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Octavius Hadfield

Letter written by Octavius Hadfield to sister Maria July 20, 1841

To sister Maria.

I have been here for a few days and am now only waiting for a fine day to return home. I was sent for to Waikanae. Things here are in a bad way. There is a population of 2000 persons and no clergyman to attend to them—a layman sent down here by the Bishop has been behaving ill and must go—he has done this church much harm. We are expecting the Bishop shortly—I trust he will be able to restore matters again to order. I preached to a good congregation (considering the place of worship) on Sunday. The respectable people are very civil to me and wish me to remain here till the Bishop makes his arrival. Had I not such abundant employment among my own people I should be inclined to do so as the flock is becoming scattered and marriages, etc., are taking place in an irregular manner, and all kinds of evils are likely to ensue. Many are going away to the Wesleyans and Presbyterians so that the Bishop may probably blame me, when he comes, but I know not what to do. The inhabitants also think that I ought to be more with them under present circumstances, so that I shall probably be censured generally. There is not I fear a person who will be able to read prayers and keep a congregation together.

I was requested by a Mr. W. yesterday to call on his wife who appears to have been awakened by a sermon she heard from me when I was last here. She seems now in a pleasing state of mind though she has suffered much in mind and body. She comes from London and told me she had never seen a Bible in her youth and had never but once entered a place of worship.

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The Governor is expected here daily. Lt. Dawson is expected down with him, having been appointed magistrate here. I have not yet seen him. I think I mentioned in my last that I was going across the Straits. I did so and was more refreshed and delighted than I have been before since I have been in New Zealand. The seed which had been sown in the summer I found had in many instances fallen in good ground and sprung up and brought forth fruit, so that I could rejoice and give thanks for the manifestations of Jehovah's rich grace and love towards these dear people chosen in Christ to everlasting life and glory. At Okukari I found they had built me a house where I made myself very comfortable, and the kindness and attention of these dear people delighted my soul—thus though I have left father, mother, brothers, sisters, etc. I found them here. I have a congregation at that place of about 800, some of whom came from the neighbouring places. I baptised 17 persons with whose examination I was much pleased. I then proceeded to Rangitoto (Port Hardy) and there I found these people who I had visited before vastly improved and delighted to see me, and their kindness and civility was unbounded. I baptised 8 among whom was the chief of the place, a man of about forty, and three young women who, though they heard the Gospel for the first time in February, seemed to have remembered all that I said during the few days I was with them. They seemed exceedingly clear in doctrinal points, election, justification, sanctification, etc., so that I was amazed. They had built a nice place of worship according to my instructions and seemed to spend all their time and to have all their thoughts set upon spiritual and heavenly things.

I and my people are going on tolerably well on this side, but living among them I do not see so much the change, and they have many disadvantages from being so near the white people, though here at Port Nicholson, comparatively speaking, they are very orderly and quiet and well behaved to the natives. I could relate much that would interest you in a kind of diary but I have no time for it, and after all one is in danger of being very egotistic and I am afraid this is a great fault of mine, though in letter writing it is in some degree desirable. However, I like to let you know my concerns but do not wish to have them published to the world. My people at and about Otaki, one of my places, are not advancing much, those that are more immediately about me are doing well, but they have the cross to bear, as they are despised by some of their proud relatives.

This colony must prosper from the spirited way in which some of the settlers seem to act. There is some talent and propriety here. I, the day before yeterday, after marrying a party accompanied them to a dejeune where everything was done with as much elegance, etc., as it would have been in England, and the company was select. This I did not expect when I came to N.Z. and is a contrast to what I at other times have. This day fortnight I was caught in a breeze when returning in my boat from Rangitoto, and slept by the side of my boat on the rocks on an uninhabited island, without water and only a small fire during a frosty night, and nothing to eat. So much for variety, but I can rejoice evermore at the prospect of eternal rest.