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Octavius Hadfield

Letter written by Octavius Hadfield to sister Caroline May, 1849

To sister Caroline.

I wrote in the end of February to mother and also to Charles and Henry to say how much better I was in health and how there appeared a prospect of my health being so far improved as to enable me to go to work again. I am happy to be able to say that it has gone on improving since that time, though rather slowly; still I am much better than I was then and my medical adviser holds out to me the prospect of much greater improvement. I am in God's hands and if it be His will that I should again serve Him He can give me strength to do so. But after such a long illness as I have had it is scarcely to be expected that I should under any circumstances recover very rapidly. I am now able to do a little in various ways and see some of the natives of this place who were a part of my flock formerly when I first brought the Gospel among them. They have been sadly neglected poor creatures. Mr. Cole, the clergyman of this place, does not speak the native language and consequently can do nothing with them, and he has a large English population to attend to. The Bishop has appointed Mr. Hutton, who is a deacon, to be Mr. Cole's assistant here and he will take more interest in them. He seems also to be inclined to follow my advice in reference to the natives, etc., so that we may do something for them again. He is now absent; he has gone to be married to one of Archdeacon H. Williams' daughters, sister of Rev. S.W. who is at Otaki.

I have read prayers two or three times in the English church but the Dr. forbids me to preach; I must however try soon. The Bishop has been here lately, I saw a good deal of him. Notwithstanding my good resolutions which I mentioned in my last letter not to take upon myself any fresh duties, he made me accept the office of archdeacon. I persisted in refusing for several days but found that he was grieved at my doing so and that he had set his heart on my accepting it. I therefore was obliged much against my own wishes to comply. He said he had always intended it, that he could not appoint any other person even if he had any one in whom he placed the same confidence as in me, because, as I was the oldest clergyman in this part of the country I had always acted for him as his Commissary in his absence and both native and English would still look to me for directions and advice in spite of any appointment of his—and moreover that he wished page 194 to show the C.M.S. that though they did not feel much confidence in him he put confidence in their missionaries. He added that he did not confer these appointments for any other object than that of organising the Diocese and though I had not much strength he wanted my assistance in directing the deacons and others in this part of the country which could be done by letter without any bodily exercise.

He was very importunate also on another subject concerning which however I declined to give him any positive answer. He wishes me to take charge of his proposed new college at Porirua, about 15 miles from this. It is to be an institution for the education of English boys and native boys and likewise for teaching and training native young men as school teachers and candidates for Holy orders. He conceives that I shall not be strong enough for missionary work and therefore thinks that this will be a position of usefulness for me. He appeared very anxious to convince me on the subject, but I declined at least for the present to acquiesce. I do not think that my health would bear it or that I am qualified for the post, though he and several others consider I am.

I am certainly very well satisfied with the way in which my place is occupied at Otaki. Mr. Williams is doing more there than I could ever expect to do. The natives at Otaki and the neighbourhood are going on well. I saw several of them lately and old Te Rauparaha among the rest.