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The Old Frontier : Te Awamutu, the story of the Waipa Valley : the missionary, the soldier, the pioneer farmer, early colonization, the war in Waikato, life on the Maori border and later-day settlement

The First Waipa Missionary

The First Waipa Missionary.

The Rev. Benjamin Yates Ashwell, although the first to establish a mission settlement at Te Awamutu, did not live there. He made several visits, travelling through the Waikato and Waipa, and left native teachers in charge at each village where he was early favourably received. In the Forties he established his headquarters at Kaitotehe, near Te Wherowhero's pa, on the opposite side of the Waikato River to Taupiri. This spot, on the most beautiful bend of the Waikato, became a favourite halting place for canoe crews passing up and down the river, and pioneer travellers have described to the writer the pleasure of landing at Kaitotehe on a hot midsummer day, after a long, cramping voyage in a Maori canoe, and feasting in the cherry groves at the mission station. Mrs B. A. Chrispe, of Mauku, describing Mr Ashwell's station, says that the church was a large and lofty thatched building, with the walls beautifully lined in the artistic Maori fashion with arapaki lattice work of coloured lathes and reeds arranged in many patterns. The site of the long-deserted mission station, which is seen from the railway train as it passes along the Taupiri bend, is covered with a growth of acacia. The Maoris pronounced the missionary's name “Ahiwera.”