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Octavius Hadfield

Letter written by Octavius Hadfield to brother Charles December 19, 1839

To brother Charles

The last letter I wrote was from the Bay of Islands in Oct. to dear George stating that I had altogether left the school and was about to sail to Kapiti, or Entry Island, in Cook Strait.

I landed first in Port Nicholson on the 8th of November accompanied by the Rev. H. Williams, who remained with me three weeks. I then went across to Cloudy Bay in the Middle Island and remained a day or two. . . . We left Cloudy Bay, but as the wind headed us we went again into Port Nicholson where Mr. W. and I determined to walk to the coast opposite Kapiti. . . .

The people on our arrival were in a state of warfare. The people of the Pa were attacked about 5 weeks before suddenly in the night by the natives of Otaki, a Pa about 11 miles further on the coast. There were about 35 of the latter killed, and 20 of the former. They were obliged to return leaving everything that they had with them. The people of this place have been slightly instructed in the truths of the Gospel by a native who came down a few years ago from Paihia, one of our settlements. They only acted on the defensive and contrary to precedent and native custom, instead of eating the dead bodies, buried them with all the spoil. Peace has now been established among them by Mr. W's influence and persuasion and I must now endeavour to maintain it, though the Otaki natives are by no means very much inclined to peace. . . .

The Island of Kapiti at which ships are accustomed to anchor lies about 4 or 5 miles from the coast where I am now living, which is called Waika-nae. I am at present, contrary to the preceding custom of all the missionaries, living in the Pa or fortified village. I have now been six weeks in a small tent seven feet square, moving about, but during the last week I have settled here. A tent is not very comfortable as it is cold at night and warm in the day time. It is now while I am writing very hot; the natives also all crowding about and putting their heads in at all times. I am having a house built of rushes by natives in the Pa. I brought a few blankets with me and some bricks to make a chimney before winter comes as it is rather cold in this part of N.Z. There are many disadvantages in living in a native Pa, for many reasons, and one is the excessive filth and also noise of the natives. . . . Personal inconvenience is nothing to me. . . . No missionary has either hitherto gone alone to any station, but I am living 300 miles from any other missionary. But though I am labouring under many disadvantages, and one great one, an almost entire ignorance of the language (though I have learnt more the last few weeks than I did all the time before), I never felt happier and more contented and composed in my life, or ready to endure and bear whatever the Lord may call me to. . . .

The chiefs of the Pa in which I now am are exceeding desirous of instruction and are very kind to me. I am quite amused in the morning to see the principal chief of the place, Reretawhangawhanga, learning to read and write his letters. He is an old man with a long grey beard.