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Through Ninety Years

Chapter XVII

page 134

Chapter XVII.

More to Waerenga-a-hika Decided. Breaking in Land and Moving Buildings there. C.M.S. Reinstate Henry Williams. Paihia Stone House Burnt. Turanga Central Schools Begun.

To carry out satisfactorily the scheme for Archdeacon Williams's proposed Central Schools, it was found necessary that they should have more land than they were then occupying for the production of their food supply. They therefore sought to obtain this from the party of natives with whom they lived, but they soon after found that as the natives had sold to an Englishman some years before, they could not supply what was wanted. It became therefore compulsory that they should look further afield.

In due course the natives of Waerenga-a-hika undertook to find what was wanted, and this led to the acquisition of 567 acres of what is now known as the Waerenga-a-hika School Estate, some 6 to 7 miles from Whakato. This change of locality necessitated a complete revision of their plans.

After considerable deliberation and discussion it was finally decided to remove the principal buildings to the new site, and arrange for the erection of others there.

The land was unfenced, and covered with scrub and bushes. The clearing and sowing of the land with good grasses, and fencing it, all involved an additional cost, which had not been counted on, and added to their difficulties.

While Rev. Samuel Williams was with them, he assisted them in their decision, and was of great help in arranging with the natives for the land.

Letters from the C.M.S. Parent Committee had just been received advising that at the request of Bishop Selwyn and Governor Grey it had restored Archdeacon page 135 Henry Williams to his position as Missionary of the Society. Archdeacon W. Williams accordingly left home again on January 7th, 1855, and proceeded to the Bay of Islands on his way to the Meeting of the Central Missionary Committee in Auckland, that he might conduct his brother to retake his place on that committee.

It was felt that Archdeacon H. Williams's mature and experienced opinion would be of great assistance in the discussions on framing the Constitution of the Church in New Zealand then to be considered.

The Society also intimated that, as New Zealand had now become a British Colony, it wished gradually to withdraw its mission services.

From this journey Archdeacon W. Williams returned home again on March 19th.

On March 3rd, 1855, Mrs. Williams wrote: “We have had some rather severe earthquakes this summer, one on January 23rd which lasted several minutes and really alarmed us. Happily our buildings are of neither brick or stone, and no damage was done. Within the next thirty hours we had three slight shocks, the following week two more, and some time after midnight on February 12th we were all woke out of our sleep by another rather sharp shock, attended by a loudish noise. The poor children were very much frightened, and so were the native girls, who all congregated in our dining room, where they passed the remainder of the night. The first had quite the effect of being on board ship in a rough sea.”

Referring to Waerenga-a-hika she wrote again on September 3rd, 1855: “The Government will allow a certain sum of money for the establishment of Native Schools. We must go slowly to work and begin with raupo buildings, taking down our wooden ones and having them rebuilt at the new place about 6 miles off.

“James is busy ploughing, while preparations are being made for fencing, and sawyers are at work. Leonard and James like good dutiful and affectionate sons, are anxious to spare their father as much as they can, and take the brunt of this work upon their own page 136 shoulders. James was to have begun farming on his own account this year, but our new projects have set this aside and he is to stay and assist in setting farming operations going at Waerenga-a-hika. Leonard has his teachers' school, which will not suffer much hindrance by the projected move, as he and they will move together when their respective abodes are ready.”

Archdeacon W. Williams wrote on May 31st, 1855: “The restoration of Henry to his former position gives universal satisfaction out here. As for the community at large they have been most indignant at the steps formerly taken, and even those who before promoted his separation from the Mission much regretted afterwards what they had done, from the Governor and Bishop downwards. The change therefore will have removed a load from their minds.

“He will still be able to attend to his charge from Pakaraka almost as well as from Paihia, as the people are much scattered. Civilisation has exerted a most evil influence upon the people. The spirit of careless indifference which is so common among our own people they will readily follow. Leonard's school we hope will be a powerful means of improving the character of the native teachers. Our accommodation for pupils proceeds slowly. We have two wooden buildings to move on rollers to another position, and Leonard's house to erect, and not until this work is completed shall we be on a satisfactory footing. Our chief operations at present are confined to a limited number of teachers and their wives. We have come to the conclusion to move our station to a position about seven miles up country, that we may have a better site for our operations, with an abundant supply of good land.

“We went yesterday to see the place and to make arrangements. Next week we are to mark the site of the houses. This move will involve a great expense and a vast deal of labour. Our houses, for economy's sake, will be partly of ‘raupo’ the native flag, which grows on swampy ground. The wooden houses we have already in occupation must all be taken down and rebuilt, and all page 137 our chimneys will have to be erected in like manner, possibly by ourselves.”

The move before them necessitated the pulling down and re-erecting of three large wooden buildings, at great cost, and the garden which was then in a most flourishing condition had to be abandoned and a new one made.

He wrote further on September 20th, 1855: “The Society had decided that we should have a central school here, and have appointed Leonard to be my coadjutor. A moderate sum of money has been given towards the erection of additional buildings which would have sufficed if we could have remained at our present station, but having estimated our expenses and finding that they will far exceed our means, we conclude rather to sacrifice a year's income than not carry out this measure.

“We find James' services of great value. He is a most indefatigable youth (18 years of age), and is sure to do well if his health is spared. I had intended that he should have left us in order to enter upon work for himself, but he enters heartily into our plans and prefers working for us at present. He now has charge of five yoke of oxen, and with the assistance of one native is ploughing up a portion of our ground, having first ploughed and sown ten acres of wheat at our old station.”

In another letter of September 25th, 1855: “Leonard is to lead our movement inland, for which purpose three houses are being erected constructed for the most part of native material. I am sending E.… a statement of our removal and its expenses with the hope of being able to obtain some assistance. We receive the sum of £200 annually from the Government Board of Education on condition that the school is on the self-supporting principle. It was this reason partly which made it necessary for us to move the station. Our expenses of removal are unprovided for by the sum of at least £400.

“If you are able to obtain any help for us from the circle you have around you, it will be well to transmit it through the Society, specifying that it is for Schools at Poverty Bay.”

page 138

At the beginning of October, 1855, Archdeacon W. Williams went to inspect the Ahuriri District where Rev. Samuel Williams and his wife were residing then in a building of two rooms, walls of raupo with a thatch roof, and a small detached kitchen, the fireplace and chimneys built of mud supported by a wooden frame, the floors of earth covered with matting. If Rev. S. Williams was to remain there permanently he would soon set to work to erect the needful buildings.

Rev. W. L. Williams wrote as follows on November 23rd, 1855: “The training of boys is certainly a work of great importance. The present generation of New Zealanders is bad enough and that which is to succeed it if it is to grow up without education would be much worse; by the present generation I mean the children of those who embraced the Gospel when it was first preached to them. The old people are, generally speaking, quiet and steady enough, and many of them, I trust, with all their failings, are good Christians, but their children have not been kept by them under any restraint, and in the absence of anything like a boarding school the difficulty has been to teach them anything.

“As soon as ever we are able to get our new quarters at Waerenga-a-hika I hope to begin a boys' school. The Bishop has been unfortunate in his college. I do not think he has formed a correct idea of the wants of the Colony. St. John's College was set on foot as an Industrial College purely, and therefore did not work after a time, because the greater number of those who sent their Sons there did not wish for an industrial school, but called loudly for a regular grammar school where there should be more instruction of an intellectual character. There is a man now come for this school, a Mr. Kinder.

“In making the above remarks about St. John's College I do not wish you to understand anything as implying that the Bishop has not done all he can to keep things going, for he has tried very hard indeed. His difficulties have been peculiar and very trying, much more I daresay than we can imagine, for we know what difficulties we find in our small spheres of action, how page 139 much greater then must be those of one who has so many cares devolving upon him.”

At the end of December, 1855, Mrs. Williams heard of the death of her grand-daughter Maria, the only child of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Williams junior. She accordingly took advantage of an offer of a passage to the Bay of Islands which was made to her by Captain Drury of the H.M.S. Pandora who was surveying the coast off East Cape, and paid Mr. and Mrs. Henry Williams a visit to comfort them. Early in February, 1856, while awaiting at Horotutu, Bay of Islands, the sailing of the vessel to take her home, the old stone house at Paihia was destroyed by fire. Mrs. Williams wrote describing this on February 15th, 1856:* “Friday was the day appointed to sail, but for some unimportant reason the vessel stayed till Saturday, and on Friday night a sad catastrophe happened. The stone house, the walls of which you may perhaps remember were built by William's own hands some six and twenty years ago, was destroyed by fire. It was rather singular that I should be there to witness the fate of my husband's work, which had cost him so much actual labour. The fire was discovered about 11 o'clock just as Marianne and her daughter were retiring to rest. They had some difficulty in rousing the inmates who were all fast asleep; it was a providential circumstance that Henry was not gone, for you are sure his energy and activity would be equal to the emergency. The crew and Master of the Osprey were also very active, and were chiefly instrumental in preserving Christopher Davies' house from the effect of the pieces of burning material which were continually falling on the roof, impelled by a brisk wind which blew direct from the flaming house, but had not the two Mariannes, and Mary Ann Preece, with one or two natives, made almost incredible exertions in getting blankets saturated with water laid on the roof before others could get to their assistance, that house must have gone too. Humanly speaking the family living in the page 140 building were by the help of their neighbours able to save nearly all their property, but of course some of it was sadly damaged. The calamity originated it is supposed from the ashes of a native pipe. The walls remaining are in so shaky a condition that I expect they will have to be taken down.

“Many providences were to be remarked as attending this calamity, and that no lives were lost or even personal injury sustained, was a subject for gratitude. Horotutu, where Henry and Jane live is about ten minutes' walk from Paihia, so I still had the comfort of daily intercourse with dear Marianne.”

The building of this house is mentioned in Chapter III on page 12.

In June, 1856, Archdeacon W. Williams mentioned that the natives were becoming careless about their attendance to their religious duties, and the increased financial return for their produce and contact with white traders had led to habits of drinking alcoholic liquors, and other bad habits. They had great difficulty in getting good work from their carpenters, so to expedite matters Archdeacon Williams, with the assistance of five natives, undertook putting shingles on the roof of a building, and the glazing of some windows, and Leonard proceeded to put up a mud chimney. He also spoke highly of the efforts of the Magistrate, Mr. Wardell, who had been appointed to that district, in striving to check the consumption of intoxicating liquor by fining those who sold or gave it to the natives.

On April 20th, 1856, Archdeacon W. Williams wrote: “We have greatly to lament over the rising generation, with all our endeavours we seem to get no hold on them. The parents who were the first to receive Christianity have no influence over them, and they have been allowed to grow up with very little restraint. The old people had not been accustomed to any discipline when they were young, and it is a hard matter for them to administer it to their children.

“I have perhaps told you that the parent Committee has done away with the Central Committee, and that we page 141 have now Northern and Southern divisions, to the latter of which I belong. I have written to propose that we be allowed to manage our own affairs in the Eastern district, because there is so much difficulty in travelling, and those of us who are becoming old cannot now move about as we used to do.”

On August 11th, 1856, he wrote further: “The arduous business of our removal is progressing by slow degrees. During the last two months we have completed a large punt or barge which will carry about 12 tons of goods. This is wanted to convey our buildings and all our chattels about eight miles up the river whence they will be carted two miles. The most bulky things to be carried are the timber and bricks of three large buildings which we have at the old Station. In a fortnight we begin to pull down. We have the misfortune to have engaged for twelve months two carpenters who turn out to be very inferior workmen. In the meantime our expenses mount up rapidly, and as might be expected turn out to be much heavier than was at first supposed. Our crop of wheat, 27 acres, is in the ground, and we are now putting in our potatoes. Our supply of the principal food will thus be secured for the coming year.”

A new Government had come in and proposed to curtail the £200 they had had from the Education Department, which would further add to their difficulties.

He again wrote on September 1st, 1856: “Our School is three parts of it seven miles off and Leonard has one foot here and one foot there; there is a multiplicity of work to be done which cannot be attended to because there is no one to do it. We have one carpenter here pulling down one of our large buildings, and our redoubtable son James, having last week tamed a wild ox, is at work day by day drawing the various portions of the buildings across a small stream which separates our premises, in order that it may be ready for being transported to the new Station. The next process will be to launch our barge which we have built for the purpose, and place successive loads on board to be taken up to the neighbourhood of the new station, but how we shall page 142 succeed in moving this heavy boat up the stream I know not; a fortnight hence we shall be able to report. Then follows another piece of labour, to drag the cargo by means of bullocks a distance of two miles to the station, where it is finally to rest. Now some people would say it is very fine to make such a to-do about nothing, what is more easy than to transport heavy materials a few miles, but if instead of giving orders for this to be taken there you have to see to the doing of it yourself, the case is much altered.”

When they began to use their barge it was found that she leaked when loaded, and therefore had to be tightened by caulking.

During September, 1856, Archdeacon Williams spent three weeks on a journey up the coast towards East Cape. Their workmen were very dilatory, and this delayed their move to their new quarters for several months.

Archdeacon Williams had given Mrs. Leonard Williams a horse; this James Williams tested with a ladies' skirt on October 30th, 1856, and she was able to enjoy a ride on it next day. On November 5th she with her husband and Miss Maria Williams rode to see their new Waerenga-a-hika Station, which the ladies had not visited before.

On November 16th the Archdeacon wrote: “Our work on the new station is advancing, we have completed a fence which encloses 160 acres, and our buildings get on slowly but surely, and I hope to move my family before Autumn. Leonard went off last week for the South to to meet the Bishop at Wellington where he hopes to receive priest's orders. He will be away more than two months, and this obliges me to remain on the spot and keep our extensive machine in motion.”

In order to meet Right Rev. Bishop Selwyn, Rev. Leonard Williams went to Wellington early in November, and after paying a short visit to Otaki, he proceeded to Lyttelton, where on Sunday, December 21st, the Bishop admitted him to priest's Orders in a room then used as a church there. A few days later he met Right Rev. Bishop Harper and his party on their arrival from page 143 England, and helped to conduct them over the hills to Christchurch.

Rev. Samuel and Mrs. Williams had a son, William, born on March 16th, 1856, and on their way to the Bay of Islands, which they had not visited for nine years, they with their two children spent a fortnight at Turanga at the end of December, 1856.

On December 27th, 1856, Archdeacon W. Williams wrote the following review of their work: “We are now drawing to the close of another year, and I am led to look back upon the past and survey the progress we have made during the last twelve months. It has been a period in which we have had many mercies to comfort us in the midst of our toil. We make slow progress, but we advance.

“Our natives had been brought into a low listless state through manifold temptations. There had grown up a disposition to indulge in drinking, and as a necessary consequence a neglect of religion, and then a little leaven of this sort spread its influence on all sides. Others again had become worldly and had given up their minds to the acquisition of money. Our Church is unfinished, our classes have been badly attended, and Satan was exulting in the success of his plans. Now thank God we have a reaction. Some have been recovered from the snares of the devil who had been led captive by him at his will. A serious dissension between two of our tribes, two years ago, which had led to a separation from our Church services has been brought to a close. The aggrieved party has returned again within the last six weeks, and now our services present somewhat of their former aspect. Together with this there is a better disposition on the part of many others. There is a more healthy appearance generally, and our Church, the beautifully carved posts of which have now been standing four years exposed to wind and weather, because through these divisions the work could not proceed, is now again taken in hand with a good prospect of its completion. A large quantity of timber had been cut at a great expense, and much of it now going to decay, but the people are now coming page 144 forward with their subscriptions, and the sawyers will be at work at once, to repair our deficiencies. The work is now to proceed without any English assistance, and indeed it is clearly better that they should be thrown upon their own resources. In this matter they have a noble example before them in the natives of Waiapu, who in every village are building wooden churches, their knowledge of sawing and carpentry being acquired themselves by dint of perseverance. In our school again we have much encouragement, during the last two months it has been under my charge, Leonard being away at Wellington for ordination. I have therefore become more thoroughly acquainted with our natives. Of the whole number who have joined since the commencement, several have left after staying for a short time. They were like the chaff which is blown off by the wind, but the wheat remains. Seven of our number have been with us the whole period, and they are all persons of good promise, and others have joined us at different intervals who have been carefully selected, and are likely to turn out well. We have not yet sent any to the Bishop, though he has again and again expressed his wish to receive them. We are not anxious to push them forward. Though these natives are the best to be found at the native villages, still their knowledge is of necessity very defective. They read the New Testament in class daily, but those who have been in the School from the first, have not advanced beyond The Acts. We commence the Epistles at once, and you will allow that they are difficult enough. Those who may be admitted to the Diaconate will not have any Commentary to consult, and their only opportunity so far as instruction from man is to be obtained while they remain in our School.

“Mr. Ridgeway seems to think that the Bishop requires Latin Greek and English from native candidates, whereas he does not ask for anything beyond Scriptural knowledge expressed in the New Zealand language. Mr. Maunsell's school has been in operation for some years. I cannot speak of it, not having information, but our school at Turanga has only been in existence 2½ years, page 145 and it must not be expected from us to prepare persons for Ordination without due time.

“As to the secular part of our operations, we are creeping onward. A great deal has been done, but much yet remains undone. A large amount of money has been expended, and we find that we shall require much more. We have paid £1,032 10s. to provide for which we have received from all sources £765, and we have yet very heavy expenses to encounter before we shall get through our difficulties. We are truly thankful for what we have received through K.… and for what is promised further, including your kind contribution. I have lately appealed to the Society for help. We had from it £500 to start with from the Jubilee fund.

“It is true I have taken my own income into the bag, but I am thankful to say I do not owe sixpence which I cannot at once discharge.

“We are giving up a settled habitation with many comforts about us, beginning our new work in the wilderness. The Natives have come forward with liberality, giving land of excellent quality to the extent of 567 acres.”

* On a visit in 1931 the writer saw the ruins of this house which he had seen and known in 1867.