Land Board.

Bishop Stuart held a service in the Maori Church at Makaroro on September 21st, when the Archdeacon presented Edmund Leveson, who had been a student at the College, for ordination as deacon.

Following this was the annual session of the Diocesan Synod in Napier, which ended on October 2nd. After attending this and also the Native Church Board meeting at Waipatu, the Archdeacon returned home.

He was advised on October 15th that the County Council had elected him a Governor of the Gisborne High School.

The Archdeacon's inspections for this year covered a wider field, and his ten journeys required sixteen weeks to carry out. He made visits to ninety-four settlements including some in the Bay of Plenty area, where a meeting of the Native Church Board was held at Te Kaha. During some of these rides unsettled weather and muddy roads hampered his progress. On all these journeys he conducted services not only with the Maoris, but also with any groups of English settlers he met.

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The General Synod of 1886 was held towards the end of January in Auckland, and the annual Mission Conference at the same time. While this Synod was in progress, an ordination of native ministers was held on Friday, 1st February, at St. Mary's Church, when Hoeta was ordained deacon and Hemi Tautimu a priest in the presence of a large, interested congregation of both English and Maoris.

Some Samoan ambassadors then visiting Auckland were introduced to the Primate, Right Rev. Bishop Harper; he gave them a welcome in English, and one of their party replied in the same tongue.

Archdeacon Williams took his usual place at this Synod, and before he returned home he seized the opportunity, while he was so far north, of going on to Bay of Islands to visit friends whom he had not seen for some time.

Throughout this and the two following years he continued to carry on successfully his education of native students at Te Rau College, and maintained regularly his local Maori services. He also on suitable occasions made various journeys to the numerous Maori villages scattered round his wide district, that he might give the required supervision and direction to all the resident ministers and teachers.

Writing of a visit to Pakirikiri in February, 1887, he mentioned that the natives had collected £430 for a church, of which he had been handed £300 to bank, and the balance had been expended by the architect.

In May of the same year he had been able to arrange for the purchase of the section next to Holy Trinity Church in Gisborne, on which a deposit was paid. In the following month a fair, lasting several days, was held to raise funds for Church improvements; this resulted in £350 being obtained.

The Waerenga-a-hika Native School Trustees who held 594 acres, decided in October to register as an incorporated body. The original lease of their land had expired in March. It was then decided to further develop the work of the Trust and reserve the homestead area page 322 of 17½ acres for a school site, and cut up the balance in suitable farm and residential sites to be let to tenants. For the first, period an annual rental of over £869 was realised.

In August the Archdeacon mentions that Mrs. L. Williams's health had improved, and she was then able to give instruction to the wives of the married students attending Te Rau College.

It was reported in October that Te Kooti, with a party of sympathizers, proposed to pay a visit to the East Coast, which roused strenuous opposition and some anxiety.

During May and June, 1888, the health of the Archdeacon's mother gave the family some concern; he and his wife therefore went to Napier for a short visit. However, about the middle of June their mother improved, and during the following month their anxiety was relieved, and she was in a fair way to recovery.

On September 23rd, 1888, the Archdeacon arranged for a corrected survey of the Whakato Church site. Skeet's tender to build this church for £768 was accepted next day.

The ladies of Gisborne raised this year by a bazaar a further £90 for improvements to Holy Trinity Church.

Bishop Stuart, who had gone to England to attend the Pan Anglican Conference, wrote to the Archdeacon that he would return to Napier on December 15th and would then hold the Diocesan Synod. This the Archdeacon duly attended, also a meeting of the Native Church Board at Waipatu which followed it.

Rev. S. Williams of Te Aute was appointed Archdeacon of Hawke's Bay by Bishop Stuart in 1888.

Archdeacon W. L. Williams's second son, Herbert William Williams, who was born on October 10th, 1860, received his first school tuition at the Napier Grammar School; then, benefiting by the generosity of an uncle who had farmed successfully, he went to Christ's College, Christchurch, and later on to Canterbury College, where in 1880 he took his B.A. Degree. In November of that year he went to England, where he entered Jesus College, page 323 Cambridge. There in 1882 he won a College Scholarship of £40, and a Goldsmith's Exhibition of £50. In 1884 he took his B.A. Degree with Honours in Mathematics. To gain experience he then accepted a post as assistant mathematical master at Haileybury College, from which he retired in 1886. He took Holy Orders, being ordained deacon in 1886, and priest the following year. To assist in his father's Missionary work he returned to New Zealand at the end of 1888, arriving in Napier on December 15th.

The Diocesan Synod for 1888 met in Napier on December 18th and was followed by a meeting of the District Native Church Board at both of which the Archdeacon took his place.

The fine brick St. John's Cathedral, the foundation of which had been laid by Bishop Stuart on September 29th, 1886, and had been under construction since that date, was then just completed. It had been built in response to a long period of strenuous effort by the vicar, Rev. de Berdt Hovell.

On December 20th it was consecrated and opened by the Right Rev. E. C. Stuart in the presence of a congregation of upwards of one thousand worshippers.