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Through Ninety Years


When the Primate had received the resignation of Bishop W. L. Williams he appointed Archdeacon H. W. Williams his Commissary. This gave him the necessary authority to call Synod for the election of a successor.

Although Bishop Williams felt unable to fully continue his previous duties, in the interval he held necessary confirmations in a few accessible places when asked to do so.

The Special Session of Diocesan Synod met in September with the Commissary in the chair, and unanimously elected Archdeacon A. W. Averill of Christchurch to be Bishop. He was duly consecrated in the Napier Cathedral on January 16, 1910, by the Primate, assisted by Bishop Williams and the Bishops of Christchurch, Nelson, Wellington and Auckland.

After the consecration all the Bishops attended the General Synod in Wellington.

During the remaining years of his life Bishop Williams made his home at the old “Taumata” house he had previously occupied.

The generosity of his brother many years earlier provided the necessary means for his maintenance.

The only official position he retained was his seat on the Board of the Te Aute Trustees, of which he was Chairman for many years. His experience and knowledge of the Maori rendered his services there invaluable.

He directed the control of both the Te Aute College and the Hukarere Maori Girls' School. He also continued a keen interest in the Te Rau Theological College which he had founded, and the Waerenga-a-hika Maori Boys' School which he had reopened.

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He compiled his pamphlet of “East Coast Records” from which extracts have been quoted. Having acquired the use of a typewriter, he fully typed these “Records” and other interesting historical papers for which he had the necessary data.

In May, 1910, Bishop Williams took an ordination at Auckland for Bishop Neligan who was unwell.

He assisted at the consecration of Bishop Crossley who succeeded Bishop Neligan at Auckland in April, 1911.

In June he took part in the consecration of Rev. T. H. Sprott to the Bishopric of Wellington.

On Bishop Williams's return to Gisborne he caught a severe cold. This necessitated confinement to his room for several weeks. By continued care he was gradually restored to convalescence. It was, however, early in August before he was fit to return home.

At the beginning of October he was invited to stay at Te Aute to avoid influenza then prevalent in Napier, but a few days later a sharp attack of this complaint placed him in the doctor's hands. It again required a long period of careful nursing and skilled medical attention to bring him back to his usual health. He was then very thankful to return home.

Archdeacon H. W. Williams had undertaken to compile an enlarged Maori Dictionary or Lexicon based on the original Maori Dictionaries of his grandfather and father. In order to expedite this work he arranged, for a period, to be relieved of a portion of his clerical duties.

About the middle of June, 1912, he came to Napier to obtain his father's advice and assistance. For this purpose he brought a quantity of files of dictionary matter. They worked together for more than two months before the Archdeacon returned to Gisborne.

To complete their joint work on the Lexicon, the Bishop went to Gisborne at the end of the first week of February in the following year. By the middle of March they had finished compiling the work. It had still to be typed for the printer. This operation took considerable page 346 time. It was April, 1915, before the first proofs from the printer came for correction.

This dictionary was printed at the Government Printing Office and was issued in 1917.

The last General Synod Bishop Williams took part in was at Nelson from 16th to 29th January, 1913.

When he returned from Gisborne in the last week of April the H.M.S. New Zealand was at anchor in the Napier roadstead. Her commander sent him a special invitation, which he accepted with great pleasure.

The Auckland Diocesan Synod of 1913 invited Bishop Averill to become their Bishop. The other New Zealand Bishops urged him to accept. He did so, and left for Auckland on February 6th, 1914.

A Special Meeting of the Waiapu Diocesan Synod which was held on January 23rd elected Canon W. W. Sedgewick of Christchurch as their new Bishop. He arrived in Napier on February 19th. Three days later he was consecrated in St. John's Cathedral by the Primate, Bishop Williams and the Bishops of Auckland, Wellington, Nelson and Christchurch assisting him.

Bishop Williams attended the opening of the Here-taunga Boys' School at Havelock North. (This school is now called “Hereworth.”)

He was deeply grieved at the death of his brother at Rouncil, Havelock North, on June 11th, 1915, in his 78th year after a protracted illness.

The last two voyages which he made from home were in October, 1915, and February, 1916, when he went to Gisborne to officiate at the weddings of two granddaughters.

During August his physical powers were noticeably failing, and on the evening of 24th August, 1916, he passed quietly to his rest at the age of 87 years. His mind had been wonderfully clear until a few hours before the end. This is exemplified by the notes in his pocket diary in his neat handwriting to within three days of his passing.

When the Bishop's library was dealt with a little later there fell from one of the books a slip of paper page 347 4½ inches by 3½ inches, on one side of which he had clearly written the following prayer:

O merciful Father look down upon
thine aged servant and bless HIM with
all spiritual blessings in Jesus Christ. Tiou
has led him many years through the
wilderness; Oh bring him in safety to the
promised land. May his last days be
calm peaceful and bright with heavenly
light. If it seem good to Thee spare him
all severe pain and suffering, all want and
helplessness, all failing of mind and memory.
Give him a lively faith and a true love of
Thee and a hope full of immortality.
His steps are drawing nigh to the grave
Oh may they also be drawing nigh unto heaven
And when the earthly house of this
tabernacle is dissolved may he find
a house not made with hands, eternal
in the heavens through our only
Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Presumably this was for his personal use.

To furnish data for their regular reports to the Church Missionary Society Bishop William Williams and his son William Leonard Williams made a habit throughout their Missionary careers of recording in journals the happenings from day to day. Many of these form valuable historical records, especially Leonard Williams's personal journals of the periods of the Hauhau rebellion in 1865, and the Poverty Bay massacre three years later.