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Octavius Hadfield

Letter written by Octavius Hadfield to sister Octavia January 20, 1841

To sister Octavia

Soon after I arrived here the year before last a large party from Queen Charlotte Sound arrived here to see their friends and relatives after the battle that was fought a few weeks before. These people remained here some months and constantly attended school, etc. On their return I supplied them with books, slates, etc., in order that they might carry on the same system on their return home. I occasionally heard from some of the teachers and promised, not withstanding my multiplied and daily multiplying engagements, to pay them a visit.

The windy weather being over, I started in my boat with five natives to cross the Straits, a canoe likewise accompanying me. I was detained a few days on the coast by contrary wind about 20 miles from this, where I employed my time among the natives who now in every direction pay me great respect. I started at 8 o'clock with a light breeze which soon died away—we then rowed for about three hours, the canoe left us, when a breeze page 169 sprang up and we were obliged to run for the north entrance of the Sounds, which from the ebb tide made the sea very rough. We however reached it at six o'clock in the evening when I was thankful to land safely. I passed ten days in the Sound which is surrounded by mountains with scarcely 10 acres of level to be found anywhere. I visited all the natives I could get near and was much pleased with the way they received me and attended to my instructions. I spent about a week at Okukari where there are a good many natives—there they have built a very large place of worship and are very regular and attentive at school and are well behaved. Some of them I found well informed in many of the doctrines of the Scriptures. While here a leading chief of the Ngatitoa tribe arrived from Kapiti to accompany me to Cloudy Bay. Leaving Okukari with feeling of regret at parting with these interesting people, I went to Cloudy Bay and there I found that a Wesleyan teacher, a Mr. Ironside whom I had previously seen at Waimate, had arrived the day before—at this I was not over well pleased, and I found that another was going to Port Nicholson. I remained there a few days, some of the natives join him and others continue with me and my people. I had divine service also on Christmas day with the English there and preached for the first time in English for the last fourteen months—these were very civil to me.

I returned to the Sound and spent a few more days there among some natives I had not previously seen, and then, taking leave of the Sound and its inhabitants with regret, with the purpose however if the Lord will of revisiting it, I sailed accompanied by four large canoes at two o'clock with a fine breeze and reached the Island of Mana at 7 o'clock to my comfort and satisfaction. My boat is too small—several of the white men about this area blamed me for crossing in it, but I had no alternative. I do not however purpose venturing again in it.

Peace is now fully established between the two tribes among whom I live. The sons of the leading chiefs of both sides have respectively visited the opposite party. This at least is one point I have gained—so far the Gospel has displayed its power. I yesterday added up a list of my schools in different places around me and found that about 600 (this is under the mark) meet daily to learn to read, write and also to learn the catechisms they have in use. About one half of these can read and write tolerably, but there are many hundreds who have learnt without any regular schools. In outward labours I think (though here I may err) I am not deficient as I give myself but little rest and am nearly always among these people talking of divine things. I this time of the year attend school at four o'clock in the morning daily and my evening lectures close at about nine—during all this time I am liable to be interrupted. I have also the hearts of the natives who see that I give myself a good deal of trouble on their behalf. But with all this my heart condemns me—I preach and I teach, etc., etc., but I pray but little and that in truth is the great source of ministerial usefulness. My love has grown cold and my faith weak. I will not attempt to excuse myself but oh what would I now give for one Sabbath in the midst of some holy congregation at home—you can perhaps enter into my feelings. Pray that the Lord may be with me that a precious Saviour may be daily becoming more precious and that I may live nearer to my God.

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