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Through Ninety Years

Chapter XX

page 170

Chapter XX.

1860–1862. Influenza and Fever. Hawke's Bay Roads. Voyage to Auckland. Waiapu Synodsmen Appointed. First Diocesan Synod. King Movement and Waitara Purchase. Fighting Taranaki and Waikato. Second General Synod, Nelson.

During the spring of 1860 and the summer following, another severe epidemic of influenza and fever passed over the district. Bishop Williams wrote of it on March 16th, 1861, as follows: “For some time our letters have had to do with sickness. In November we had very much, indeed it was shortly after that two of our scholars died of fever, and then another who had been a diligent nurse was laid by, and required most unremitting attention on the part of Leonard and myself by day and by night. It has pleased God to raise him up, but he has not yet recovered his bodily strength. We also had sick natives requiring close attention. Our daughter Jane (Mrs. Henry Williams) was with us, and stayed much longer than was expected, and was kept in exercise all the time nursing. Then our daughter, Kate, was taken ill. Her illness was serious for a time, and just as she was recovering Jane returned home to Bay of Islands with our little grandson Freddy. Both Leonard and I were required on the spot to attend to the many sick.

“Mrs. Volkner, whose husband was away in Auckland, was taken ill, though with quite a different complaint, and on return of her husband he took her to Auckland, leaving us in this respect so much weaker than we wish to be.

“Our last case of illness was dear Maria; it was about five weeks ago, just as Kate was really recovering.

“Happily at this time the Volkners left, and we were able to give her all the more attention. She went on favourably for the first fortnight, but then the fever page 171 increased and was attended with delirium, and in a day or two the symptoms became really alarming, and I was glad to send for a medical man who happened to be living in the neighbourhood. It pleased God, however, to hear our prayers, and after three days of anxious suspense there was an abatement of the dangerous symptoms, and ever since she has continued slowly to amend. She is still extremely weak and unable even to turn herself on the bed.

“The natives too have a great deal of sickness in the villages around. The larger number of the school natives left us for the holidays at the end of November, and we then hoped that in a short time we should have been free from sickness. I was to have left home also at the end of December to proceed on a visitation through the Diocese. Our plans have been laid aside, doubtless for a wise purpose.

“We put off from time to time the return of the natives and have continued to do so until now. At length, however, we think of allowing them to come back, all excepting the girls who belong to our house and cannot come back until Maria is quite strong again.

“Our brethren at Waikato have had their schools disturbed by a different cause. The restlessness of the natives from the unhappy war at Taranaki, has been the cause of many leaving them. We on the other hand have all our natives waiting permission to return. It is a great mercy, too, that while the distractions of war continue to rage on the Western Coast, our natives not only do not participate in the same dispositions, but that the profession of Christianity is in a more healthy state than it has been for a long time. Our congregations are good, spirit drinking has been put down, and a number of those who had long been dissolute in their lives are now apparently under Christian influence. I saw a man on Sunday last teaching his class at school who had long been hardened and careless, but the teachers in whom I have confidence speak of him as one of the most earnest.

“On Thursday morning I always have a class to which the teachers are invited, when a subject is con- page 172 sidered for the sermon on the following Sunday. For a long period there have seldom been more than three or four, beyond the natives in the School, but now we have a large number, from twenty to thirty, some of them teachers, but the greater number those who come merely to listen to instruction, and several of these were lately wild and careless.

“The people as a nation profess Christianity. My congregation last Sunday amounted to about 400 persons, being by far the larger number of those who are within reach of the place of assembly. After morning service they stayed to school for about three quarters of an hour. Then in the afternoon there were about 300, and in the evening there was school for repetition of Collect and Gospel, at which there were 150. The following morning there was a Bible class of 70, a class for candidates for Baptism of 20, and a class for Confirmation of 90. You would not find this in Auckland nor in any English town.

“Now here is an amount of uniformity not constrained, for there is not a more independent set of people on the face of the earth. They are pleased to act thus and why? Not for any worldly advantage, for there is none offered to them but that which St. Paul tells us ‘That Godliness is profitable unto all things.’

“Our good friends the Kisslings have had much trial lately. Archdeacon Kissling was in the performance of a Marriage when he was seized with a paralytic stroke, and though he has recovered a certain amount of health he is unable to continue for the present his arduous duties, nor is it likely that he will do much more. His mind has been over-worked for a length of time, and that is doubtless the cause of his malady.

“The native school at St. Stephens, Auckland, they have had, is for the present under the charge of Sir William Martin, late Chief Justice.

“We have just tried the bread-making machine, and find it answers admirably.”

When Rev. C. S. Volkner returned to Turanga in April he left his wife in Auckland for medical treatment. Bishop Williams was unable to take part in the conse- page 173 cration of Rev. J. C. Patteson as first Bishop of Melanesia as he had hoped to do. After a tedious voyage of 16 days he landed in Auckland on May 1st where he held consultations with Bishop Selwyn. Four days later he took his daughter Emma, who had been at school in Auckland, to visit their relatives at Bay of Islands. While there he heard from his son Leonard that three more natives had died from the epidemic.

On June 6th, 1861, he recorded that he had paid into the bank £550 which had been collected by the natives of different localities for the endowment funds of their districts.

After the Bishop's return home, James Williams visited his parents; under his escort Mrs. W. L. Williams and her two young daughters, Emily and Ellen (aged respectively 5½ and 3½ years), embarked in a small vessel for Napier to stay with Rev. S. and Mrs. Williams at Te Aute. Mrs. Williams described their journey in the following terms:—

After they had been a few days in Napier. James Williams rode in from the country on July 26th and hired a wheeled vehicle in which they and their baggage left at 2 p.m., Emily on the seat beside the driver, and Ellen on the back seat by her mother, who had to hold them both in, as the road was very rough and heavy. Their progress was slow, and they had to cross the Ngaruroro River on a ferry. It was dark when they reached Clive 7 miles off; here they were glad to spend the night at the way-side inn. After breakfast at 8.30 a.m. next morning they continued their journey, James still on horseback beside them. The road was no better and it took them 3 hours to travel 7 miles to Havelock, a village of four houses. Here Rev. S. Williams met them with a horse and side saddle on which Mrs. Williams rode, and a man with another horse and pack saddle for the luggage. After lunch they proceeded on to Te Aute, some 19 miles from Havelock, Emily seated in front of Rev. S. Williams and Ellen carried by James Williams. The wind was bitterly cold as the Ruahine Mountains were heavily coated with snow, it being mid- page 174 winter. At Te Aute they dismounted and enjoyed a good meal before a bright fire, which Mrs. Bourke had provided. After completing the last few miles in the dark, they received a hearty welcome from Mrs. S. Williams and her children at Te Aute. It had taken them one and a half days to travel the distance now easily accomplished in a little over one hour.

In August, 1861, Rev. Leonard Williams made another journey round the Mahia and through Wairoa district, giving the usual services and instruction; he met with cold, wet weather and a heavy fall of sleet.

Bishop Williams wrote on August 20th, 1861: “Though our daughter Maria is better in her general health, the fever has made sad havoc of her back, which it has left so weak that though she is able to move from one room to another with the help of a stick, she finds it necessary to keep almost always in a reclining posture, and cannot assist in teaching the natives.

“Mr. Volkner returned to his duty in May, and is still here, but he leaves us shortly.” (He then went to take charge of the Opotiki Station.) “I require the sum of £200 to be paid by any District which wishes for a clergyman. The readiness of some of the natives to raise money for endowment is truly astonishing. Upwards of £700 has been raised already for local endowments, and a few months ago I received £260 for the endowment of this Bishopric, which as it will not be required in my lifetime will be invested for the benefit of those who may follow.”

The Constitution of the Church of England in New Zealand drafted by the Convention at Auckland in 1857 was submitted to the first General Synod at Wellington in 1859. This provided for the setting up of Diocesan Synods in each Diocese. The population of the Waiapu Diocese was then practically Maori, and its lay members would be natives; this would require the use of the Maori language at the Synod.

Rev. J. Hamlin retired to Auckland because of his failing health, and his absence from the station at page 175 Wairoa for several months had seriously weakened the staff of the Diocese. Bishop Williams was therefore pleased to ordain as deacons to minister to their own people, Tamihana Huata on September 22nd, and Ihaia te Ahu on November 3rd, 1861, both of whom had received a thorough training.

During the spring of 1861 Bishop Williams spent eight weeks visiting various parts of his diocese explaining the functions of Synod, and he arranged for the election of Synodsmen.

The first Synod of the Waiapu Diocese was held at Waerenga-a-hika on December 3rd, 1861. At this time there were 10 clergy in the diocese, 6 priests and 4 deacons, only half of whom could attend, the others being prevented by sickness or other urgent reasons; of the laymen there were 18, who represented various parts of the diocese. Two of these, Mohi Turei and Hoani te Wainohu, did good service in later years as clergymen among their own people.

In his opening address the Bishop spoke of the importance of raising up a native ministry, and of provision being made by the people for the support of their pastors. A committee which had been set up to consider the question of providing for the support of the clergy attached to their report a list of contributions which had been made in various parts of the diocese towards an Endowment Fund, the total of which amounted to £698 11s. 8d., to which was added the offertory at the Bishop's consecration viz., £48 10s. 5d. Mention was also made of a sum of £250 10s. 7d. which had been made at the opening of a new church at Kawakawa towards the Endowment of the Bishopric. The building of this church was followed by the erection of others of a substantial nature at Rangitukia, Tuparoa, Whareponga and Waipiro to replace the old native buildings which were falling into disrepair.

As far back as 1857 a scheme had been on foot among the natives in the Upper Waikato district to set up a Maori King, and the natives prohibited any British settlers entering the boundaries of the area known as the page 176 King Country or establishing any settlement there. Though there was very little intercourse in the ordinary way between the Waikato and the East Coast, at times visits of the inhabitants were made from one to the other. On these occasions reports of the growing tension with the Government were freely discussed. A section of the Ngatiporou tribe declared themselves as adherents of the Maori King, and two small parties of them went to Waikato to assist in the fighting which took place there later. The majority of the tribe, however, remained loyal to the Government and British rule.

The Government officers made a grave error in dealing with Te Teira and his party alone, for the purchase of the Waitara Block at Taranaki, while they ignored the rights of other natives interested in it. This conflicted with old-established Maori land customs, and was the cause of Wiremu Kingi te Rangita-aki's objection to the sale, and led to the hostilities in 1860 and after.

Although the active fighting ceased in April, 1861, as the question had not then been definitely settled, it could not be said that peace was attained.

When Sir George Grey arrived towards the end of 1861 to resume the office of Governor, he endeavoured promptly to introduce a scheme of self government among the Maoris which proposed to divide the North Island into twenty districts, each of which was to be presided over by a Commissioner with a Runanga or Council of native members and a staff of officials. This was not received favourably by the natives and created a mistrust of the intentions of the Governor.

As Miss Maria Williams had not during the past year regained her normal health and strength, after the serious illness mentioned in the previous chapter, Bishop and Mrs. Williams decided to take her to Auckland that she might obtain medical advice and treatment there.

On February 3rd, 1862, Bishop Williams wrote from Auckland: “We took our departure from Turanga on the last day of the year, leaving Leonard and his wife and our daughters Kate and Marianne in charge of the cares of our large establishment. There was sufficient page 177 to give full employment to all when we are all there, and Maria also in good health and Mr. Volkner to attend to the boys. All that Leonard now has in the way of help is Tamihana Huata, the latest of our deacons, a most valuable man. We want sadly to get more help, but have not been able to hear of any yet. Dear Maria is in excellent health only there is the failing in the lower part of the spine, which requires her to keep generally in a reclining position. She can walk from one room to another with the help of a stick, but she cannot mount a staircase. In order therefore to pass from deck to cabin of the small vessel, only 30 tons, she was seated on a piece of board and drawn up and down by ropes. We have the cabin to ourselves, our daughter Emma being the fourth of our party, we experienced little inconvenience. Our only trouble was the length of the voyage, 16 days, the prevalence of westerly winds which obliged us to lie at anchor for several days in certain sheltered nooks on the Coast.

“In a day or two we had two doctors to examine Maria, and after close investigation they pronounced her to be an extremely healthy good subject, and they were both of the opinion that the complaint in her back is not deep-seated, and therefore they hope to arrest the evil, but the means they propose is painful, the application of what is termed actual cautery, that is the red hot iron. This has since been done, while she was under chloroform. She went through the operation without much inconvenience. It remains to be seen what will be the effect of the remedy.

“We had so arranged our plans that I might be in time to proceed to Nelson to attend the second General Synod, for which place I hope to start at the close of the present week.”

They had secured comfortable rooms at the house of Mrs. Steele, whom they had known some years earlier when she was employed at St. John's College.

On March 7th Mrs. Williams wrote: “Maria has lost much strength by the treatment, and the little power she had of moving about has been greatly diminished.”

page 178

However, they continued to pursue the doctor's directions, and were able to leave Auckland on March 22nd and landed at Paihia four days later. Here they secured the use of a suitable cottage, and the invalid was able to enjoy some sea bathing daily. Mrs. Williams's daughter, Mrs. Henry Williams Junior, who was then living at Pakaraka, 12 miles inland, came to assist them.

Bishop Williams left by steamer from Manukau with other members of Synod on February 4th for Nelson. While there he was the guest of Right Rev. Bishop Hobhouse of Nelson, along with Right Revs. Bishops Selwyn of New Zealand, Harper of Christchurch, and Abraham of Wellington, and Archdeacon Hadfield.

In his opening address to this second General Synod Bishop Selwyn thus referred to the Diocese of Waiapu: “I received with feelings of peculiar thankfulness the report that a Synod had been held in the Diocese of Waiapu, which was attended by three English and three native clergy, and eighteen lay synodsmen (natives) in which the proceedings were conducted in the New Zealand language.”

Bishop Williams wrote from Paihia on April 5th, 1862. “Our business went on smoothly and successfully, and the fact of our native Synod gave general satisfaction. In short there are some particulars in which the natives set a good example to the English community inasmuch as they have been more forward in proportion to raise endowment funds. We were not long delayed and were glad to come back to Auckland by the return of the steamer.”

Misses Maria and Emma Williams later on went to Pakaraka and spent the winter there with their aunt and sister. After a passage of four days from Bay of Islands Bishop and Mrs. Williams arrived in Auckland on April 20th on their homeward journey. Here they were detained for three weeks waiting for a vessel to take them to Turanga.

The land upon which Napier stands was purchased in the fifties for the Government by Mr. Donald Maclean. The first sale of sections was held in 1855.

St. John's Church, Napier, 1863

St. John's Church, Napier, 1863

page 179

Rev. H. W. St. Hill was appointed in 1859 to minister to the Church of England. St. John's Church was built at a cost of £460 in 1862 and consecrated by the Bishop of Wellington on 1st February, 1863. The print shows the original Church on its old site at the end of Browning Street. Mr. St. Hill's house is behind it. In the background is St. Paul's Presbyterian Church which had been built earlier.