Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Old Whaling Days

Chapter XXI. — The Coming of the Church, 1835 to 1840

page break

Chapter XXI.
The Coming of the Church, 1835 to 1840.

As far back as 1835 mention was made by Captain Robertson, when he reached Sydney on 22nd October, in the brig Bee, that Te Rauparaha had expressed himself as anxious to see a British settlement formed in Cook Strait, and to have a missionary stationed there. What prompted the old man-eater to formulate such a desire can only be a matter of speculation, in view of the small amount of information available to us.

The next missionary news comes from Queen Charlotte Sound and Cloudy Bay in 1836. The Martha sailed from Sydney on 24th March for the North Island, and took with her as a passenger the Revd. Mr. White, a missionary of the Wesleyan Church, and his wife, bound for one of the northern West Coast ports. On her road she called in at Queen Charlotte Sound (Tory Channel), and Cloudy Bay, before proceeding to Kawhia, Manukau, Kaipara, and Hokianga. We have nothing definite of this visit, but shortly afterwards the reverend gentleman was removed from the mission for entering into trade with the natives.

The first Anglican clergyman's call was that of the Revd. Samuel Marsden, on returning from his last visit to New Zealand, as a passenger on board H.M.S. Rattlesnake. The aged cleric arrived at Cloudy Bay on 16th June, 1837, and sailed the following day, but short and all as his visit was he had been looking into the question of establishing a Mission. Writing to Mr. Jowett, Secretary of the Church Missionary Society, London, immediately after his return to his home at Parramatta, Mr. Marsden said: “A missionary is wanted at Cook's Straits. I was informed there were 1500 natives in the Straits.”

The first move in the direction of establishing a station was taken by the Wesleyan Missionaries on the West Coast page 334 of the North Island. Early in 1839, when advised that a number of additional missionaries would be sent there from England, it was decided that some of them should be placed in the South. On 6th April the Revd. Mr. Bumby, the leading missionary of the Church in New Zealand, with the Revd. Mr. Hobbs. set out to the Bay of Islands, and there engaged a small vessel called the Hokianga, to take them round by the East Coast, and, after calling at Cook Strait, land them again at Kawhia, from whence they could walk overland to their homes.

Returning to Mangungu to say good-bye to their friends, they gathered together some twenty Maori youths, chiefly prisoners who had been taken by the local natives in their southern wars, and who, having been liberated through their masters becoming Christians, had been educated by the missionaries. These young men belonged to tribes which were now resident on the shores of Cook Strait, and it was naturally thought, that if restored to their relations as missionaries, which they themselves were very anxious to be, they would prove effective instruments for the spread of Christianity among their own people. This imposing party set out from Mangungu on 11th May for the Bay of Islands, and, after a short delay there through bad weather, set sail for the south.

The journey in the little Hokianga was an exceedingly rough one, but at last they reached Port Nicholson where they were met by “a grotesque party of natives, some bedaubed with red ochre and oil, and others disfigured about the cheeks and eyebrows with congealed blood.” It was not long before they were recognised as returned relatives and friends, and then began a tangi “grim and great.” After this had calmed down a little, tents were erected and a feed of potatoes and Indian corn set before them, During the day some of the visiting youths drunk at a “tapued” stream and one of the Chiefs came to the Revd. Mr. Bumby and demanded satisfaction. All the satisfaction he received, however, was to be persuaded to remove the “tapu” and come and listen to divine service, page 335 which was held for the first time in Port Nicholson, that evening.

Mr. Bumby had with him a copy of the work on the Colonization of New Zealand, issued by the New Zealand Association in London in 1837, and noticed the inaccurate description of the “Heritaona River,” where, instead of finding a navigable river, the party was almost wrecked in a whaleboat. Here was met the only white man—Robinson—residing at Port Nicholson. He was engaged building a boat, a very slow work where he had to manufacture all his nails from hoop iron at a wooden fire. There were numerous settlements on the shores of the harbour and the Maoris were of a milder aspect and gentler carriage than those Mr. Bumby had been accustomed to in the North.

On Sunday all the natives from near and from far were gathered together, and the Revd. Mr. Hobbs preached to them on the beach in front of one of the principal settlements. Warepouri, a principal chief of the place, asked to have a missionary established among them, and everywhere they went the same desire was expressed. Mr. Bumby concluded that this would be a suitable place for a station, and “tapued a piece of land of the proprietors, two respectable chiefs, for some blankets and fish hooks.” What exactly was meant by the land being “tapued” is explained by Mr. Bumby in these words: “The tapu secures to us the privilege of purchase, if we should fix upon the place for a missionary settlement.” The land does not appear actually to have been bought, but the Church secured what might be called an “option” over the land, that option being to buy it, if it should be fixed upon as a place for a settlement. The price paid for this option was some blankets and fish-hooks.

In all, a week was spent at Port Nicholson, and a number of the lads, whom they had brought down to leave among their old tribe as teachers, were supplied with books, slates, pencils, &c., for the schools they were to establish. When it came to the hour of parting the young proteges of the Mission were almost broken hearted.

page 336

The departing guests were loaded with abundance of pigs and potatoes.

This was certainly the first establishment, by Europeans, of a mission among the Maoris of Port Nicholson, and the author regrets that his source of information, though written by Mr. Bumby on 29th August, 1839, does not give the precise date of the visit. It must, however, have been about the middle of June of that year.

The next place visited was Cloudy Bay, where they met some 150 natives and held service among them. Here the missionaries received anything but the welcome which had been extended to them at Port Nicholson. Although the Maoris themselves clamoured for hymn and prayer books, the numerous Europeans connected with the whaling establishments showed them so plainly that they were not wanted, that Mr. Bumby reported to his Committee, “I am persuaded, if Missionary operations were commenced here, there would be more opposition from civilized Europeans than from the untutored barbarians.”

The visit to Queen Charlotte Sound, now known to us as Tory Channel, evoked from Bumby the strongest expressions of admiration of the grandeur of the scenery, and condemnation of the wickedness of its European inhabitants. He says, under the latter heading:—

“There may be about fifty Europeans connected with the whaling establishments of this place; some of whom present specimens of human nature in its worst state. Dwelling in the region of the valley of the shadow of death they practice every species of iniquity without restraint and without concealment. The very sense of decency and propriety seems to be extinct. The very soil is polluted. The very atmosphere is tainted.”

These words remind us of the description given by Lieutenant Chetwode of H.M.S. Pelorus.

In spite of the awful moral surroundings, which Lieutenant Chetwode and the Revd. J. H. Bumby describe as. existing among the Europeans at this Cetacean Golgotha, page 337 the latter tells us that the Natives had turned to the Christian religion, kept the Sabbath day as civilized beings, and held religious services twice a day. In place of the tinkle of the bell to summon the worshippers, the necessary intimation was made by striking with stones, old musket barrels suspended by cords. Unable, from want of weapons, to turn their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks, they converted their old used-out muskets into church bells, and, amongst their awful “civilized” surroundings, did what they could to spread the Christian religion among their “barbarian” people. Education, as with us in the Middle Ages, flourished under the shadow of this primitive Church, and a few of the young people were reported as able to read, while all were willing to learn. Some few fragments of a translation of the New Testament, dirty, but carefully preserved, were found among the young Natives, one of whom had learned to write, and having obtained some paper, had begun to multiply copies. Under these circumstances we are not surprised to learn that, when the Missionaries were leaving, many followed their boat until up to their middle in the water, begging to get books. Mr. Bumby truly says, “I suppose ours was the first vessel that ever visited the Sound on an errand of mercy to the natives.”

From Tory Channel the party proceeded to Mana and visited Te Rauparaha, whom they found sitting in state under his own roof.

“The house in which we found him was larger than the generality of native habitations; but the space which served for door, window, and chimney, was so low and narrow, that it was all we could do, crawling on our hands and knees to get through it. Two large tubs of oil stood at each end of the apartment, with immense burners, filling the place with smoke, and rendering darkness visible. About thirty natives, warriors and slaves, were laid at full length, in various directions, on the floor. The place was as hot as a stove, with an atmosphere so thick and page 338 impure, as to be scarcely breathable. The Chief expressed himself as glad to see us, pressed us to sit near him, and wished to enter into a long conversation; but, after singing and prayer, we were glad to make our exit, giving him to understand that at our next meeting we would more fully state the object of our visit.”

The following morning Te Rauparaha had breakfast with the Missionaries on board the Hokianga, and, as was invariably the case with Maori Chiefs, was a model of good behaviour. He expressed a wish to have a Missionary, and promised all sorts of good things if one were given him. On leaving, Mr. Bumby assigned to him, as a teacher, a young Maori, bearing the appropriate name of Paul, and considered to be one of the most clever and pious of the Mission lads.

Kapiti was then visited, but it was found that, although there were some eighty Europeans connected with the whaling establishments, there were but few natives, and these were scattered about over the place. The Island had shortly before been visited by influenza, and the Natives declining proper treatment, had perished in large numbers.

After calling at the Sugar Loaf Islands at Taranaki and distributing some religious literature among the Maoris there, the party sailed for Kawhia, where they disembarked.

When Colonel Wakefield, the representative of the New Zealand Company, was at Tory Channel, on 16th October, he was told that a Missionary schooner had visited Port Nicholson, with a message to the Natives not to sell their land, and that the Revd. Hy. Williams would shortly be among them. Three days afterwards the Colonel sailed into Port Nicholson, and the Chiefs told him that the schooner, of which he had heard, had left some Missionary teachers, and that, in compliance with Mr. Williams' instructions, they had built houses and chapels in readiness for that gentleman's arrival.

There is some confusion in this information given to Wakefield. The reference to the teachers who came in the page 339 schooner was to those whom Bumby and Hobbs had left from the Hokianga, in or about the month of June, and the houses and chapels built were those placed on the land over which the Missionaries had secured the “option.” The explanation is probably that given by E. J. Wakefield as having been obtained afterwards from Mr. Bumby. Richard Davis, one of the teachers left by that gentleman at Port Nicholson, had been trained by Mr. Williams, but became a Wesleyan, when the Wesleyan Expedition was being fitted out for Cook Strait, offered his services and was taken. Shortly after being put in charge of a “station” at Port Nicholson, he left the Wesleyans and went back to the Anglicans, spread the tenets of his first love, and prepared the way for the coming of the Anglican Church. It was an action that, while not uncommon in civilized communities, is not generally looked for in the clerical profession.

Colonel Wakefield tried, unsuccessfully, to secure the services of this teacher, Richard Davis, as a witness to the sale of the land by the Maoris. According to Wakefield he wanted too much for himself. Probably both were to blame. Wakefield would be more than human, if “Reihana,” in the interests of his people, opposed the sale, and then received “honourable mention” in Wakefield's Journal. What is beyond challenge, however, is that the land covered by the “option,” with the houses and chapels thereon, was sold with the rest.

On 7th November the Revd. Hy. Williams arrived. Te Rauparaha had sent his son and another native to the Mission at Paihia, and had asked to have a station established in the midst of his people. The Revd. Williams was so strongly in favour of the proposal that he offered to go himself, but this could not be agreed to. and it was decided that he should take down the Revd. O. Hadfield and establish him within the Kapiti Chief's domain.

The Missionary schooner—the Columbine—set sail on 21st October, and meeting adverse winds in Cook St., called in at Port Nicholson on 7th November. Here the page 340 reverend gentleman obtained full information from Reihana of the sale of the land to Colonel Wakefield, and was told that the Maori teacher had reserved his own portion of the land. The report of the result of mission work, both in the Bay and to the north, was very gratifying.

The following day Mr. Williams tried to reach Kapiti, but was forced to stand over to Cloudy Bay, where, on the tenth, he held service among the Europeans, and formed quite a different opinion to that formed by Bumby, only some five months before. After conversation with Guard and Wing(?) at the Bay he appears to have been quite satisfied of the desire of the natives for instruction, and of the willingness of these two Europeans to render help.

On the twelfth, Mr. Williams made another attempt to reach Kapiti, and returned to Port Nicholson to walk over land. Mr. Hadfield's illness at this juncture was a source of great anxiety, but everything went well and they all arrived safely opposite Mana Island on the fifteenth. During the day Mr. Williams met Nayti, the Maori who had come out in the Tory with Colonel Wakefield, and from him learnt what the Agent of the Company was doing.

On Saturday, the sixteenth, Rangihaeta was visited on the Island, and on Sunday a service was held at Porirua on the mainland, attended by about ten Europeans and a number of Natives. The following day the party moved on towards Waikanae.

On Tuesday, the nineteenth, Mr. Williams obtained an interview with Te Rauparaha, and was in his company until Friday. The old Chief was particularly gratified that Mr. Hadfield had come to live among them, and gave all sorts of promises to turn over a new leaf. It was also arranged that Mr. Williams should go down to the South Island and make a permanent peace with Taiaroa, the hereditary foe of Te Rauparaha. This had, however, to be abandoned. A visit was paid to the battlefield at Waikanae, where Te Rauparaha's people were defeated by those belonging to that place. Here were visible many page 341 signs that Christianity had secured a hold upon them. Instead of being eaten, the dead warriors were buried with musket and ammunition, with full military honours. The old chapel which had been abandoned on account of the war, the new one, where religious services were held every Sunday, and the schools scattered over the place, gave ocular demonstration of the power of the preacher and of the teacher as civilizing agents.

The Revd. Hy. Williams thus speaks of what he found:

“These chapels, and many others around, were built through the influence of a young man instructed in the Paihia school, named Matahau. He lived many years with my brother, and afterwards with me, and returned, many years ago, to his relations at this place, among whom he has laboured with astonishing zeal and perseverance. He has taught many to read, and has instructed numbers, as far as he is able, in the truths of the Gospel, so that many tribes for some distance around, call themselves Believers, keep the Lord's Day, assemble for worship, and use the Liturgy of the Church of England. The schools, also, are numerous. I felt that our boy, Matahau, had set an example which ought to rouse Missionaries to every exertion, and act as a powerful appeal to the friends of the Society at Home.”

There is no doubt, of course, that this statement is literally true; it would not have been written by Williams had it not been. We must, however, limit its application to what Williams found on the mainland, in the vicinity of Otaki and Waikanae. Bumby had left one teacher with Te Rauparaha on Mana Island, several at Port Nicholson, and, though not specifically stated by him, there is evidence that he left men at Cloudy Bay and at Te Awaiti. Both Wakefield and Dieffenbach speak of a native teacher in Cannibal Cove, who had taught many to read and write, and who conducted regular service there as early as August, 1839. The latter authority also mentions that at two page 342 villages, called Wangenui and Okokurri. situated on beaches near Te Awaiti, Wesleyan Native Missionaries were established. The same remarks apply to Moioio Island in Tory Channel. These cases are quoted to show that others than Mr. Williams's hero were engaged in the Master's work, and had done yeoman's service. It would also have provided us with a fine example of liberality if Mr. Williams had frankly admitted that a rival denomination to his own had also done good work in Cook Strait.

The author does not want Mr. Williams and Matahau to have less credit than they are entitled to, and he suggests that probably the visit of the native lad was the cause of Te Rauparaha asking for a Missionary as far back as 1835.

Before Mr. Williams left, it was arranged that Mr. Hadfield should occupy Waikanae and Otaki as main stations having a horse he could ride from one to the other in an hour and a half, and could keep a general oversight of the villages round about. While arranging this matter several days were spent in preventing a conflict between the different tribes, and in going from place to place preaching in the little chapels.

At last everything was completed, and Mr. Williams took his departure for home, going overland. Proceeding coastwise he reached the Rangitikei, ascended it for some distance, then crossed over to the Wanganui, and by that stream went into the interior, reaching Tauranga on 9th January, 1840, after one of the most difficult journeys on foot which have ever been taken in New Zealand.

About a month after the Revd. Hy. Williams had set out from the East Coast, the District Meeting of the Wesleyan Mission on the West Coast sent the Revd. James Buller to Cook Strait, to secure the sites already chosen by Messrs. Bumby and Hobbs, and to initiate the new mission. Mr. Buller set out on the 27th November and reached Pipiriki. on the Wanganui River, on 11th January, at one stage of his journey just missing the Revd. Hy. Williams by a few hours.

page 343

Five days after reaching Pipiriki Mr. Buller reached Otaki, and the following day dined in Mr. Hadfield's tent at Waikanae, after which he crossed, in that gentleman's boat, to Kapiti. to interview Te Hiko. After spending two days at Kapiti Mr. Buller sailed for Mana Island to see Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeta, but bad weather coming up prevented him reaching the Island, and the party had to be content with making the Porirua River.

It was only a few hours walk from Porirua to Port Nicholson, where Mr. Buller first visited Petone and found the Company's ship Cuba, which had brought out the surveyors, lying at anchor. From Petone Mr. Buller went overland to Te Aro, the site of Wellington, and was received by Mohi and his friends, the native teachers whom Messrs. Bumby and Hobbs had left there some seven months before. There was only one white man on shore—an Australian named Todd—and he lived in a wattle and dab house.

While Mr. Buller was at Te Aro, the first load of immigrants arrived from England in the Aurora, on 22nd January, and on Sunday, 26th January, Mr. Buller went on board and preached the first sermon the immigrants heard in their adopted land.

Mr. Buller found that the position of the proposed mission station was in a hopeless state of confusion, owing to the vague and ill-defined purchases made by Colonel Wakefield. The small plot of ground selected by Messrs. Bumby and Hobbs had gone with the general sale of the whole Bay. The actual proprietors of the mission lot had not sold or agreed to sell, but the entire harbour had been disposed of by certain chiefs, and some of the proprietors of the land sold to the missionaries had accepted a share of the payment. A house was built on the land, and the natives were very anxious that Mr. Buller should remain, but he felt that things had altered so much since his instructions from the District Meeting had been received that he should return and have the position reviewed.

page 344

Some time before Mr. Buller arrived at Port Nicholson—during the first week in December—Colonel Wakefield, who had gone north to complete the Company's title to the northern lands purchased from the original New Zealand Company of 1825, met Messrs. Bumby and Hobbs and told these gentlemen that he had purchased the lands they had “tapued” from the Natives. E. J. Wakefield does not cover up the fact that the Company was holding the land in question, and says that Colonel Wakefield promised that “he would be at all times ready, in fulfilment of his in structions from the Company, to reserve a sufficient place in the future town for the location of a chapel and mission house of each of the two stations.”

Taking passage in the Atlas for the Bay of Islands, a week's boisterous passage landed Mr. Buller at the Bay of Islands, in the midst of the preparations for the great gathering of natives at Waitangi to consider the terms of a Treaty for the cession of the sovereignty of New Zealand to the Queen of England.

The honours of the coming of the Church to Cook Strait were fairly divided between Wesleyan and Anglican. The first native teacher was Ripahau, an Anglican; the first visiting missionary was Mr. White, a Wesleyan; the first mission stations established were the Wesleyan ones, by Bumby and Hobbs; the first European preacher stationed was Mr. O. Hadfield, an Anglican; finally the first service preached to the Company's immigrants was by Mr. Buller, a Wesleyan.

Coming to the representatives of the Church who came out as members of the New Zealand Company's Expedition, we find that the Tory and the Cuba, with the Company's officers on board, and the Aurora on 22nd January, the Oriental on 31st January, and the Duke of Roxburgh on 7th February, all from London, arrived at Port Nicholson and unloaded their immigrants, without being accompanied by a single Minister of religion. It was not until the first Scotch vessel—the Bengal Merchant from Glasgow—arrived on 21st February, that a clergyman, in the person of the Revd. John Macfarlane of the Kirk of Scotland, was page 345 available to minister to the wants of the new arrivals. Even after the Adelaide and the Glenbervie arrived from London on 7th March, he was the only clergyman in the Settlement, until the Bolton landed the Revs. J. T. Churton and J. G. Butler of the Anglican Church, on the 21st April. Mr. Butler had already been in New Zealand as a missionary of the C.M.S., and held a Commission of the Peace from a former Governor of New South Wales.

The Wesleyan Missionary Society did not confine its attention to Cook Strait only, its members very early directed themselves to the task of providing a missionary for the Southern natives. The man selected for this work was the Revd. James Watkin. who had been a Missionary in the Friendly Islands, but was now residing in Sydney with his family. The English Conference of 1839 had already fixed Mr. Watkin as one of two Missionaries to be stationed at Kapiti and Mana Islands but that was now altered, and arrangements were made with “Johnny” Jones for this conveyance to Waikouaiti, Jones very generously providing free carriage for Mr. Watkin, his wife and family, and all their possessions, and giving a donation of £50 to the Mission funds.

On 1st May Mr. Watkin. with Mrs. Watkin and five children, set sail in the Regia from Sydney, and, after a fairly adventurous passage of nine days, sighted Solander Islands on the tenth. A succession of calms delayed the Regia off Otago Heads for a few days, and she did not cast anchor in Waikouaiti Harbour until the sixteenth. The following day was Sunday, and Mr. Watkin preached his first sermon in New Zealand from 1 Timothy I. 15, “This is a fearful saying.” The Reverend gentleman had not yet learnt Maori, so the discourse had, per force, to be in English, and was listened to by a number of men from the whaling station, and also by a number of the agriculturists whom Jones had sent down only a short time before, and who were now employed at Matanaka, only a short distance away.

It was at first intended that the Mission should be established at the agricultural settlement and not at the page 346 whaling station; but after visiting the former, Mr. Watkin decided upon the latter as the better place for the carrying on of a Mission among the Maoris, which was the more important part of his work. A hut was accordingly got ready for him at Waikouaiti, and by the twenty-sixth he found himself in a manse, though the accommodation it provided quite ignored the fact that there were seven members in his household.

Setting himself with diligence to acquire the language, he was at once faced with the difference between it and that of the dialect of the North in which the Missionary publications were all printed, compelling him to set to work to construct an alphabet, and write up the language himself, before he could issue any literature to his flock. But the language difficulty was not the only one: he could see that the whalers regarded him as a check upon their licentiousness, and a friend of those they plundered, and, if the whalers at Waikouaiti were like those described by Chetwode and Bumby. in Cook Strait, and by D'Urville, at Otago, the Missionary was in anything but an enviable position. There was also the climate to be contended with. A long residence in the tropics and at Sydney made the climate of Waikouaiti feel very inhospitable to Mr. and Mrs. Watkin. but to the children, who had been born in the tropics, the cold felt intense.

Mr. Watkin had established his station at Waikouaiti, and had instituted European services at that place and at Matanaka. and was hard at work mastering the language to extend his ministrations to the Maori, when the Herald's guns at Port Underwood declared to the World that he was on British soil, and there we must leave the first European preacher of the Gospel and his devoted wife, at their Master's work.

Through the kindness of the Revd. Dr. Edwin J. Watkin of St. Kilda, Melbourne (one of the five children of 73 years ago), the author is able to supply the reader with a copy of Mr. Watkin's Journal (Appendix G). describing his voyage across his arrival, and the first difficulties encountered.