Title: Octavius Hadfield

Author: Barbara Macmorran

Publication details: 1969, Wellington

Digital publication kindly authorised by: G. H. Macmorran

Part of: New Zealand Texts Collection

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Octavius Hadfield

[extract from letter written by Octavius Hadfield]


Bay of Islands

To his father.

March 7, 1839.

To his father

I am residing with the Rev. William Williams. They have had a room built for me at one end of the house which opens on to the verandah so that I am quite independent of the house, and only enter it to get my meals unless I feel inclined for company. They are very kind to me. They are, I suppose, the best educated and most respectable people in the land; so far I am very fortunate.

Soon after my arrival here I had a very pleasant trip which I must not forget to mention. There is a Station formed at Kaitaia where there are two laymen residing. ... It is 54 miles from this place and 34 miles is through a very thick forest where daylight is scarcely visible more than only 3 or 4 times. The road through the wood was cut about a year ago by Mr. Mathews with a party of 70 natives, which occupied them a month. The road is very rough, so much so that a horse can scarcely climb up some of the hills, and I suppose I was obliged to dismount 150 times in that distance. The celebrated Kauri trees which are so famous for spars were magnificent. There was one hill, the highest point of land in this part of New Zealand called Maungataniwha, a short distance from the road. We left our horses and climbed to the top. Here the view was magnificent. We could see about 50 miles in every direction.

I am now engaged in the school. My work is very easy and light; there are 32 boys, some well disposed and anxious to improve. Mr. W. takes the school three days in a week and I the other three. I am in it six hours during the day. I have nothing more to do with it any other time. My other time therefore is at present my own, though as soon as I have acquired the language I can employ it in missionary labours.

Though there is much that pleases me, there is much that displeases me. Those engaged in the Mission are for the most part ignorant men who have been advanced beyond their proper station in life and consequently presume upon it. Likewise, never having possessed any property, they think it very fine to buy large estates of land at very low prices and have cattle and wheat, etc. This grieves me to the heart. The consequence of this is page 152 that at East Cape and Poverty Bay the natives are very desirous of missionaries and are very numerous, there being several thousand at each (the whole population I conceive of this Island to be 100,000), but the old hands here are tied to their lands, etc. I am consequently determined as soon as I can acquire the language (of which at present I know nothing), to go there if possible. My mind has been always set on missionary work and here I have no prospect of any. I will not build on another man's foundations but will go among the heathen. I am, however, expecting the Rev. Mr. Taylor and then something will be decided upon.