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Through Ninety Years

Chapter XXV

page 231

Chapter XXV.

1866–1868. Future Work Discussed. Paihia School Closed. Waiapu Diocese Extended. Bishop Moves to Napier. Te Kooti and Hauhau Prisoners Escape from Chatham Islands and Are Pursued.

Further extract from “East Coast Records” (W.L.W.): “Some apprehension was felt also in regard to Hauhaus at Wairarapa but any intended movement on their part was probably prevented by what took place at Omarunui. From all this it was evident that some time must yet elapse before the occupations of a time of peace could be resumed without the risk of disturbance. The people nevertheless had begun to move away from the pas in which they had congregated themselves for the purposes of defence and to turn their attention to the cultivation of the soil. At Waiapu the sharp antagonism between those who favoured the Maori King and the adherents of the Government had passed away, though many of the former were somewhat shy, still retaining, it may be supposed, the notion that they had been deceived by the missionaries.

“The state of New Zealand at this time suggested to the Committee of the Church Missionary Society the question whether the time had not come for preparation to be made for the discontinuance, at no very distant date, of its work in this mission, in order that it might be the more free to take advantage of openings for missionary work in other lands. Mission stations in the Waikato, at Opotiki, and at Waerenga-a-hika had been broken up, and many of the native tribes had been scattered. In districts, too, in which the population had been preponderantly Maori the proportion of European to Maori would now be reversed. The Society did not consider that its work in the country had been so thoroughly done as to justify its withdrawal, but wished page 232 to be guided by the knowledge and advice of people on the spot, and therefore suggested that the older missionaries should meet in conference, together with Sir W. Martin and Dr. Maunsell to discuss the future conduct of the mission and to report to the Society. The Conference met in June and advised that the Society should not withdraw, but that advantage should be taken of every opportunity that might offer for the resumption of work in the disturbed districts, and that special attention should be given to the training of native clergy. It was never contemplated that the residence of the Bishop of Waiapu at the Bay of Islands should be of long continuance, and now that the settlements on the coast were in comparative tranquillity he was anxious to get back to his diocese as soon as it might be practicable. As the re-occupation of Waerenga-a-hika was at that time out of the question and Tauranga was, on various grounds, quite unsuitable, a suggestion was made that he should, for a time at least, reside at Napier, from whence the diocese would be much more accessible than from the Bay of Islands. This suggestion commended itself very strongly to the Bishop of New Zealand and also to the Bishop of Wellington, both of whom were of opinion that the Provincial District of Hawke's Bay might well, under the circumstances then existing, be taken from the diocese of Wellington and added to that of Waiapu; that the Bishop of Waiapu might be commissioned to act for the Bishop of Wellington in that portion of his diocese until the change should be definitely effected by the general Synod; and that educational and training work might be carried on at Te Aute, where there was an educational endowment. Acting on their advice the Bishop of Waiapu decided to dismiss the remnants of the schools from the Bay of Islands, and moved his headquarters to Napier in June, 1867.”

During the remainder of the year 1866 Bishop Williams continued his work with the school, and among the natives in the Bay of Islands. He heard from his publishers that his book “Christianity among the New page 233 Zealanders” would be issued in September. He also began another revision of the translation of the Maori New Testament. Bishop Williams made several voyages to Auckland, Tauranga, Napier and Wellington, when he discussed with Bishops Selwyn and Abraham of Wellington proposals for altering the boundaries of his diocese. He also interviewed Government Ministers and pointed out to them that his own losses and those of the Mission resulting from the recent hostilities amounted to over £4,000, and that he was in urgent need of assistance to enable him to restart his native school work. The Government itself was unfortunately in difficulties from the same cause, so this effort produced little more than a sympathetic hearing.

Bishop Williams set out on November 6th to escort his daughter Marianne. After a delay of three weeks at Napier they eventually reached Turanga on December 6th. Miss Williams was to visit Archdeacon and Mrs. W. L. Williams at Waikahua whose twin sons, Francis James and Sydney Leonard Williams, were born there on December 14th, 1866.

Bishop Williams again visited Napier and Wellington before returning to Paihia. He thus closed his journal for the year: “This closes another year of great mercies. Two members of our family, my niece Sarah Hutton, and my brother Sydney's wife, Kate, have been removed to their rest, but our own immediate circle has been preserved in health and enjoyed our refuge at the Bay of Islands. Our son James has been returned to us in safety, having been mercifully kept from taking his passage by the London which sank in the Bay of Biscay.

“In respect to the future, there seems now an opening for us; for the removal of our school to Te Aute, and for our own location at Napier. God will make all things plain which are still in doubt, and I trust that He will yet revive His work among the natives.”

In anticipation of his move southwards, Bishop Williams began packing up his effects during February. Rev. S. and Mrs. Williams and two of their children arrived on March 9th. Later this month the Bishop went page 234 to Auckland and visited Tauranga where hostile natives were still causing trouble. On April 10th he met Archdeacon W. L. Williams in Auckland who had brought his wife and four younger children to visit the family at Bay of Islands. To this place they went a fortnight later after the conclusion of Missionary Conference Meetings in Auckland. The Bishop, accompanied by Archdeacon W. L. and Rev S. Williams attended further meetings of the Central Missionary Committee in Auckland from June 22nd to July 5th. The meetings here recorded were those referred to in the preceding extract from “East Coast Records.” At these, Archdeacon Williams, from his knowledge and recent experiences was able to give valuable assistance. He then returned to his Waikahua Station at Turanga.

The school natives embarked on the schooners Tawera and Sea Breeze in March and April for their return direct to East Coast.

Archdeacon Henry Williams died at Pakaraka, Bay of Islands on July 16th, 1867. News of this did not reach the Bishop in Napier until two weeks later.

Archdeacon W. L. Williams went again to Auckland in August and spent several weeks with Bishop Williams and Rev. R. Maunsell revising the translation of the Maori Bible. In the second week of October he went to Bay of Islands to bring his wife and four younger sons home to “Waikahua” in Poverty Bay. Miss A. Wood accompanied them to help Mrs. Williams with her children.

In “The Founding of the Diocese of Waiapu” Archdeacon W. J. Simkin wrote: “The arrangement between the Bishop of Wellington and Bishop Williams was only tentative. For some time it had been apparent that the province of Hawke's Bay would be more efficiently administered as part of the Diocese of Waiapu than as part of the diocese of Wellington. Steps were accordingly taken to bring about an alteration of the boundaries of the two dioceses at the session of General Synod in the following year 1868. The Synod consented to the proposal, making a stipulation that the church people of page 235 Hawke's Bay should consent to the change before the same should take effect. The consent of the Church people having been given, the Primate, on June 14th, 1869, duly notified the Bishop of Waiapu of the fact, and the alteration in the boundaries took effect.”

Under the arrangement with the Bishop of Wellington Bishop Williams moved to Napier and took up his residence in a rented house at the top of Fitzroy Road during the first week of June, 1867. On his arrival he found that Dr. Lemuel Saywell, the vicar of St. John's Church, was in financial difficulties and had resigned; he left Napier on August 1st. The Bishop therefore took charge of the parish and obtained the assistance of Rev. J. Townsend in this work. Rev. J. Townsend was appointed in due course, and inducted on December 8th, 1867.

Miss Maria Williams whose health had improved, was attending to the education of Archdeacon W. L. Williams's three elder daughters and second son while living at Bay of Islands. On October 1st the Bishop brought his daughter and the four children to live at his house in Napier.

Bishop Williams arranged for the religious services in Napier and neighbouring centres, held classes for the soldiers stationed there, and reorganised the Napier Grammar School lately conducted by Mr. Wm. Marshall, in addition to his customary work among the natives of the district.

At the end of 1865 James Williams had been able to return to his father the money he had lent him with interest thereon. This was then, under the advice of Rev. S. Williams, invested in the purchase of several town sections in Napier, and several acres of suburban grass land lying between Clyde and Coote Roads. Here Bishop Williams's house known as “Hukarere” was built in 1868 on the Clyde Road frontage and occupied on June 25th. Here he was able to graze a cow, and find pasture for the horse he used for travelling.

This move, and the alteration of the Diocese, with the entry into it of a large and increasing population of English settlers, completely changed the character of the page 236 work in it, from a solely Missionary one to natives of the past, to that of the New Zealand diocese of to-day, dealing with a mixed population, and with more civilised means of living and travelling about.

After taking his wife and four younger sons home to Waikahua in October, 1867, Archdeacon Williams continued his work visiting and supervising the native ministers and teachers working among their own people in the district from East Cape to Hawke's Bay, and maintaining so far as he was able the regular religious services. At the beginning of June, 1868, he set out on a journey southwards, and visited the several settlements at Mahia, Wairoa and Mohaka. Being within a day's journey of Napier he decided to visit his relatives, and arrived there on June 22nd. Thus before returning to Waikahua he was able to join his brother James and Rev. S. Williams in assisting the Bishop and his family to move into their new house at Hukarere.

In July, 1868, the whole country was startled by hearing that the Maori prisoners at Chatham Islands had overpowered their guards, armed themselves, and compelled the master and crew of the schooner Rifleman, which had taken supplies to the islands, to convey them to New Zealand. They were landed at Whareongaonga, eight miles south of Young Nick's Head, on July 10th, 1868, under the leadership of Te Kooti. The party at once assumed a hostile attitude towards the friendly natives and any Government forces sent against them. They declined to give up their arms, and moved to the inland country at the back of Wairoa, where many of the old Hauhau party were still living. These natives were only too ready to assist in aggressive action. Notice was at once sent to the authorities in Wellington. The military operations taken are fully described in official records.

In “East Coast Records” Archdeacon W. L. Williams wrote as follows: “Te Kooti, who soon afterwards became so notorious, was a well known character in Poverty Bay; he had not previously shown any of the qualities of a leader of men. The various traders knew him as being page 237 somewhat light-fingered, and generally as a troublesome fellow. During the time of the Waerenga-a-hika campaign he was among the supporters of the Government, while his brother, Komere, associated himself with the Hauhaus. One day, before the capture of Waerenga-ahika, he was placed under arrest on a charge of having been in communication with the enemy, and of having given one of them some ammunition. He acknowledged that he had been in communication with his brother, but that the object of his communication was to induce his brother, if possible, to abandon the Hauhau side, and so to avoid disaster. At all events, nothing seems to have been proved against him, and he was set at liberty. When the Hauhau prisoners were being taken to Chatham Island, it is said that someone suggested that if Te Kooti were to be deported along with the Hauhaus, the district would be relieved for a time, at least, of a very troublesome character. This, as far as I have been able to learn, is how it came about that he was taken to Chatham Island. Moss, in his ‘School History of New Zealand’ says that ‘at Napier he made three distinct appeals, through Mr. Hamlin, to Mr. Donald McLean to be tried, or at least to be informed why he had been made prisoner. No reply was given, but Te Kooti was put on board ship with the rest and sent to the Chatham Islands. He was by no means faultless, but he had not taken arms against the Government, nor had he ever joined the Hauhaus, and he resented very keenly the grossly unfair treatment which he had received from those who were in authority. In the course of his enforced residence at Chatham Island he had a severe illness, and during his time of convalescence he took to studying the Old Testament, especially the Books of Joshua and the Judges, together with the imprecatory passages in the Psalter. After his recovery he began to assume the role of a prophet, basing his teaching on the stories of the Israelites' victories. He also began to hold religious services morning and evening, teaching his fellow prisoners to recite together certain passages from the Psalms, or a cento of verses taken from the Psalms or page 238 from other portions of Scripture, after which he recited himself a few short prayers composed by himself in Scriptural language, and addressed to Jehovah, but without any reference whatever to Jesus Christ, each prayer concluding with the words, “Glory to Jehovah, Amen.’” In support of his claim he is reported to have exhibited signs, one of which was that of light issuing from the skin of his hands, which unbelievers among his fellow-prisoners attributed to contact with the heads of wax vestas. One of the unbelievers was Keke, who told Captain Thomas that Te Kooti was contemplating mischief of some kind, but there may have been little in the way of evidence of which cognizance could be taken, though the sequel showed that the majority of his fellow-prisoners had come to look upon him as a leader whom they could trust, and were ready to place themselves implicitly under his direction. The opportunity for action came with the arrival of the schooner Rifleman of 82 tons, from Wellington with supplies which it was the business of the prisoners to convey to the redoubt. The number of the guard had by this time been reduced to nine, of whom two only were on duty in the redoubt. Te Kooti seems to have laid his plans without exciting any suspicion, and on a given signal the redoubt was taken possession of. One of the two sentries resisted, and was immediately felled with an axe, whereupon his companion submitted to be tied up and so rendered helpless. The killing of the sentry was contrary to Te Kooti's express orders, as was also the attempt to strangle one of the settlers. Having got possession of the redoubt the prisoners possessed themselves of arms and ammunition and had perfect command of the situation. Captain Thomas was bound in his own office, from which a considerable sum of money was obtained. The Captain of the Rifleman was on shore, but the chief officer and the seaman had no choice but to obey Te Kooti's orders. The number of those who crowded on board the small schooner was 169 men with 86 stand of arms, 64 women and 71 children. Two of the men, viz., Keke and Kawerio, kept themselves out of Te Kooti's way and were left page 239 behind. Another, Warihi, who incurred Te Kooti's displeasure from his having seen Te Kooti using the match heads for the illumination of his hands, had injured his foot with an axe and was unable to walk, but Te Kooti ordered him to be carried on board. After they had got under way on July 4th the wind was not favourable and they came to anchor off Waitangi. The next day they started again with a fair wind and made good progress, but as the wind was foul again on the 8th Te Kooti ordered Warihi to be thrown overboard, this being necessary as he said, to propitiate his atua and to bring about a change in the wind. The order was promptly carried out, as no one dared to disobey. The poor man clung at first to the iron work on the side of the vessel, but, on the order being given, he was cast adrift and left to drown. The fact that the wind changed soon afterwards to a favourable quarter added greatly to the prophet's prestige, and inclined his fellow voyagers to render unhesitating obedience to any orders which he might give. They reached Whareongaonga as above stated on the 10th.

“On the 15th of July Captain Biggs was informed that Te Kooti was moving away from Whareongaonga, taking a track over the ranges to the westward. The friendly natives suggested that his object might be to make his way down the River Arai and so cause trouble in the district. Biggs therefore assembled his little force of English and Maoris and, guided by the natives, took up a position near the spot where the track taken by Te Kooti would touch the Arai, and returned on the 19th to Turanganui to make arrangements for the necessary supplies to be sent up to the camp, leaving Westrup in command. As he was returning to the camp on the 20th he saw H.M.S. Rosario coming into the bay, and came back to Turanganui to find that Colonel Whitmore had arrived to take command, with thirty volunteers under Captains Carr and Herrick. The Waipara also arrived the same day with a force of forty natives from Napier. On the following day the news was brought that the little army which Biggs had taken up the Arai had encountered page 240 Te Kooti on the 20th at Papara-tu; that they had been short of food, the supplies which Biggs had dispatched on the 18th having reached them only that day about 8.30 a.m., just when Te Kooti appeared; that after fighting all day, they had been obliged to beat a hasty retreat during the night, leaving their camp with about 80 horses, saddles and bridles, and the fresh supply of food in the hands of the enemy; one Englishman and one Maori having been killed and seven wounded.

“After the fight at Papara-tu Te Kooti and his party proceeded towards Te Reinga and on the 31st were met at Te Umupakake, where the track descended to the Hangaroa, by a small force from Wairoa under Captain A. Tuke, which, after a skirmish, fell back towards Wairoa, and Te Kooti went on up the Ruakituri, where it would have been prudent to allow him to go his own way.

“Colonel Whitmore, soon after his arrival, got his various forces together and by July 30th had 140 English and 180 Maoris encamped a short distance up the Arai River. After various delays caused by the state of the track and the weather, they reached Pukehinau, on the Hangaroa, on August 5th, finding there the body of a half-caste youth named Brown, who had been shot by Te Kooti's orders when on his way to Wairoa with despatches. At Whenuakura, a little beyond Pukehinau, Colonel Whitmore dismissed the Poverty Bay contingent, reducing his force to 140, of whom 50 were Maoris from Hawke's Bay, and formed a depot for provisions there before going on up the Ruakituri. He overtook Te Kooti towards evening on the 8th, and in the action which followed seven men were killed, including Mr. Canning and Captain Carr of the Volunteers. The number of casualties on the other side was not ascertained, but Te Kooti was reported to have been wounded in the instep. Both parties seem to have drawn off from the scene of action in the evening, but the pursuing force suffered much from want of food and from the inclemency of the weather, and did not get back to Whenuakura until the evening of the 11th, being in a very much page 241 exhausted condition. After a brief rest, the force moved to Wairoa, but the Colonel returned to Turanganui, and left on the 17th in the S.S. Waipara for Wairoa to take the force from thence to Napier.

“On August 20th Captain Biggs received notice of his promotion to the rank of Major and was instructed to enroll in the ranks of the Militia all the able-bodied men who were not included among the mounted volunteers. These were duly sworn in on the 26th and 27th, forming two companies of thirty each.

“The next reports of Te Kooti were that he was building a pa at Puketapu, on the Ruakituri, and that he had been joined by the people of the Te Reinga and by Te Waru and his people at Whataroa.

“At the end of September four men, Karaitiana, Reweti, Ahita and Karauria were sent out from Wairoa to get information as to Te Kooti's whereabouts. Nothing had been heard of them for a fortnight when word was brought to Kopu's pa, Te Hatepe, that they had been treacherously murdered by Te Waru's orders. They had been received at Whataroa with every appearance of hospitality, and were tomahawked while they were asleep.

“Military settlers had already begun to occupy sections at Marumaru on the confiscated land, about twelve miles from the Wairoa township, and a blockhouse had been erected at Te Kapu, afterwards called Frasertown. On October 18th Marumaru was threatened by a party from Whataroa, and Captain Tuke withdrew his men from the blockhouse, and with the few men from Marumaru fell back on Wairoa township. As Wairoa seemed to be in danger of attack, a reinforcement of 120 natives under command of the chiefs Renata Tareha and Henare Tomoana, was immediately sent up from Napier to strengthen Captain Tuke's small force, and the St. Kilda was sent off to Waiapu to fetch a contingent of the Ngatiporou.”