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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

Chapter XX — In the Mission Field

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Chapter XX
In the Mission Field

Ill-fated Turanga Station—Huge Church Blown Down—Bishop Selwyn's First Visit in 1842—Hauhaus Drive Missionaries Away in 1865.

Prior to the establishment of mission stations along the East Coast from Te Araroa to Poverty Bay, the Rev. W. Williams was sent from the Bay of Islands on another visit in April, 1839. He was accompanied by the Rev. R. Taylor. They landed at Hicks Bay [E.C.] and proceeded overland to Poverty Bay. Mr. Williams found that additional chapels had been built in the Waiapu district since his last visit. He describes the new church at Whakawhitira as “one of the best buildings of its kind in New Zealand.” They were welcomed at Poverty Bay at a chapel at Pa-o-Kahu (near Awapuni Lagoon) by the native teachers whom the Rev. H. Williams had left there some months earlier.

Kaupapa—about nine miles to the south-west of Turanganui (Gisborne)—was chosen as the site for a mission station. Mr. Williams considered that Poverty Bay, although its population was not more than half of that of Waiapu, possessed many great advantages as a centre for missionary endeavour. What was much in its favour was that most of the natives lived only from two to ten miles from the spot fixed upon for the station. He arranged with the natives to build a large whare for himself and his family, and selected several youths to take to the Bay of Islands for instruction. The visitors rejoined the Aquita at Poverty Bay.

On 31 December, 1839, Mr. Williams, together with Mrs. Williams, their son James Nelson and the infant Anna Maria, also a nephew, Henry (the youngest son of the Rev. Henry Williams), and George Clarke (a son of another missionary) left Waimate (Bay of Islands) for Poverty Bay. The two eldest daughters, Mary and Jane Elizabeth, and William Leonard and Thomas remained at the Bay of Islands to continue their schooling. All the household goods, as well as some cattle and some trees, had been sent earlier in the Jess. According to W. L. Williams, the party received a very warm welcome, which, in large measure, compensated for the inadequacy of the accommodation which had been provided for them—a mere shell of a building, constructed in native fashion. It had walls of raupo attached to a frame of wood, and its roof was thatched with toetoe grass. There were no doors or windows, no partitions or flooring—and it was swarming with fleas!

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Interesting sidelights on the early missionary days in Poverty Bay are given by the Rev. George Clarke—he was only sixteen years old when he accompanied Mr. Williams to Kaupapa in 1840—in Notes on Early Life in New Zealand (Hobart, 1903). Upon their arrival, the captain, it seems, became uneasy about the position of his vessel. When he was about to lift the anchor preparatory to shifting to the other side of the roadstead, the natives (who had come off in crowds) got the notion that he intended to make off with Mr. Williams's goods. They overpowered the crew and took all the cargo ashore in their canoes!

“We had,” Clarke says, “little peace for the first week. Hundreds of natives surrounded the house and, all night long, kept shouting in unison: h-a, ha; h-e, he; h-i, hi; h-o, ho; h-u, hu, and so on through half of the primer spelling book. I think they fancied that it was part of the missionaries' karakia, or worship. We had brought down a small primer in sheets and had given away half a dozen copies. And this was the result!”

It is pointed out by Clarke that, in the early intercourse between the pakehas and the Maoris, many, if not most, of their quarrels arose from sheer ignorance of each other's ways. One very frequent cause was the inadvertent, or careless, violation of the laws of tapu. The burial-places, or, rather, sacred groves, in which the bones of the dead were deposited, were carefully guarded against violation. He adds: “We became at last recognised peacemakers in their intertribal quarrels. Even if a fight were going on, our persons were sacred, and we were allowed to pass to and fro between the contending parties, they sometimes deliberately suspending their firing that we might pass unharmed.”

W. Williams (Christianity Among the New Zealanders) states that, upon settling in Poverty Bay, he found that the three native catechists left there by his brother in 1838 were giving more or less regular instruction to over 1,500 natives. In every village a school had been established, but they were being conducted under great disadvantages for want of more competent teachers. The supply of books and slates was very limited; but, notwithstanding these drawbacks, much elementary knowledge was being imparted. Numbers had learned to read and write, and the desire to possess books was intense. On the first Sunday after his arrival he had a congregation of at least 1,000 persons, who assembled in the open air, “and their extreme attention was a grateful commencement of our labours.”

During the autumn of 1840, Mr. Williams (accompanied by George Clarke) visited the East Cape district, where even more progress was manifest than in Poverty Bay. It was estimated that the congregations aggregated 3,000. In his account of the visit, Clarke says that they were hardly able to pitch their tents page 164 [? at Whakawhitira] for the throng that pressed about them. There were nearly as many dogs as men, and the human part of the assemblage was as noisy and as wild and savage as any crowd he had ever seen. When the bell—a musket barrel hanging on a tree—was struck with a stone to announce the holding of a service, all the dogs made for the bush. The Maoris knew that a church was no place for a dog, and they had made a practice when the bell was sounded of thrashing their curs out of all desire to attend. Red ochre for the face and shark oil for the hair had been much in request during the previous hour. Many of the natives thought it highly proper that they should be armed with a book—it might be only an old ship's almanac or a castaway novel.

“Our first surprise,” he continues, “was to see two ugly old savages—nearly naked, plastered with red ochre and reeking with shark oil from head to heel—at the sides of the door, each brandishing a murderous club, and, as far as looks went, threatening to brain any disturber of the ceremonies—be it man, woman or child. They were the doorkeepers of the Sanctuary.
“The men were on the right side and the women on the left, and we passed along with all eyes following us to the dais at the end, where the native teacher awaited us … With a sound like thunder they took the second line out of the teacher's mouth … It was terrible. Men, women and children were on the strain, holding their sides, stooping to the effort, gasping for more breath, and working till the perspiration made long, brown seams where it rolled down their redsmeared faces.
“I saw our two old club friends gesticulating wildly in the distance (it was getting misty with the steam) and close by me there was a hoary old sinner gasping out, ‘Kia Kaha!’ ‘Kia Kaha!’ (‘Sing louder!’ ‘Sing louder!’).”

In Rovings in the Pacific, Alexander Salmon (a merchant of Tahiti) says that, accompanied by a shipmate, he visited the northern end of the East Coast in 1840. They found that most of the natives could read and write; that prayer was offered three times a day; and that no presents, however eagerly coveted, would cause the natives to violate the Lord's Day. On a journey overland from Rangitukia to [?] Hicks Bay [Te Araroa] they had a meal with a chief named Ne-pere, who provided them with salt to sprinkle on their potatoes. When they declined his pressing invitation to stay overnight at his settlement, he expressed his keen disappointment with a sad “Well! well!” Nepere wrote his name and brought out several books. Many of the natives flocked around to listen to their attempts to read the Maori text. When either mispronounced a word, all joined in correcting the mistake.

In the spring of 1840, Mr. Williams paid a visit to Mahia, Wairoa and Hawke's Bay, where, as yet, no missionaries had page 165 been placed, but where the way had been paved by three exslaves who had been liberated from the Bay of Islands. Only a few MSS copies of some prayers and hymns were possessed among many who had been taught to read and write. He estimated, in 1841, that about 8,600 natives in the area which he controlled attended Christian worship—3,200 at Waiapu and Tokomaru Bay; 2,500 at Uawa and Turanga; and 2,900 at Table Cape, Wairoa and Ahuriri. The candidates for baptism had numbered 2,115, of whom 588 men and 251 women had been accepted, together with 339 of their young children. No adult had been baptized until he or she had undergone a long and patient examination.

A Noble Sight

Notwithstanding several grievous setbacks, the Turanga station quickly grew in influence. Heavy flooding of the Waipaoa River in 1841 caused extensive erosion at Kaupapa. In 1843, a new site was obtained on higher ground at Whakato, only a short distance away. A new church to supersede the rush chapel at Kaupapa was almost finished when it was blown down just prior to Bishop Selwyn's first visit in November, 1842. It would have accommodated 1,000 unseated natives. The Bishop preached amid its ruins on 27 November to a congregation of over 1,000 natives, who, headed by their chiefs and teachers, took their places “with all the regularity of so many companies of soldiers.” He describes the gathering as “a noble sight,” and says that the attentive manner of the people and the deep, sonorous uniformity of their responses was “most striking.” His text was Acts XV, 16–17, on Christ's repairing the breaches of David's fallen tabernacle. During the service Mr. Williams was installed as Archdeacon of Waiapu.

In 1842, the Rev. J. Stack (forty-one years old) was stationed at Rangitukia; the Rev. G. A. Kissling (thirty-seven years) at Te Araroa; and the Rev. W. C. Dudley (who was middle-aged) at Wairoa. Charles Baker (forty years) was sent to Tolaga Bay in January, 1843, and, two years later, the Rev. J. Hamlin began his duties at Wairoa and the Rev. W. Colenso at Waitangi (H.B.). Towards the close of 1842, Mr. Dudley became afflicted with mental trouble and was taken to Auckland. Ill-health compelled Mr. Kissling to retire in February, 1846, and mental strain forced Mr. Stack to give up his post in November, 1846. Both in 1847 and in 1851 Mr. Baker had to seek treatment for acute rheumatism at Auckland. Early in 1847 the Rev. C. L. Reay (sixty-seven years) succeeded Mr. Stack, but he died on 31 March, 1848. The Rev. Rota Waitoa was then stationed at Te Araroa. Sent to Rangitukia in 1850, the Rev. Ralph Barker page 166 became in ill-favour with the natives and had to be withdrawn in 1853. Mr. Baker went to Rangitukia in 1854, but, three years later, his health again broke down and he returned to the north.

Upon his return from England in 1853, Mr. Williams decided to establish a much larger station in Poverty Bay. Attached to Kaupapa there had been twelve acres, but Whakato was only eight acres in extent. He planned to include a special department for the instruction of candidates for Holy Orders and other departments in respect of industrial training and general education. A larger property was required, but no further land could be obtained from the Manutuke natives. The Whanau-a-Taupara section of T'Aitanga-a-Mahaki offered in 1855 to set aside 593 acres at Waerenga-a-Hika in trust for church and educational purposes. A hitch occurred when the donors found that the land would first require to be the subject of a Crown grant; they said that they wished to make the gift without intervention on the part of the Crown.

Even during the hold-up, steps were taken to establish the new station. The removal of the wooden buildings from Whakato presented a formidable task. In order to reduce the amount of sledging work a punt was built and some of the buildings and their contents were taken up the Waipaoa River as far as Mata-whero. By the end of 1856 most of the buildings had been reerected and about 160 acres had been cleared, fenced and sown either in wheat or grass. The land was ceded on 9 April, 1857. Consequent upon the Hauhau rising, the station was closed in 1865. A college for native lads was erected on it in 1890, but, when the main portion was destroyed by fire on 2 April, 1937, it was closed. Te Rau College, in which native students were trained for the ministry, was established at Gisborne in 1883 and remained open until 1918.


A new home at Whakato for the Williams family was burned down on 7 February, 1843. Three rooms had been completed. There was only slight loss of furniture, but nearly 1,500 copies of the native New Testament were destroyed.

Between 1842 and 1863 the church services at Manutuke were held in the large meeting-house known as “Hamokorau” at Orakaiapu pa. The construction of a new church had been begun in 1851, but the natives had abandoned the work on account of exception being taken to some of the carvings which they wished to incorporate in it. Resumption became urgent in the early 1860's, as “Hamokorau” was then in a dilapidated condition. The new church was opened in 1863.

Bishopric of Waiapu

The Diocese of Waiapu is unique in that a father, son and grandson have served among its Bishops.

Bishop William Williams (consecrated under Royal Letters Patent page 167 at Wellington on 3 April, 1859) held office until 31 May, 1876. He was born at Nottingham in 1801, his father, Thomas Williams, “being of a good Welsh family.” Joining the Church Missionary Society, he was accepted for service in the mission field in New Zealand. He had had some medical training, but had not qualified as a doctor. On 25 March, 1826, he and Mrs. Williams landed at the Bay of Islands. Marsden described Mr. Williams as “a man of rare talent, piety, zeal and Christian wisdom who promises to do much. His heart is in his work, and so is his brother's. Their wives are both devoted to the work, and are most amiable and valuable women.”

Before William Williams established the first mission station in Poverty Bay (1840) his family numbered six: Mary (born 12 April, 1826); Jane Elizabeth (23 October, 1827); William Leonard (22 July, 1829); Thomas Sydney (9 February, 1831); James Nelson (22 August, 1837); and Anna Maria (25 February, 1839). Three additional children—Lydia Catherine (7 April, 1841), Marianna (22 August, 1843) and Emma Caroline (20 February, 1846)—were born in Poverty Bay.

Lydia Catherine (Kate) Williams (born at Kaupapa, 7 April, 1841) was the first white child to be born in Poverty Bay. Next in order came Thomas U'Ren (born 12 October, 1841; died 17 October, 1912). When Miss Williams grew up she assisted her parents in teaching the Maori girls at Waerenga-a-Hika mission station. Subsequently she became keenly interested in the Hukarere Maori Girls' School at Napier, which was established by her father in 1875. Even late in life she frequently took special classes there. Her death occurred in tragic circumstances when she was in her ninetieth year. She was attending a service in St. John's Cathedral at Napier on 3 February, 1931, when the structure collapsed during the earthquake which took such a heavy toll of life and property in Napier and Hastings. Miss Williams received an injury to her arm and suffered greatly from shock. She was removed to a private hospital, where she succumbed on the following day.

Bishop W. Williams was the author of A Dictionary of the New Zealand Language (1844), and also of Christianity Among the New Zealanders (1867). He passed away at Napier on 9 February, 1878. Mrs. Williams survived till 6 October, 1896, her death occurring at the great age of ninety-five years.

William Leonard Williams (consecrated on 20 January, 1895; resigned 30 June, 1909) was the third Bishop of Waiapu. Eldest son of Bishop W. Williams, he was born at Paihia on 22 July, 1829, and was baptized on 23 August, 1829, on the occasion of the baptisms of the first native infants—four in number—in New Zealand. He walked from Poverty Bay to Auckland in 1845 to enrol at St. John's College. In 1851 he graduated at Oxford, and, two years later, he was admitted to deacon's orders. Ordained a priest by Bishop Selwyn, he became Archdeacon of Waiapu in 1862. His death occurred on 24 August, 1916. Mrs. Williams died on 18 December, 1894.

Herbert William Williams, M.A., Litt.D. (Camb.) was the sixth Bishop of Waiapu (consecrated 6 February, 1930; died 6 December, 1937). He was the second son of Bishop W. L. Williams and was born at Waerenga-a-Hika on 10 October, 1860. At Jesus College (Cambridge) in 1887 he graduated M.A., with honours in mathematics. Ordained a deacon in 1886, he became a priest in 1887. From 1895 till 1902 he was principal of Te Rau College. In 1907 he was appointed Archdeacon of Waiapu. Bishop Herbert Williams died in his bed whilst presiding over a meeting of the Waiapu Diocesan Board of Nomination. He was the first Anglican Bishop since Bishop Cowie to die in harness in New Zealand and the only Anglican Bishop in the Dominion to die whilst actually at work.

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Mission Life in Early Tolaga Bay

Mr. Baker's Troublesome Neighbours

The pioneer in the work of Christianizing the natives in and around Tolaga Bay was Wiremu Hekapo (William Jacob), a cousin of Te Kani-a-Takirau. He had been enslaved by the Ngapuhi during one of their devastating raids on the East Coast between 1818 and 1824. When Bishop Selwyn paid his first visit to the district in December, 1842, Hekapo and his wife greatly impressed him. In his journal he wrote: “Here we were most kindly welcomed by the native teacher and his wife, one of the most worthy couples I have seen in this country.” Hekapo had built a rush chapel and was engaged in erecting a house for Charles Baker (a catechist at the Bay of Islands), who had been appointed to establish a mission station for the Uawa district.

Hekapo's wife (Mariana) died from tuberculosis on 15 February, 1844. Mr. Baker, in his journal, says: “It has afforded me no small encouragement to have beheld so striking an instance of genuine Christianity in a New Zealander … Many could not but lament their loss of one who to them had been a ‘Mother in Israel.’” Hekapo, who also suffered from tuberculosis, died early in 1853. The Rev. T. S. Grace (who was temporarily supervising the Uawa station) went from Poverty Bay to comfort him.

Mr. and Mrs. Baker, with eight of their children, reached Tolaga Bay on 12 January, 1843. They had left their three eldest boys—William, Charles and Ebenezer—at the Bay of Islands to finish their schooling. In addition to some household effects, they brought with them a number of cattle, some building materials, several cases of printed religious matter and a large quantity of medicine. A son (Joseph G. Baker) says that it was raining heavily when they arrived. His father asked the natives to thatch the roof of their home, but they jauntily replied that the work would have to wait till the weather cleared. When he told them that, if they were not prepared to treat him more considerately, he would move on elsewhere, they at once swarmed on to the roof, and the job was finished in an incredibly short period. About 250 natives attended the first service, which was held on 15 January.

The Uawa mission district extended from Tokomaru Bay to Puatai. The pa adjacent to the station contained about 500 natives. Across the river on Paremata there was also a large settlement. Te Kani-a-Takirau—reputed to be one of the greatest chiefs in all Maoriland—resided in an isolated locality above Cook's Cove. Many natives who lived at a distance made a practice of arriving on the Saturday for the Sunday services, and they did not return home until the Monday, when they would have consumed all the food that they had brought with them. Regularly at daybreak young and old from all the nearby settlements came to attend prayers and receive some Scriptural instruction before they went to their work in the fields. Another service was held at dusk.

According to the Rev. C. Baker's journal (which was kindly placed at the disposal of the writer by Mr. Ward Baker, of Auckland) there was a small settlement of European traders, shipmasters, carpenters, sawyers and boatbuilders at Tolaga Bay when the mission station was opened. Among the residents were: Captain A. Nicholas (who owned the Nimrod), Robert Waddy (a shipmaster and trader), Ashmere (a sawyer), Samuel Brockhurst (a carpenter) and his wife, Harris (a carpenter) and his wife, Ellis (a carpenter) and his wife. In April, 1843, a carpenter named Williams and his wife arrived. Edward Biddle and his wife were there in 1844. Nicholas's abode was frequently the scene page 169 of drunken parties, and, upon occasions, Mr. Baker was called upon to attend to injuries received in fights. Workers for Mr. Baker were forbidden to go there.

A month after his arrival, Mr. Baker lost three of his servants—Wiremu Peere (William Bailey), his wife Ellen, and Wanaupo—who left to go to Waiapu. Joseph G. Baker says that Bailey was only a youth when the Ngapuhi captured him at Waiapu and took him to the Bay of Islands. His master allowed him to work at the Kerikeri mission station, but, shortly afterwards, made a demand that he should be returned to him, as he had decided to kill and eat him. Wiremu sought refuge with James Kemp, who bought him by the payment of a three-legged pot. He had been with the Baker family for twelve years. Ellen, who was also a Ngati-Porou captive, had been permitted by her master to become a nursegirl at their home. When, later on, her master threatened to slay and eat her, his father redeemed her. She had proved very useful during the fifteen years she had been with them.

The Baileys returned to the Uawa mission station in February, 1844, and, in Wiremu's own words, “we were welcomed in the same way as the prodigal son was welcomed by his father.” During Mr. Baker's absences from Tolaga Bay he proved so zealous that the natives nicknamed him “The Vicar.” When Mr. Baker took charge of the Rangitukia station in 1854, the Baileys joined his staff there. After the death of his wife, Wiremu became an itinerant preacher. He died at Te Horo in August, 1895.

One of the most difficult chiefs Mr. Baker had to deal with at Uawa was Nopera (Noble) Rangiuia. In October, 1843, Nopera told the people at the pa adjacent to the mission station that the last lot of medicine he had received from Mr. Baker had killed one of his daughters. Archdeacon W. Williams, Mr. Stack and Mr. Baker went over to the pa, and Mr. Williams remonstrated with him. Producing what was left of the medicine, Nopera said: “If the pakehas will drink this and are not killed, it will be proof that my daughter did not die from it.” Seizing the bottle, Mr. Williams drank most of the contents, and Mr. Stack consumed the dregs. Nopera then complained that, when he had sent for some nails with which to make a coffin, Mr. Baker had refused to give him any, saying that he wanted them to nail down his daughter's eyelids. The fact was that Mr. Baker's refusal was on the ground that the girl was still alive. She was a sufferer from consumption. Nopera had lost another daughter only a few months previously.

Mr. Baker had a lot of trouble with Nopera over some trees which he bought from him in January, 1844. When the sawyers had sawn a considerable quantity of timber, Nopera held out for a further payment before he would allow any of it to be removed. By way of compromise, Mr. Baker offered Nopera a further sum if he would deliver the timber. This he did not do until May, and, when he came with it, he asked for some medicine for himself.

In February, 1844, an old savage named Te Hango threatened to burn down the mission station because Mr. Baker had reproved him for taking another wife. Te Hango was called upon by Te Kani to attend a meeting, and he handed over a musket as compensation. Te Kani told him that, before anyone could burn down the station, he would have to burn down all England, then the Bay of Islands and Auckland, and so on down to Opotiki. In turn he would have to destroy Port Nicholson and come on to Uawa and burn him. Then, and only then, might he destroy the station! He issued a warning to all present that no European was to be molested, no matter what his character might be or his calling. If a pakeha settled in Uawa, he was to be treated well, and, if he was page 170 merely passing through, he was to be supplied with food even if he had not the means to pay for it.

The work of the mission station became completely disorganised during the following month on account of trouble arising through Te Kani taking the wife of a young man named Patararangi, although he had three or four others. When Te Kani heard that the young woman's mother had suggested that the nose of his canoe should be broken as a reprisal, he gave orders that none of his people were to cross the river to attend the services, and went off to Puatai to muster a force. Meantime, the people belonging to his pa made preparations for war. Those who lived in the pa adjacent to the mission station remained quiet.

When Te Kani returned he told Mr. Baker that, although he had found him straight in all his dealings with him, he considered that his native teachers had played a double role—they had prayed to the God of War as well as to the God of Peace. The people belonging to the pa near the mission station went off to Waikirikiri. In April Mr. Baker rode over to the exiles and informed them that it was Te Kani's wish that they should return home. [This is the first mention of a horse being attached to the mission station.]

A threat to attack the Bakers was made by an up-river chief who coveted one of their foals. Mr. Baker complained to Te Kani, who turned up at the time fixed for the raid. As he had no men with him, Mr. Baker was much concerned. “Oh! I don't need any men,” Te Kani told him. When the raiders appeared he gave them a sharp reminder that all the pakehas were under his care and ordered them away. Within a few days the up-river chief returned. Again Mrs. Baker and the children fled into the scrub. Putting on a brave face, Mr. Baker went to remind him of what Te Kani had said. The chief told him that, as he had done wrong, he had brought some canoe-loads of produce as a peace-offering!

What was probably the first European craft to be purchased by the Uawa natives was the subject of a letter from Mr. Clarke (Protector of Aborigines) to Mr. Baker in April, 1844. It seems that an Auckland resident had sold a cutter (20 tons) to Te Kani, payment to be made in pigs. When half the payment had been made, the owner of the vessel had given a bill of sale for £60 over it. Mr. Clarke wished Te Kani to send the remainder of the pigs, so that he could transfer the registration of the craft to him.

In July, 1843, Mr. Baker, whilst at Poverty Bay, procured (presumably from Mr. Williams) some fruit trees, wheat and grass seed. He had, in the previous May, planted English fruit and vegetable seeds. The wheat was planted on 15 July and the grass seed on the 22nd. [There is no record of wheat and grass being sown at Tolaga Bay earlier.] In June, 1844, he sowed some wheat for Te Kani and furnished seventeen bushels to the natives to promote that branch of agriculture among them. He supposed that there would be about 200 participants.


Te Kani-a-Takirau's autocratic methods greatly perturbed the Rev. T. S. Grace whilst he was supervising the Tolaga Bay station in 1852–3. In the former year, some Turanga natives removed a post from an old burial ground. Although they had replaced it, Te Kani made the road leading to Turanga tapu, stopped intercourse between the two districts, and declared war. Mr. Grace sent a deputation of influential Turanga chiefs to him, and, following them three days later, “was most happy to be able to bring matters to a peaceful conclusion.” The trouble in 1853 was more serious. A great woman of Turanga named Victoria—many page 171 called her “Queen Victoria”—died from consumption, but her death was attributed by her people to witchcraft by an Anaura tohunga. An avenging party, 150 strong, set off from Turanga to Anaura. Mr. Grace went on ahead to mollify the people in the villages through which it was about to pass. On the fifth day of the march Te Kani was conferred with at Puatai, and a peaceful settlement was reached. (Vide A Pioneer Missionary Among the Maoris.)


Charles Baker (born in Yorkshire in 1803) was trained in agricultural and industrial pursuits. Upon the death of his first wife, he entered the C.M.S. College at Islington. With the second Mrs. Baker, and the daughter of the first marriage, he landed at the Bay of Islands on 9 June, 1828. He was stationed first at Kerikeri and then at Paihia. In the temporary absence of the Rev. H. Williams he played a not unimportant part in making the arrangements ashore for the proclamation of British sovereignty over New Zealand. Lieutenant-Governor Hobson requested him to have copies printed of an invitation to the chiefs to meet him, and arranged with him to send messengers to deliver them. He also sought permission to use the church on the occasion of the reading of the official documents relating to his appointment, etc. On Christmas Day, 1835, Charles Darwin (the eminent naturalist) and Captain FitzRoy (of H.M.S. Beagle and, later, successor to Governor Hobson) attended a service conducted by Mr. Baker and made donations towards the cost of the historic church which was built at Paihia under his supervision and which is still standing. Mr. Baker was stationed at Waikare (1840–2), Tolaga Bay (1843–51) and Rangitukia (1854–7). Whilst he was at Tolaga Bay his family of nine was increased on 11 April, 1843, by the birth of a son, Henry Williams, who might have been the first white boy born at Uawa, and on 3 September, 1844, by the arrival of another daughter, Charlotte Elizabeth, who might have been the first white girl born there. In 1860 Mr. Baker and the Rev. E. B. Clarke were stationed at Tauranga, but, in 1863, they had to leave when the natives began openly to sympathise with the Waikato rebels. Returning to Auckland, Mr. Baker paid regular visits to the stockades, the gaol, and the hospital and to the hulks on which rebel prisoners were being detained. He died on 15 February, 1875.

Mission Work in the Waiapu

Dreadful Epidemic of Measles in 1854

When Charles Baker and his family left Auckland in the Dolphin on 11 February, 1854, to take charge of the Rangitukia mission station, they were accompanied by Mr. Malcolm, who had been engaged as tutor to the children at a salary of £100 per annum, plus board and lodgings for himself and his wife. The passage money for the whole party, together with freight space of 40 tons, ran into £50. A Mr. Taylor [“Hori Punehu”], his wife and their baggage were dropped at Whangaparaoa Roads. On account of adverse winds the Dolphin anchored off Te Hekawa, and Mr. Baker and his party travelled overland to Rangitukia. En route a call was made at Horoera, where a half-caste infant belonging to an American was baptized. Mrs. Baker was able to ride a horse most of the way.

According to Mr. Baker's journal, his goods were landed at Te (Port) Awanui and placed in a rush house. Although it was being rented as a wheat store by a Spanish-American [Charles Manuel], Tipuna, a son of Porourangi, demanded £3/12/6 for storage. Mr. Baker says that he got only a scolding. Young Charles Baker went to parcel page 172 out the goods for the carriers, but, after he had gone, the natives reapportioned them. Some came back with only a book or a stocking; some with goods weighing only 3lb. or 4lb.; but, in the end, a few brought a decent load apiece. Mr. Baker was visited by several native teachers—Hohepa Rire (or Riley), of Tuparoa, Raniera Kawhia, of Whareponga, and Eruera Pakura, of Waipiro Bay. The total number of communicants in his district was then 681.

Towards the end of April, measles in a virulent form made its appearance. The Bakers' children did not escape. Quickly the disease spread throughout the whole district. Each day, Mr. Baker was kept busy visiting the sick and conducting funerals, and, every night, he was occupied for some hours making up medicine for messengers who came in from outlying districts. Some of the natives preferred to use their own methods of treatment—an infusion of bark, and the herb, raorika. Here are a few extracts from Mr. Baker's diary—May 22: “Mokena and his party making coffins”; June 17: “There have been many deaths this week; Pita (my assistant) is away at Ti burying three corpses”; July 29: “The natives at our pa have made a coffin for a lad not yet dead, and another for a girl who bids fair to recover”; August 13: “Buried several infants this week”; September 4: “One family has lost five children.” Dr. Schmidt, who had been sent by the Government, arrived at Waiapu on 13 September. The burials conducted by Mr. Baker and Pita totalled 69.

During Archdeacon W. Williams's visit in November, 1854, £4/5/2 was collected at the offertory at Rangitukia. There is no earlier record of the taking up of a collection at a Waiapu church. On 20 November, Mr. Baker conducted two marriages at Whareponga, and began receiving marriage fees. Books for the registration of the dead were opened in the main villages in April, 1856, and the native teachers were authorised to collect 5/- in respect of each burial.

The fourth Waiapu trader whom Mr. Baker married was John Hayes, of Reporua. Hayes had, for some years, been living with two native women, but had agreed to put one away and marry the other. However, after the banns had been published, he had received back the woman he had discarded. Mr. Baker induced him to agree to marry the woman whose name had appeared in the banns. After the wedding, which took place on 13 February, 1855, Hayes's two sons, John and Ben, who were half-brothers, were baptized.

Whilst Bishop Selwyn was questioning a class at Whareponga on 15 February, 1856, the natives seemed confused. Mr. Baker says: “The Bishop poured down on me a volley of abuse for not having spent more time on them. I told him the illnesses of Mrs. Baker and my daughter had prevented me, and, besides, I had myself been ill for ten days. He said that a clergyman should not neglect his duties by paying attention to his wife and family. His own wife might be ill for aught he knew. I replied that there was a material difference between a case of illness in a town and a case at an isolated missionary station. I had done my best and was willing to resign. He said afterwards that I had misunderstood him.”

Several neat wooden chapels were erected on the East Coast during Mr. Baker's term at Rangitukia. Work on them was begun as under:—St. John's, Rangitukia, 27/12/1854; St. Stephen's, Te Araroa, 12/12/1855; St Paul's, Te Horo, 23/3/1856; St. Philip's, Kaiariki, 27/10/1856; St. Peter's, Whareponga, 31/12/1856; and St. Matthew's, Tuparoa, 23/2/1857. Funds were being collected for a church at Waipiro Bay when Mr. Baker was forced by illness to relinquish his duties in May, 1857.

The Church of St. John at Rangitukia was the largest. It was 80ft. in page 173 length and 40ft. broad. Two immense puriri posts, with totara posts at intervals, carried the huge ridgepole. Bishop Selwyn held the consecration service on 17 February, 1856. He estimated that 3,000 natives attended the open-air feast on the following day. The food was drawn on to the feasting-ground in large, shallow canoes amid rejoicings in the form of songs and dances. First of all came the meats and vegetables, and then boiled rice, plum puddings, etc. When a feast was held in connection with the start of the work on St. Philip's at Kaiariki on 27 October, 1856, the food included beef and mutton. [There is no earlier mention of these meats being provided at a feast on the East Coast.] A bottle (containing coins and a document), which was deposited in the hole made to receive the main post of the Church of St. John, would make an interesting memento for the native memorial church at Tikitiki.

On 2 November, 1856, Mr. Baker fixed a site at Manutahi for native farms. “The valley,” he says, “is expansive and fertile, and the Waiapu River runs through it. There may be a farm for wheat and runs for cattle and sheep.” To-day this valley is studded with dairy farms and sheepruns.


James Stack (“Te Taka”), who was born at Southsea, England, in 1801, was associated with the Wesleyan mission station at Whangaroa when it was broken up by Hongi's orders in 1827. He was then stationed at Hokianga from 1828 till 1831. Whilst he was in England in 1834 he became an Anglican missionary. With the Rev. J. Hamlin he was driven from the Mangapouri station (near Te Awamutu) in 1836. After serving at Rangitukia (1842–46) he was, in 1848, invalided Home. He died at Southsea in 1883. Mrs. Stack had died in 1850. A son, Canon J. W. Stack (born at Puriri, Thames, in 1835), also entered the New Zealand mission field, but most of his work was undertaken in the South Island. He died at Worthing, England, in 1919.

Known to the natives as “Kihirini,” the Rev. George Adam Kissling (born at Murr, Wurtemburg, on 2 April, 1805) joined the Church Missionary Society in 1833. Four years later he was sent to Liberia (West Africa). His pupils at Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone, included the negro ex-slave who, upon his baptism, took the name “Samuel Crowther” and who, ultimately, became a bishop. Upon Mr. Kissling's return to England he was ordained and, in 1842, sent out to New Zealand. Mrs. Henry Williams, in her diary, describes him as “an old German missionary,” and Mrs. Kissling as “a well-educated Englishwoman.” He was stationed at Kawakawa (E.C.), which was afterwards named by the natives “Te Araroa” on account of the fact that he formed a long, box-edged path from his gate to his front door. His church, which would hold 500 worshippers, stood close to the beach.

Shortly after Mr. Kissling's arrival at Te Araroa many native families dispersed to their own lands. It became a strict practice among them, however, to return each Sunday for the church services. He had a nice garden and orchard and ran cows on an adjacent area which he leased from the natives. J. G. Baker says that he met with much obstruction from Iharaira te Houkamau, whom he describes as “a blustering chief residing at Hicks Bay.” Becoming ill in February, 1846, Mr. Kissling went to Auckland. His doctor would not permit him to return to the East Coast. When his health was restored he took over the administration of the Maori work at Kohimarama, and became the minister of the Church of St. Barnabas. In 1852 he was appointed Archdeacon of Waitemata and placed in charge of St. Mary's, Parnell. He died on 10 November, 1865.

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The Rev. Charles Lucas Reay, B.A. (born in England in 1780), was vicar of Swanburne (Bucks) for some years. He was stationed, first of all, at Cloudy Bay, and then at Nelson before he was transferred, in 1847, to Rangitukia, whither he brought an assistant named Tamati Takao, who, subsequently, became a lay reader at Akaroa. Mr. Reay died on 31 March, 1848. A tombstone which his widow had intended should be placed over his grave was found, in pieces, in a garden in Shortland Crescent, Auckland, in 1914. It was repaired and erected in the locality in which he was buried at Rangitukia, the exact site of the grave being unknown.

The Rev. Rota (Lot) Waitoa—the first Maori to be admitted to Holy Orders—was stationed at Te Araroa in 1848. Rota (according to J. G. Baker) entered upon his work with much zeal, but Iharaira te Houkamau, who had thought it bad enough to have had European missionaries to contend with, regarded as an insult to his dignity the placing at Te Araroa of a Maori deacon whose people at Otaki he looked upon as bitter enemies. By tact and patience, however, Rota won the day, and Iharaira became as docile as a child. After a while he offered himself as a candidate for baptism, and, as a further token of his penitence, begged Rota to appoint him “church sweeper and bellringer to the House of the Lord.” Rota died in 1866 and was buried at St. Stephen's (Parnell).

Mokena Kohere (born circa 1814) took the forename “Mokena” (or Morgan) upon becoming a Christian on account of the high esteem in which the Rev. John Morgan—who, with the Revs. J. Preece and J. A. Wilson, opened a station at Puriri, Thames, in 1834—was held by the Maori people. As far as is known, Mr. Morgan never visited the East Coast. J. G. Baker (Life on the East Coast in the 1850's) described Mokena as “brave and powerful, yet of an extremely kind and gentle disposition, excepting when aroused, and then he became like a firebrand.” Mokena proved a staunch Anglican and an unswerving upholder of British rule. He and Wi Tako (Waikanae, Wellington district) were the first Maoris to receive seats in the Legislative Council. With reference to Mokena, Governor Bowen, writing to the Earl of Kimberley, said: “He is a chief of high rank and commanding influence in the great clan of the Ngati-Porou, and he was recently presented by Her Majesty with a Sword of Honour for his long and excellent services in fighting for the Crown.” Mokena died on 4 March, 1894. Two grandsons—Reweti T. Kohere, of East Cape, and Canon P. M. Kohere, of Rangitukia, are well-known Coast residents. Second-Lieutenant Henare Mokena Kohere (another grandson) was mortally wounded by a high-explosive shell on the Somme (France) on 15 September, 1916, and died next day.

Roman Catholic Mission Work

Mahia: 1841–2; Poverty Bay: 1849–50

The history of Roman Catholic mission work in the Wairoa, Poverty Bay and East Coast districts opens with the visit which Bishop Pompallier paid to Mahia early in 1841. He had met some Mahia natives whilst he was on the Bay of Plenty coast, and Toki (their leader) had invited him to halt at Nukutaurua. A three days' stay was made and a site selected for a mission station. During his second voyage to the South Island the Bishop landed Father Claude Baty there on 30 September, 1841.

Bishop Pompallier had intended to pick up Father Baty on his return, but, at Akaroa, he learned of the murder, in April, 1841, of Father Pierre Chanel, whom he had placed on the Island of Futuna (Horne Island) on 12 November, 1838, and at once left for the scene of the tragedy. Being unaware of the reason why he had not been called for, Father Baty, page 175 after a stay of ten months at Mahia, made his way “along the coast” and took boat to Auckland. W. L. Williams says that a public debate, which lasted over four hours, took place between his father and Father Baty at Nukutaurua. Another visit to Mahia was paid by Bishop Pompallier in 1844, but whether a priest was residing there then is not known to the writer. F. W. Williams (author of Through Ninety Years) informed him that a priest had a station at Whakaki (Northern Hawke's Bay) in 1845. It is probable that this was only a casual station used by one or more itinerant priests.

Bishop W. Williams (Christianity Among the New Zealanders, p. 334) states that Roman Catholicism was introduced into Poverty Bay in 1849 by a Ruatahuna native whom one Te Whata had appointed as his chaplain. Renata, a Ruatahuna chief, who was on a visit to Poverty Bay, tried to send him away, but Te Whata would not suffer him to go. A few months later (F. W. Williams says the date was 22 November, 1849) Bishop W. Williams, whilst on his way home from Heretaunga, received a letter stating “that a Rhomish priest, M. Lampiller [Lampila] is at Turanga awaiting your return, hoping to convince the natives that, hitherto, they have been under a false teacher.” Bishop Williams says that during a heated debate, which lasted ten hours, between Father Lampila and himself, Father Lampila suggested that the truth of their respective creeds should be tested by a personal trial by fire. (Christianity Among the New Zealanders, W. Williams, and Catholic Missionary Work in Hawke's Bay, Father Hickson.)

The locality in which Father Lampila had his mission station in Poverty Bay is not known to the present-day historians of his church. W. Williams merely states that it was “at Turanga.” It is not improbable that it stood on the northern side of the bay. That Father Lampila was a nomad is shown in the records of baptisms which he conducted. They appear in the church register which he opened at Matata (Bay of Plenty) on 17 March, 1844. Some of the entries follow: Sept. 30, 1849, at Rununga; Oct. 2, at Tarawera; Oct. 7 and 8, at Heretaunga; Oct. 14, at Tongohia (Tongoio); Oct. 21, at Te Wairoa and Te Waraki (? Whakaki); Nov. 4, at Turanga (or Poverty Bay), 14 names; Dec. 2, at Waikaremoana; Dec. 8, at? Pipi; Dec. 9, at Waikarewanua. As there is also an entry in respect of Tangoio for 1846, Father Lampila might have been the priest who paid a visit to Whakaki in 1845.

Whilst Father Lampila was in Wellington in June, 1850, he was instructed to establish a mission station in Hawke's Bay. Together with Brothers Monchalin and Florentin Françon, he set out by sea for Ahuriri (Hawke's Bay). However, a stiff southerly drove their schooner on to Poverty Bay. He then decided—probably because he was no stranger to that locality—that he would make Poverty Bay his headquarters. He erected a church and a whare, planted a garden, established a vineyard, and proceeded with his ministry. He would be the priest whom the Rev. C. Baker states (23/9/1850 and his annual report for 1850) paid two visits to Tolaga Bay towards the end of 1850 upon the invitation of “Rangiuia, my most bitter enemy.”

In December, 1850, Father Lampila learned that Poverty Bay was outside the boundaries of his district, and he and his assistants set off for Hawke's Bay. A halt was made at Wairoa to hold services and to baptize twenty natives who had been instructed by Piripi te Amorakau (probably the resident catechist). In January, 1851, they arrived at Pakowhai (H.B.), which was the locality in which they should have established their original station.

When Father Lampila revisited Poverty Bay early in 1852 he found that the grape vines which he had planted were in bearing, and he made page 176 a barrel of wine to take back with him. Alas! during his return journey, the barrel was broached by some of the sailors, who replaced the precious fluid with salt water. Shortly afterwards he was transferred to the West Coast (N.I.). His successor (Father Euloge Reignier), who paid a number of visits to Poverty Bay, died at Meeanee in October, 1888.


Father John Lampila, S.M., who was born in France in 1808, arrived in New Zealand in May, 1842. He was ordained at Kororareka on Christmas Day, 1842, being the second priest to be ordained there. One of his first districts was the Bay of Plenty. After leaving Hawke's Bay in 1852, he ministered on the Wanganui River, first at Kaiwhaiki (1852–4) and then at Kauaeroa (1854, till the Hauhau rising in 1864). From 1868 till 1872 he was stationed at Wanganui; from 1872 till 1879, in Taranaki; and from 1883 till 1887, at Kaikoura. He then returned to France, where he died on 14 February, 1897.

Born in France in 1811, Father Claude Baty arrived at the Bay of Islands on 16 June, 1838. Before he went to Mahia in 1841 he was stationed at Matata. Upon his return to the north in 1842 he ministered in and around the Bay of Islands. In 1850 he was transferred to New Caledonia, where he died in 1851. He was the first white man to feast his eyes upon the beauties of Lake Waikaremoana. In a letter (dated 18/1/1843) which he sent to Father Maitrepierre in France (a copy of which was kindly supplied to the writer by His Grace the Most Rev. P. T. McKeefry, Coadjutor Archbishop of Wellington), Father Baty states that he arrived at the lake on “Thursday, Christmas Eve” [? 23 December] and that on the 24th “a Protestant missionary [William Colenso] from the Bay of Islands arrived.” He also states that he crossed the lake in advance of the Protestant missionary.


Archbishop McKeefry and Father McGrath (Island Bay, Wellington) kindly supplied some of the information used in this sub-section.

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Siege of Ngatapa. Sketch of fort (1868). del. O. W. L. Bousfield.

Siege of Ngatapa. Sketch of fort (1868).
del. O. W. L. Bousfield.

Gisborne's Blockhouse, 1869. Site now occupied by Police Station.

Gisborne's Blockhouse, 1869.
Site now occupied by Police Station.

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Major Ropata Wahawaha, n.z.c. Celebrated Ngati-Poron warrior.

Major Ropata Wahawaha, n.z.c.
Celebrated Ngati-Poron warrior.

2nd. Lt. Moana-nui-a-Kiwa Ngarimu, v.c. Killed in action, 27th March, 1943, at Te Baga Gap, Tunisia.

2nd. Lt. Moana-nui-a-Kiwa Ngarimu, v.c.
Killed in action, 27th March, 1943, at Te Baga Gap, Tunisia.