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Through Ninety Years

Chapter III

page 10

Chapter III.

Residence at Paihia—Bay of Islands. 1826–1835.

When Rev. W. and Mrs. Williams landed at Paihia where Rev. H. Williams had established his Mission Station, they at once entered fully into the life and routine work, and began to take their full share in helping in the strenuous work of teaching the Maoris and directing the affairs of the Mission. They found other members of the Church Missionary staff besides Rev. H. and Mrs. Williams and their family, of whom Mr. Marsden records—

John King who was placed by Marsden in 1814, a shoemaker by trade, was employed as catechist, teaching the natives at Rangihoua and neighbourhood.

James Shepherd, who was placed by Marsden at Rangihoua in 1820, a skilled gardener, taught the natives how to plant vegetables, fruits and trees. He was generally employed itinerating among the different tribes, instructing them in the Christian religion, as he understood the language better than any of the other missionaries at that time.

James Kemp who joined in 1818, and landed August 12th, 1819, was a smith. He acted as storekeeper, and taught the natives at Kerikeri in conjunction with George Clarke, also a smith, who came on April 4th, 1824.

William Puckey, a carpenter, brought by Marsden August 12th, 1819; William T. Fairburn, a carpenter who landed with Rev. H. Williams 1823, but Rev. J. Butler's “Journal” mentions his being there in January, 1821.

Charles Davis, a carpenter who came on May 7th, 1824 (Butler's “Journal”).

Richard Davis, a farmer, sent by Marsden, who landed May 7th, 1824. He attended to agriculture and taught the natives at Kawakawa.

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James Hamlin, a flax dresser and weaver, arrived with Rev. W. Williams, March, 1826.

William Spikeman, a herdman.

William Hall, a carpenter brought by Marsden in 1814, who at this time was on leave in New South Wales on account of his health.

Several of these had wives and children with them.

At Whangaroa there was also a Wesleyan Mission Station in charge of Rev. N. Turner and Messrs. J. Hobbs and J. Stack.

It was the usual practice for one or more of the mission staff to go periodically to one of the various neighbouring Maori settlements or kaingas. Besides Rangihoua and Kerikeri, the places mentioned as being visited were the Ti, Waitangi, Te Haumi, Kawakawa, Puketoria, Te Aute, Te Puna, Kororareka, and Waikare.

At these various settlements they conversed with and taught the natives whom they saw, and on Sundays regularly held religious services at which they preached to, and catechised, all who attended. These journeys were at first usually made on foot, or when practicable they would proceed by boat or canoe when they could be obtained.

On the first Sunday after their arrival Rev. William Williams accompanied his brother and Mr. Shepherd on their customary visit to the natives at Waitangi, and took part in the Divine Service with them.

The principal members of the mission staff acted as the local Missionary Committee, which met periodically sometimes at one station, and sometimes at another, for the transaction of business. Here they discussed and decided the work to be done, and its requirements. There were also frequent meetings for the constant task of studying and analysing the language and reducing it to writing. The work of translation of the Bible and Prayer Book was one in which Rev. William Williams, from his knowledge of Greek and Hebrew, was able to take a very important part. He was also largely responsible for the preparation of the translated manuscripts for the printers.

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The Church Missionary Society required full reports on the work and its progress, which had to be regularly prepared and sent to headquarters of the Society by every available opportunity. As the only means of mail communication was by the occasional sailing vessels bound for Sydney or England that happened to call, these reports had to be ready for despatch at short notice.

All the missionaries' requirements for clothing, living and food, except such fresh provisions as they could grow themselves or obtain by purchase or barter from the Maoris, had to be procured from, or by way of, Sydney. This necessitated furnishing requisitions in advance for whatever was wanted. All these duties, added to their own private correspondence with relatives, involved incessant clerical work. A portion of their time was also employed in practising or supervising various handicrafts, because the supply of suitable skilled artisans was not always available. Rev. W. Williams mentioned that at times he was preparing lime, plastering houses, building fireplaces with bricks and mortar, or roofing the Chapel and other buildings with shingles. Thus their occupations were widely varied.

For nine years Rev. W. Williams and his wife lived at Paihia with or near his brother and his family. Rev. H. Williams writing at that time mentioned that William was housed in a cottage which he had occupied himself previously, which he called his “Band Box.” It was evidently limited in size, and did not provide very roomy quarters.

In 1830 Rev. W. Williams with his own hands built a stone house of two storeys near his brother's quarters, which he used for about five years.

During the period that they lived at Paihia the four elder children of their family of nine were born, Mary on April 12th, 1826, Jane Elizabeth on October 23rd, 1827, William Leonard on July 22nd, 1829, and Thomas Sydney on February 9th, 1831.

Writing to Rev. E. G. Marsh on March 24th of the year following the birth of his eldest son, William Leonard, he mentioned that he was baptised on August page 13 23rd, 1829, together with three native children, and that the service, the first at which native infants were baptised, was taken in the Maori language. He further wrote—“During the period which followed to the end of that year I was variously occupied as you will perceive by my Journal already sent. Sometimes plastering houses and building chimneys with bricks and mortar, at others visiting natives far and near to tell them of the Great Message, while giving instruction to our English children and assisting in the translation, has generally occupied a portion of each day when I have been in the settlement.”

They soon began to realize that the life to which they had devoted themselves among uncivilized and bloodthirsty cannibals was one of great danger and hardship.

On Sunday, April 23rd, 1826, a chief, Te Terri and his mob visited the settlement, and a week later Revs. H. and W. Williams when proceeding on their usual visit to one of the native settlements met and conversed with a party of Maoris who had come from Taiamai, waiting to take part in a quarrel at Paroa which was then in progress. Two days later Rev. W. Williams while on his way to Kerikeri met a messenger who told him that the contending parties at Paroa had made peace. On June 17th they heard that Hongi, who was generally well disposed to the missionaries, had made an attack on the Ngati Pou.

On July 20th Hongi, with nine canoes of warriors came from Kororareka (now Russell), but mercifully took his departure without making any disturbance.

During December of 1826 an epidemic of influenza was prevalent among both Maoris and Europeans. The knowledge of medicine and surgery which Rev. W. Williams had gained led to his being frequently sent for to attend and prescribe for cases of sickness, and when necessary to set broken bones or extract teeth.

In the early days the Maoris had an innate love of fighting, and became constantly involved in bloody intertribal wars. It was not necessary that there should be page 14 any deep-seated wrong to be redressed. Often the most trivial cause was sufficient to give rise to devastating fighting. Frequent instances of this kind are given in Rev. Samuel Marsden's Journals of his voyages to New Zealand which have recently been published.

The habit of fighting and disregard of life had become second nature to the Maori.

The Ngapuhi tribe, to which Hongi belonged, and other neighbouring northern tribes, were the first to come into frequent contact with the European whalers and traders who called to obtain supplies of fresh food, spars, and flax fibre. These white men were only too ready to barter guns and powder for their requirements. These northern tribes, realizing that the possession of firearms and ammunition would give them an almost invincible superiority over their opponents, who were not so armed, consequently made every effort to obtain what they desired. It was not difficult to find men, who should have known better, ready to assist them in evil designs against their fellow countrymen. Armed in this way they were able for some years to levy a heavy toll of blood on the tribes along the coasts to the south.

From the time of his first arrival Rev. Henry Williams set himself most strenuously to oppose and endeavour to put a stop to this incessant fighting, and Rev. William Williams also joined most heartily in these efforts to establish peace among the tribes. These frequent warlike expeditions were not always directed against tribes located at a distance, but at times took place between neighbouring parties. When any quarrel arose or a war expedition was proposed, the missionaries strove most earnestly first to persuade the war party to give up the expedition and remain quietly at home, and if they failed in this would accompany or follow the raiding force in the hope of still being able to bring about a peaceful settlement between the contending parties.

Towards the end of 1826 Hongi, a well-known chief of high standing in that district, and a great warrior of restless disposition, fell out with some of his neighbours, and during the progress of settling this dispute in the page 15 usual Maori fashion he received a severe bullet wound, from which it was feared that he would die. Had this taken place at the time it might have brought serious consequences to the work of the mission and endangered the lives of those workers who were living among Hongi's people. As it was, the disturbed state of the Maori mind led to the Wesleyan Mission Station at Whangaroa being assaulted and plundered by the Maoris; Rev. and Mrs. Turner and their party had to take refuge at Paihia, from which place Rev. H. Williams and Mr. Davis had gone to their assistance.

Two weeks after Hongi was wounded he sent a request to Rev. W. Williams to visit him, which he did, although it entailed considerable danger and hardship. These occurrences are fully described in Chapter IV of his book “Christianity among the New Zealanders.”

Hongi ultimately died at Whangaroa early in March, 1828. By this date the natives of the district fortunately had quietened down; the missionary workers were sincerely thankful that no serious consequences followed Hongi's death.

The arrival of the brig Wellington from Sydney on January 25th, 1827, caused great excitement in the Bay of Islands when it became known that she was conveying a number of convicts to Norfolk Island, who having mutinied and overpowered their guards, had compelled the ship's officers and crew to bring her into the Bay. When fired on by the Captains of two of the whalers then at anchor the convicts surrendered, and were again placed in custody. It was arranged that one of the whalers The Sisters should take half the convicts back to Sydney. She and the Wellington, which carried the remainder, sailed at daylight on January 28th, 1827. The refugees from the plundered Wesleyan Mission Station at Whangaroa were also passengers by The Sisters.

While the convicts were at the Bay, Rev. W. Williams, Mr. Fairburn, and two others of the mission staff, assisted in mounting guard at night with loaded page 16 firearms, and others worked at the forge making irons for the prisoners.

On April 5th, 1827, Rev. S. Marsden arrived in the Bay of Islands by H.M.S. Rainbow on a visit to the missionaries, and while there discussed with them the question of the education of their children, which had been causing a good deal of anxiety. On June 25th, 1827, Rev. W. Williams mentioned that he began school with the English boys, and on March 27th, 1828, Mrs. Williams described how in addition to the care of their own young children, and the teaching and training of native women and girls, she and Mrs. Henry Williams each spent five hours on alternate days teaching the English girls. These included the seven daughters of Messrs. Davis, Fairburn, King and Kemp, and Mrs. H. Williams's own daughter.

Rev. Alfred N. Brown arrived in the Bay of Islands in December, 1829, and joined the staff of the Mission. It was arranged that he should assist with the boys' school, so that Rev. W. Williams might devote himself to the task of analysing the Maori language and directing the work of translation.

Rev. W. Williams in his book “Christianity among the New Zealanders” pages 85 and 117–8 mentioned that the first book of portions of the Bible, translated into Maori, was printed in New South Wales at the end of 1827. This contained the first three Chapters of Genesis, twentieth Chapter of Exodus, the fifth Chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel, and the first Chapter of St. John's Gospel. Further translations enabled a second small volume to be printed at the same place during the stormy period of early 1830. This contained further portions of the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. John and a part of the Epistle to Corinthians, together with parts of the Litany and Catechism. This helped to supply the wants of the natives, and was eagerly sought after by any who were religiously disposed.

The end of the year 1830 was marked by a general gathering at Paihia from all the principal stations in the Bay, of all the natives who had been under instruction page 17 in Christianity, with a number of their friends. To feed this large assembly, special supplies had to be arranged for. Rev. W. Williams mentioned that at the examination on this occasion 178 men and boys, and 92 girls, presented themselves. (See pages 121 to 124 “Christianity among the New Zealanders.”)

Early in March, 1830, owing to the immoral conduct of the Captain of a whaler in regard to two groups of native women, a jealous quarrel arose between the parties, which culminated in a battle at Kororareka, despite the strenuous efforts of Rev. H. Williams and other missionaries to prevent it. During the severe fighting which ensued, a number were killed and wounded, and among them some chiefs of note. Many of the wounded were taken to Paihia to have their wounds dressed by Rev. Wm. Williams.

The Rev. S. Marsden arrived on March 8th, 1830, by the Elizabeth from Sydney. After several days of unceasing effort and frequent interviews with the leaders of the contending parties by Rev. S. Marsden and Rev. Henry Williams, peace was at last restored towards the end of the month.

While this fighting was going on across the Bay, Mrs. Henry Williams wrote that she kept a class of upwards of 30 native girls quietly seated in school. Mr. Marsden also contrasted the state of the Missionary Settlement on March 14 with that of the heathen natives during this period of strife in the following terms—“Rev. Henry Williams went and spent the forenoon with the natives with the view of allaying their angry feelings and strengthening the impression we had already made on their minds for peace. Rev. Wm. Williams and Rev. A. N. Brown and myself proceeded to the Chapel to perform Divine Service. The contrast between the East and West sides of the Bay was very striking though only two miles apart. The East shore was crowded with different tribes of fighting men in wild savage state, many of them nearly naked, and when exercising, entirely so, nothing to be heard but the firing of muskets, and the din and confusion of a savage military camp, some page 18 mourning the death of their friends, others suffering from their wounds, not one but whose mind was involved in heathen darkness, without any ray of divine knowledge.

“On the West side there was the pleasing sound of the Church-going Bell, the natives assembling together for worship, clean, orderly and decently dressed, most of them in European clothing; they were carrying in their hands the Litany and greater part of the Church service with their hymns, written in their own language so far as it has been translated, they can both write and read with the greatest ease. Their whole conduct and the general appearance of the settlement reminded me of a well regulated English country parish. In Chapel the natives behaved with the greatest propriety, and joined in the Church service. Here might be viewed at a glance the blessings of the Christian religion, and the miseries of Heathenism with respect to the present life; when we direct our thoughts to the Eternal world how infinite is the difference!

“Rev. William Williams read the Litany and nearly the whole of the Church sevice excepting the Lessons and Psalms, in the New Zealand language, in which the natives joined apparently with much pious feeling; many of them have a sincere desire to acquaint themselves with the true God, and to learn His ways.”

In order that they might have the means of making short voyages by sea and collecting supplies from inlets along the coast, Rev. Henry Williams had a small schooner of 30 foot keel built at Paihia, which was launched on May 10th, 1830, and named the Karere (or Messenger). She was not a satisfactory sea-going vessel, but her light draught enabled her to enter the shallow inlets visited.

Although too small for the purpose, she made voyages with Rev. H. Williams and others as passengers to Tauranga and other settlements along the coast. The dangerous nature of these journeys can be realized from the description of them given in Rev. H. Williams's page 19 Journal recorded in the story of his life by Hugh Carleton on page 94 et seq.

While Rev. S. Marsden was on this visit to the Bay of Islands, he made an inspection of the various Mission stations and the principal native settlements in the district, as he was anxious that the Mission should have a suitable station inland where the necessary supplies of wheat could be grown. He was greatly impressed with the suitability of the land at Waimate, and by the fact that there was a large native population there. In his discussions with the Missionary Committee he therefore strongly urged that as soon as possible a station should be placed there. This was established soon after.

During the fighting at Kororareka in 1830 an important chief named Hengi lost his life. His sons were not satisfied with the terms of the peace that closed it, which prevented them from exacting a revenge in blood from those responsible. Early in the following year, to give vent to their feelings, they proceeded to raid the tribes in the Bay of Plenty. This expedition, however, met with disaster, and the leaders were killed. When the news of this reached the Bay of Islands in March, 1831, their relatives and allies consequently decided that they must obtain satisfaction for the death of these chiefs. Action was, however, postponed owing to the lateness of the season.

To replace the Herald which was wrecked in 1828, the Church Missionary Society sent out a schooner named the Active. After being anxiously looked for, she duly arrived on July 31st, 1830, and did good service for a number of years.

Rev. Henry Williams wrote on March 4th, 1831—“So impressed were we at the importance of seeking the Spiritual good of this people, laying aside every personal consideration, I have not possessed a house one year out of eight, and William lives in my old band-box called the Bee-hive, and no building of any consideration excepting the Chapel has been put up.”

In July, 1830, the Missionary party were greatly cheered at the unexpected arrival of Mr. and Mrs. page 20 Thomas Chapman. Mr. Chapman had spent several years at sea in the merchant service, and for the last seven years had been occupied as a farmer. He was therefore a valuable acquisition to their staff. Mrs. Chapman for a time assisted Mrs. H. Williams and Mrs. W. Williams in the girls' school. The latter wrote in July, 1831, that the removal of Mrs. Chapman to Keri-keri had thrown additional teaching on herself and her sister, and further mentioned that their husbands were busily employed in building chimneys and plastering walls in a house for Mr. Brown. This retarded the completion of their own quarters which were so limited.

Mr. Preece who arrived by the Olive Branch in February, 1831, was a later addition to the missionary workers.

They were further cheered in September, 1830, by receiving from an uncle in England the present of an organ for their Chapel. This instrument now reposes in the Museum at Wanganui.