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The Past and Present Of New Zealand With Its Prospects for the Future

Chapter VI. The English Church

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The Tomb of Heuheu.

The Tomb of Heuheu.

Chapter VI. The English Church.

The establishment of the Missionary in New Zealand, and the wide-spreading influence of the Gospel amongst its inhabitants, led, first, to the colonization of the Cook’s Straits by the New Zealand Land Company; and likewise to the determination of the British Government to gain the sovereignty of the New Zealand Isles and colonize the whole, and the establishment of the Episcopate seemed naturally to follow. Dr. Selwyn was selected as the first Bishop, and he reached his extensive Diocese in 1842, landing at Wellington with about half-a-dozen clergymen and as many students. The colony there was then in its third year, and the members of our Church had already made preparations for the erection of a church; they had burnt their bricks and laid the foundations, but the plan not meeting with the Bishop’s approval the building was not proceeded with, and many withdrew their subscriptions.

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The Bishop then went to the north; at Auckland he found a church already erected by the combined efforts of all parties; it was likewise of brick, and was a creditable building for the infant town, then only in its second year, and it still remains the chief church in the place, although it has since been greatly enlarged. The first minister was the Rev. Mr. Churton.*

The Bishop afterwards proceeded to the Bay of Islands and went on to the Waimate, where he fixed his abode in one of the mission houses, converting the school there into St. John’s College; leaving his family he visited every one of the southern stations, and proceeded south as far as Stewart’s Isle, where he married several of the whalers, who had large families by native females.

On the breaking out of the war in 1845, St. John’s College was removed to Auckland, and it was placed a few miles distant from the town. There the permanent college buildings were erected of vescicular lava; the next little chapel is of wood, but very neat, and the other buildings also are of the same material, which being erected in the gothic or rustic style with the frame work external, were so exposed to the weather as in a few years to exhibit symptoms of decay. This general collection of buildings was called Bishop’s Auckland. The college did not prosper, and for some years was given up; afterwards the Bishop came to reside in Auckland, and the college was converted into a grammar school. The Bishop visited the Chatham Isles, navigating his own vessel, and afterwards made a voyage to New Caledonia and other neighbouring isles. He thus commenced the Melanesian Mission. Few Bishops have equalled him in energy, and perhaps none have surpassed him; he walked through the length and breadth of the island, measuring the distance by Payne’s pedometer; he forded streams and swam across rivers; he was indeed a muscular Bishop. His energy in building has been remarkable; having erected an ecclesiastical village at Bishop’s Auckland, he

* At his death some years afterwards, an obelisk was erected to his memory by the congregation; it is placed close to the church he so worthily served.

page 94 turned to Auckland, and there built a house for the future Dean, another for the master of the grammar school, and more recently a church, dedicated to St. Mary, with an enormous central tower, small transepts, and a long aisle. Of the palace at Versailles it was said that it had the wings of an eagle with the body of a dove; this, on the contrary, has the body of an eagle with the wings of a dove. The Bishop has erected the cathedral library, a noble room, which is already well filled with valuable books, and Mrs. Selwyn has presented a peal of eight bells, these are placed for the present in a tower adjoining the library, until the future Cathedral shall claim them.

As a proof that everything is reversed at the antipodes, these bells are placed in the ground chamber of the tower, and the ringers ascend to the room above and there lustily pull away at the ropes and ring the bells under their feet, whilst doors from the ground floor are opened to allow the imprisoned sounds to escape.

The Bishop’s palace is also characteristic of the antipodes; it is an extraordinary edifice, and appears like building an upper story to one of the buried houses of Pompeii, to reach the present level of the land above. It forms one side of a square, parallel to the library, and is entered apparently by a door in the roof. A long passage is then seen, on one side of which are the dining, drawing, and sitting rooms; these are all of wood. From thence there is a staircase leading to the bed rooms below, which look out upon the garden; this part of the building is massively erected of stone. Perhaps the lower portion is to be regarded as the only permanent part; the upper one being intended to be more substantially erected at some future period.

The Bishop’s diligence also must be mentioned in purchasing lands in every fresh-formed township, as sites for future churches and parsonages, so that the Church may advance with the times—a practice which should be more imitated in other dioceses. From building church edifices he turned to the appointment of church officers. He made page 95 about ten Arch-deacons, each of which had at least one clergyman, and some even three to preside over, and also several rural deans.

Afterwards he obtained the sub-division of his large diocese, by cutting off the Middle Island, to which Dr. Harper was nominated as the Bishop of Christ Church in 1856. The next division of the diocese was that of Wellington, over which Bishop Abraham was placed; and then Nelson was erected into a see, to which Dr. Hobhouse was appointed. The next in order was the diocese of Waiapu. This Bishopric was the first erected without letters patent, and the consecration ceremony took place at Wellington, being performed by Bishops Selwyn, Abraham, and Hobhouse, in 1859, it was the first consecration of a Bishop in these islands, and in the Southern Hemispere as well, and it was very properly of a Missionary.

By a mistake in the Bishop of New Zealand’s letters patent, his diocese was made to extend to Lat. 33° N. instead of South, he therefore turned his attention to the islands lying in his diocese. In 1861, Dr. Patteson was consecrated the first Bishop of Melanesia, at Auckland.

The establishment of the constitution of the Church of New Zealand was chiefly owing to his exertions; this took place in March 1859, when the first General Synod of the Church was held at Wellington, and the form of Church constitution was agreed on, with the statutes for the organization of the General and Diocesan Synods.

In the present position of colonial churches, it is evident that each must have its own constitution. Severed from the State, and so widely separated from the parent church, it is necessary for its own government that it should agree upon some form, to which all its members might subscribe; without which anarchy and confusion would prevail, should any unforeseen event occur, as the present painful one in South Africa; and (it may be added) the present schism in the Parent Church at home, which, for want of a clearly-defined Church constitution, sufficiently binding on all its members, permits any of them to introduce novelties which page 96 are evidently calculated to destroy the very principles of the Church, and allows even the Bishops themselves to connive in such dangerous proceedings. This cannot be the case with the New Zealand Church, unless the majority of its members have embraced such errors. To avoid a similar result, it will be necessary for the members of our Colonial Church to guard with care the door of the sheepfold. It is to be noticed that, at least in two dioceses, a kind of compact has been entered into to introduce candidates for the ministry from St. Augustine’s College, an unauthorised step taken without consulting the Synod. There will be no necessity for such a step now; the rapid increase of the colony will surely furnish sufficient candidates for the ministry from the midst of those we know, without the necessity of going so far for others. The Church is now complete in itself; and, therefore, should take all its officers from its own bosom. If it does not, it will be a proof that its constitution is defective.

Perhaps the present form of Church government agreed upon may be found too complicated to work freely and satisfactorily. If this should be the case, it can be rectified by the same power which first called it into being. In a new colony like New Zealand, it appears sad that the various sections of the Christian Church, which differ so little in doctrine, could not have agreed to merge their little differences, and form themselves into a Catholic Church for the whole. The Synod being composed of the three orders—bishops, clergy, and laity—are brought into intimate intercourse by their triennial meetings, which must prove a means of cementing the whole together.

Three general Synods have been held; the first at Wellington, the second at Nelson, and the third at Christ Church.

It was decided in the first that the clergy should be called curates, and also proposed, at the same time, to arrange the title by which the Bishops were to be addressed. To call them lords in colonies where there are none bearing that title, and no baronial rank attached to their sees as in page 97 England, and to give them a higher degree of dignity than that granted to the Governor—the representative of royalty,—would not only be preposterous, but calculated to injure the Bishop in the estimation of his people; the title of lord being evidently a purely secular one. The primate, Bishop Selwyn, at once acquiesced in laying it aside, and stated that the proposition had been submitted to the Bench and agreed to. But some months later the writer received a long letter from Bishop Hobhouse, justifying the assumption of that title, and declaring that it was never intended to forego the use of it, but only to allow the objector to dispense with it in addressing them. It is to be hoped that the good sense of our Colonial Bishops will see that the time has gone by for such lofty titles out of England, and that it is in the simple dignity of Chief Pastors they will command respect, and not by claiming to be lords over God’s heritage.

Each diocese has likewise its own annual Synod, of which every clergyman is a member. The value of Synods appears to be free discussion and united action, which will not allow of any innovations being made by individual members. Where nothing can be done in the way of change without the consent of a general Synod, there cannot be much danger of men attempting to introduce their own views. Even should there be a desire on the part of the Bishop and clergy, the lay element still remains to keep them both in check, and thus far it has been so significantly expressed that both must succumb to public feeling or lose their followers. By them the Bishop becomes the true organ of the Church, as well as its true head. The Diocesan Synod expresses itself by its Bishop, and the General Synod by its Metropolitan. But without the Synod nothing can be done; hence the attendance of the New Zealand Bishops at the Pan-Anglican Meeting, as it has been called, is, as far as the New Zealand Church is concerned, to be viewed as having no higher object than the interchange of amenities between the heads of the various sections of our Church. Had those heads come armed with page 98 the expressed sentiments of their respective dioceses, the meeting would have had an importance which, as it was constituted, it totally wanted; and it was, therefore, one of more than doubtful expediency, for, as the Bishop of New Zealand justly described it, in the words of Scripture, “Some cried one thing and some another: for the assembly was confused; the more part knew not wherefore they had come together.” (Acts xix. 32.) In the present day, even in the colonies, there is reason to fear that a strong tendency exists to introduce more of the leaven of the day, and to prefer material or ritualistic to vital religion; but wherever this is the case the more serious portion of Church members withdraw their affections from those who no longer feed them with the bread of life, but seek to put them off with the beggarly elements of the world. It is not showy services and sweet music, or dignified declarations which reach the heart, however they may dazzle the eye and please the outward senses, but it is something more the enquiring soul seeks; it is, “What shall I do to be saved?” It is the still small voice communicating the message of mercy to the anxious soul, which falls like dew on the mown grass, giving it fresh energy to shoot forth.

The one great truth which appears to be silently and slowly developed in the present day in the colonial Church is, that it cannot be ruled by the strong arm of power, but by that law only which Christ, its founder, delivered—the law of love. Had Bishop Grey tried that law, Bishop Colenso would have succumbed.

The time has now arrived for the colonial Church to stand by itself. The mother Church is unable to sustain it, severed from the State, “it is placed in the same position, neither better nor worse, than that of any other Christian community,” and being as much separated from the State as they are, it is evident that it cannot exercise any more control over it, than it does over any other section of the Church; therefore it is equally necessary that it should have its own laws and appoint its own officers, and all this can be done without severing those bonds of love and affection which will ever continue to bind it to the parent Church.

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Henceforth, the colonial Church by its General Synod will appoint the Bishops, which hitherto have been nominated by the Bishop of New Zealand, who has had a far greater claim to that of Bishop-maker than ever the Earl of Warwick had to be a King-maker, and his nominations were ratified by the Crown. The vacated See of Nelson is now occupied by Dr. Suter, who takes the place of Dr. Hobhouse, resigned. And for the newly-erected See of Dunedin, Dr. Jenner has been consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury. This, it is to be hoped, will be the last instance of the kind; that in future the Bishops will be selected more in unison with the wishes of those over whom they are to preside. In this instance the Archbishop was requested to recommend a suitable person for their approval; the individual his choice fell upon was remarkable for his extreme views and ultra tendencies, yet, without waiting to receive the approval of the Dunedin Church, he was at once consecrated to the high office of its Bishop. This extraordinary step has naturally created a great sensation, and called forth a strong protest to the Archbishop, stating “That the said Bishop was not in any sense elected by the members of the Church, but that the appointment was made in direct opposition to their wishes. That your petitioners have seen with regret that Bishop Jenner has taken every opportunity of identifying himself with the extreme section of the Church, commonly known as the Ritualistic Party. That the peace and harmony of the proposed new diocese would be destroyed, and great numbers of most earnest members alienated from the Church by the presence of such a chief pastor. We, therefore, respectfully, but most earnestly entreat your Grace to urge upon Dr. Jenner the desirability of not entering upon the duties of Bishop over an unwilling and, to a great extent, hostile diocese, but beg him to renounce officially all intention of coming to this colony.”

These are extracts from the memorial. It is a sad pity that more care was not taken in the selection, and in ascertaining first the sentiments of the Dunedin Church, but it still remains to be seen whether that Church will confirm the appointment, page 100 and receive one with such contrary sentiments as their future chief pastor.

Such is a brief sketch of the history of the English portion of our Church in New Zealand. It is now established in its integrity, with its seven Bishops, its General and Diocesan Synods, let it simply look to Christ and rest upon Him, and His blessing will rest upon it, but if it turns aside to forsaken vanities it will not be owned. This brief account of the New Zealand branch of the English, or, as it would now be styled, the Anglican Church, will not be complete without a few observations on its present state being added.

To commence with Auckland. The city now contains four churches; the principal one is St. Paul’s. Its origin is coeval with that of the city; it is a respectable building of a cruciform structure, and is capable of holding about eight hundred persons. The width is considerable, but it is without arches, still it has a neat church-like appearance, having neither beauty nor bareness to attract attention; the only thing which strikes the eye of the stranger is, that part of the floor is raised a foot or two higher than the rest of the church. The service is very properly conducted, and the fresh arrived from the old country will find nothing different from a well-ordered church at home

The same may be said of St. Matthew’s, which is a large wooden building, with side aisles and two rows of pillars; like the former, it is well filled, and has the larger congregation of the two.

The neat little suburb of Parnell, seated on the road to Manukau, contains St. Mary’s Church, which is also well attended. The small new church of St. Sepulchre, at the cemetery, has recently been opened.

On the north shore opposite to Auckland, a neatly-finished church has been erected. At Onehunga, and most of the pensioner villages, Panmure, Howick, Tamaki, Otahuhu, and Remuera, there are also small churches. The present support of the Church is derived from the voluntary system. During the past year, 1866, the amount raised at St. Paul’s was page 101 £941.10s., and at St. Matthew’s, £956.6s. 10d., at St. Mary’s £521. 12s. 1d.; and at the North Shore Church, in a very small community, £107.15s. 7d. These amounts were derived from seat rents as well as the offertory, and from these the clergy have their salaries, and all church expenses are defrayed.

Before we leave Auckland a brief mention must be made of St. Stephen’s School, where Mr. Chapman, now our oldest member of the Mission, resides. There natives are prepared for the ministry, chiefly by the gratuitous help of Sir William Martin, the late Chief Justice of New Zealand, who, though in delicate health, devotes a portion of each day to their instruction, for which his thorough knowledge of Maori so well fits him; and thus having first faithfully served the State, he now serves the Church by devoting the remainder of his life to preparing Maori teachers for the ministry.

About five miles from Auckland, in one of its retired bays, is Kohi Marama, where Bishop Patteson has fixed his abode and the Melanesian Mission School. His plan is to visit the islands in his diocese, which takes in the portion north of New Zealand, formerly included in that of the Bishop of New Zealand. From thence he collects pupils, brings them to Kohi Marama for the summer months, teaches them the English language, which is quite necessary to communicate instruction, as not only has nearly each island its own language, but frequently on one of very limited size there are several totally different ones,* as the pupils advance they are instructed in the Christian faith; then in the autumn they are returned to their several homes for the winter months, and at the termination are again brought back, as many as are willing, with any new ones who may offer.

The Bishop is now organizing a new station at Norfolk Island, which is to be feared will prove to be a mistake, as the great advantage of bringing the boys to New Zealand was that they might have as strong a contrast between barbarous and

* This singularity is perhaps to be partly attributed to a common practice which more or less prevails throughout Polynesia of changing old words for new; thus, if a chief should bear the name of any common thing, as Kai, food, after his death it would be considered a curse to use it, so Tami has been substituted in Rotorua, and in the same way for Wai, water, Honu, in another district.

page 102 civilized life as possible; that they might see the difference, and the advantage of Christian instruction. This cannot, of course, be the case at Norfolk Island.

The plan of the Melanesian Mission for converting the Heathen is an original one, and in common with every other effort made to enlighten the benighted sections of the human race, and extend the Redeemer’s kingdom, is entitled to the prayers and well wishes of all God’s servants; and being peculiarly an Australasian Mission, sprung from the infant Church there, it has the greater call on the sympathy and support of its members.

It is, however, at present but an experiment; there are difficulties to contend with which cannot be avoided. The boys must acquire a considerable fluency in the English tongue, before they can comprehend the scheme of Redemption through Christ. Their stay at a time in the colony is short, and their return uncertain. The plan of making Norfolk Island, or Curtis Island, (which was kindly offered to be given for that purpose by the New South Wales Government,) is objectionable, for the reasons already given. They will see there no ships, no manufactures, no carriages, or appliances of civilized life, calculated to strike them with the vast superiority of the white man; and that must be the first impression made on the savage mind. Still the experiment is an interesting one, and creditable to the New Zealand Church. May it, in thus looking abroad to do good, not forget the spiritual welfare of those nearer home. Its first Bishop is an energetic man, gifted with a great facility of acquiring languages. And it must give the savage a favorable view of some at least of our race, which will be a set off to the bad one formed by too many of our traders, whose marauding visits occasionally appear in the public prints. The wholesale vengeance likewise occasionally taken by our men-of-war, when innocent and guilty are equally punished, whatever may be the wrong committed, does not tend to give the savages a very favorable opinion of us, nor will it render the Bishop’s visits as acceptable as they would otherwise be.

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At Taranaki there is a massively-built church of stone; an Archdeacon and a clergyman. On the opposite side of the Island another Archdeacon is stationed at Tauranga.

In the city of Wellington there are now two churches of wood. The new one of St. Paul is used as the cathedral; it was only finished in 1866. Its external appearance is bad. The intended tower and spire being cut down to such diminished proportions from lack of funds, that to those entering the harbour, instead of appearing conspicuously as a spire pointing to the skies, it looks only like an extinguisher placed on the roof, an unhappy emblem for a cathedral church, from which the largest portion of light is expected to proceed. May this defect be speedily rectified, as at present it has no distinctive character to show, at the first view of the city, that it is even a church, much less a cathedral. But its interior is very neat, if not elegant. It has stained glass windows and two side aisles; an old oak reading-desk, rudely carved, and obtained from some cathedral at home, is not in unison with the rest of the church, and is certainly out of place. A neatly carved chair forms the Bishop’s throne, and by its side leans a little carved stick representing a crosier.

St. Peter’s, the other church, is placed at the opposite end of the city, which resembles in form a pair of spectacles, the two eyes being Thorndon and Pipitea, forming two towns, the intervening space being occupied by a long row of houses, placed between the beach and the cliff. It is a low church, but of considerable size. It has been twice enlarged during the present incumbent’s time, and still seems to require a further addition. Both churches are well filled, and the increase of the place already calls for another.

On the west coast, at Wanganui, a large new church has just been built, to meet the increased wants of that rapidly rising town. Its former one, which was the first erected in the Cook’s Straits settlements, being both too old and too small for the present requirements. The new church is externally ugly, but internally it is pretty well.

At Matarawa there is a very neat little church, which page 104 serves as a centre for a widely-spread district, whose inhabitants there assemble. Napier, on the east coast, has also its church. But of all these in New Zealand, the site of that at Nelson is decidedly the best. It stands on a mound in the centre of the town, with the principal street running up to its base. The town itself is in a complete amphitheatre of hills; but its position is more beautiful than healthy, containing much low and swampy land, which generates miasma. The church is very long, low, and narrow in shape, somewhat resembling the praying mantis. At Richmond, Motueka, and other places, there are also small churches, with corresponding congregations.

Lyttelton, the port of Christ Church, has a very neat edifice, erected of a soft friable stone, which gives it quite an antique appearance. It is one of the most church-like buildings in the colony; both internally and externally all is in keeping, and much praise is due to its minister and church officers. At Christ Church, the capital of the exclusively church colony of New Zealand, strange to say, the finest, largest, and most substantial ecclesiastical-looking building, was, up to July 1865, the Wesleyan Chapel. The foundations of a cathedral were then laid. But it will be for the future chronicler to describe the rest; may it not resemble that of Sydney. All that can now be said is, that its foundations are apparently quite strong enough to bear the superstructure. The provident Bishop has timely organized the cathedral staff, so that when it is erected, there will be no delay in commencing their onerous duties. There are now three churches. St. Michael’s is a wooden building, a very low and dimly-lighted fane, well filled, having a curious gothic bell-tower, standing apart like the Arrow Head rock at the entrance of Nelson Harbour. It cost as much as would have sufficed to erect a comfortable little church, but being a fine specimen of the gothic, will serve as a model to form the taste of the rising generation.

St. Luke’s Church is a large ugly ecclesiastical barn, standing without its equal, perhaps, in the Southern Hemisphere.

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St. John’s is a new building, of beautiful white stone, with specks of obsidian. This is a credit to the place.

In the neighbourhood of Christ Church, at Sumner and Riccarton there are very neat little churches; and also at Rangiora, Kaiapoi, Geraldine, and Timaru; in fact, the many rising villages are all rapidly obtaining their places of worship, which speaks well for this fast-increasing province. At the great gold city of Hokitika, though the Church of England is late in the field, there are doubtless by this time churches erected, as an Archdeacon and clergyman have been appointed to that district.

Before leaving the province of Canterbury, it may be remarked, that the well-built city of Christ Church has more the look of an old gothic town than any place in the Southern Hemisphere. This taste is carried out even in the warehouses and private buildings, as well as in the public ones; nor is it confined to one section of the community. It seems to be generally agreed that it should be so. Thus the Town Hall, Provincial and other buildings are in unison, as well as the usually modest chapels of John Wesley—the first one of their connexion might have been mistaken for a gothic church, with its spire soaring aloft.

All the streets are named after Bishops of the English Church, and some of the villages as well. In the city there are Ridley, Latimer, and Cranmer streets. As at Nelson they have adopted naval heroes, and at Marlborough military ones.

Of the province of Canterbury, generally, it may be said, that in its progress, character of society, cultivation, and domestic homes, it has a decided pre-eminence amongst its sister provinces; and though the last founded, will soon rank first, even in its numbers; the newly-discovered gold fields on its western coast, which already have added little short of fifty thousand inhabitants to its population, show how wonderfully the Almighty is filling up the world’s wildernesses with the sounds of civilized life.

In the province of Otago, which was originally intended to be exclusively a Presbyterian colony, a diocese is on the page 106 point of being formed. In the city of Dunedin we have now two good churches. St. Paul’s, the chief of these, is a well-built stone edifice; the only mistake is, that there is but one side aisle to it, and the church is placed so near the road, that it will not be possible, without the consent of the Town Board, to make it more complete by the addition of a second one. All Saints’ is also a well-built church of brick. At Oamaru, Waikouaiti, and Toko mai-raro, there are churches, and in Southland, at Invercargill and Riverton; so that now there is a body of fully one hundred European clergymen to maintain the New Zealand branch of the Church of England. It is therefore fully planted in those islands, and ought to advance.

The Gospel was proclaimed to a nation of cannibals by a small number of laborers, barely exceeding twenty-four, of which more than half were laymen; and it was proclaimed with success. But now how greatly is the case changed! One hundred clergy, and those to minister—not to savages—but chiefly their own countrymen. May their labors exceed those of the little Missionary band a hundred-fold! That band is, in a great measure, worn out with age, and much diminished in numbers by death. If it is not to be replaced let it be aided now by this fresh force.

In addition to our own body of clergy, there are the Wesleyan and Presbyterian; and, on the opposite side, a large staff of the Church of Rome, with two Bishops at their head. These will force the Protestant ministers to increased energy and activity, unless they suffer themselves to be captured by their dazzling vanities—as the fish are by the Maori fisherman with his pawa, shining pearl shell-hook—and then find, when too late, that they have been deceived and destroyed by an empty representation of the reality!