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Through Ninety Years

Chapter XIX

page 157

Chapter XIX.

1858–1860. William Williams's Journeys to Waiapu. Informed of his Appointment as Bishop. Bishop Selwyn's Episcopal Visit. First General Synod at Wellington. Consecration Bishop of Waiapu, Work There, and Visits to Auckland, Waikato and East Coast. Begins Diocesan Organisation.

During March, 1858, Archdeacon W. Williams paid another visit of several weeks' duration to the natives of the Waiapu district, who urged that as there was now no English missionary there, he or Leonard Williams should come and live there, and take care of them. The reply he gave them was a graphic one which would appeal to them, as he wrote in the following letter of June 1st, 1858: “I further told them that our Society is like a person who has frequently lent his canoe to another, but at length grew weary and then upon further application recommended the applicant to go to the woods and make a canoe for himself. That our Society had supplied in succession Messrs. Stack, Kissling, Reay, Barker and Baker, and that now they tell us we must prepare some clergymen in this country, and that is what we are endeavouring to do at Turanga. They at length acquiesced to the reasonableness of the course, and as they have one native pastor in the person of Rota Waitoa and another in prospect who is now in Auckland they begin to see the way opening.”

While at Waiapu Archdeacon W. Williams heard that Bishop Selwyn who was on his way to Auckland in his schooner, had called at Hicks Bay. As the Bishop was anxious to see him he therefore set off at once. On reaching Hicks Bay he found that in consequence of a change of wind the Bishop had been compelled to get under weigh again, but that he had left Archdeacon Williams a long letter from which the following is an page 158 extract: “Her Majesty the Queen and the Archbishop of Canterbury have consented to your consecration as Bishop of Turanga, and that in the event of the necessary authority coming out from England, as Her Majesty and the Archbishop have been pleased to appoint me as Metropolitan in New Zealand, and as the arrival of the Bishop of Nelson may be expected in the course of the year, there is a reasonable hope that the first meeting of our Synod in Wellington in December next, may be the time of your Consecration, and nothing could more tend to give additional interest and solemnity to our first meeting.”

Archdeacon Hadfield had been offered the Bishopric of Wellington, but declined it as he felt it his duty to devote himself to the native work if his health was sufficiently improved. Acting under medical advice he made a voyage to England and back. The appointment of Archdeacon Abraham as Bishop of Wellington was considered probable.

During 1858 the work at the new Waerenga-a-hika station was maintained as usual. Archdeacon Williams wrote on July 27th, 1858: “We see a little advancement, though by very slow degrees. We begin our operations upon ground which was in its wildest state, and we had to cut down many bushes in order that we might have the line clear to guide us in putting up the houses. Not many of those houses are up, and the unsightly stumps of trees which were on every side are gradually disappearing, and the ground to a large extent has been ploughed up. We have just sown 26 acres of wheat, and shall have 6 acres more of potatoes and other food of that kind. All this will not only tend to lessen our expenses, but will contribute much to improve the appearance of the place. The Spiritual aspect of our community does not present much that is striking. We have no Natives of brilliant powers, but even those who are most deficient are improving perceptibly, and are greatly superior to persons of the same standing in the Native villages. We shall hope to keep them longer in hopes of further progress.

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“The two men who went to Auckland have given much satisfaction to Mr. Kissling, and will I doubt not turn out well. We should like to increase our schools and have as many as 200 pupils, but at present our funds will not allow us to do so.”

A change in the Government system of distributing grants for native schools and the transfer of the control of the East Coast district from Auckland to Wellington led to a reduction of the amount received from this source and hampered development. In order to maintain the safety of their cattle and other live stock it was necessary to erect fencing at a cost of £400. The curtailment of their grants therefore compelled a delay in completing this required work. Archdeacon Williams communicated with the Governor in the endeavour to obtain more liberal treatment. After long delays waiting for a suitable vessel Rev. W. L. Williams with his wife and children and Miss Kate Williams were at last able to embark on August 19th, 1858, on their voyage to Auckland. They reached their destination a few days before the date fixed for the meeting of the translation revision Committee, September 1st. As Rev. R. Maunsell (the principal member of it) did not appear for three weeks, a loss of time was however occasioned.

On November 6th, 1858, Archdeacon Williams wrote: “I hear that after Mr. Maunsell's arrival the Committee worked steadily and with satisfaction. Leonard is pronounced to be a good substitute for me, being a good Maori scholar with very correct ideas of criticism.

“Their work will occupy them till the middle of this month when they hope to have completed the Pentateuch. The persons sitting on the Committee of revision are three of our Clergymen and three Wesleyans. Leonard's absence has necessarily confined me at home to give daily attention to the School.”

A native who had undertaken to supply a quantity of fencing posts caused much trouble and annoyance by refusing at first to fulfil his contract unless a higher price was paid than had been agreed to. After considerable argument this was later satisfactorily settled.

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The reduced Government grants caused serious anxiety for a time, as Archdeacon Williams had to borrow £350 from other sources to meet his requirements. He learned also that the grants for native schools had not been equitably distributed, as it appeared that the Church of England had received only £4 10s. for each pupil whereas the Wesleyans had £10 and the Roman Catholics £28. On representing this to the proper quarter he was advised that in future the grants would be paid on a uniform scale of £8 for each pupil.

For the purpose of holding a series of confirmations Bishop Selwyn started on November 29th, 1858, on a very strenuous and somewhat hurried tour of the North Island. His route lay through Waikato, Taupo, and thence to Tauranga along the coast of the Bay of Plenty to Waiapu, Turanga and Ahuriri, thence by the Manawatu River to the Western Coast, and through Whanganui and Otaki to Wellington.

While on this journey he was met near East Cape by Rev. Leonard Williams who accompanied him to Turanga. While leading his horse down a steep hill between Tokormaru and Tolaga he received a kick in the face from a Maori's horse in front. Though somewhat weak and faint from the shock, he mercifully was not seriously injured, and was able to continue his journey after a short rest by the wayside, and the application of a little fresh water. On reaching the Uawa River they found it in flood, and had to obtain a canoe to cross over.

The Bishop passed through Turanga in January, 1859, and appeared somewhat haggard from his long wearying journey. He was glad therefore to spend three days there. During this stay he had much conversation with Archdeacon Williams on the subject of approaching changes. This journey was no doubt made in anticipation of, and preparation for, the division of the North Island into three separate Dioceses.

In his letters to England towards the end of 1858 Archdeacon Williams emphasised that the shortage of white clergy in his district made evident the pressing necessity and importance of their efforts to raise up a page 161 native ministry, as the administration of the Lord's Supper over the whole area was dependent on himself and his son, Rev. Leonard Williams.

When the school vacation began early in December, he took another journey to the south through Wairoa and Mohaka, holding the usual classes and religious services at the various native villages.

Among other works which were being carried on at this time was the building of the Church at Waerenga-a-hika by native carpenters under the direction of an English artisan, with timber which the natives had sawn themselves.

Archdeacon W. Williams received from the Secretary of the Church Missionary Society a letter dated October 16, 1858, announcing his appointment as the first Bishop of Waiapu, from which the following are extracts: “At length after innumerable disappointments the Queen has signed the Letters Patent for your appointment as Bishop of Waiapu, and the Archbishop will issue the necessary document for your consecration by the Bishop of New Zealand. Two hundred a year will be taken from the £600 allowed by the Society to Bishop Selwyn and added to your salary as soon as the consecration takes place, and whenever Bishop Selwyn's Episcopate in New Zealand terminates.

“The documents will probably be taken out by the Bishop of Wellington.

“Archdeacon Hadfield was resolute in declining the Bishopric of Wellington which Archdeacon Abraham pressed upon him upon his arrival in England. Archdeacon Hadfield's chief reason for declining the Bishopric was, he tells me, his wish to work out the settlement of the native Church which he thought that his English duties at Wellington would have interfered with.”

The following description of the area of the Diocese is extracted from the Letters Patent: “All that part or portion of the Northern Island otherwise called New Ulster which is bounded on the South by the Province of Wellington and on the west by the one hundred and page 162 seventy-sixth degree of East Longitude, together with the Islands adjacent thereto, to be a separate See or Diocese, and declare that the same shall be the Bishopric of Waiapu.”

On February 5th, 1859, Archdeacon W. Williams started for Wellington. He took passage to Ahuriri alone, in a small sailing cutter, which was scantily provided with fresh provisions. This voyage, though only some 85 miles, proved a very tedious one, and lasted five days owing to strong head winds. At Napier he received hospitality from a gentleman in business, Mr. J. A. Smith, whose wife a few years earlier had taught his daughters in Auckland. The next day he went on to Te Aute, Rev. S. Williams's station. He remained there several days and met his son, James, who had just completed shearing his 3,000 sheep at Tapuaeharuru (now called Kereru), and had come to Te Aute to shear the flock there.

The coastal steamer for Wellington arrived at Napier on February 23rd. Mrs. Samuel Williams and her children were conveyed from Te Aute by bullock dray and took passage with her father and husband by this steamer three days later.

On arrival in Wellington Archdeacon Williams and his party stayed for a few days with friends at the Hutt. Here they found Mr. and Mrs. Henry Williams from Bay of Islands, who had preceded them. Later Archdeacon Williams took up his quarters at the Queen's Hotel with Mr. Henry Williams and several other Synod Members.

The Right Rev. Bishop and Mrs. Selwyn had rooms in a cottage and were joined there a day or two later by Right Rev. Bishop Harper of Christchurch. Archdeacons Brown and Kissling had also attended, and several others. The recently consecrated Right Rev. Bishop Hobhouse of Nelson had just arrived from England.

The opening of this first General Synod was delayed for the want of a sufficient number of Lay members to form a quorum until March 8th, 1859. The sittings then continued for several weeks. On March 18th news was received that Right Rev. Bishop Abraham, lately consecrated page 163 in England as Bishop of Wellington, had just arrived at Auckland. He came on to Wellington as soon as possible, and brought with him the Letters Patent for the appointment of Archdeacon William Williams as the first Bishop of Waiapu. He was duly consecrated by the Right Rev. Bishop Selwyn, assisted by the other three Bishops, at St. Peter's Church, Wellington, on the afternoon of April 3rd, 1859. The new Bishop's robes were made from materials purchased in Wellington, the gift of Mrs. Selwyn. His daughters, Mrs. Samuel and Mrs. Henry Williams, and Mrs. Kissling assisted in the preparation, under the direction of Mrs. Selwyn.

Right Rev. Wm. Williams took his seat as Bishop of Waiapu at the rest of the meetings of this Synod, which closed its proceedings on April 6th.

The most important feature of this first General Synod was its tacit acceptance of the Constitution of the Church of England for the province of New Zealand, which had been drawn up by the convention held in Auckland in 1857, mentioned on pages 149 and 150 in Chapter XVIII.

Bishop Williams left for his home by first steamer on April 10th.

On the return of Rev. S. Williams to Napier from the Synod, he was met with the intelligence that the school barn at Te Aute, containing a threshing machine and a quantity of wheat and other supplies, had been accidentally burnt. This represented a loss of over £600.

Rev. W. Leonard Williams, after assisting in the Bay of Islands at the marriage of his cousin, Miss Caroline Williams to Mr. S. B. Ludbrook, returned to Turanga in January, 1859, with his wife and two daughters. His son, Fred, and Miss Kate Williams were left at Bay of Islands.

During his father's absence, Rev. W. L. Williams took charge of the work at Waerenga-a-hika. His third daughter, Edith Mary Williams, was born on March 28th, 1859.

Mr. C. P. Baker, son of Rev. Chas. Baker, who had worked at the Otaki school, was assistant in the Waerenga-a-hika native school for eighteen months from page 164 September, 1857. For several months a suitable successor could not be secured. In January, 1860, Mr. C. S. Volkner who had been teaching in the Tauranga native school took up the duties.

After Bishop Williams's return home from Wellington Rev. W. L. Williams went north, conducting his sisters Misses Marianne and Emma Williams to Auckland and Bay of Islands, and bringing home again about the middle of July his sister Miss Kate Williams and son Fred. On this voyage they landed at the Great Barrier Island and had a midday meal with one of the residents there.

On June 6th Bishop Williams wrote as follows in reference to the recent General Synod: “I believe that upon the whole we have much reason to be thankful for what passed. A foundation has been laid on good principles and the superstructure may be expected to rise accordingly.”

Of his Diocese he wrote: “At present there are six Clergymen besides myself, Archdeacon Brown, Tauranga, Rev. T. Chapman and S. Spencer, Rotorua, Rota Waitoa at East Cape and W. L. Williams at Turanga. A son of Mr. Clarke who is in Orders in the Diocese of Melbourne may possibly join the Mission, in which case he will come under me.”

He estimated that the native population of the Diocese was about 20,000 natives and would furnish employment for 60 native Clergy.

Bishop Williams wrote further on August 3rd, 1859: “We are hoping for better arrangements in the distribution of the Government money for the support of schools; this is now being carried out. There is a larger sum given than heretofore for the support of each pupil. In prospect of this change we have increased our numbers and now have 98 pupils besides 15 little children.

“We continue to live in the building which is hereafter to be given up to the native girls, but our own house which is to be a little in advance of this building is in progress, and in a few days the frame work will be nearly up. We wish to hurry this on that we may the sooner page 165 increase our girls' school. The Church Missionary Society seems disposed to help me forward because they hope now to see a native ministry established. They have appointed Mr. E. Clarke, son of our old Missionary to join me. I have not yet determined where he shall be located, but we must have more help at this place.”

In this and several previous letters during the last three years Bishop Williams thanked his sister, Mrs. Heathcote, for the various sums of money she had from time to time sent him to assist in his work of establishing and carrying on the work at Waerenga-a-hika. Some of this money she had collected from friends, but considerable amounts aggregating several hundreds of pounds she had given herself. She had also given a washing machine, which effected a great saving of labour in the laundry work.

Bishop Williams in 1859 recorded taking a party of men and boys to cut 1,300 willow branches to be planted in suitable places about the Station.

At the end of August, 1859, he spent four weeks among the Native Settlements towards East Cape.

Bishop Williams had contemplated paying a visit to Revs. R. Maunsell and B. Y. Ashwell who were conducting native schools in the Waikato District of the Auckland Diocese. He wished to ascertain whether he could improve on the methods adopted in his own school at Turanga.

He therefore, accompanied by Mrs. Williams and his daughter Maria, embarked on a trading schooner on November 26th and arrived in Auckland five days later.

Bishop Selwyn had just arrived from the Melanesian Islands, bringing a party of 40 island boys to spend the summer at school in Kohimarama, under the charge of Rev. J. C. Patteson.

At Auckland they met Rev. Samuel Blackburne, son of Rev. J. Blackburne of South Allerton, mentioned on page 7, Chapter II, who had just come from England to resuscitate the old St. John's College which had been closed for some time.

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As the Auckland Diocesan Synod was on the point of opening its Session, Rev. R. Maunsell could not conduct them to Waikato until Synod was over. Meanwhile the Bishop and his party visited the Bay of Islands.

In due course the Bishop and Mrs. Williams accompanied Rev. R. Maunsell to his Waikato Station, and after also visiting the Ashwell's and Morgan's Stations, Mrs. Williams returned to Auckland and Bay of Islands, where her daughter Maria had remained.

In a letter of March 12th, 1860, he wrote thus of his visit to Waikato: “Since I last wrote I have been able to accomplish the arduous journey I had before me. I was accompanied from Auckland up the river Waikato by my wife, we were both desirous of seeing together the schools there which are conducted somewhat upon the same principle as our own. The first part of our journey was accomplished in a civilized manner in an omnibus, and then after a ride of 24 miles we took up our quarters for the night at a respectable inn. The next day we reached Rev. R. Maunsell's school, which is decidedly the best as to the manner of instruction, though some of the internal arrangements might be greatly improved.

“We took copious notes of such matters as we thought it might be well to introduce into our own school, and where we feel that our own course is the best we have the satisfaction arising from a consciousness that it is so. The two schools have much that is good in them, and we had great reason to be pleased with our journey.

“I left my wife to return to Auckland with Mrs. Kempthorne who had accompanied us, and went on to Tauranga with Rev. R. Burrows as my companion. At Tauranga I was at the beginning of my Diocese, and had important business to transact there.

“It had for many years been proposed that there should be a central school at Tauranga which might become a school of the prophets, but hitherto from reasons I need not enter into, there have been only some futile attempts. I had a proposal to make which I hardly expected would be acceded to, that our old Missionary Rev. C. Baker with Rev. Edward Clarke, son of our old page 167 Missionary at Waimate, and now in full orders, should take charge of a school now to be organized, and that they should have the entire management in their own hands. All this was agreed to without any demur, and so far as we can see there is nothing remaining but to set the machinery in motion. Altogether therefore with Archdeacon Brown, there will be a strong force at that place, and I hope to see the work or preparation of candidates for the ministry going on with as much spirit as it does with us.

“As we passed along the coast of the Bay of Plenty we saw much that was dreary and felt that the course we were pursuing in our central schools is the right one.

“At Waiapu I found our old pupil Raniera Kawhia who has spent two years with Archdeacon Kissling and Sir Wm. Martin, waiting for me according to appointment, that his ordination should take place among the people with whom he is to labour.”

The Ordination of Raniera Kawhia, the first held by Bishop Williams, took place at Whareponga near East Cape on February 17th, 1860, in the presence of a large gathering of natives from the district.

“The Natives had been urgent to have English missionaries to take care of them, but they now begin to be reconciled to have pastors from among themselves, and are coming forward with contributions towards an endowment fund, which I intend to require in every case to the amount of £200. Rev. Rota Waitoa, who has been several years at East Cape, followed me to Turanga, and there was admitted to Priests Orders on March 4th, 1860. On the same Sunday Bishop Selwyn was to ordain three natives at Auckland from Archdeacon Kissling's school. Our native church therefore is beginning to assume the form which has been long desired. We have another change at Turanga in the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. C. S. Volkner from Tauranga. They take the place of Mr. Charles Baker and Miss Jones whom we brought from England, and who having married, have gone to Otako in the South Island, to take charge of the native settlement there.

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“Our work continues to prosper. Instead of being under the Board at Auckland we have one of our own.”

Bishop Williams reached home with Rev. R. Burrows on February 22nd and wrote that he was thankful that he had completed his arduous journey safely, and having been able to ride most of the way, he felt as well at the close of it as he had been at the beginning.

During his father's absence Rev. W. Leonard Williams had his hands quite full maintaining the work and services at Waerenga-a-hika. Early in March he paid his regular visit to Wairoa and Mohaka, accompanied by Rev. R. Burrows who went on to Tangoio, and thence through Taupo to his home in the north. Mrs. Williams and her daughter Maria returned home on April 24th after a tedious passage of 19 days from Auckland. The following day Rev. Chas. Baker also arrived, his health having sufficiently improved for him to take up work again, and was admitted to priest's orders on Trinity Sunday, May 6th. He later returned to Auckland to take his family to Tauranga.

Bishop Williams also ordained Mr. C. S. Volkner, deacon, on June 3rd, 1860.

Towards the end of June a Miss Jones from Auckland who had been visiting Turanga and assisting with the work in the Native Girls' School returned home under the escort of Rev. W. L. Williams, who went to Auckland to attend a meeting of the committee for revision of Translation of the Bible, which was held a few weeks later with Rev. R. Maunsell and the Wesleyan missionary Rev. Buddle also attending.

Mrs. W. Williams wrote describing the school kitchen where her son Leonard had built a large brick oven capable of baking 240 lb. of bread, and the fitting of two iron pots for boiling potatoes and other food, and it was proposed at a later date to connect this kitchen with a large dining hall.

One night in the winter of 1860 the writer remembers there was a fall of snow over the flats at Poverty Bay to a depth of 4 to 5 inches, which lay on the ground at Waerenga-a-hika all next day, and he and two sisters page 169 were carried by natives to the school master's house, then unoccupied, where they spent the day with an aunt who accompanied them.

Rev. W. L. Williams's second son, Herbert William Williams, was born on October 10th, 1860.