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Through Ninety Years

Chapter XXXV

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Chapter XXXV.

1895–1999. Leonard Williams Consecrated Bishop. Episcopal Journeys. Work in Diocese. Death of Mother and Archdeacon S. Williams. General Synods, 1895 to 1907. Pan Anglican Conferences, 1897 and 1908. Archdeacons of Waiapu and Hawke's Bay Appointed. Resignation, 1909.

Archdeacon W. L. Williams remained in Gisborne during the first fortnight of January, 1895. He and his daughter Edith were then able to take up their residence in the Taumata House in Napier.

The Acting Primate and the other members of the Mission Trust arrived there on January 17th. The Board held its meetings on the two following days when Rev. A. F. Williams was appointed Secretary in place of the Archdeacon, who had previously carried out those duties.

On Sunday, January 20th, Archdeacon W. L. Williams was consecrated Bishop in St. John's Cathedral by the Acting Primate, Bishop Cowie, assisted by Bishops Julius of Christchurch, Mules of Nelson and Wilson of Melanesia. Rev. H. W. Williams acted as Chaplain to his father.

In due course Rev. H. W. Williams was glad to move into the Te Rau Kahikatea house which his father had vacated.

Four days later Bishop Williams assisted at the consecration in Wellington of Dr. Wallis as Bishop of that diocese.

At the General Synod which was held in Nelson from January 31st to February 15th Bishop Williams took his seat on the Bench of Bishops.

Bishop Cowie of Auckland was then elected Primate. He had been acting in that capacity since Bishop Hadfield had retired.

Bishop Williams travelled by steamer to Wairoa, where he spent ten days on his first episcopal visit.

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At the end of the month he spent a week in Gisborne. He then took passage to Auckland on his way to Tauranga, and spent six weeks visiting the various centres in the Bay of Plenty district where he held the required services with both English settlers and Maoris.

From Rotorua he returned to Auckland by rail on May 22nd. On his way to Napier he worked for a week in Gisborne.

A further three weeks were spent at Wairoa in July.

For some time Dean Hovell had been making an effort to reduce the debt on the Cathedral. He was rewarded by receiving an offertory of over £1,200 on July 28th.

From Napier the Bishop visited a number of the country townships in Hawke's Bay, and held confirmations and other religious services.

The first Diocesan Synod over which he presided as Bishop was held at Napier on September 24th and three following days. This was followed by a Native Church Board Meeting at Omahu on the 30th. On October 13th he went to Gisborne for a week. He then rode overland to Wairoa and neighbouring centres and returned to Gisborne on November 8th.

A week later he set out on a long journey by the Motu Road to Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty, on the first day of which he had a tiring ride of thirty-five miles.

From Whakatane he continued his ride along the coast to the east, round Cape Runaway and East Cape. After holding a Native Church Board Meeting at Tuparoa on December 6th the Bishop reached Gisborne on the 22nd. He did not return to Napier until January 9th, 1896.

During February the Bishop employed a fortnight in visiting various towns and sheep stations in southern Hawke's Bay and held services wherever he could.

The Primate and Bishop of Wellington, Bishop Williams and a full attendance of members met at the Mission Trust Board's meeting at Napier on February 21st. This was followed by a Conference of the New Zealand Bishops in Wellington on the 27th and the day page 335 after. On his way home Bishop Williams held a Confirmation at Weber.

He presided at a Native Church Board meeting at Gisborne on March 16th and 17th.

He set out on April 28th on a journey to Taupo, Rotorua, Tauranga and Bay of Plenty.

The Bishop held confirmations and other services in the various town churches and native settlements. He retraced his steps through Rotorua and Taupo and reached home again on June 11th. He presided at the Annual Diocesan Synod on September 18th to 24th. In his address he told the members that the General Synod had granted £50 to the Bishopric Endowment Fund provided that another £150 was raised for this purpose.

Through the later years of her life the Bishop's mother had retained clearly her mental faculties and she took a keen interest in current events, but during recent months her physical powers had been gradually failing. The increase of this weakness since the beginning of September caused grave anxiety to her family. She breathed her last on October 6th, more than seventy years after first coming to New Zealand. As her son described it “A peaceful end to a beautiful life.”

The Bishop set out on a journey by coach on October 12th and spent seven weeks visiting Taupo, Rotorua, Tauranga and Bay of Plenty settlements. Thence he proceeded by Whangaparoa and East Cape down the coast. He held a number of confirmations and attended to other episcopal duties and arrived in Gisborne on December 14th.

At the request of the Bishop and a number of his clergy Bishop Wallis of Wellington held a retreat at Te Aute College on January 5th to 7th, 1897, which was much appreciated.

The Te Aute Old Boys had a conference at the College on 3rd to 5th of February, at which a cordial address of welcome was presented to Mr. Pope the Native School Inspector, and afterwards a similar compliment was paid to their master, Mr. John Thornton.

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The Annual Meeting of the Mission Trust Board was held at the Bishop's residence on February 22nd and two following days.

The Bishop had told the Synod in September that he had accepted the Archbishop's invitation to attend the Lambeth Conference in 1897. He and his daughter Edith left Napier by train on February 25th and took passage to Sydney where they embarked on March 5th on the R.M.S. Ormuz for England. After arrival in London on April 22nd they took up their quarters with the Bishop's son, Dr. A. H. Williams, at Harrow.

They enjoyed visiting relatives and many old friends in various parts of the country.

At Oxford on June 5th his old College presented him with an Honorary D.D. degree, when an address in Latin was read by Dr. Ince, the Regius Professor of Divinity.

July was occupied by the Lambeth Conference Meetings at Canterbury and London.

They boarded S.S. Rimutaka in the docks on September 16th, and travelled by Teneriffe and Capetown to Wellington which they reached on November 3rd.

The Bishop opened the session of the Diocesan Synod on November 12th; this lasted until the end of the following week.

The Mission Trust Board sat in Wellington on 27th and 28th January, 1898. After this the Bishop attended the General Synod at Christchurch which occupied from 1st to 16th February.

He spent a fortnight in March visiting and holding confirmations at townships in southern Hawke's Bay.

On April 5th he took steamer to Auckland whence he travelled by train to Rotorua where he took the coach to Tauranga and the various Bay of Plenty settlements as far as Opotiki. Here he met Rev. H. W. Williams who had brought him a horse to ride.

Accompanied by his son he rode along the coast to the east as far as Rakaukore, where they held an interesting and most practical meeting of the Native Church Board.

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After returning with his father to Opotiki Rev. H. W. Williams set off homewards by way of Whangaparoa and East Coast.

The Bishop then continued his visits through Bay of Plenty, and held confirmations at all places where candidates were awaiting him. From Tauranga on May 13th he took passage by steamer to Auckland. On his way south he spent four weeks at Gisborne during which he paid a short visit to Tolaga Bay and arrived home again on June 13th.

Further confirmations were held by the Bishop at Hawke's Bay towns in July.

The first week in October was occupied by the Diocesan Synod. This was followed by another visit to Gisborne, when the Bishop spent four weeks travelling up the East Coast as far as Kawakawa and back. This was followed by another month's journey to the south through Wairoa as far as Mohaka, when he gave episcopal attention to all the centres he was able to visit.

To fully carry out his episcopal duties, Bishop Williams had continually to make longer journeys than formerly. The preceding pages in this chapter give examples of these, and the time required to carry them out.

If it is remembered that the Bishop continued to make similar journeys each year to hold the confirmations and other services during the remaining twelve and a half years of his episcopate, it will not be necessary to repeat year by year the somewhat similar details.

It can also be taken for granted that he attended the annual meetings of the Mission Trust Board held early in each year, and the sessions of the Annual Diocesan Synod held in September or October; this will obviate the continual repetition of these meetings. These will only be mentioned when there is anything unusual to record.

The Bishop made a point of regularly visiting the Maoris as well as the rapidly increasing white settlers. Meetings of the Native Church Boards were also held at various suitable centres.

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The Bishop, accompanied by Rev. S. Williams went to Gisborne in March, 1899. They attended a meeting of the Native Church Board at Pakirikiri where a collection was made by the natives of £501 1s. towards rebuilding the Maori church at Kaiti. At the same time the Bishop consecrated the church at Manutukea.

On a journey that month to Taupo he mentioned that at the Mohaka River a bridge was then being built. This river had been previously crossed by fording, but at Taupo he still had to be ferried over the Waikato in a Maori canoe as there was no bridge there then.

During the 1899 session of the Diocesan Synod the first garden party was held in the “Hukarere” house garden which was attended by nearly three hundred guests. It proved such a success, and as an opportunity of bringing people more into touch with the work of the church, that it was repeated in succeeding years.

The Bishop took advantage of an opportunity to visit Portland Island lighthouse north of Hawke's Bay. He and Mr. H. Hill the Chief District School Inspector were put on shore in a surf boat at 5 a.m. on January 17th, 1900. On the island, which is about 400 acres, they found six adults and seventeen children, comprising the lighthouse attendants and their families and a school teacher. The children were examined by the inspector and afterwards the people all asembled in the schoolroom for a religious service held by the Bishop.

After an interesting two days spent on the island the two visitors were picked up on the return of the small steamer which had brought them there.

In August the Bishop, accompanied by his daughter, Mrs. Maclean, took passage by the S.S. Tarawera for Sydney, where they attended the Jubilee Festival Meetings of the Australian Board of Missions.

They were also present at the consecration of the Bishop of Carpentaria, and left for home at the end of the month.

While the Bishop was on a journey he heard of the death of his eldest sister, Mrs. Samuel Williams, at Te Aute on November 24th.

Bishop W. L. Williams, 1895–1909

Bishop W. L. Williams, 1895–1909

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Memorial Services were held in St. John's Cathedral, Napier, for Queen Victoria, who had passed away on January 22nd, 1901.

The General Synod was held in Napier this year in the first fortnight in February.

In March the Bishop held a Maori ordination service at Manutukea, when he gave Deacon's orders to Turuturu Ngaki and Rameka Haremia, Pera Tamihere, Tapata Timutimu and Hemi Huata were admitted to the priesthood.

The Duke and Duchess of York and Cornwall (who later became King George V and Queen Mary) visited Auckland in June. The Duchess laid the foundation of the Queen Victoria Memorial School for Maori girls on the 12th. Bishop Williams went to Auckland to attend this ceremony.

Owing to throat trouble Rev. H. W. Williams was compelled to retire from his work at Te Rau College. A special meeting of the Mission Trust Board held in September decided to offer the post to Rev. F. W. Chatterton. Mr. Chatterton accepted and arrived in Gisborne to take up his duties on March 26th, 1902.

Following the Mission Trust Board meeting at Wellington in September, the Bishop took part in a special meeting of General Synod to authorise legislative action for certain trust properties. For the two closing days of the Diocesan Synod in October the Dean had to preside, as an attack of influenza had confined the Bishop to his room. He was, however, able to resume his duties three weeks later.

When relieved of his work at the College Rev. H. W. Williams was able to accompany his father on his journeys, and assist him more in that work.

In the third week of December Bishop Stuart came to New Zealand on leave from his mission in Persia. During his visit the Bishop had much to tell his old friends about his work in the mission field.

On January 3rd, 1902, Bishop Williams was able to spend another day with the people on Portland Island.

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When the Bishop was at Waiomatatini in March, the Maoris raised over £1,000 to increase the endowment for their native clergy. He also opened a native church which they called “Ohaki” in memory of Ropata Wahawaha.

At the beginning of April the Bishop and his sister Kate and daughter Edith went to the Bay of Islands to visit Mrs. Henry Williams who was very seriously ill. The Bishop stayed as long as he could before returning to his work. He left his two companions at Pakaraka with Mr. H. Williams. On May 27th he received a telegram, that his sister had passed peacefully to her rest.

In the early part of December Bishop Williams was asked to take an ordination and confirmation service in Auckland.

The Bishop, accompanied by Mr. H. Hill spent two days on Portland Island in February, 1903, when four children were baptised. They found there had been changes in the occupants of the island since their last visit.

On June 2nd he consecrated the Chapel which had been built at Te Rau College.

In his address to the Diocesan Synod in September the Bishop spoke with appreciation of the work of the late Primate, Bishop Cowie of Auckland, who had passed away.

The Bishop was landed again on Portland Island shortly after midnight on January 6th, 1904. The wreck of a coal-laden scow was then lying on the rocks there. He was able to leave again early on the morning of the 9th.

The General Synod was held at Auckland from January 28th to February 12th. The election of a Primate proved ineffectual, and the office was taken by Bishop Nevill of Dunedin as the senior Bishop.

The work of the Maori Mission came under discussion and resulted in the appointment of the Maori Mission Trust Board to take the place of the old C.M.S. Mission Trust Board as far as the work among the Maoris was concerned.

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Bishop Williams opened a new Church at Tuparoa on April 10th. For this there was a great “hui” (assembly) of visitors from other parts, in addition to the local natives.

The next morning was devoted to a great ceremony of taking up the collection, to which the residents gave £400 and the visitors responded by giving £260. The total was sufficient to defray the cost of the church, and leave a surplus towards its endowment.

The Bishop went to Christchurch to attend the consecration of the completed Cathedral. There was a full congregation of two thousand at this service on November 1st.

In January, 1905, Mrs. Herbert W. Williams was in such poor health that their doctors advised her husband to take her to England for professional treatment. As soon as she was able to travel they set out. On their return towards the end of the year, after a successful voyage they spent several weeks at Capetown. Rev. H. W. Williams wished to peruse some manuscripts on New Zealand which it was reported that Sir George Grey had left there.

They returned to Napier on February 27th, 1906.

The health of Dean Hovell during August caused great anxiety in Napier, and it did not improve. The community received a great shock when they heard that he had passed away rather suddenly on September 4th, 1905. The Bishop in his address to the Diocesan Synod said, “In the fact that our lamented brother Dean Hovell was called to his rest three weeks ago— prematurely we are perhaps tempted to say, seeing that he was only in his 56th year, but God reckons not years as man reckons. With him honourable old age is not that which standeth in length of time nor its measure given by number of years.”

It was reported to Synod that “the sum of £7,000 has been paid to the Diocesan Trustees by an anonymous donor, the income from which is to be devoted to religious, charitable and educational purposes, with special regard to the requirements of the district known page 342 as the County of Waiapu, as the Standing Committee shall direct.”

The Dean was succeeded by Rev. F. Mayne, who arrived in Napier on January 5th, 1906.

The natives at Rangitukia were owing £160 on their church. They arranged to make a collection on March 22nd which realised nearly £370. They proposed to hand to the parish endowment the surplus after the debt was discharged.

The Bishop mentioned in his journal for November, 1906, that he, with his sister Kate and daughter Edith, set out for Pohue on their way to Taupo with his brother James in his motor car. Eighteen miles on their way one of the tyres gave out, and had to be repaired, after which it burst again. They then had to continue their journey in the coach which came up behind them. The chauffeur had to take the car home to Hastings. This is the first mention of travelling by car.

On this visit the Bishop recorded the Maori names of:

  • “The Spa”—Tapapa-Kuao

  • “Crow's Nest”—Te Whakaturoa

  • “Witches' Cauldron”—Te Ruahine.

  • “Eileen Geyser and Neighbourhood”—Pokongewha

  • “Rock below Narrows”—Te Umukawau

  • “The Narrows”—Tu Waituku o te ringa o Ohomanangi.

The Bishop and Archdeacon Samuel Williams attended the General Synod which sat in Dunedin from 17th to 30th January, 1907, at which good business was done.

During the following month they together attended some meetings in Napier. The following week the Bishop when in Gisborne received a telegram that the Archdeacon was suffering from inflammation. When the Bishop saw him at the beginning of March the doctor considered his case serious. The Bishop had to fulfil engagements at Rotorua. At Waiotapu on his way there he received telegraphic advice that the Archdeacon had passed away on March 14th.

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In his address to the Diocesan Synod the Bishop spoke of the Pan Anglican Conference which he hoped to attend the following year. He also said that for the greater efficiency of the Church's work he had appointed Rev. H. Williams Archdeacon of Waiapu, and Rev. D. Ruddock Archdeacon of Hawke's Bay, and Rev. C. L. Tuke to the Canonry rendered vacant by the death of Archdeacon S. Williams.

The Bishop, accompanied by his daughter Edith and granddaughter Dorothy Maclean, took passage to Wellington, whence on February 29th, 1908, they left by the S.S. Corinthic for London. They called at Montevideo three weeks later, and at Rio de Janeiro on March 25th. They arrived at Plymouth on April 15th where they were met by Dr. Williams of Harrow and the Bishop's son Arthur and grandson Kenneth Maclean.

They made their main headquarters with Dr. Williams at Harrow and spent some time with Mr. A. E. Williams at Willesden Green, from which places they visited other friends.

A most interesting and profitable ten days were spent at the Archbishop's Conference meetings in July. Some two hundred and fifty Bishops attended these meetings.

They embarked again in the S.S. Corinthic which left the Docks on September 18th, called at Capetown on October 10th, Hobart on 31st, and completed their voyage to Wellington on November 4th.

The Diocesan Synod was held from 19th to 24th November.

The Bishop then told the members that as he felt unable to carry on the arduous work of the Diocese with satisfaction, he intended on the return of the Bishops from England to confer with them and resign his office.

On January 28th, 1909, the Bishop handed to the Primate his resignation, to take effect on June 30th.

He then carried out a full round of episcopal visitations to various parts of the Diocese.

At the end of May he attended a meeting of the Maori Mission Board held at Christchurch.

During June the Bishop concluded his term in office by visits to Wairoa and other Hawke's Bay centres.