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Through Ninety Years

Chapter XIV

page 108

Chapter XIV.

1848–1849. Marriage of Second Daughter. Journeys and Work in East Coast District. Central Missionary Committee at Tauranga. Progress of Church Building. Leonard Enters College in England.

Throughout the years 1848–1849 the work in the district was carried on to the best advantage with the limited staff available.

On January 20th, 1849, Rev. J. Hamlin and Mr. Baker arrived at the Home Station to attend meetings of the local missionary committee, which lasted from 22nd to 26th; while at Turanga the visitors took their usual share in the services and classes.

On February 2nd Henry Williams, a nephew of Archdeacon W. Williams, arrived by way of Uawa for his marriage to his cousin Jane, the Archdeacon's second daughter. This ceremony took place at the Home Chapel on February 15th. To celebrate the event a feast was given to the native teachers and monitors then under instruction at the school. Forty-two natives sat down to table in regular English style, and consumed a goodly supply of pork and potatoes, followed by apple and peach pies, and a dessert of apples, after which the health of the bride and bridegroom was drunk in raspberry wine.

While at Uawa on February 13th Archdeacon W. Williams had met Mr. Clarke and his son Edward. They had recently arrived from the north, and came on to Turanga a week later. Mr. Edward Clarke took up mission work in this district some years later.

The other missionaries assembled at Tauranga included Archdeacon Brown and Revs. Maunsell, Burrows, Taylor and Mr. Clarke. Prior to the commencement of business, Archdeacon Williams had long conversations with them concerning St. John's College, and various other matters of importance. He was also able to spend page 109 several hours with Mr. Maunsell on translation revision. The Committee met on April 4th and remained in session a fortnight. There was considerable discussion on letters recently received from the Parent Committee of the C.M.S. on the question of lands which had been bought by the missionaries. In order to avoid hampering these discussions which might have reference to himself. Archdeacon Henry Williams did not attend this session of the Committee.

On April 17th Archdeacon W. Williams started on his return journey overland, but was so delayed by heavy rain and floods, that he did not reach home until midnight on the 28th.

His journal records a heavy shock of earthquake on May 12th and another on June 14th.

His various activities during the early part of June included the purchasing of firewood from the natives at Rakauwerewere, the arranging for the ploughing of land attached to the Home Station, and the directing of natives in the preparation of a lime kiln to furnish material for the school chimneys.

On June 14th he mentions that recent floods had brought down a large quantity of valuable trees, which were left stranded on the banks of the Waipaoa River. This was a great benefit, as it would provide an ample supply of timber for building their new Chapel.

Six strenuous weeks from July 12th to August 23rd were spent in visiting various native settlements in the Waiapu and East Cape areas. His work was somewhat hindered by an attack of influenza, and he was glad to reach home again.

When at Whareponga on July 24th he saw from the village four trading vessels at anchor loading maize and wheat. An English trader at Hicks Bay informed him that he had supplied recently goods to the value of £1,200 for the purchase of various kinds of produce. These facts indicated considerable industry and activity among the natives of this district.

On his return home he found that the natives were proposing to carve the slabs and posts for their new page 110 Chapel with most unseemly figures, and he had to protest most strongly against this. After a fortnight's persistence the natives were at length persuaded to execute the carving in the designs approved by him.

To his sister, Mrs. Heathcote, Archdeacon W. Williams wrote on October 17th, 1849: “You will be glad no doubt to hear something in the shape of Missionary intelligence, but I have very little which will be generally interesting. There is not much in the daily or weekly routine of a novel description. My work is more like the unbroken course of a parish schoolmaster, a great deal of work, but most of it of the same character. The object is not the raising of exotics to please the eye, but which will not endure the chilling blast, but rather the tree of vigorous growth, prepared to weather every storm. Our instruction therefore is simple and makes but little show first, the most simple truths of repentance and faith, which you will allow are difficult as they are important. If then we can add to these first and most essential points a little general knowledge of the Scriptures, we consider that much is gained. For the accomplishment of this, our Bible Classes are held, and our classes of candidates, which are frequent and demand our chief attention. You may form some idea from the outline of my engagements in a late visit of seven weeks to Waiapu, poor Mr. Stack's district:

Villages Candidates for Baptism Examined Baptised Rejected Communicants Children Baptised Marriages
Waipiro 111 42 69 116 21 1
Whareponga 173 68 105 102 27 3
Korotiro 159 52 107 146 31 10
Kawakawa 175 59 116 83 28 5
Rangitukia 186 90 96 174 42 7
Tuparoa 147 72 75 116 47 8
951 383 568 737 196 34

On October 22nd he set out again on a journey southwards as far as Ahuriri. This time the party started by an inland route over the hills to Lake Waihau. Thence they journeyed to the river, where they embarked in two canoes which had been sent up from Te Reinga to meet page 111 them. Travelling rapidly down stream they soon reached Opouiti where Rev. J. Hamlin met them. After visiting the various Maori settlements and holding the usual services and classes Archdeacon Williams eventually reached home again on November 20th.

On his return he found that a Roman Catholic priest who had recently come to the district was disturbing the natives by asserting that his teaching was erroneous. Accordingly, on November 22nd at the request of the natives he held a public controversy with the priest. As on a similar occasion nine years earlier he was able to satisfy the natives that the religion he was teaching them was securely founded on Bible authority.

On December 20th a strong party of natives assembled to drag timber from the river bank to the church site. A stirring scene was witnessed when the first piece, a fine log 40 feet long by 3 feet, which was to support one end of the great ridge pole, was dragged to its place by a hundred natives. Following them came a procession of others carrying baskets of food for the workers. Later on a quarrel unfortunately arose, which had to be settled before the work could proceed amicably.

His journal for 1849 indicates the progress of the work of the Mission in the Waiapu and East Coast District, and the arduous effort that was entailed. Wherever he was it was his practice every Sunday to hold Native Services in both morning and afternoon, and (when there was anyone to attend it) an English service at midday. These were regularly conducted except on one or two occasions, when heavy rain prevented the people from assembling at their Chapels. He also held a large number of special services during the year, details of which are set out in the appended Statistical Table.

In addition to these services he personally conducted some 200 classes for instruction and examination, at which the aggregate attendances numbered upwards of 8,300. A few of these classes numbered from 5 to 10 and from 100 to 118 pupils, but the bulk of them were between the two extremes. He also conducted examinations of 54 various schools that were in charge of native page 112 teachers. The work of translation revision also claimed much of his time.

Statistical Table of Participants at Special Services during 1849
Dates Places Congregations Communicants Adults Infants Wedding Couples
Jan. 21st Home 700 230 27
Jan. 28th Toanga 400 133 11
Feb. 11th Tokomaru 186 33
Feb. 12th Anaura 39 5 24
Feb. 13th Uawa 68 9
Feb. 15th Home 2
Feb. 28th Home 1
May 17th
and 22nd
Home 7
June 17th Home 700 290 12 2
June 24th Toanga 188 9
July 15th Uawa 124 50 12
July 16th Anaura 200 50 1
July 18th Anaura 74 20
July 18th Tokomaru 80 3 4
July 22nd Akuaku 116 42 21 1
July 26th Whareponga 102 68 27 3
July 29th Korotere 146 52 31 10
Aug. 4th Hicks Bay 5
Aug. 5th Kawakawa 83 59 28 5
Aug. 12th Rangitukia 182 90 42 3
Aug. 15th Awatere 3
Aug. 17th Waitotoki 200 116 72 47 2
Aug. 21st Anaura 2
Sept. 24th Anaura 4
Oct. 7th Home 261 6
Oct. 14th Waerenga-a-hika 350 171 7
Oct. 25th Opouiti 113 35
Oct. 28th Wairoa 136 153
Oct. 31st Mohaka 36
Nov. 4th Mohaka 400 238
Nov. 11th Wairoa 27
Nov. 13th Whakaki 23
Nov. 13th Nuhaka 67 10
Nov. 8th Nukutaurua 101 35 15
Dec. 10th Home 10 from East Cape
Dec. 23rd Home 1000 186 22
3,279 953 387 89

Archdeacon W. Williams wrote to Rev. E. G. Marsh on February 14th, 1848: “You will I hope before you receive this, have welcomed Leonard to your roof. I shall be most anxious to hear what you have to say about him.”

And on September 25th Mrs. Williams wrote to her son that they were expecting to hear news of his arrival, page 113 and had been much excited by reading in an Auckland paper of a vessel reaching Sydney which had spoken the Penyard Park near the Line.

Soon after, they were very pleased to receive a letter from Mr. Marsh dated June 28th, 1848, in which he wrote: “Your son, Leonard, arrived in London when I was engaged in Oxford preaching the Bampton Lectures, therefore we did not meet immediately. This, however, gave him the opportunity of seeing your brother John and his family. I have taken him, at her very earnest request, to visit Miss Selwyn of Richmond. He is now safely domiciled at Aylesford whence I have come up to town to attend a meeting of Committee on your brother Henry's affairs. Before, however, I enter into a discussion of these I must give you a further account of Leonard and his proceedings. We are much pleased with him. He is quiet, comformable, and attentive, easily satisfied and conscientiously disposed to do whatever is assigned to him as his duty. He also has been well instructed, and is qualified to do credit to his recent instructors.

“Being in Oxford when his arrival was announced, Dr. McBride (Principal of Magdalen Hall) immediately laid claim to him, and as I found him sufficiently well grounded to warrant such a measure I authorised him immediately to become matriculated at Magdalen Hall, whereby he saved a term, and will be ready to commence his course of residence after Christmas vacation. In the meantime he will remain with me or else go to my son John at Bleasby in Nottinghamshire, of which he is now the Vicar, and thus prepare himself for an academical education. Dr. McBride who has for some years been in a deplorable state of health, both mentally and bodily, has now, through Divine Mercy, perfectly recovered, and will no doubt give him an Exhibition and render him every help in his power. I only hope that we may do him no harm, but be able to return him to you with the simplicity of a Christian and the endowments of a scholar.”

page 114

Archdeacon and Mrs. Williams were also delighted at the same time to have a letter from Leonard himself dated June 1st, 1848, telling of his voyage and safe arrival. The only land they sighted after leaving Australia had been the island of Diego Rauraz off Cape Horn. The voyage had been a very tedious one of 124 days, and the Captain's quarrels with his officers had not tended to make it more pleasant.

Leonard and Mr. Cotton landed at Penzance on May 18th, had travelled by mail coach to Exeter, and thence by rail to London after spending a night at Mr. Cotton's home in Leytonstone. Leonard had called at the Bank of England to see his uncle, John Williams, and had then gone to stay with him at Islington.

In December, 1848, Leonard Williams wrote to his father that he was at Bleasby with his cousin Rev. John Marsh. He had come there at the beginning of October after staying a few days at Nottingham to see other relations and friends.

On January 29th, 1849, he wrote again from Oxford that he had come to reside at Magdalen Hall, and had dined with the principal, Dr. McBride. He said that among so many strangers he had felt “moke moke” (lonely).

In July, 1849, he mentioned his having passed his Smalls examination satisfactorily on June 26th. He also told of a call he had made on Professor Owen of the Royal College of Surgeons who had asked him many questions about the moa and showed him a skeleton he had put up as far as he could from the bones he had to copy from.

In August, 1849, he wrote describing an expedition he had made with John Marsh to Derbyshire where they had visited the Peak Cavern, and had gone down a mine 700 feet deep. He also mentioned having met Mr. Abraham (afterwards the first Bishop of Wellington), an Eton master who was going to St. John's College, Auckland.

Leonard's allowance while at Oxford was only about £100 per annum. He had therefore to live very quietly at page 115 the University, and was unable to take part in the usual amusements and social life of the undergraduates, while his vacations were generally spent with relatives.