Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

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

Chapter Six — Watkin's Mission at Moeraki

page break

Chapter Six
Watkin's Mission at Moeraki

Some Thirty Miles from the Waikouaiti Mission Station there was another kaika (Moeraki) under charge of the missionary. This kaika has a place in Maori history. Its shore was the scene of the total loss of the Te Araiteuru canoe, from Hawaiki, which was wrecked on a reef within sight of the Moeraki kaika. The reef, which extends seaward near Shag Point, represents the hull of the ill-fated craft. “The large boulders scattered along the Moeraki beach represent Hinaki or eel baskets of Hape-ki-taurake and the slave Puketapu.” The globular boulders are said to be the calabashes which held the water supply. The irregular rocks further along the shore are the kumaras washed ashore from the wreck. So much for Maori tradition.

Moeraki figured in the Kai-tahu—Kati-mamoe conflict in which the former won a decisive victory over the latter. The chiefs who led the Kai-tahu to success were Taoka of Otakou, and Te Wera, who had a strong pa at Huriawa, the Karitane of today. Not long after this Te Wera and Taoka quarrelled and became bitter enemies and fought against each other at Purakanui.

A shore whaling station was established at Moeraki in 1836 by John Hughes of Sydney. Prior to this, Hughes was employed by Weller Bros, of Otakou. The site of the whaling station was Onekakara, where the township of Moeraki stands today. The first season's whaling produced the total of 23 killed, yielding 28 tons of oil, paid at the rate of £8 to £10 per ton. The first ship to call at Moeraki after the establishment of the station was the Sydney Packet owned by Mr. John Jones. During a gale she went ashore on the beach and was destroyed (July, 1837). At the end of the fifth season, whaling was not a profitable business, but occasional whales were killed up to 1850.

When the whalers commenced business at Moeraki there was a very small hapu of Maori people under a chief named Tangatahara, mentioned by Watkin at Takatahara, the chief who killed Te Pehi (the kinsman of Te Rauparaha) at Kaiapohia. Escaping from the Ngati Toa he fled for refuge to the south. He left Moeraki shortly after the coming of the whalers and returned to Banks Peninsula, where he died in 1847. It was during the second season of the whaling station that a company of Maoris arrived in canoes and an page 64 old whale-boat, refugees from Kaiapohia, and settled about a mile from the Europeans.

Immediately upon his arrival from Waikouaiti, Watkin was visited by many Maoris from Moeraki. They became apt pupils and their names were included on his catechumen list. There were about 200 natives in residence and the missionary visited them as often as opportunity allowed. He journeyed to this Mission outpost by boat, later on horseback, but mostly on foot by the Maori tracks.

The following was written on January 17th, 1842, but he does not state that it was his first visit. This pastoral visit took place some eighteen months before Tamihana came south. Nor was it Watkin's first contact with the people of Moeraki, for, as before stated, his catechumen members were constantly visiting the Waikouaiti Mission Station for instruction.

The entry reads: “January 13th, 1842. Visited Moeraki, a much more populous place than this (Waikouaiti), and was much pleased with the place itself, but more to find a disposition on the part of the people to listen to my message, and to receive books…. It is surprising how prayers, hymns, catechisms, etc., are being spread through the country by oral communication. Those who can read or write are rather too proud of their acquirements, and when out of the direct influence of the missionary, love to set up as teachers on their own account, some who have done so being very unfit characters. I conducted several services, recommended the erection of a chapel, which it was promised should be done, and then returned home. The journey there and back on New Zealand roads is rather too fatiguing to be accomplished in two days.”

On February 5th, he wrote: “On the first, set out for Moeraki, and after a very fatiguing journey reached that place where I spent three days endeavouring to instruct the natives in the things of God…. I should think there are nearly two hundred souls there.”

He deplored the sad results which followed Bishop Pompallier's visit and the unfortunate; conduct of one of the priests:

“I found that a letter purporting to be from a native of this place and a convert to Rome had been read, but really from one of the French priests. This I was requested to read, and found it full of exhortation urging them to become proselytes of the Hahi Matua the ancient church.”

He states that he met a native or two who had been made Christians by these Roman priests, viz., by baptisms, but they were deplorably ignorant of Christian truth. Watkin states: “If they learn the Creed and Ave by rote it is all they require…. I might baptise scores if such qualifications only were required.”

March 28th: Set out for Moeraki and reached that place in the evening, where I stayed until the 1st of April, spending four nights lying on the ground and a mat for my bed, and a blanket for page 65 covering. I conducted eight services besides schools, and had a pretty fair proportion of the inhabitants present in the house which I am having erected; it is in an unfinished state and proved both damp and cold. I had little rest while I stayed and ate very little, so that I returned in a very fatigued and weak condition, and a throw from my horse served to increase my stiffness.

“October 31st: Visited Moeraki per boat, held a number of services there, and travelled back over-land—no trifle to so poor a pedestrian as I.”

Notwithstanding all discouragements, success crowned the missionary's efforts; a church building had been erected and opened for worship; instruction classes had been organised under native teachers, supervised by the missionary.

Following these tokens of success, unfortunately sectarian trouble arose due to the visit of Tamihana and Matene Te Whiwhi, before mentioned. Watkin regrets that native teachers of a sister church had been sent into his charge: “I have no wish for controversy and deeply do regret the divisive spirit,” and declares, “we are friends, not enemies of the Church” (Anglican).

The journey to Moeraki on foot is described as difficult: “There was no well-defined track and it involved the climbing of steep ascents, the transversing of rolling downs covered with tussock and toi-tois; crossing the muddy estuary of what is now known as Pleasant River; the ploughing of stretches of sandy beach and the clambering of rocky shore strewn with boulders.” The water was so salty that Watkin wondered how they could drink it. He relates a tradition which gives an explanation for the brackishness of the water:

“Their traditions as well as their language show them to have an origin in common with the Polynesians.” One tradition is as follows:

“A youth going for water along the beach saw a whale which happened to be the vehicle of Takaloa (the god of the ocean, who shares with Rona, the maid who sits in the moon with a calabash at her side, the duty of controlling the tides of the sea). This youth addressed to Takaloa one of the most offensive expressions in Maori speech, something like ‘bake or roast your head or I will do so.’ This so angered his godship that he blew the sea water so high as to impregnate the springs at the top of the mountain with the saline flavour they have retained ever since.” Watkin remarks: “Salt enough it surely is, my wonder is that they can drink it.” “Takalva or Takaloa is the South Island form of Tangaroa, son of Rangi (Heaven) and Papa (Earth), who is one of the great dieties of Polynesia, and was usually only seen in the misty spray of the sea when the sun shone upon it.”1

1 M. A. Rugby Pratt.

page 66

Watkin's efforts on behalf of the people of Moeraki were not in vain. Often he was cheered when, approaching the kaika unseen by the Maori people, he heard the sounds of worship issuing from their whares as their voices were raised in prayer and hymn, or chanting the “he Katikihama” (catechism) in tones which, though loud, were agreeable rather than otherwise.

“September 26th, 1843: Set sail for Moeraki…. My voyage was as pleasant as perhaps can be reasonably expected along this stormy coast; dangers are never wanting at sea, but here they abound. Going out or coming in to landing places is a work of some difficult) and the danger of being upset is always great…. My visit on the whole pleasant, and I trust, too, that it was something more. I preached on Tuesday, and at a later service catechised the people…. On Wednesday forenoon held a baptismal service when between twenty and thirty received the Rite. My service was conducted in the open air, so that I had a finer roof than any cathedral boasts—the blue sky—the ground served for faldstool to those who knelt to receive the first of the two Sacraments. My congregation was attentive whilst I endeavoured to explain the Saviour's commission to his apostles. The candidates were serious and, I believe, sincere. May they fulfill their vows. In the evening attended the school and catechised. On Thursday appointed two young men to act as leaders. In the evening preached and catechised. On Friday morning preached again, and then set out on my return.”

Matiaha Tiramorehu, one of Watkin's baptised converts, afterwards known as Matthews, became one of the foremost leaders and preachers in connection with the Moeraki church. He had been a student in the Maori whare kura, or house of learning, in which instruction was imparted in historical traditions, religious ritual, and the higher mysteries known only to the initiated. Matiaha possessed a wonderful store of occult lore and tribal traditions that had been passed on from generation to generation, and he was without a rival in his knowledge of genealogical antiquities. After his conversion to Christianity he proved his faith by his consistent life.

The following was reported by Watkin to the Mission Board: “A sub-protector of the Maoris who has been in this neighbourhood who, as I suppose, was collecting material for a book, asked Matiaha for information, which was freely given as far as time would permit, and on Saturday it was proposed by the sub-protector that the theme should be resumed next day (Sunday). ‘No’ was the answer. ‘Why?’ asked the visitor. ‘Because it is the Sabbath,’ responded the native. ‘But I am leaving on Monday,’ persisted the pakeha. ‘Never mind that,’ was the rejoinder. ‘If the day is common to you, it is sacred to me.’ The chief refused to allow anything to distract, him from his duties on the Lord's Day. This may appear to us extreme, but it shows the sincerity of the convert.”

page 67

Matiaha did good service by his correspondence with Governor Eyre in 1849 to get a just allocation of reserves set apart for his tribe. Mr. Walter Mantell, the Commissioner of Lands, in a report to the Colonial Secretary concerning native reserves, dated August 30th, 1849, paid high tribute to this native chief and pastor, and “principal man of the place”, from which he derived the greatest support and assistance. In 1864, Matiaha was appointed a Native Assessor or Magistrate.

Canon Stack, referring to Matiaha Tiramorehu, said that he was the best authority on Maori traditions in the South Island. In this statement he was dealing with the rock paintings attributed to the oldest inhabitants of the South Island already mentioned.

Watkin's last entry concerning Moeraki is as follows:

“Went to Moeraki (30 miles) and was ill tired. I stayed there until Thursday. I baptised a number of candidates (10), issued tickets (of church membership), renewed the class papers, catechised, answered questions, dispensed medicine, etc. There is much sickness at Moeraki…. I was pleased with some things which came under my observation.”

He refers to Matiaha's strength of moral principle, and said of him, “There is none better acquainted with genealogical antiquities than he—one of my teachers.”1

There is no further record of any visits to Moeraki in Watkin's Journal or in his reports to London, but the baptismal register shows that on April 24th, 1844, he baptised Hakeaha Tohu, Catechumen, Moeraki, about eight weeks before he left Otago for Wellington.

Seeing that Canterbury has a link of connection with Watkin, a brief historical statement is necessary. The earliest contact of Methodism with Canterbury was made by a West Coast native named Taawao. He had been instructed in Christian truth by a Wesley an of the Ngapuhi tribe from North Auckland, probably Whangaroa and Hokianga. The Wesleyan missionaries had evangelised a large portion of the Ngapuhi from the year 1822, and they in turn were keen to pass on to others what they had learned, following the example of the Primitive Christians of the Apostolic Church. The Rev. P. W. Fairclough in his Early History of Missions in Otago quotes the following: “Hoani Hape, an aged Maori at Kaiapoi, says that the Kaiapoi natives then living at Port Levy, first heard Christian teaching from a native called Taawao, who came from the West Coast, where he had been taught by a Ngapuhi man from the North of Auckland.”

1 Matiaha Tiramorehu died on April 7th, 1881. For thirty years he served the church as teacher and pastor, travelling as far as Waitaki. When he died a tangi was held that was attended by 500 Maoris from all parts of the Island. He is buried in the graveyard of the Moeraki Maori Church.

page 68

Another native teacher was named Hohepa Korehi, who taught at Akaroa, Pigeon Bay and Port Levy in 1841. Taawao was earlier still. These two men were the first heralds of the Cross in Canterbury. Watkin's register reveals that Taawao was baptised and received the name Rawiri Kingi. Korehi was baptised and received the name Joseph (Hohepa). Watkin says of him that “he had renounced the old faith of his ancestors; that he had learned to read and write, and had been usefully employed as a native teacher at Port Levy.” Both Ionside and Watkin had supplied the native teachers with portions of Wesley's Service Book, which was a shortened form of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.

The Rev. Samuel Ironside landed at Cloudy Bay, Marlborough, on December 20th, 840, and established a Mission in that area which included Ngakuta Bay,1 Queen Charlotte Sound, Tory Channel, and sometimes travelled as far as Nelson and Motueka.

Shortland states that Ironside's converts travelled the whole of the East Coast of the Island with their evangel; they ‘gave elementary and religious education.’ All this took place before the advent of Tamihana and his comrade.

When Bishop Selwyn visited Taumutu in 1844 he found about 40 Maoris who could read and many who were acquainted with the Lord's Prayer, the Belief, and portions of the Catechism.

A further evidence of the early success of the Wesleyan Mission is given by Mr. W. J. Hamilton who, when investigating and negotiating land purchases from the Maoris in Canterbury in 1856–9 said that he “could find no competent European Maori scholar in the Province save the Rev. J. Aldred of the Wesleyan Church (who missioned the Chatham Islands in 1842), and is repeatedly thanked for services at Akaroa, Port Levy, Rapaki and Kaiapoi.”2

To quote the Rev. P. W. Fairclough again, when he asked the aged Maori, Hoani Hape, at Kaiapoi, “Did Mr. Creed visit them?” he answered, “Yes, and Mr. Watkin, too.”

Prior to this, in June, 1839, when the Revs. John Hobbs and J. H. Bumby visited Marlborough, Queen Charlotte Sound and Tory Channel, they stationed native teachers there. Robert McNab in his Whaling Days states that both Wakefield and Dieffenbach “speak of a native teacher in Cannibal Cove, who had taught many to read and write, and who had conducted regular services there as early as August, 1839. The latter authority also mentioned that at two

1 Ngakuta was the head of the inner harbour of Port Underwood; a narrow dividing range separated it from one of the coves of Queen Charlotte Sound.

2 Mr. W. A. Taylor, an authority in Maori history, states that the Revs. J. Aldred and Y. Buller had the confidence of the Maori people of early Canterbury. Prior to the appointment of Canon Stack they were the interpreters to the Provincial Government.

page 69 villages called Wangenui and Okokurri, situated on beaches near Te Awaiti, Wesleyan native missionaries were established. The same remarks apply to Moioio in Tory Channel.” Services were established and the Christian Sabbath observed. When the missionaries were leaving, many followed their boat until up to their middles in the water. Mr. Bumby remarked: “I suppose ours was the first vessel that ever visited the Sound on an errand of mercy to the natives.” After this visit of investigation by the Revs. Hobbs and Bumby, fragments of the New Testament were found among the people, carefully preserved. One Maori in particular, who had learned to write, had begun to multiply copies.

The year 1844 marked the conclusion of Mr. and Mrs. Watkin's ministry in Otago. The closing months were marked by strenuous labour, but also by success.

One cheering event for the missionary was the arrival of a whale-ship whose captain was a zealous Christian. This welcome event took place just before he left for his pastoral tour to the Foveaux Strait region. He reported the following:

“Have just met with a converted captain of a whale-ship, a humble, loving man. Would there were many such. From his account there are several American captains who are so, who as well as himself hold religious services on board their vessel. He has had a revival on board his vessel and a number of converted characters among his officers and crew, some belonging to the Methodist, some to the Freewill Baptist Churches. To the latter he himself belongs. That church differs little from our own. They have class meetings and are believers in and seekers of sanctification. My conversation with him on the latter point was interesting to me. I gave him some magazines and one of our hymn books, pointing out to him the hymns for those seeking full redemption, where the blessing is described and sought in a manner only less excellent than in the Scriptures themselves. He attended and was pleased with our native services. He gave us some combs for the females, which have been distributed. May God be with Captain Barker and preserve him in his simplicity and ardour.”

A few days later he wrote: “There is a report here that a boat's crew belonging to the Lancaster, Captain Barker, has been lost. I hope it is not so, but Otago is a fearful place to go into or come out of in some states of wind and tide. The account is that the boat was putting the pilot ashore when the casualty took place. I hope the rumour is not true.”

Mr. Watkin had many tokens and proofs that his four years of toil had not been in vain: “A future, newly born and rich with promise, was displacing the old order of savagery and lawlessness. The Maoris had seen a compelling ideal. The Europeans were thinking bigger thoughts. Racial unity was finding at least some page 70 recognition and a new atmosphere had been created.” There were Gospel triumphs and miracles of saving grace.

Another evidence of success was indicated by a note which Watkin found carefully laid on the pulpit desk in the church. The writer had placed it where it was sure of being noticed by the missionary, and was as follows:

“To Miti Watkina,

O, my friend, my compliments to you. My mind is glad in my Lord and Saviour. My mind rejoices greatly, my soul is glad, Amen, My evil is gone and I am seeking to my Saviour Jesus Christ. O, His goodness to me is great and lasting. Amen.

J. Simon,”

The following are the last of Mr. Watkin's entries in his Otago Journal:

“April 6th, 1844: Yesterday, being Good Friday, was observed by us at Home by abstinence from food and labour, and by religious services. A boat arrived from Port Nicholson bringing a box of slates, much and long wanted, etc.

April 8th: Yesterday, Easter Day, was employed as usual. Preached on the usual topics to usual congregations. May God add His blessing. Amen.

“April 10th: Yesterday heard that a successor is at length on his way in the person of Mr. Creed…. May we go (from Waikouaiti) under God's blessing.

“April 15th: Yesterday employed as usual. I have heard good news from Port Nicholson. The foundation stone of a new chapel laid by His Excellency the Governor (Captain R. FitzRoy, R.N.), His speech on that occasion was most flattering, etc.

“April 20th: Yesterday the Deborah arrived, bringing Mr. Creed and his wife and family. I hope their coming is under the best direction and that they will prove eminent blessings here.

“April 22nd: Yesterday had the pleasure of hearing Mr. Creed hold forth in Mauri (Maori)…. He brings a good account of natives in his last circuit…. This is joyful news…. His poor wife is in bad health. This is, however, a healthful district. In the same vessel have arrived a staff of surveyors under Mr. Tuckett, who is the chief surveyor and agent pro tem of New Edinburgh.

“There is some prospect of that settlement being formed in this quarter. A better they cannot find. There is Mr. Symonds, a police magistrate, on board and other gentlemen.

“April 27th: This has been a week of considerable affliction. Poor Mrs. Creed has been and still is very ill…. My own wife has also been ill and unable to render help. This has been a week of unusual excitement…”

It was indeed a time of excitement, with the Deborah anchored in the Bay. Besides the visitors already mentioned, there was Mr. page 71 Wohlers, of the Bremen Mission. He was hospitably entertained at the Mission house. Messrs. Watkin and Creed, with native help, being the hosts. Mr. Tuckett had advised Mr. Wohlers to open a Mission on Banks Peninsula, but as that field was well provided for by the Wesleyan Mission, he declined. Both Watkin and Creed advised Wohlers to settle among the Maoris in the far south, with the suggestion of Ruapuke as a centre, where Watkin had his native pastors who needed European supervision. Wohlers also had a letter in his pocket fom the Rev. S. Ironside to introduce him to the southern Maori people. The idea appealed to Wohlers and the problem was solved as to where he should labour.

An interesting incident took place at the time. The pilot of the Deborah, Edward Palmer, through his contact with Watkin at the Mission house, made the “great decision” and became a consistent Christian. In later years Wohlers wrote of him, “that when he came to Waikouaiti, he was led to peace with God by Missionary Watkin and now lives at peace with a suitable income as an old but hearty man. Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”

To continue Watkin's Journal:

“May 11th: A week of considerable excitement this. Two sick in the house at once, domestic duties as well as the care of the church…. I hope Mr. Creed will be useful here…. It appeared a necessary thing that I should remove, but now the time comes I shrink from it, natives like these I shall not find in New Zealand….

“May 18th: Still at Waikouaiti, the Deborah not having returned from her exploring trip to southward. It is perhaps as well that I am here for Bro. Creed is almost incessantly employed in attending to Mrs. Creed, who continues ill. Schools, etc., have occupied my time.

“June 17th: A year ago the dreadful recontre between the natives and our countrymen took place. I have seen some of the parties who were present, and of both races the Europeans were in fault, but it was a horrid affair, and the destruction of the nine who surrendered was murder and nothing less…. I trust nothing of the kind will occur in the new settlement.

“June 24th: Yesterday I closed my ministry in Waikouaiti. The congregation was large for the place. May I not have laboured in vain. I baptised six persons from Ruapuke. Mr. Creed baptised our youngest son, we call him John Wesley. May God bless this people. Yesterday the Deborah reached Waikouaiti, so that the longexpected removal is now near.

“June 29th: The date of our arrival in Port Nicholson.”

Thus terminated the pioneer missionary's work in Otago. He saw the dawn of a new and better day for the Maori people of the south. He succeeded better than he expected, and better than he page 72 himself ever knew. He regretted that he did not visit more frequently the outposts of his huge parish. This remissness was due not merely to physical disability (and he suffered much in this respect), but because he was needed at the the central Mission house. It was not only a minister's residence, but also a hospital, where he attended to the needs of the sick. It was also a school of instruction to which his scholars came from all parts of his circuit to receive biblical, theological and secular tuition. In this way he reached more people and his work, as proved by results, was more effective than if he had constantly toured his charge. His 26 native pastors and teachers were able to reach and pass on more effectively the truths of Christianity which they had learned, than could one solitary missionary.

As before stated, during the whole of Watkin's term in Otago, it was a long struggle against physical and mental depression. During these times of mental strain, he blamed himself for his imagined failure. His private Journal abounds with expressions of selfaccusation which amounts to agony. A reader unacquainted with the facts, and not knowing his true character, would not understand this. It was the custom of many early missionaries to note down their misgivings; to search their hearts and examine their motives. To get rid of self-seeking, self-gratification and to lose sight of them selves in the service of the Master whom they served, was their constant aim. This involved assiduous watchfulness over themselves, and careful sifting of the motives of their lives. Thus it was with Watkin. There are portions of his Journal which were not intended for the public gaze. They were too deep, too sincere, for that Unfortunately, these soul searchings have been printed in full in Dr. A. H. McLintock's History of Otago, which give an unfortunate impression of the heroic pioneer and do him a sad disservice. The same writer and historian writes about Watkin's complex against the Maori character, and quotes his expressions “a barbarous set”, “dislike of the native” and so forth, used by Watkin in times of severe exasperation, particularly due to their mixing with unprincipled pakehas. The missionary's whole attitude towards the Maori people proved that he loved them, and that they loved him. His experiences in Tonga may have caused a temporary complex, but with returning health the cloud lifted. His whole attitude towards the Maori people shows that he viewed them with pity and deep concern. “The natives of this country,” he said, “are with all their faults better in even respect than the creatures who calumniate them. The aborigines of this land need protection.”

His unwearied, self-denying efforts on their behalf; his care for the sick and broken; his cottage hospital, and his anger towards those who degraded them, proved his character. His pamphlet, Pity Poor Fiji, stirred the hearts of the people in England. The page 73 church responded by sending more missionaries and teachers to those islands, and helped to pave the way for the English Government to annex Fiji to the Empire at the request of their chiefs and people.

When Watkin settled in Wellington, with returning health, all former depression left him and he faced life with an optimistic outlook. When, later, in Australia, with his exuberant spirit and optimistic outlook, no one would ever suspect that he had at any time suffered from depression.

It must be admitted, by all candid minds, that his work in Otago was a pronounced success.1 The triumphs of his courage and genius over physical disadvantages cannot be over-estimated. He succeeded where men physically stronger would have failed. He laid, “strong and firm”, the foundations of the first Christian Mission in the South Island. He laboured, others have entered into his labours. He sowed the seed, the harvest followed. He left behind him a well-organised church, and church members more than can be tabulated. One day the aged chief Korako cheered him by informing him that his coming had put an end to slavery, war, cannibalism, murder and other evils formerly frequent.

Dr. D. Monro wrote in July, 1844: “The natives at Waikouaiti are well disposed … and, by the praiseworthy exertions of the Rev. Mr. Watkin, the Wesleyan clergyman lately resident there, have been instructed in the doctrines of the Christian religion, and in reading and writing, to the full as well as in any part of New Zealand I have visited…. Mr. Watkin's labours have not been confined to Waikouaiti, but have extended from Moeraki, 30 miles north of it, to the Bluff, about 130 miles to the southward. Notwithstanding the short time which had elapsed since its establishment, the progress made by the natives has been surprising; and it is a striking proof, among many others, of the aptitude of the New Zealander for instruction, and of the eagerness with which he embraces it.”

The Rev. Samuel Ironside, who was stationed at Cloudy Bay, Marlborough, in December, 1840, paid the following tribute to his friend:

“He was my nearest brother, but 400 miles of a strong sea and an inhospitable coastline separated us. We could not meet personally. There was no postal communication. Very casual visits from whaling or trading vessels brought news from the outer world and supplies

1 It is largely due to Watkin's influence upon the Maoris, upon his evangelistic and educational zeal, that Tuckett, Wakefield, Symonds and Clarke were able to conclude the purchase of the Otago block for the New Zealand Company in such a friendly and businesslike fashion. But for Watkin and Creed, the Free Church settlers might not have found their relations with the Ngai-tahu chiefs and people so harmonious. Twenty-three out of twenty-five native signatories to the sale of the Otago block were baptised adherents of the Wesleyan Mission.”—John Jones of Otago, Alfred Eccles and A. H. Reed.

page 74 for our stations. Long before I saw him I formed the opinion that he was about the best read man, the closest observer of men and things I had ever known, and withal a man of utter self-abnegation. Years before I knew him in the flesh I loved and honoured him. We were literally in perils in the wilderness and in the sea, but we were happy in our work. We rejoiced over hundreds of the natives converted to God and baptised into the faith of Christ. I have a distinct recollection of some of Mr. Watkin's sermons in Wellington. I have heard Mr. Spurgeon, Dr. Morley Punshon and other great men at Home and here. As I knew him, I should hardly be disposed to give him a second position to any of those distinguished men,” (Written from St. Kilda, Melbourne, August 9th, 1886.)

Mrs. Monson (née Roebuck) has written in her notes:

“From my earliest years as a child, I have been helped by the missionaries. My first recollection dates from before I was quite five years old. The first was Mr. Watkin, who came in 1840. He was always spoken of with great respect even from the roughest men. We came (to Otakou) in 1843 and many Maoris could read and write. Mr. Watkin must have worked very hard, and so must Mrs. Watkin. I have always thought of the missionaries as specially belonging to God.”

In 1851 Mr. Watkin paid an official visit to Canterbury in order to supervise and direct the Mission there. Prior to that date the whole of the South Island was under the care of the Rev. Chas, Creed, which was almost an impossible task. In October, 1851, Mr. Watkin made his official visit to the Province. On the 12th he was at Tapaki and baptised twelve Maoris who had been prepared by the native pastors. The same day at Wakaoroa he baptised fourteen Maoris, and a week later, five others. Their names appear in the Wellington register. On October 19th, at Pigeon Bay, he baptised two sons and daughters of Ebenezer and Agnes Orr Hay. A few days later, at the same place, he baptised two Maoris, and also the son of James Gilbert and Ani Marino, his Maori wife.

At Lyttelton he baptised six European children. At the Taumutu Kaika he baptised seven adult Maoris and one Maori child. At Kaiapoi, on October 28th, he baptised sixteen Maoris, all adults.

The natives were all admitted as catechumen members of the Wesleyan Methodist Mission. During this pastoral tour to Canterbury, Mr. Watkin preached at Lyttelton, and also in a cottage which was the residence of Mr. Isaac Philpott in Hagley Park, Christchurch. This cottage was on a small dry creek on the south side of the Park and nearly opposite where later stood the College pavilion. It was during 1851 that Mr. Philpott and Mrs. Quaife opened the first Wesleyan Sunday school in Christchurch. It is difficult to tabulate the number of services and meetings conducted by Mr. Watkin during his pastoral visitation.

page 75

In 1853 the Rev. W. Kirk, when en route to succeed the Rev. C. Creed at Waikouaiti and Otago, was detained at Christchurch for about nine months in order to take charge of the Methodists residing there till the arrival of the Rev. J. Aldred in 1854. Mr. Aldred was the first regularly appointed Methodist minister to Christchurch. He was assisted by the Rev. W. Rowse, who resided at Lyttelton. Mr. Aldred was succeeded in 1860 by Rev. J. Buller. During his term the Durham Street Church was erected. The church was dedicated on December 25th, 1864. The preacher at 11 a.m. was the Rev. C. Frazer (Presbyterian), and in the evening was the Rev. J. Buller, who took for his text Psalm 49, verses 12–24. A few months afterwards, Bishop W. Taylor, of the American Methodist Episcopal Church, conducted a special Mission. The same year Mr. Buller was elected President-General of the Australasian Wesleyan Methodist Conference. In the passing of the years some of the most prominent ministers of the Church have served in Christchurch. Among the names may be mentioned the Revs. A. R. Fitchett, W. Morley, Alexander Reid, W. Baumber, J. J. Lewis, H. R. Dewsbury, W. Lee, C. H. Laws—all ministers of outstanding ability.