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Through Ninety Years

Chapter XII

page 93

Chapter XII.

Rev. C. L. Reay to Waiapu. Death of Son Sydney. Central Missionary Committee, Auckland. Ordinations. Governor Grey's Charges. Letters from C.M.S. Bishop's Attitude. Work on the East Coast Checking Native Practices. Leonard Leaves for England.

Back again at Turanga Archdeacon Williams settled down to work without delay. After his long absence the natives required considerable attention, and his time was therefore fully occupied. His regular religious services and classes, and his visits to the sick in the various settlements were at once resumed, while a variety of other duties also claimed his attention. He records for instance taking honey from beehives on more than one occasion, also his arranging with the natives for the purchase of a number of totara trees to furnish timber for school buildings, and four hundred baskets of potatoes.

On April 13th, 1847, Rev. C. L. Reay arrived from Nelson and next day went on to Uawa en route for the vacant station at Waiapu, to which he had been appointed.

As heavy rain prevented the natives from assembling for the usual preparation classes and services on Easter Sunday, April 4th, the administration of the Lord's Supper at Turanga station took place on April 11th, when there were 222 communicants. The following week similar attention was given to the natives at Toanga, where on April 18th there was a congregation of 250 in the morning and 132 communicants in the afternoon.

On April 29th Archdeacon Williams proceeded to Uawa; here after the usual preparation he held services on May 2nd and administered the Lord's Supper to 117 natives. After holding similar services at Whangara on May 9th he arrived back at Turanga next day.

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During the absence of Archdeacon Williams in the south the few white settlers in the district had got into trouble with the natives through their own outrageous conduct, and had then thrown the blame upon him. On May 12th he accordingly held a meeting with the English residents to hear their complaints, when full proof was given that their accusations against him were wholly without foundation.

On May 27th Archdeacon Williams recorded many patients having received medicine for whooping cough which was then very prevalent.

The practice of tattooing had been given up for some seven years by the Christian natives who had looked upon it as belonging to heathenism, and none but those who disregarded right principles would indulge in it. Of late, however, some parties had shown a tendency to renew this practice, together with certain heathen rites. Though at first unsuccessful, Archdeacon Williams succeeded in persuading the native leaders to show their disapproval of these objectionable habits

At the end of June a heavy fall of rain delayed a visit to Wairoa, and produced the heaviest floods Archdeacon Williams had yet known, which did much damage to the native plantations and houses.

He left for Wairoa on July 1st, reaching his destination at 9 p.m. on the evening of the 3rd. He found Mr. Hamlin suffering from inflammation of the eyes, and one of his children with whooping cough and fever. After holding services and classes on Sunday, 4th, he returned home, arriving at Turanga on the evening of July 8th.

On July 6th Rev. Samuel and Mrs. Williams had arrived at Turanga from the north after a perilous voyage. Here they spent four days before resuming their journey to Otaki, to which station Samuel Williams had just been appointed. The news they brought from Auckland was a sad blow to Archdeacon and Mrs. Williams. Their second son, Sydney, who was at St. John's College, had been taken ill with remittent fever on April 4th and his condition had been causing his page 95 parents great anxiety. Though later news had been more favourable, they now learnt that despite every care and attention the boy had passed away on June 11th.

After the usual preparatory classes Archdeacon Williams held another of his periodical administrations of the Lord's Supper at Turanga on July 25th; there was a large congregation in the morning, and there were 231 native communicants in the afternoon. The following Sunday he administered the Lord's Supper to 106 native communicants at Toanga, though heavy rain had prevented many from attending the preparatory classes.

He also recorded several baptisms of adults and children at these services.

In July, 1847, Archdeacon Wm. Williams received a notice requesting him to attend a meeting of the Central Local Missionary Committee in Auckland. Owing to continuous wet weather he was unable to get away as soon as he had expected, but he and his party, carrying luggage and food, eventually left Taureka on August 10th. They found that the recent rains had made travelling difficult, the ground was very sodden, and rivers were in flood. The ford over the river was impassable, and they had to make a raft to convey themselves and their baggage across; this took them three hours.

At three places on the road Archdeacon Williams was reminded of the journey of his boys on their way to school, which was previously recorded, by seeing their initials S.W., W.L.W., and T.S.W. cut in large letters in the bark of trees at their camping places. At Wharengaere there was the last memorial of his lost son Sydney, dated February 25th, 1845, eight days after the boys had left Turanga.

On August 21st he and his party reached Tauranga where he remained some days. Here he met Archdeacon A. N. Brown, whom he helped in the work with the natives by taking a share of the services and classes. He also sympathised with Archdeacon Brown who had recently lost his son, Marsh Brown.

On August 30th Archdeacons Williams and Brown set out in boats for Katikati, 25 miles distant, which they page 96 reached in four hours. They camped for the night, and next day went on to Ohinemuri. On September 1st after a walk of two hours to Opita they embarked in a canoe, and in five hours were alongside the Bishop's schooner Undine off Kaweranga. Embarking on this vessel they set sail at 1 p.m. next day. Though somewhat delayed through grounding on a sandspit they reached Auckland safely on September 3rd. Rev. R. Burrows met them with the College boat, and they landed at Mr. Kissling's house at Kohimarama, whence they walked up to St. John's College. Here, together with Archdeacon Henry Williams, Rev. R. Burrows, and Mr. Clarke, they were quartered in the house lately occupied there by Rev. and Mrs. Samuel Williams. Rev. R. Maunsell joined them there a little later.

Letters had recently arrived from the Home Committee of the Church Missionary Society informing the missionaries of the charges made against some of them by Governor Grey with reference to their land purchases. Though a year had elapsed since these charges were transmitted by the Governor to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, this was the first that the missionaries had heard of them. The directions of the Home Committee of the C.M.S. on this matter together with the demands of the Governor, who was supported by the Bishop, led to serious discussions among the Society's members who met in Auckland at this time.

At first the Bishop declined to go on with the work of the Local Missionary Central Committee unless the purchasers of land agreed to the Governor's demands. However, he later consented to proceed with business when those interested stated that they would agree to the demands provided the Governor would either prove his charges or withdraw them. Missionary Committee Meetings were held on September 14th and following days, when various matters requiring attention were discussed.

(The land question will be treated more fully in a later chapter.)

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The Bishop held an ordination service in St. Paul's Church, Auckland, on Sunday, September 19th, when the following were admitted to Deacon's Orders. Mr. Butt presented by Archdeacon Williams, Messrs. T. B. Hutton and A. G. Purchas by Archdeacon Brown, and Messrs. Tudor and Fisher by Mr. Cotton.

Archdeacon W. Williams remained in Auckland until the end of October, and was able to employ his time there to advantage. While he and Rev. R. Maunsell were together they took the opportunity to devote every available moment to the work of revising the translation of the Bible.

On September 28th he and Archdeacon Brown accompanied the Bishop at an interview with the Governor.

During his stay he was also able to call on Chief Justice Martin and several other friends.

On October 28th he embarked on the Kate for Turanga. He was accompanied by his brother Henry, his children James and Maria, and his niece Lydia. Assisted by a favourable breeze they rounded Cape Colville that evening, and by October 31st they were off Cape Runaway. Next day after rounding East Cape they landed Mr. Reay's books at Reporua. They then continued their voyage, finally anchoring at Turanganui at 6 a.m. on November 2nd. From Turanganui the party walked to the station at Whakato, reaching there at 1 p.m. Leonard Williams, who had returned from Auckland by an earlier vessel, came to meet them on the way, and reported that all was well at home.

For the next few weeks Archdeacon Henry Williams and his son Samuel, who was also at Whakato at this time, assisted in the work of the station, each taking a share in conducting services and classes.

Several members of the Williams family sailed for Auckland in Bishop Selwyn's 20-ton schooner Undine which had arrived at Turanganui on November 21st, after landing Mr. C. Baker at Uawa two days earlier. Their luggage and a cargo of 100 baskets of potatoes was sent off to her in a canoe on the 22nd and they embarked the page 98 following day, Archdeacon Henry Williams going home to Pakaraka, Bay of Islands, Samuel Williams to Auckland to prepare for his removal to Otaki where he was to be located, James to school at St. John's College, and Leonard to Auckland en route for his long voyage to England.

Leonard Williams was just in time to embark for Sydney with Mr. Cotton on the Deborah, a schooner of 135 tons which sailed from Auckland on December 8th. They reached Sydney on the 21st. Here they took passage for England on the Penyard Park, a vessel of 377 tons.

On January 10th, 1848, Leonard Williams wrote to his father from the Penyard Park: “We are now on board our vessel all ready to sail, and only waiting for a fair wind. We have left the anchorage at the town and are now near the mouth of the Harbour. We should have sailed on Saturday, but Captain Weller could not get his men to leave, so we went on shore again after coming down the Harbour, spent Sunday on shore and came off this morning. We shall have to go right away down south of New Zealand so that we shall soon get into a cold climate. Our vessel is not so large as we expected, but she has very good accommodation for her size. We have got our cabin quite comfortable now and ready for sea. Mr. Cotton has got the same bed that he had when he came out from England. I have got a cot which we can fasten up to the ceiling in the day time, so that it takes up very little room. When it is fastened up Mr. Cotton can walk under it.”

On December 7th, 1847, Bishop Selwyn wrote to his friend Rev. E. Coleridge by the hands of Rev. Mr. Cotton when he returned to England after six years' work in New Zealand: “Herewith I commend to your good offices Leonard Williams, the eldest son of the Archdeacon of Waiapu, who will not, I think, disgrace his excellent father or St. John's College. Only one thing I stipulate that you do not steal him from us, but send him back replenished with every good and holy knowledge to follow in his father's steps.

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“On the subject of the said Archdeacon of Waiapu, I have somewhat confidential to say. He is an episcopally minded man, and it would give me great pleasure to divide my diocese with him, yea let him take it all, as I cannot pretend to equal his piety or maturity of wisdom.

“The Bishop of Australia is of the same mind, and said of him ‘He is the man I would like to have with me when I am dying.’ “Tucker's “Life of Bishop Selwyn.”

After the departure of the Undine on November 22nd, 1847, Archdeacon W. Williams resumed his regular round of services and classes. He records having administered the Lord's Supper to 156 communicants at the Home Station on November 21st and to 158 at Toanga on November 28th and to 126 at Uawa on December 2nd. On the same date at this last place he baptised 61 adults and 10 children.

He had intended going on from Uawa to East Cape, but was unexpectedly called home to deal with an outbreak of fever and influenza in the district. During December he was kept more than usually busy attending to the sick. Various home duties also claimed his attention. He mentioned for instance having spent several hours during the last week of November in plastering fire-places.

On his return from Auckland he had been much disturbed to find that some of the natives who had professed Christianity had been led astray. A native doctor of some repute, who treated his patients by administering a concoction of herbs and uttering old incantations, had acquired a considerable influence over them. There had also been a revival of the practice of tattooing with its attendant rites.

Archdeacon Williams made a determined effort to check these abuses, and at the end of December was able to write: “Our native charge is I believe in a more healthy state than at the beginning of the year, and affords much encouragement.”