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Maori and Missionary: Early Christian Missions in the South Island of New Zealand

Chapter Five — Visit of Tamihana

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Chapter Five
Visit of Tamihana

In July, 1843, Tamihana, The Son of The Notorious Te Rauparaha, visited the Mission, and on July 10th, there is the following entry in Watkin's Journal:

“Had very large congregations of natives yesterday, so large that I was obliged to take my stand out of doors. In the morning I endeavoured to direct their attention to the nature of God and that worship which He requires (John iv. 24). In the afternoon Josiah, one of Mr. Ironside's people, read prayers, and Sampson (Tamihana), a teacher connected with the Church Mission (Anglican), made some remarks upon the narrative of the rich man and Lazarus…. I was pleased with his humility and earnestness. He is, I believe, the only living son of Te Rauparaha, formerly the vindictive enemy of this people whose exploits make them tremble at the very thought. Christianity makes the bitterest enemies friends. Mr. H. (Rev. Octavius Hadfield) has something to answer for, I think, in endeavouring to poison the minds of his people against their fellow Christians. His people who come this way see I do not retaliate, and that may perhaps surprise them; I hope it may instruct them. Or, for catholic Love! When will it prevail?”

Again: “God forbid that the civil feuds of the Maoris should be succeeded by religious ones. My soul sickens at the thought of religious dissension among the natives. I would have them Christians, not sectaries.”

Further: “I am sorry to be brought into something like collision with the Church Missionary Society…. I feel much depression at times about this…. Sometimes these feelings amount to agony.”

It was a sad calamity that sectarian strife should enter the Mission Field;1 it was a painful experience for Watkin and his helpers. This rivalry was not due to the Wesleyan Mission, which 1

1 D. W. Mallock, in his Early Waikouaiti, states that unpleasantness was caused by the arrival of two Maori missionaries of the Ngatitoa tribe who came to minister to the Ngai-tahu tribe. One was the son of the bloodthirsty villian Te Rauparaha, and they spoke disparagingly to the Ngai-tahu tribe of the work of Mr. Watkin and his wife.

M. A. Rugby Pratt, Pioneering days, states that Tamihana was confirmed in the Church of England by Bishop Selwyn at the close of 1843, after his visit to the south.

page 54 was already on the field, but it was due to those who followed and who set up rival sectaries, acting, unfortunately, under the direction of the Rev. O. Hadfleid, of Otaki. Matene Te Whiwhi and his cousin Tamihana, and others, told the natives that the Wesleyan missionaries were not of the true Church, and spoke of the Wesleyans as schismatics. Wherever they travelled they scattered the seeds of strife and discord—at Akaroa, Port Levy and as far south as Ruapuke and Stewart Island. “Bigotry is a cursed thing,” wrote Watkin, who had a deep veneration for the Anglican Church and its devoted pioneer missionaries, and this spirit continued to mark his later relationships with the Anglican Church and with Bishop Selwyn. The native teachers were not to blame for they were only young in the faith and inadequately trained; the responsibility and reflection rested upon those who sent them forth.

Tamihana, as before stated, was the only surviving son of the fierce Maori Napoleon (Te Rauparaha) who devastated the northern portion of the South Island. Becoming a Christian, Tamihana joined the Anglican Mission and, having a desire to make amends for his father's evil deeds, upon the advice of the Rev. O. Hadfield, of Otaki, with his cousin, Matene Te Whiwhi, he departed upon a Mission to the South Island.

According to the Rev. P. W. Fairclough in his Early History of Missions in Otago, their Mission to the South Island occupied eight or nine months in 1843. Dr. Shortland, who was in Otago in 1843, reporting to the Government on March 18th, 1844, stated regarding these Anglican native teachers:

“They have busied themselves in making proselytes with more of native than of Christian spirit, and have caused a schism between the inhabitants of almost every settlement, one party styling themselves the children of Wesley and the other the Church of Paihia. The distraction of their minds thus caused has essentially interfered with their happiness, by producing a feeling of separation between members of the same family. This would suggest the expediency of not sending missionaries of different creeds to the same tribe.”

In 1844, Bishop Selwyn and Tamihana were at Akaroa, where they met Dr. Shortland, They ascended a hill that overlooked the scene of Te Rauparaha's appalling treachery. Tamihana described the deed and his father's methods with a want of sympathy for the vanquished that drew upon himself a reproof. Remembering that Tamihana had been brought up according to the manners and customs of his race, and viewing him in the light of his youthful surroundings, it is quite easy to understand his attitude of mind as described by Dr. Shortland. We must estimate him by the conditions of his own age and not by an advanced Christian point of view.

There is another misconception, often repeated, but which has no foundation. Many writers have asserted that when Tamihana page 55 visited the South his life was “in jeopardy”, for the very name of Te Rauparaha was enough to arouse a thirst for vengeance among the southern people, who remembered with horror and dismay the treachery and cruel deeds of his father. According to the Maori custom, utu must be exacted; therefore Tamihana and Matene Te Whiwhi were in “momentary danger of being put to death”. The facts were, however, that there was no peril and no danger, for the simple reason that the Maori people had been Christianised by the Wesleyan Mission. Many years ago the Rev. P. W. Fairclough put the question to an aged Maori at Kaiapoi named Hoani Hape: “Was it dangerous for Tamihana to come in 1843?” Answer: “No, they were Christians before he came; besides, there had been a treaty of peace.”

A further misconception:

It has often appeared in print that Tamihana was the first native messenger of the Cross to visit the far south of New Zealand. The Rev. H. T. Purchas has repeated this in his book, The English Church in New Zealand. He states that when Bishop Selwyn visited the South Island in 1844, he found that the Maoris attributed the beginnings of their knowledge of the truth to Tamihana; that he evangelised wherever he went, and that he was the first native teacher to visit the south. Canon Stack has written in the same strain. There are misconceptions. Tamihana certainly did visit the south and made converts and was much beloved by many of those he visited, but he was not the first pioneer Christian teacher and preacher. The first messengers of the Cross to Ruapuke Island and the far south were Watkin's native converts.

When the Maoris of the distant south heard of the arrival of Watkin at Waikouaiti in 1840 they travelled by whale boat to the Mission Station to hear and learn all they could. As in the North Island, the Maori people who were living at a distance from a Mission Station came in groups to be taught and stayed for a time, then returned to their homes and taught others all they knew, and later went back again to the Mission Station to ask questions and receive further instruction; so it was in some degree with the Maori people living at Ruapuke.1

As early as October 19th, 1840, Watkin had four boats from Ruapuke Island containing about 100 people to preach to. They kept coming and going at intervals. What they learned was elementary, but it was real and effective as far as it went, and much good was done in that way. The most outstanding of these “learners” was the chief, Horomona Pohio, who became Watkin's principal teacher and preacher. He was without doubt the first authorised native Christian apostle to the Maori people of Ruapuke and Stewart

1 Early History of Missions in Otago, by Rev. P. W. Fairclough.

page 56 Island. This took place before 1843, the time of Tamihana's visit.

In January, 1844, Bishop George Augustus Selwyn made his first southward visit. He arrived at Moeraki on January 19th and stayed till the 22nd. He was engaged in examining candidates for baptism, conducting services and distributing Bibles and Prayer Books. On the 21st (Sunday) he notes:

“Native services are as usual, and a service to the English at the Whaling Station, at which eighteen assembled in a barn. This place has been visited by the French Bishop, but by no one else, except Mr. Watkin, the Wesleyan missionary. In the afternoon I baptised four natives.”

[Mr. Watkin had a church functioning at Moeraki which included, besides adherents and catechumens, 39 baptised persons, including the chiefs Rawiri Waitiri Te Mamara and Matiaha Tiramorehu.]

January 22nd: Embarked in a large sealing boat belonging to the natives, etc., etc. We ran safely behind the headland and into the little River of Waikouaiti; 20 miles from Moeraki, and ten from Otakou. Here we found a small schooner (the Perseverance1 ) belonging to the chief, Tuhawaiki, a native chief residing at Ruapuke, an island in Foveaux Straits. I went on shore and went to the house of Mr. Watkin, Wesleyan missionary, by whom I was hospitably entertained. In the evening I catechised his natives.”

Next day the Bishop “walked over the settlement, visiting most of the English settlers; many of whom had good fields of corn nearly ready for harvest. In the afternoon rode to a large farm belonging to Mr. Jones, a merchant of Sydney, where I came to a noble field of wheat of fifty acres and a very large stock of cows, sheep and horses…. In the evening had much conversation with Mr. Watkin on the subject of our respective Missions.”

On the 24th, the Bishop engaged Tuhawaiki's schooner to take him southward. The same day he arrived at Otakou and he wrote.

“Otakou is a small harbour, but good, and well marked from the sea by two patches of white sand, which can be seen from a distance. My tent was pitched at a small native settlement about a mile from the English, from which I visited most of the inhabitants, distributing books, etc.” On the 26th: “Early in the morning, the Perseverance worked out of the Otakou Harbour, and having cleared the Heads, ran to the southward with a fair wind.”

To Mr. Watkin's surprise, the Bishop located a native teacher

1 The schooner Perseverance was wrecked at Otakou in July, 1847, The vessel dragged her anchor during a gale and was driven ashore. The ship's bell, bearing the date 1838, cast in metal, now hangs in the tower of the Memorial Church at Otakou.

page 57 at Otakou1 whom he had baptised a few days before at Moeraki. There was an organised church at Otakou in connection with the Wesleyan Mission, which included, besides adherents and catechumens, 70 accredited members in fellowship.

Watkin's account, in his Journal, of the Bishop's visit is as follows:

“Was much surprised by and equally pleased with a visit from Bishop selwyn during the early part of this week. He is, I expect, the most primitive Bishop of the Church of England at the present time. He is in labours more abundant, in journeyings often. He is an excellent traveller, can bear privation, and endure exertions which would finish some of us who are below him in station. He appears to me as catholic as can be expected in a person who believes as he does, and who fills the situation as he does. He laments disunion, so do I, wishes for unity, so do I, but I see not how the unity he desires is to be brought about.” Watkin mentioned a union of love.

“Touched by the lodestone of Thy love,
Let all our hearts agree,
And ever toward each other move,
And ever move toward Thee.”

Further, in a letter to his friend, the Rev. S. Ironside, dated January 24, Watkin remarked, “I learned a good deal of his of Lorship in two days. He dwelt in my house. I am much pleased with him as a man, and somewhat as a Churchman. We conversed on many topics, agreeing and differing…. I was told that he was a close, incommunicative man. I found him the reverse of that. I admire him on many grounds, but differ from him on many. I pray God to make him a blessing…. He intends to visit the Chathams. He would dearly like all to belong to the Church of England. The Bishop has given me a few books, etc.”

Letter to Ironside, March 12th: “The Bishop's visit this way has not proved so productive, as it was hoped—his proselytes are but few. He disclaims a wish to proselytise, and yet his lads who accompany him labour at little else.”

Canon H. T. Purchas in his History of the English Church in New Zealand, referring to Selwyn's visit, writes (page 124): “At Waikouaiti…. The Bishop visited a Wesleyan missionary, Mr. Watkin. He was the only white teacher who had as yet visited this portion of the country, and he entertained his guest for two days in a friendly fashion. He was inclined to resent the intrusion of Tamihana into his district, etc. The Bishop felt that the ground had certainly not been effectively occupied before Tamihana's visit…. He therefore declined to recognise a Wesleyan sphere of influence in these regions, but the parting between himself and this lonely

1 The native teacher the Bishop located at Otakou was not heard of again.

page 58 missionary was thoroughly friendly on both sides.”

Before the Bishop left Waikouaiti, as a token of personal goodwill, he presented to his host a copy of St. Matthew's Gospel in Maori which bore the inscription:

James Watkin
with best wishes of
G. A. Selwyn
Waikouaiti, 23rd January, 1844.

A few weeks after Bishop Selwyn's visit to Waikouaiti, Mr. Watkin made his long-anticipated tour to the far south, where most of the Maoris were in fellowship with the Wesleyan Mission. It was from the Bluff that there came to Waikouaiti, on January 27th, 1841, James Spencer, before mentioned, and Meri Kauri to be united in holy matrimony according to the rites of the Christian Church—the first Christian marriage in Otago-Southland. The native woman also received Christian baptism before the wedding ceremony.

Prior to his southern tour, Mr. Watkin had been suffering from much weakness of body, but he forced himself to his heavy task and wrote, February 21st, 1844: “Have been employed much as usual since my last entry…. Have just received the case of copy books from the committee. They are acceptable. The new Governor has arrived (Capt. FitzRoy, R.N.), and much is expected from him. He appears to be a fast friend of the missionaries, and promises to be a father to the natives. God speed him. Tomorrow I leave for the southward. May I have the smile of Heaven. On the 15th visited Otakou, saw some of the people, made necessary arrangements and returned. Have preached the usual times.”

He reported that ‘he set sail for Ruapuke on the 22nd in the schooner Scotia through the kindness of Mr. Jones, owner.” After being tossed by wind and storm the captain was obliged to return to port next day. However, on the 24th, another attempt was made and the schooner reached Taieri that evening and part of the ship's cargo was delivered, and some of the passengers landed with their effects. They did not reach Foveaux Strait till the night of the 27th, and he reported:

“The darkness prevented our attempting the port, and we were driven back, and the whole of the next was spent in getting up again. On the night of the 28th made the mouth of Bloomfield Harbour (the Bluff), but the strong ebb tide prevented our entering and it was not until this morning that we gained the anchorage.”

The same day Watkin held a service and preached to the natives. This was the first sermon ever preached at the Bluff.

[Prior to this, on February 2nd and 3rd, it must be remembered that Bishop Selwyn was at the Bluff and that he visited the people, conducted several marriages, baptised their children and “gave advice”, but he did not preach or conduct a regular service.]

page 59

On March 2nd Watkin was still at the Bluff. due to bad weather. On the third he wrote: “Preached in both languages, baptised a young woman, a youth and several children, ‘Anglomauries’. There are many of the mixed race in these parts.” He expressed a desire for a minister to be stationed at the Bluff, “for most of the natives are connected with us” (Wesleyans).

The young woman (adult New Zealander) baptised was Mary Parker. The others were Robert Graham, William Davis, Lucy, ward of Patrick Gilroy, and Harriet, ward of John M. Gibbon.

On the 4th, Watkin was at Half Moon Bay (Kairakau), Stewart Island (Rakiura), and “met a considerable number of natives gathered from various parts, distributed books and gave advice.” He married “two white men to the Maori women with whom they were living and baptised their children.” On the 5th he reported: “This day I held a service ashore under the shade of the trees and directed an attentive congregation to the excellency of God's works and of His Word (Psalm 91). At the same time I baptised three young men whose knowledge qualified them to receive the Rite. The service was interesting.” This incident shows that Horomona Pohio, Watkin's native teacher, had proved himself to be an efficient Christian pastor in the southern charge.

The same evening, March 5th, Watkin crossed the Foveaux Strait to Jacob's River (Aparima), where he conducted a service and distributed books, which he said “are in great demand, visited a school which has just commenced for Anglo-New Zealand children. I gave the master what assistance I could. We soon left the dangerous anchorage of this place, and set sail for Ruapuke.”

[The Hon. W. B. D. Mantell (Native Minister), quoting the census of the Maori population of Aparima in 1852, states that “they all professed to be Wesleyans.” Aparima was the name of the mother of Hekeia, a chief of the Waitaha tribe. Here the famous Waitaha flourished as the children of nature in the long ago”.—Centenary of Early Riverton.]

Leaving Aparima on the 5th for his long-anticipated visit to Ruapuke, Watkin remarked: “Now I sorrowfully learned that the anchorage there was unsafe and I could not with my conscience urge the owner to peril his vessel. I was therefore obliged to return without having achieved my principal object. I wrote to and sent a package to Solomon (Horomona Pohio), my principal teacher there, which would lessen the disappointment. I must try again shortly.” Watkin was much interested in Ruapuke Island, seeing that Horomona Pohio, whom he had trained and appointed as a native pastor and teacher, lived there.

It is necessary at this stage in the account of the early Mission to mention that when Bishop Selwyn visited Ruapuke on January 29th of the same year he wrote in terms of appreciation of the page 60 Maori Christians, but he gave the credit for this gratifying state of things to Tamihana, the son of Te Rauparaha, and reported: “Their instructor was Tamihana, whom I have before mentioned as having been sent by Mr. Hadfield on a missionary expedition to these parts.” Tamihana was there in 1843, which was after Pohio's appointment by Mr. Watkin, thus the Bishop was under a misconception. The Bishop paid a further tribute to the Christian natives: “In all I found some natives able to read, and one especially, a very intelligent party under the care of a well-informed teacher.” The Bishop does not mention the name of the well-informed teacher, but so far as the records are concerned, there was only one efficient teacher at that time, and that person was the chief, Horomona Pohio, who had been commissioned by Watkin.

Having completed his southern pastoral tour on March 8th Watkin wrote: “Reached home again and found all well. Thanks be to God.”

At every place of call Watkin preached his evangel, instructed the catechumens, baptised converts who had been taught by his Maori colleagues, and officiated at a number of marriages. This devoted trail-blazer carried in his heart the constant burden of anxiety for the churches that through his ministry had sprung up in the southernmost part of New Zealand.

It must be said also of Watkin's contemporary in Apostolic service, as pointed out by W. I. Williams in his Centenary Sketches of New Zealand Methodism, “that Dr. Selwyn, the first Bishop of New Zealand, was a man of high character, of deep piety, of lofty aim, of splendid courage, of great administrative gifts and of absolute devotion to what he conceived to be his duty.” He was a tireless, traveller. His name will always stand out prominently upon the pages of New Zealand history as one of its greatest leaders. This is all true, and much more may be said about this good and great Bishop. His career was unfortunately obscured by his High Church views. Before he and other High Church clergy came to New Zealand perfect harmony obtained between the Wesleyan Mission and the Anglican Mission. There was the spirit of brotherly cooperation between the two Churches, and they continued shoulder to shoulder in the fight against the forces of evil. The pioneer Anglican missionaries, Revs. Samuel Marsden and Henry Williams (afterward Archdeacon), John Butler and others continued their vcatholic-mindedness to the last. The members of both Missions practised intercommunion. When Christian natives, as was their custom, moved from one part of the country to another, they were “transferred in good standing” whether to Anglican or Wesleyan, as the case may be. They sang the same hymns, recited the same creed, and used the same form of service. Wesley's edition of the Book of Common Prayer was in regular use among the Wesleyans. The page 61 converts of the two Missionary Societies looked upon one another as belonging to one body. When Bishop Selwyn and other High Church clergy arrived in New Zealand, all this was changed. Selwyn was a High Churchman but not a Ritualist. Canon Purchas says of him “that he could find no place for the Wesleyan Mission in his scheme of things. Always courteous to its leaders, but he could not continue the old communion with them. From this change of attitude the logical Maoris drew conclusions which soon brought sadness to the Bishop himself. Up and down the country, but especially in Taranaki, where the spheres of influence met, the converts were violently perturbed. A savage burst of sectarian fury broke out. Each small community was divided against itself, and its Christianity, like that of the Corinthians, evaporated in bitter party feeling. In one pa a high fence was built through the midst to divide the adherents of Weteri (Wesley) from those of Hahi (the Church).”

On October 31st, 1843, the Bishop wrote to the Wesleyan District Committee telling them that Wesleyans were schismatics; that their ordinations were invalid, and that their baptisms were acts of laymen. He could not allow intercommunion between the Anglicans and the Wesleyans. This policy, disappointing and painful, had baneful effects upon the Maori mind, and disruption and division followed.

When Bishop Selwyn was at Ruapuke in January, 1844, he found “much strife between Wesley and the ‘Church’,” and regrets the spirit of controversy among the people, and wrote: “We need not wonder at controversies which are raging at home, when, even in this most distant part of this most remote of all countries … the spirit of controversy, so congenial as it seems to the fallen nature of man, is everywhere found to prevail, in many cases to the entire exclusion of all simplicity of faith.”

Unfortunately, there was controversy, division and confusion. The separate Wesleyan and Anglican native churches, built side by side at Ruapuke, brought from the Bishop the expression “Babel!” Who made the division and the confusion? Certainly not the members of the Wesleyan Mission. They were the first on the field, functioning in 1840.

The Bishop wrote to the Rev. O. Hadfield as a reason for obtruding in the Wesleyan sphere in Otago and Southland: “I cannot recognise the mere fact of his (Watkin) residence in Waikouaiti as entitling him to the special care of all the Southern Islands.” The answer to this is that Watkin was not appointed to Waikouaiti but to the whole of the southern part of New Zealand. He had already commissioned a teacher to Ruapuke Island in the south. He had established Missions at Moeraki and Otakou and adjacent hapus. In 1844, he advised the Rev. J. F. H. Wohlers to settle at Ruapuke page 62 and take oversight of his converts there. Watkin expected his Missionary Board to appoint additional European missionaries, and while waiting for these reinforcements he instructed and trained his native helpers in order to supply the lack.

It is urged that Watkin did not regularly visit the distant kaikas. It is true that he did not travel as much as he himself desired, but it must be remembered that his home at Waikouaiti was a hospital and a dispensary for the sick. The Mission house was also a school of instruction, where he trained his teachers, and by these men he reached the distant parts of his charge more effectively than if he personally were continually moving from place to place.

It is true, as the Bishop has stated, that Watkin's health was unsatisfactory, and which he claims prevented Watkin from “visiting far afield”; but it must be admitted, as stated by Dr. D. Monro and others, that Watkin accomplished more in his weak state of health than many men of strong physique could have accomplished.

It must be said, however, that before Selwyn left New Zealand to become Bishop of Lichfield his experience of colonial life did much to emancipate the great man from the trammels which had fettered him. In one case he refused to consecrate a country church according to the Anglican manner, in order that Wesley an and other non-Anglican ministers could officiate therein.

Another incident shows his altered attitude. Administering the Holy Communion in Auckland prior to his leaving for England, he noticed in the congregation two Wesleyan ministers, the Revs. James Wallis and John Hobbs. The Bishop left the altar, stepped down, and gave the sacred emblems, saying, “May we meet again at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.”1

The Rev. James Buller has written: “If Samuel Marsden was the father of the New Zealand Mission, Bishop Augustus Selwyn was the father of the Church of England in New Zealand.”

When this great man lay on his death bed at Lichfield, he was heard to say in his delirium: “Otiia Ka hokimai ratou” (But they will return). His last thoughts were about the Maoris he loved so much and for whom he laboured so long. The falling away of the Maoris during the Maori War period and their lapse from the faith grieved him intensely, but he believed “they would return”.

The name of Bishop Selwyn is indelibly written in the early pages of New Zealand history.

1 In the Beginning, by Rev T. G. Hammond.