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Through Ninety Years


Population increase at Napier rendered it necessary that assistance should be procured for Rev. J. Townsend, the Vicar of St. John's Church. Rev. S. Robinson arrived from Ireland on January 22nd, 1876, and took duty as Mr. Townsend's curate. For a time his work appeared to be satisfactory, and his preaching was appreciated by a large number of the parishioners, but later his ministry gave rise to a much regretted disturbance in the parish, and a disagreement between the Church officers and the vicar, which finally led the latter to seek employment for a time at Lyttelton in 1877, and ultimately to resign his post in Napier.

When Mr. Robinson came he failed to present his letters of ordination as priest, though he had acted as if he held full orders. In August, 1876, he tendered his resignation which was accepted. He left Napier for Australia some six months after.

At a later date it was ascertained, by correspondence with the Old Country, that he had not been ordained priest. The feeling in the parish was so bitter that the Church Officers petitioned the Primate to cancel the page 307 appointment of the Bishop's Commissary, who had sought fair play for the vicar. The primate in due course sent Archdeacon Wilson from Christchurch to hold an enquiry; this did not result in the removal of the Commissary. It was, however, unsatisfactory, as it did not bring out the truth about Mr. Robinson's priest's orders which was not known until after he had left.

The duties at St. John's Church for several months were taken by Rev. H. W. St. Hill and others until the arrival of Rev. de Berdt Hovell of Prebbleton who was instituted as successor to Rev. J. Townsend on July 4th, 1878.

Mr. and Mrs. Ingleton resigned their positions as teacher and matron of the Hukarere School at the end of August, 1876, and Mrs. E. L. Turner and her daughter who held the required qualifications were appointed matron and teacher from September 1st. Some necessary additions were also made to the school buildings, which enabled the number of pupils to be soon increased to fifty.

Rev. J. C. Eccles had been in charge of the English Church work in Southern Hawke's Bay since the end of 1874. The Diocesan Synod at its Meeting in September, 1876, carried out what Bishop Williams had previously planned, and subdivided this district into the three parishes of Waipawa, Waipukurau and Porangahau. Rev. J. C. Eccles was appointed to Waipawa, Rev. J. Shearman who had recently come to the Diocese, was placed at Waipukurau, and Rev. F. E. T. Simcox who had been selected at the request of Mr. Charles Nairn, the donor of the Endowment for Church work in Southern Hawke's Bay, and had arrived on July 13th., was appointed to Porangahau.

Although “Te Rau Kahikatea,” Archdeacon Williams's new Gisborne house, was available for occupation in June, 1876, the Archdeacon was unable to move his household there until the following year, as the failure of his father's health rendered his frequent presence in Napier necessary. He therefore continued his duties from this centre and made journeys along the page 308 Coast from time to time when the work there required his attention.

In January, 1877, Archdeacon Williams, accompanied by Mrs. Williams went to Nelson to attend the General Synod as a representative of Waiapu Diocese. The notable event of this Synod was the confirmation of the appointment of Rev. John Richardson Selwyn, son of Rt. Rev. G. A. Selwyn of Lichfield, to the see of Melanesia, and his consecration as Bishop on February 18th.

On their return to Napier the Archdeacon and Mrs. Williams at once began to pack and ship their household goods to Gisborne, and on March 14th proceeded there by steamer accompanied by their sister Miss Kate Williams and daughter Ellen. The completion of their packing and forwarding was left to their eldest son and daughter, with the help of a cousin, Christopher Davies. The other members of the family party followed during the next few weeks.

Fred, who was in Kinross and Company's office, and his youngest sister Agnes, remained in Napier with their grandparents. The old “Taumata” home was then let to suitable tenants.

In order to undertake some necessary episcopal services which the Archdeacon had asked for, the Right Rev. Bishop Cowie of Auckland kindly visited the diocese at some personal inconvenience in May, 1877. Under Archdeacon Williams's escort, Bishop Cowie held confirmations during this month at Taradale, Clive, Waipukurau, and Norsewood. He consecrated St. Peter's Church, Waipawa, and St. Mary's, Waipukurau, and on May 28th, Trinity Sunday, admitted Rev. J. C. Eccles to priest's orders at St. John's, Napier.

On June 9th Archdeacon Williams went from Gisborne through Tolaga to Tokomaru, and after holding his usual course of services returned on 13th and on June 22nd proceeded to Auckland by steamer where he attended a Missionary conference, and got back to Gisborne on July 13th.

He set out on September 3rd overland for Napier, page 309 where he presided at the Diocesan Synod and returned home by the same route.

When settled in Gisborne, Archdeacon Williams took up again his regular routine of work with the natives, holding religious services every Sunday either at the Turanganui Maori Church at Kaiti, or at one or more of the Maori kaingas within easy reach on the plains, and as opportunity offered held services at convenient centres with the English settlers. He also frequently on Sunday evenings helped the vicar of Holy Trinity Church by preaching or taking a part or whole of the service. From time to time he took short journeys to visit the Maori settlements northwards towards East Cape, or southwards to the Mahia, Wairoa, and Mohaka, where he directed and supervised the native ministers and teachers. While at home he spent several hours each week holding classes with the native teachers and leaders who came to him for instruction in order that they might qualify for ordination to the ministry.

In order to provide accommodation for these men and their wives he accepted a tender to move his Waikahua cottage at a cost of £125 from its position at the river mouth to the corner of the grounds of his own house where it was occupied when he resumed his classes in July.

After coming to reside in Gisborne with his family the Archdeacon also took his share in the early development of the institutions of the town and served for several years on the Board or Committee of the Hospital and Cemetery. He assisted in arranging for the first hospital buildings and their management, and in the laying out and control of the cemetery. Mrs. Williams and her daughters also assisted in visiting sick people, and in the work of the benevolent society, and took part in the Church work of Sunday school and choir.

After Bishop Stuart's consecration he first resided in a house which was leased for him on the Bluff Hill, Napier, and later, when the “Taumata” house was vacated by the tenant, it was purchased by the Church Mission Trust Board for his use.

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On April 5th, 1878, Archdeacon Williams joined Bishop Stuart on the S.S. Wanaka and landed at Tauranga whence they visited and held services at the various centres, both English and Maori, in the Bay of Plenty area, and returned to Gisborne by steamer a fortnight later.

The Archdeacon set out on May 20th and escorted the Bishop overland to Wairoa, holding the usual services as they went along; from Wairoa he returned to Gisborne and left the Bishop to proceed to Napier alone.

After the session of Diocesan Synod in September, which the Archdeacon attended, the Bishop came to Gisborne on November 1st and held a series of Maori confirmations at six centres along the East Coast beginning with Turanganui, at which 142 candidates were presented. Whenever the Bishop preached, the Archdeacon, who accompanied him, acted as interpreter to the natives.

After this he conducted the Bishop round East Cape and Whangaparoa into the Bay of Plenty, holding services with the Maoris and English settlers at the various settlements wherever they found congregations. They called at Opotiki, Whakatane and Rotorua, and reached Tauranga on December 16th, 1878. Here they attended a conference of missionaries, and met Rev. J. S. Hill and Mr. Goodyear who had just arrived from England to take up Mission work. From Tauranga the Bishop went north to visit friends.

The Archdeacon started homewards overland by the Motu route on December 19th accompanied by Mr. Goodyear, who was to be located at Gisborne. As the latter was not accustomed to riding he found the journey, which they completed at 11.30 a.m. on Christmas Day, somewhat wearisome.

During January and February, 1879, the Archdeacon continued his work, including his classes with native students, undertook a journey to Whangara, a visit to Cook's Cove at Tolaga Bay, and a trip with Bishop Stuart to Wairoa and Waikaremoana, during which services page 311 were conducted wherever the people assembled, and they returned to Gisborne on March 12th.

After arrival at Napier on April 17th the Archdeacon attended to some Diocesan business with the Bishop. He then arranged with Mr. James Williams to lend him horses that he might conduct the Bishop and Rev. J. S. Hill to Taupo. They set out on April 24th and met Mr. John Hindmarsh on their way who pressed them to spend the night at his homestead Rukumoana Station, where they were hospitably entertained. They were unable to make an early start next morning so it was nearly 8 p.m. before they reached Tarawera. Here they were again delayed as the hotel people allowed their horses to get out, and they had to be recovered. It was therefore dark when they arrived at Taupo. They had good views mounting over Turangakumu, and of the mountains as they approached the lake. On the next day, Sunday, the Commandant of the Constabulary post, Major Scannell, arranged for English services, at which there was a fair muster, but the Maoris were indifferent, and had gone away. Monday they paid a visit to Orakei Korako, over a very rough track, under the guidance of a constable sent by the Major. They held a service with the Maoris close by, who placed a whare (native hut) at their disposal, where they spent an uncomfortable night without blankets. Next morning they saw the famed alum caves and natural wonders, and returned to Taupo. On Wednesday, April 30th, they embarked on a small steamer for Toka-anu, calling first at Tauranga Taupo, but found that the natives who lived there were away at their plantations. At Toka-anu the Maoris were followers of the Maori King and not drawn towards Christian teaching; though very civil, they were quite unyielding.

The Bishop's party returned to Taupo on May 2nd and then set out homewards.

The Archdeacon, who hurried on to catch a steamer for Gisborne, again accepted Mr. Hindmarsh's hospitality, and reached Napier on the 4th. The Bishop and Mr. Hill were a day behind him, and owing to heavy rain found the road, which then followed the course of page 312 the Petane River, almost at swimming depth, which made travelling somewhat unsafe.

After having thus completed a fairly comprehensive introduction of the Bishop to the several parts of the diocese, the Archdeacon returned to Gisborne.

It was decided that Mr. Goodyear should be stationed at Tolaga Bay, and he proceeded there on July 29th.

After the Archdeacon had attended the Diocesan Synod at Napier in October, the Bishop followed him to Gisborne at the end of the month and preached at the Turanganui Maori Church on November 2nd. He then attended a meeting of the Native Church Board held on the two following days. On the last evening a reception in the form of a social evening was given to the Bishop in McFarlane's Hall, to enable people to make his acquaintance; this proved a great success.

On November 6th Rev. Geo. Maunsell and Mr. Goodyear left for Tolaga Bay, where the Archdeacon joined them two days later to undertake an extensive journey of nearly 550 miles along the Coast past East Cape, and Whangaparoa into the Bay of Plenty, and thence into the Urewera Country, in an effort to recover those natives who had fallen away or become estranged from Christianity.

They visited the numerous Maori settlements as they passed along and held the usual instruction classes and services wherever they could. They arrived at Kawakawa on November 12th and Omaio on the 18th. There they found that a number of the natives had adopted Te Kooti's or “Ringatu” Karakia (form of worship) though not altogether to the exclusion of Christianity. Tuhara, Waimana, was reached on the 26th and Whakatane on the 30th. From that place they began a Missionary journey into the Urewera Country, north of Waikaremoana, and spent December 4th and 5th at Whakamihi, Ruatahuna. Though these people were strong Te Kooti-ites they were kindly and hospitably received.

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The Archdeacon wrote in his Journal that the Maoris there invited them to join in their Karakia.

Travelling here proved very strenuous, with much steep climbing over rough roads through mountainous bush covered country. They returned to Opotiki on December 13th.

Thence Rev. G. Maunsell went north to his station and the Archdeacon and Mr. Goodyear returned by way of Poututu to Gisborne which they reached on December 19th.

The following list of dates and places and distances is the Archdeacon's record of the places visited on this journey from Gisborne:

Places Distances Totals
1879 miles miles
Nov. 7 Whangara 17 35
8 Uawa 18 35
10 Tokomaru 24 59
11 Te Horo 28 87
12 Te Kawa Kawa 26 113
13 Wharekahika 9 122
15 Whangaparoa 25 147
16 Raukokore 10 157
17 Te Kaha 20 177
18 Omaio 8 185
19 Maraenui 8 193
19 Torere 10 203
20 Opotiki 16 219
25 Hokianga 10 229
26 Tuharua, Waimana 15 244
27 Opounao 11 255
28 Ruatoki and back 10 265
30 Whakatane and back 24 289
Dec. 1 Waiohau 16 305
2 Whirinaki 26 331
3 Ahi Kereru 15 346
4, 5 Whakamihi, Ruatahuna 15 361
6 Te Kaiwaha 5 366
7 Omaruteangi and back 367½
8 Te Kakari, Maungapohatu 10 377½
9 Toreatai 379
10 Tawhaua 14½ 393½
11 Tuharua 21½ 414½
12 Ruataniwha, Waiotaha 18 432½
13 Opotiki 11 443½
16 Omarumutu 7 450½
17 Marumauku 97 547½
18 Poututu 97 547½
19 Gisborne 97 547½