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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Taranaki, Hawke's Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts]

The Right Rev. William Leonard Williams

The Right Rev. William Leonard Williams, Anglican Bishop of Waiapu, was born in the Bay of Islands in the year 1829, and is a son of the first Bishop of Waiapu, one of New Zealand's most prominent missionaries. He was educated at St. John's College, Auckland, and afterwards went to England, and graduated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, taking the degree of Bachelor of Arts, with third-class honours, in Literas Humanioribus, in 1852. In the following year he returned to New Zealand as a missionary, and was engaged with his father, who in 1839 removed his head-quarters to Poverty Bay. In 1862 Mr. Williams was installed Archdeacon of Waiapu, and continued to labour among the Maoris until 1865, when the Poverty Bay Mission was broken up in consequence of the incursions of the Hauhaus. The Archdeacon took his family to Auckland, but, notwithstanding the very unsettled condition of the natives, he himself spent most of his time in the neighbourhood of Poverty Bay, in spite of many obstacles and warnings. He was there with a portion of his family when the Chatham Island prisoners, led by Te Kooti, landed at Whareongaonga, and was within a few miles of the scene of the massacre on the 10th of November, 1858. In 1877 he made Gisborne his head-quarters, where, in the year 1863, the Maori Theological College was placed under his charge as principal. He continued in this position until the resignation by Bishop Stuart, of the Waiapu see, and he was elected to fill the vacancy in 1894, and consecrated in the following year at Napier Cathedral by the primate, assisted by the Bishops of Christchurch, Nelson, and Melanesia. In Maori Literature, Bishop Williams has done much useful work. He has re-edited the “Dictionary of the Maori Language,” complied by his father, and is page 347 the author of “First lessons in Maori,” published by Messrs Upton and Company, of Auckland. Some of his papers have been published in the proceedings of the New Zealand Institute, notably one on “Cook's Landing at Poverty Bay,” and one exposing the falsehood of the story of John Rutherford. As head of the Church in the Diocese of Waiapu, Bishop Williams is very greatly loved and revered, and under his guidance and influence the Churches of the diocese are a power for good and the advancement of religion. After an absence of forty-four years from the land of his forefathers Bishop Williams revisited England and the scenes of his university career, during the Record Reign celebrations and sitting of the Lambeth Conference. He was warmly welcomed to his old University, which conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Divinity. Dr. Williams spent four or five months in England, and speaks highly of the unvarying kindness with which he was everywhere received as a New Zealand Bishop, and the eldest son of one who had, more than seventy years before, placed his life at the disposal of the Church Missionary Society as a volunteer for missionary work, in what was then one of the wildest, most savage, and least-known countries on the face of the earth. Bishop Williams married the daughter of Mr. John Bradshaw Wanklyn, of Witherslack, Westmorland, in 1853, and has four daughters and five sons. The eldest son, Mr. F. W. Williams, is the senior managing director of Messrs Williams and Kettle; the second, the Rev. Herbert W. Williams, is the principal of the Maori Theological College at Gisborne; the third, Mr. Alfred Williams, is a surgeon at Harrow, Middlesex, England; the fourth, Mr. Frank W. Williams, is a sheep-farmer on the East Coast, south of Gisborne; and the fifth, Mr. Arthur Williams, is an engineer in England. Three daughters are married, the eldest to Mr. Charles Gray, of Gisborne; the second to Mr. McLean, sometime manager of the Bank of New Zealand, Napier; and the third to the Rev. A. F. Gardiner, of Havelock North.

The Right Rev. W. L. Williams.

The Right Rev. W. L. Williams.