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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79

Arrival at Ahuriri

Arrival at Ahuriri

Mr Colenso, along with Mr Hamlin, was admitted to deacon's orders at Waimato on September 22nd, 1844, and on December 13th, 1844 the two missionaries left by the brig Nimrod for their new locations, Mr Hamlin for the Wairoa, and Mr Colenso for Ahuriri. The little vessel anchored off Ahuriri on December 29th. and the captain took a boat and pulled to the harbour to take soundings. Ho reported favourably, and the vessel worked in. Next day the cattle were landed, and the vessel then sailed ten miles to the east where the natives had put up a house. Canoes came alongside and took off their goods and in the evening Mr and Mrs Colenso and their infant son went ashore.

It is perhaps worth while dwelling a moment on the courage of these early settlers who went thus cheerfully into the wilderness, and suffered not only much privation, but were frequently in actual danger from the native population. Without roads, without neighbours, without doctors or schools, their lot was indeed anything but a pleasant one. Mrs Colenso, moreover, was left alone for long intervals while her husband was absent on his regular visitations of the country between Napier page 11 and Wellington, the sole European, except the wild and generally ill-disposed whites at the various whaling stations in the bay. Mr Colenso makes a very infrequent mention of the whaling stations. For the most part he could not fail to recognise that they were opposed to his work, and that their influence with the natives was of doubtful benefit. He mentions as a favourable exception Mr Morris, whose station was close to the Kidnappers. The greater part of the stations were at the Wairoa end of the bay. I could find no details regarding these in Mr Hamlin's reports.

Mr Colenso's goods were landed on January 3rd, 1845, and two days later the first service was held in the church 150 natives being present. He at once set about building a study for himself, fencing the land, and getting things into order. As illustrating the difficulties of dealing with the natives his journal records (February, 1845) that a native named Walker demanded payment for a boatshed which they were putting up before it was finished. Colenso refused and Walker took up two spades. Colenso declared that he would not submit to this, and that Walker must pay him two pigs and ten baskets of potatoes as compensation for this insult. He further announced that he would buy nothing from Walker's tribe. This brought the Maoris into a more reasonable frame of mind, for the white man was the only source of cash, and the matter was arranged, not however before Walker endeavoured to persuade Colenso to settle the dispute by wrestling. The Maori was 6ft. 2in. high and Mr Colenso likens himself and his opponent to David and Goliath. In the end Walker returned the spades but tapu'd the road. Colenso then page 12 put a boiler on the road and made it common again, and so the dispute ended.