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Early Wellington

Wesleyan Missionaries

Wesleyan Missionaries.

In 1839 two Wesleyan missionaries, Messrs. Bumby and Hobbs, arrived at Port Nicholson, in the course of a voyage round the island in search of suitable places at which to plant new page 385 mission stations. They left Mangungu on May 11, 1839, and came down the East Coast in a small vessel called the “Hokianga” with a retinue of about twenty natives. The Rev. Mr. Bumby remarks in his narrative of the expedition: “Upon arriving at Wanganuiatera (Whangamu-a-Tara) or Port Nicholson, we went on shore near a kainga or village, and were met on the beach by a grotesque party of natives, some bedaubed with red ochre and oil, and others disfigured about the cheeks and eyebrows with congealed blood.… . They gave us a hearty welcome. Here some of our lads met with their relatives and friends, whom they had not seen for ten or twelve years.… We erected our tents and partook of some refreshments—potatoes and Indian corn were the best viands the village afforded.
Fig. 228.—Rev. J. H. Bumby, 1840.

Fig. 228.—Rev. J. H. Bumby, 1840.

… . The harbour is extensive, and is surrounded by a chain of beautiful hills, rising gradually from the edge of the water, partly covered with timber, and sending forth numerous streams of fresh water. Thinking the place suitable for a new station, and presuming that the committee would sanction such a step, we tapued a piece of land of the proprietors, for some blankets and fish hooks.”

(Year Book, Wellington Harbour Board, 1919, p. 56.)

A Church of England service was held on the 22nd September, 1839. It was conducted on board the “Tory” when she was riding at anchor near Somes Island. Several canoes containing natives came off the shore and attended.

Divine service was also held on the “Aurora” on Sunday, 26th January, 1840, by the Rev. James Buller, Wesleyan missionary, who was visiting the settlement at the time. When the “Bengal Merchant” arrived, services were conducted by the Rev. John Macfarlane (one of the passengers) under the shade of a small clump of karaka trees a short distance from the Pito-one beach. The songs of the bell birds could be heard above the songsters of the grove. About forty people united in singing the Old Hundredth (“All People that on Earth do Dwell”). Services were also held by Mr. Macfarlane at Mr. Hunter's store at Pito-one, and later in the thatched cottage at Thorndon.

On the 21st April, 1840, the barque “Bolton” arrived from England, bringing amongst its passengers the Rev. J. F. Churton, recently-appointed chaplain to the settlement by the Church Society. The Rev. J. G. Butler, also a clergyman of the established church, was appointed at the same time.

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The arrival of these clergymen, with their families, was hailed with delight by the members of the Church of England.

Previous to this time the religious duties had been performed by the Rev. Macfarlane, and all classes of Protestants expressed their gratitude to him for his unwearied exertions in executing the various duties required of him.

Mr. Butler resided at Pito-one, close to Colonel Wakefield's house near the beach, and became a great acquisition to society. He and his family were revered by the natives.

Mr. Churton established himself at Thorndon, where the passengers of the “Adelaide,” “Bolton,” and those who removed from Pito-one and the Hutt, served to form a fairly large congregation.

The building used as a church, police court, and post office, and referred to by Jerningham Wakefield as the “Barn of All Work,” was demolished by fire. Wakefield, commenting on the event, writes: “After the ‘Barn of All Work’ was destroyed by fire, the Church of England services were held in a house occupied by the Mechanics' Institute, inside the Government Reserve” (now the site of the triangular plot of land at the corner of Molesworth Street and Lambton Quay and used for a temporary war memorial—Anzac Corner).

The Scotch Presbyterians met in the exchange, Te Aro (by Bethune and Hunter's), and the Wesleyans in a large store adjoining.