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


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Prior To, and During the Centennial Year (1948), Many useful historical books appeared dealing with the early history of Otago and Southland. My excuse for adding to the number is mainly because it gives me an opportunity to publish the Journals of the Revs. James Watkin and Charles Creed which supply information not found elsewhere. These journals, although scrappy, give the account of the first Christian Mission in the South Island and much other historical data.

In the year 1926 I began to collect letters and records available for the purpose. I am indebted to Miss W. Watkin (since deceased), daughter of Dr. Watkin and grand-daughter of the pioneer missionary, for letters, documents and information, which involved, on her part, unwearied investigations and letter writing.

In 1932 the Rev. M. A. Rugby Pratt, F.R.H.S., published his interesting book The Pioneering Days of Southern Maoriland. In view of more recent research some of the data therein needs revision. Some of my friends have urged me to publish the Journals of the Revs. Watkin and Creed. Mr. F. Watkin, of Tonga, son of the Rev. J. B. Watkin, who was President of the Tongan Methodist Church, and Prime Minister to the King of Tonga, and later to Queen Salote, has given me permission to use and publish the Journal of the Rev. J. Watkin, his grandfather. I wish to acknowledge the courtesy of Miss P. M. Jones, B.A., librarian of the Mitchell Library, Sydney, and the authorities of the Mitchell Library, who hold the original Journals of the Rev. James Watkin. I am under an obligation to the Rev. H. L. Fiebig, B.A., and the committee of the Methodist Connexional Office, Christchurch, for permission to use the Journal of the Rev. Charles Creed.

I am not an anthropologist nor an ethnologist, but it has been my privilege to meet and know several European missionaries to the Maori people. I refer to the Revs. W. Gittos, W. Rowse and T. G. Hammond. These men were expert in the knowledge of the native race. Nor must I omit the names of the Maori Ministers—the Revs. R. Tahupotiki Haddon and Hauraki Paora (Paul), and in later years the Rev. Eruera Te Tuhi, O.B.E. I have also corresponded with Mr. R. Riemenschneider, whose father was born at Otakou and whose grandfather, the Rev. J. F. Riemenschneider, was one of the early missionaries appointed to Otakou and who remained there till his decease.

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In referring to the various authors quoted, I have allowed them to speak for themselves, and, as far as possible, to use their own words and manner of expression. This refers more particularly to the Journals of the Revs. Watkin and Creed.

Mr. Watkin kept a private Diary or Journal in which he recorded his onerous engagements. Unfortunately there are gaps which it is difficult to fill in, but his letters and reports to the London Mission Board are a help. He committed his thoughts to his Journal, in which he weighed scrupulously his every motive and examined with relentless searchings the depths of his heart. Some of these expressions indicate much self-recrimination, amounting almost to despair, due to his trying experiences and physical collapse in Tonga. These expressions were not meant for the public gaze. In fairness I have omitted many of them, seeing they do not give a normal conception of the man.

I desire to acknowledge my indebtedness to the valuable volumes written by Mr. S. Percy Smith, F.R.G.S., Dr. R. McNab, Dr. A. J. Harrop, Dr. E. Shortland, Sir Peter Buck, Mr. Herries Beattie and Dr. W. Morley, and others whose names are mentioned in these pages, To the staff of the McNab, Hocken, University and Athenaeum Libraries, I tender my thanks for help received. Also to Miss M. M. Pryde, O.B.E., secretary of the Early Settlers' Association, for her help in many ways. Dr. D. P. Sinclair, a descendant of the chief Horomona Pohio, has given generous access to his valuable manuscripts, and he has assisted me to solve several difficult problems, for which I am grateful. Mr. W. A. Taylor, of Christchurch, has given me permission to quote from his manuscripts and newspaper articles. These have been valuable and much appreciated.

I am deeply indebted to the late Mr. Alfred Eccles for reading my manuscript, and for making constructive suggestions regarding the arrangement of certain historical data, and who has been wholeheartedly interested; to Mr. A. H. Reed for his valuable and expert judgment, including his practical assistance in numerous directions, and to Mr. A. W. Reed for his work in preparing the work for publication; to my daughter, Mrs. A. Hovland, who has been a constant, valuable and painstaking helper in arranging quotations and writing at my diction; and to Mr. P. Pratley and my daughter, Mrs. Pratley. Grateful acknowledgement is made to Mr. Ian Dunn for permission to reproduce his drawings.

If I have failed to acknowledge any authority, I offer my sincerest regret.

T. A. Pybus