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Notes on Early Life in New Zealand


The memory of Archdeacon Henry Williams has suffered much from wild reports and ignorant or malicious slanders. The worst thing said against him, an old naval officer, is that he was the instigator of the mad assault on Heke's pah at Ohaeawae. How the report could have sprung up I do not know, but he had detractors who would believe anything. The following letter from his son to the Curator of our Museum, effectually disposes of the imputation, but it is a pity that for want of knowing better, we should have appended to our model of Heke's pah a note that the assault was on the Archdeacon's advice. I knew better, and ought to have corrected it, but it did not come under my serious notice. Henry Williams had more influence over the Maori Chiefs than any man in the country, and was thoroughly trusted. His nine years in the navy were not thrown away. But for his earnest recommendation and assurance, the Treaty of Waitangi would never have been signed, but he put his whole heart into the business, and we of both races owe him the tribute of our respect and veneration, and ought not to let his name be spattered by the guessing of malignant gossip, when in fact, he was as simple and robust a Christian, and as loyal and brave an Englishmen, as ever pioneered our way in dealing with a race that he wanted to lift up to our own civilization. Such a man can make enemies as well as friends.

page 104

Pakaraka, Kawakawa

Bay of Islands,
Auckland, N.Z.October 28th 1902.