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Through Ninety Years

Chapter XXVII

Chapter XXVII.

1868–1869. Bishop Williams Returns to Napier. Seeks Aid For Rebuilding Schools. Archdeacon Williams Continues Work. Takes Family to Auckland.

Before returning to Napier after the General Synod, Bishop Williams went to visit his relatives in the Bay of Islands. When in Auckland again on November 13th he received the tragic news of the Poverty Bay massacre.

He landed at Napier on the 18th and found the place in great excitement, the S.S. St. Kilda was just leaving with 200 natives for Turanga, 80 having already gone to its assistance by the Ahuriri the day before. Four days later they were disturbed by a false alarm of a threatened Hauhau attack. On December 14th Archdeacon Leonard Williams arrived from Turanga by the P.S. Sturt when he brought Mrs. Wilson to Napier.

Bishop Williams wrote as follows to close his diary for the year 1868: “Another year has passed away and we still have little light upon our path. The state of the natives is more unpromising than it has ever been before. The course taken by the Government seems to be most unwise in many particulars, and there appears to be a disposition to persevere in their own purposes. The matter most to be regretted is that there is no recognition of a Divine Ruler and Disposer of events. We fall back upon the gracious promises of God. The Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our Refuge.”

page 256

Archdeacon W. L. Williams returned to Turanga on January 15th, 1869, and five days later was followed by the Bishop who had been granted a passage by the P.S. Sturt on which Mr. Richmond was travelling. They discussed the Government proposal to settle some of the East Coast Ngatiporou at Turanga; this the natives did not approve of. The Bishop also talked to the natives about the recent doings there, and returned to Napier by the St. Kilda. The Archdeacon, before going to Napier on March 9th arranged to dispose of the remainder of their Waerenga-a-hika cattle and horses. As the existing state of affairs rendered it quite impossible for his wife and family to reside at Turanga in safety, he took Mrs. Williams and their four younger sons by S.S. Lord Aslhley on April 10th to Auckland, where they occupied Sir. W. Martin's house at Tararua for several weeks. This had been kindly lent them until they were able to rent a suitable house. While there the Archdeacon assisted in native work in the neighbourhood, and attended to several matters of business. He sent to the Bishop information about flax dressing, which had been asked for by friends in Hawke's Bay.

In June the Archdeacon was able to secure the lease of a house near the Church of England Grammar School, then conducted by Dr. J. Kinder. After some delay the family moved to their new quarters. Archdeacon Williams then paid a visit to Turanga where in July he arranged with the Court for the issue of a Crown grant to the Bishop for the Pouparae farm. On his return to Auckland, as Dr. Maunsell was going to Australia for rest and change of air, the Archdeacon undertook the duty for him at St. Mary's Church for several weeks from the beginning of August, and he also gave instruction to one of their East Coast native teaches who was preparing for ordination to the ministry.

Their eldest son who had been at St. John's College until it closed at the end of 1868 was already attending the Grammar School, and joined the family when they arrived in Auckland. Their four daughters remained with their grandparents in Napier. Their youngest son, page 257 Arthur Edward Williams, was born at Parnell on September 17th, 1869.

At the beginning of December Archdeacon Williams went back to Turanga, and for the next eighteen months made his Waikahua cottage his headquarters while carrying on his work with the natives on the East Coast; during this period he paid occasional visits to Auckland.

On December 17th he wrote to Mrs. Williams that he had seen the plan of the proposed town, which was being laid out by the Government on the north bank of the river. He described the suitable sections he had seen which he would like to secure as a site of a permanent residence at a later date. This town was in due course named Gisborne.

Bishop Williams after his return to Napier continued to organise the church work and assist in the religious services there, and in the neighbouring settlements. He visited the numerous Maori villages and held services throughout the Hawke's Bay district, besides arranging for and holding church services with various groups of European settlers who were now rapidly occupying the country.

As population increased, this district was ultimately devided into separate parishes and parochial districts.

The Bishop was most anxious to renew his native schools which had been worked so successfully at Poverty Bay, and had been broken up by the Hauhau rebellion, but he had been unable to secure the necessary financial help. The same difficulty had also prevented Rev. S. Williams from restarting his Te Aute school.

On July 27th, 1869, Bishop Williams wrote to his sister in England, Mrs. E. Heathcote: “My mind is just now full of the subject which has been weighing upon me for the last four years, but upon which I have failed to obtain any light; you enclose a letter from Mr. Bowker in which he states ‘on December 1st the C.M.S. Committee made a grant of £250 towards repairing the heavy losses of the Bishop of Waiapu. The idea of the Committee was that the Bishop should issue an appeal to the Christian page 258 public and head the list of contributions with the C.M.S. grant.’

“Now in order that you may clearly understand the case, I will go back to the beginning of my efforts to obtain assistance.

“I forwarded a statement to the Society on 28th October, 1867 (see pages 262 to 265). After stating the particulars of the losses which had been sustained at Poverty Bay I gave a resume of the steps which I had taken from time to time to obtain help from the Government. It then continues: The Bishop was informed by the Colonial Office in March, 1866, that it was the intention of the Government to confiscate a certain amount of land at Poverty Bay, and that from this source it was likely that compensation would be given for the losses which had been sustained.

“In the month of December, 1866, the Bishop went to Wellington for the purpose of seeing the Ministers of the Crown, and on the 28th of that month application was made for a grant of £1,000 towards the erection of school buildings at Te Aute, but no answer was elicited.

“This application was repeated on March 29th, 1867, to which an answer was given on April 25th in which the Native Minister says that ‘the Government do not feel justified in speculating so largely on the success of this undertaking, over which they can exercise no practical control.’

“In August, 1867, the Bishop again went to Wellington, and submitted a proposal to the Ministers in another form, that inasmuch as it had been admitted that the claim for compensation was a valid one, an advance of £1,000 upon this claim should be made for the purpose of providing in part the funds required for the erection of school buildings.

“The Bishop further left with one of the Members of the House of Representatives a petition to the House. On October 14th an answer was given that a Committee of the House of Representatives appointed to enquire into the subject of compensation for losses during the war has not reported favourably as to the liability of page 259 the country to satisfy those claims, and that under the circumstances the Native Minister does not feel justified in holding out any encouragement to any action being taken in anticipation of payments by the Government.

“My statement to the Society then proceeds: ‘Under the circumstances the Bishop is reduced to the necessity of appealing to the Christian public for help to cover the losses which have been sustained in the public and private property of the Missionary establishment as well as to enable him to resume the important work he has so much at heart.

“‘It is a hard matter after a labour of forty years to be driven to this alternative, but the course which is laid down by the New Zealand Government precludes all hope of securing that kind of education for the natives which as a Missionary body we ought to desire.

“‘The object which is especially aimed at in the Church school is that a body of young men may be trained to act as schoolmasters among their countrymen, and that from among this number there may be selected the more promising candidates for the Pastoral Office. These objects are ignored by the Government. It is not a religious education which they desire. If only secular education is given, and especially in the English language, their great desideratum is attained. Schools therefore whose main object is the promotion of religious knowledge must run in a different groove.

“‘In writing to continue this work and to resuscitate those schools which have been dispersed through the unhappy consequences of the war, it is not proposed that a new experiment should be made but only a reconstruction of what has been already tried with success. There are at this time thirteen men of good report who have been ordained to the sacred office of the ministry in our church, and are now labouring with zeal and diligence among their countrymen, and four others have been called away to their rest. It is then no visionary scheme, but a reality upon which the blessing of God has hitherto been poured out, and without doubt a Christian public will respond to this appeal.’

page 260

“In the letter which covered this appeal I further wrote: ‘The Colonial Secretary very truly said to me nearly twelve months ago that he felt that if something was not now done, the education of the natives would collapse altogether. I wish therefore to make another attempt, but I have hitherto been baffled at every turn. In our present difficulty I look to the Society for counsel and assistance. This case is one in which the conduct of the Government shows so much indifference, not to say injustice, that I feel that if the Parent Committee should see proper to put forward the statement before the public, it will be at once responded to, to the full extent of our necessities. We have been helped forward hitherto by the good Providence of God, and the work which was carried on at Poverty Bay was prospered and bore fruit. It has been permitted for some wise purpose to receive a check, but we hope to see it again revived and that God's blessing will rest upon it.’

“I had thought that the statement from which I have given you some extracts was a sufficient appeal, and I had requested the Society to put forth the appeal to the Christian public.

“It was long, very long, before I received any reply, indeed for a length of time I was doubtful whether my statement had reached England. It did, however, arrive there at the end of December, 1867.

“On 29th April, 1868, I forwarded a duplicate of the statement, supposing it possible that the original papers might have miscarried.

“On 22nd of May I again wrote the Secretaries pressing upon their fullest attention the whole subject in the fullest manner. I gave one paragraph from that letter in my last letter of April 29th. I mentioned that of the funds which were spent at Waerenga-a-hika on the public work, £982 was from private sources, the larger portion being my own money, that in addition to this, property belonging to myself and my son which was destroyed at Waerenga-a-hika amounted to £529, now I am obliged to add that in order to supply furniture and other necessaries for housekeeping I have been page 261 obliged to borrow money for which I have to pay £10 per cent interest. I trust therefore that you will do me the justice to allow that it is not without reason that I now press our claims, both those of a public and private nature, upon the consideration of the Parent Committee. It surely cannot be in accordance with the feelings of the Society that their Missionaries who have sustained these losses from the fact of their holding on to their post to the last moment should be placed in this position.

“At length at the end of October I received a very kind letter from Mr. Venn written on September 1st, 1868. This was followed on December 1st by a letter from Mr. Hutchinson, Secretary to the Society. He writes: ‘We take this opportunity, although the Committee only met to-day, to inform you that they have granted £250 towards your own losses at Poverty Bay, and have determined to publish your appeal for subscriptions. We trust that the result may be to produce a fund which will go towards compensating the mission for its heavy losses sustained at Poverty Bay. We hope to write more fully on the subject by an early mail. Signed Edward Hutchinson.’

“After this I naturally looked for the publication of the Appeal, and also for some further communication from the Secretaries as to what was being done, but you will be surprised to hear that from that time to this there has been no further communication. The Committee it is said had determined to publish the Appeal which I had sent to them, but they have not done so. I do not feel that I can send my Appeal over again to Mr. Mee. They have before them all I have to say. The fact that they received the Appeal at the end of December, 1867, and that the Committee took no notice of it until December 1st, 1868, although in the interval I had repeated again and again my request, does not by any means encourage me. Right or wrong I confess that I have felt very sore upon this subject. It was while smarting under what I considered to be great neglect on the part of the Society that I wrote a letter to Mr. Venn on August 31st a copy of which I have already sent you. page 262 It was because there seemed to be an absence of disposition on their part to do anything that I then wrote to ask you to confer with your immediate friends on the subject to see if anything can be done.

“In your letter of March 24th you proposed queries about our school which I answered in a letter of May 27th. I am not able to give more particulars of what our intentions are about the school. All depends upon the means which may be provided. At present we have no funds and consequently nothing is being done. In the statement I have mentioned what has been the course while the school was in operation, that it was to educate a select body of natives upon Christian principles, from among whom it was proposed to choose out, as we have done before, the most promising pupils as candidates for the pastoral office.

“I will now conclude this wearisome letter hoping that it may please God to put it into the hearts of His people to come forward to our help.

“P.S. I see that on February 18th I acknowledged the Secretary's letter of December 1st as follows:

“‘I acknowledge with many thanks the letter of the lay Secretary of December 1st in which you authorise me to draw for the sum of £250 towards my losses at Poverty Bay and which further states that you have determined to publish my appeal for subscriptions.’

“The Appeal and Statement sent to the Church Missionary Society on October 28th, 1867.

“‘Statement respecting the losses which have been sustained at the Mission Establishment at Poverty Bay, New Zealand, together with the efforts which have been made to obtain compensation and assistance from the Government in New Zealand.

“‘The Missionary Station at Waerenga-a-hika in Poverty Bay, New Zealand, was undertaken in the year 1855 with the primary object of preparing school masters and Clergymen from among the Native race. A gift of land was made by the natives for the support of the establishment and the necessary buildings were erected by the help of grants of money from the Church page 263 Missionary Society, also of grants from the General Government, and by contributions from private sources.

“‘As the result of the work which has been carried on, eight of the students have been admitted to Holy Orders, and seven are at this time ministering to the native population as faithful and zealous labourers, one has been removed by death. Two candidates are now waiting for ordination, the delay arising from the native disturbances in the Diocese.

“‘All things continued to prosper up to the early part of 1865, when a party of Hauhaus from Taranaki arrived at Opotiki and perpetrated the horrible murder of Mr. Volkner. They then sent messengers over to Poverty Bay to give notice of their approach, and at first the inhabitants of the district declared their determination to resist the intruders and to require their immediate return, but when the body of Hauhaus reached Poverty Bay they speedily established their influence until the greater portion of the people became their determined followers. The attitude of the Hauhaus at length became so threatening that the friendly natives, now greatly in the minority, recommended that the Bishop and all the missionary party should withdraw for a time from the District. This took place at the beginning of April, Archdeacon W. L. Williams alone remaining with the friendly tribe on the Coast, the station at Waerenga-a-hika being no longer tenable.

“‘The influence of the Hauhaus continued to increase until it became necessary for the Government to take hostile measures against them, and as soon as they saw that an attack was about to be made upon them they first plundered all the property which remained on the Mission Station and burnt nearly all the buildings.

“‘The amount of property has been carefully estimated, but the following totals are far below the actual value:

Buildings £2,753
School Property 617
Private Property of the Bishop 482
Private Property of Archdeacon W. L. Williams 100
Private Property of Rev. E. B. Clarke 20
One hundred head of Cattle 500
page 264

“‘During the progress of the school there was the sum of £982 obtained from private sources expended upon school buildings in addition to the grants from the Government and from the Church Missionary Society, and of this sum a large portion was given by the Bishop.

“‘In the case of losses which have been suffered at Taranaki and Waikato, compensation was given by the Government, and the Bishop was led to hope from communication with the officers of the Government that a like course would be followed in respect of the losses sustained on the East Coast. After repeated applications, the Bishop received a final answer dated October 14th, 1867: “That a Committee of the House of Representatives which was appointed to enquire into the subject of compensation for losses during the war has not reported favourably as to the liability of the country to satisfy these claims, and that under the circumstances the Native Minister does not feel justified in holding out any encouragement to any action being taken in anticipation of payments by Government.”

“‘The hope is, however, entertained, that as soon as the country is again settled down in peace, the operations of the training schools may be renewed, which are so essential to the well-being of the native race, and that God will provide the means by which they may be carried on.

“‘In the meantime the expenditure of private funds for the maintenance of public work, together with the wholesale destruction of private property which has been mentioned above, had entailed upon the Bishop the necessity of seeking for assistance, and in the interval the only means which has been open for the purpose of replacing a portion of what was lost has been to borrow money at the usual high rate of Colonial interest. While negotiations were pending with the General Government, it was hoped that provision would have been made to cover a reasonable proportion of the losses. When this prospect failed the case was referred to the Church Missionary Society. An answer has been received written in a most friendly tone by Mr. Venn in which he states, “as soon page 265 as the Committee of Correspondence resumes its meetings, I will submit your case. We have alas had several missionaries at Abbeokuta who have lost everything through the violence of sudden enemies. In such cases the Committee have thought themselves not justified in doing more than the replacement of an original outfit and allowance for furniture which has amounted to about £100. To this I feel sure the Committee will go towards compensating you and your son, and I should trust the Appeal will bring in some private assistance as well as the means of establishing the school.”

“‘At the present time it does not appear that more than a very limited assistance can be reckoned upon from the Church Missionary Society. This statement is therefore submitted for the consideration of those who may feel an interest in the case.’ “