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Through Ninety Years

Chapter XIII

page 100

Chapter XIII.

1848. Work on East Coast. Voyage to Wellington with Rev. and Mrs. Samuel Williams. Land Journey Home. Rev. Mr. Reay's Death. Visits Auckland to Consult Bishop Selwyn.

The Meeting of the local Missionary Committee was held early in January, 1848, at the Home Station. Messrs. Baker, Hamlin and Reay came from their respective stations to attend this meeting, which occupied a week. During their stay they assisted with the services and classes.

On January 25th Rev. and Mrs. Samuel Williams, who were on their way to Waikanae arrived at Turanga in the Undine. Archdeacon Williams wished to accompany them in this vessel as far as Port Nicholson, but owing to the serious illness of his youngest daughter, Emma, he was unable to sail for several days. By January 31st the child's condition had considerably improved, and the party then embarked on the Undine. They were off Portland Island on February 2nd, passed Blackhead on the 4th, and reached Port Nicholson on the 7th. A few days later Mr. and Mrs. S. Williams went on to take up their quarters at Waikanae.

After calling on several of the residents at Port Nicholson whom he knew, Archdeacon Williams set off on February 15th on his homeward journey of six weeks on foot, holding religious services with the natives at the numerous kaingas at which he called, and went by canoe next day to see the Maoris at Parengarehu

During the next few days he visited a number of the white settlers on his way; on the 17th called on Mr. Riddiford at Orongorongo, finding him at breakfast with a family of six children; on 19th on Mr. Pharazyn; on the 21st on Messrs. Allum and MacMaster in the Wairarapa Valley. Next day he called at Mr. Gillies's page 101 house to see Mr. Drummond who was dangerously ill, and then went on to Huangarua. On the 23rd he dined at Captain Smith's house; he noted that he saw the dairy there with 56 pans of milk, and that 150 lb. of butter were made per week. From there he went to Mr. Tiffen's where he met Mr. Revan.

On February 28th after a tiring walk he reached Whareama. The natives had gone to Mataikona to meet him, so he followed them there next day. Porangahau was reached on March 4th and Waipukurau on the 6th. Here he found that most of the Christians had gone to Awapuni to meet Rev. W. Colenso preparatory to the administration of the Lord's Supper. He was delayed by rain the following day, and did not reach Awapuni until 4 p.m. on March 9th.

On arrival he was greeted by 100 natives lined up on the roadside to shake hands. He was much relieved to receive here a letter telling of the recovery of his little daughter. While at Awapuni he had a long discussion with Rev. W. Colenso, and it was decided that the latter should move inland and establish a new post at Waipukurau.

Leaving at noon on March 13th Archdeacon Williams proceeded via Tangoio and Waikare to Wairoa, reaching there at 1 p.m. on the 17th. Here he had closely packed congregations at the services on Sunday the 19th. Leaving Wairoa on the 20th he journeyed via Whakaki and Nuhaka, thence to Oraku, reaching Nukutaurua on the 23rd where on Sunday 26th he had a congregation of 350 at Morning Service.

Next morning, after an early walk of two miles to Oraku he and his party found canoes proceeding to Poverty Bay in which they embarked and reached their destination at 3 p.m. He arrived home about two hours later, and was thankful to find all well.

In the record of the services and classes held with the natives on this journey, Archdeacon Williams mentioned administering the Lord's Supper to the following numbers of communicants at the various places on the dates named:

page 102
67 on February 13th at Pitone
43 on February 20th at Pharazyn's
32 on February 23rd at Huangarua
54 on February 27th at Kaikokirikiri
50 on March 2nd at Mataikona
28 on March 5th at Akiteo
143 on March 12th at Awapuni
31 on March 15th at Waikare
143 on March 19th at Wairoa, where he also baptised 39 adults
65 on March 21st at Nuhaka
135 on March 26th at Nukutaurua

On April 24th, 1848, Archdeacon W. Williams wrote: “Leaving our Daughter, Mary, and her Husband on the eve of their departure to Waikanae, I set out on my six weeks walk to Poverty Bay. In the course of this journey I met with orderly congregations at every village, and administered the Lord's Supper to a large number of communicants.

“The result of observation over this extensive District is that Christianity is progressing steadily in every place, and the occasional checks which it has received from such events as the plunder of the American Brig Falco at Table Cape, and the revival of the heathenish practice of tattooing at Turanga, have in the end made rather for the furtherance of the Gospel.

“On my return home I heard that Rev. Mr. Reay who had been living at Waiapu just twelve months, had been indisposed for some weeks, and that Mrs. Reay had urgently requested Mr. Baker to go and visit him. In a few days a letter came from Mr. Baker to say that Mr. Reay died on March 31st about 30 hours before he reached Waiapu. I was not much acquainted with Mr. Reay, but he seemed to enter with spirit upon his work, and to make up for the removal of Mr. Kissling and Mr. Stack.”

Archdeacon Williams regarded the death of Mr. Reay as a great blow to the work. He felt keenly the necessity for an increase of fully qualified men, and frequently urged this upon Bishop Selwyn. A difference of opinion had arisen between the Bishop and the Parent Committee of the Church Missionary Society on the question of the locating of men in the field to the best advantage. It page 103 was felt that this disagreement and the qualifications required for those to be ordained, had delayed the admission to priest's orders of some who had worked faithfully as deacons, and the ordination as deacons of men who had worked well as catechists for some time.

On June 28th, 1848, Archdeacon Williams wrote: “I am now a solitary Priest in this district, and the ground over which I have to travel (not by railroad, but on foot, in slow stages of 15 to 20 miles a day) is as nearly as may be equal to a journey from London to Edinburgh and back, and then from London to Southampton and back, officiating at every stage on the way. It has thus happened that during the past twelve months I have been called to administer the Lord's Supper to upwards of 2,000 individuals, an event which rarely happens to any clergyman. This state of things is neither good for me, who have the duty to perform, nor is it salutary for the natives, who many of them can only receive the ordinance once in the twelve months.

“For the present the duties of the Waiapu district will be attended to by Mr. Baker and myself, as far as we are able, and the native teachers must do the rest. I have just returned from that quarter, spending four weeks among the natives. There were many candidates for Baptism who required long and patient examination, there were 305 adults admitted to Baptism and 177 children, the candidates who were rejected exceeded in numbers those who passed.”

Despite his many other duties, Archdeacon Williams found time during April to cut glass for the school windows, and to rebuild a brick oven.

The Lord's Supper was administered on Easter Day, April 23rd, to 168 communicants at the Home Chapel, and on April 30th to 122 communicants at Toanga; at the latter place the morning congregation was about 300 and 12 infants were baptised.

On May 4th, 1848, Archdeacon Williams left on a round of visits to the northern settlements of his district, and spent a strenuous time with the natives examining numerous parties of them, and passing those fit for page 104 baptism, and holding services for administration of the Lord's Supper. He was working up to twelve hours per day, and sometimes as late as 11 p.m. or even midnight. He reached home again on June 8th.

The following table records the services held, and the numbers who attended:

Date Place Communicants Adults Infants Congregations Marriages
May 7th Uawa 140 5
9th Tokomaru 110
10th Tokomaru 24
12th Tokomaru 41
14th Waipiro 39 31
15th Waipiro 8
16th Whareponga 250
18th Whareponga 75
21st Korotere 117 250
23rd Korotere 20 36
25th Kawa Kawa 73 23
28th Rangitukia 147 11 500
June 4th Whareponga 119 141 99 7 couples
745 308 206
July10th Records of further marriages from Waiapu 4 couples
22nd Records of further marriages from East Cape 6 couples
17 couples

About this time Archdeacon W. Williams mentioned that there was prevalent a native practice known as Kaihaukai, whereby one party made a present of food or goods to another, on the understanding that at a later date, sometimes a year or so, the receivers were to return the compliment. Owing to the discrepancies in the quantities returned, this practice had often given rise to quarrels and disputes. It was therefore decided that an endeavour must be made to put a stop to this cause of disagreement.

On July 31st, 1848, he began a three weeks' course of instruction for teachers and monitors. In a letter dated August 28th he wrote of this:

During last month I have been occupied with a school of a novel description, but one of great importance in carrying on the work of the Mission. Between fifty and sixty native teachers and assistants, of whom about one fourth were females, have spent with me four hours page 105 daily. They have now returned to their respective villages, taking back with them some little benefit I trust in return for their exertions.

“Our principal exercise was on the Church Catechism, which they entered into with much interest. A full elucidation from Scripture gives forth a light upon the subject which they were not aware it was capable of.

“Many of them are very ignorant, and it is really a wonder how the congregations go on so well under such instruction. Several commenced Arithmetic, and were much pleased towards the close of our labours to find the could master what had appeared very difficult at the commencement.

“We provided breakfast for the party every day, which consisted sometimes of 12 gallons of boiled flour, and sometimes of yeast dumplings, once a week a pig was served up with potatoes.”

With the object of consulting the Bishop and endeavouring to obtain the assistance which was urgently required for carrying on the work in his wide district, Archdeacon W. Williams decided to visit Auckland. His efforts to obtain a passage by a coastal trading vessel proving unsuccessful, he eventually set off overland by way of Wairerehua on October 23rd.

Continued rain on several days made travelling so laborious and difficult that he did not reach Mr. Wilson's house at Opotiki until October 28th. Thence he journeyed to Tauranga, calling at the various native settlements on the way, and holding services and classes for instruction wherever he could. On November 11th he obtained a passage from Tauranga in Farrer's vessel, reaching Auckland on November 16th.

Under date of November 25th he wrote as follows: “The death of Mr. Reay took place about the end of March, and though the Bishop heard soon afterwards, and wrote to me, he did not seem to have any idea what was to be done for supplying the vacancy.

“In the meantime the natives were suffering from want of attention, and it was reported that the Wesleyans were thinking about filling the vacancy for us. As I had page 106 several proposals to make I considered that the best course to take was to have a personal interview.

“After much difficulty, first through the shuffling conduct of the captain of a coasting vessel being tricked out of my passage and with the loss of three weeks' spent in idleness, then from the labour of three weeks' journey overland, I have at length seen the Bishop, and to a great extent have succeeded in my purpose, the secretaries having at length ordered that the station at Kerikeri shall be abandoned, an arrangement I have been labouring to bring about ever since Mr. Stack went to England. As Mr. Kemp is still an able-bodied man, the Bishop proposes that he shall be located on the East Coast. I am well pleased with this arrangement, and if it is carried out I shall recommend that Mr. Kemp be at Uawa, and that Mr. Baker removes to Waiapu. The next object I had in view was to induce the Bishop to withdraw the pledges to which the Society objected, and which have therefore stood in the way of the ordination of the Society's catechists.

“I was greatly relieved to find that the Bishop had quietly given up the matter on the occasion of the Jubilee of the C.M.S., he concluded to give this up as a donation to the general cause. Mr. Ashwell is now at the college and will be ordained next month, Mr. Morgan will follow next, then I believe Mr. Baker and Mr. Wilson. This measure will I hope in some degree restore that confidence which has evidently been suspended for a long season.

“My third point was the ordination of some at least of the deacons to the office of priest. I was obliged to remind him that it was impossible for me, being sole priest in a parish 400 miles long, to administer the Lord's Supper more than once a year at any places except those which are near to me, that there are many places in secluded positions which do not come within the range of my long journeys, and further that I am not so well able to travel as I used to be, and that the only way to give me that relief which is absolutely necessary is to increase the number of priests. His first remark was one page 107 which gives me good reason to think that I shall succeed in this also.

“I intended also to urge him again upon a matter of vital importance, the state of the college and the school, and above all the well-being of the Church.

“For this purpose I wrote him a memorandum which is now forwarded to him. There has been a continued system of misrule, and it will require an entire change before confidence can be restored.”

On November 23rd the Archdeacon left on a short visit to the Bay of Islands. He returned to Auckland on December 8th and after further interviewing the Bishop and calling on several friends, sailed for home on the 23rd. He arrived there safely on the 30th and was thankful to find everything going on well.