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Through Ninety Years

Chapter IV

page 21

Chapter IV.

1831–1834. Extension of Mission Southwards to Tauranga and Waikato

A Rotorua chief named Pango, when on a visit to the Bay of Islands some time earlier, had been rescued by Rev. H. Williams from Tohitapu (a tohunga or priest) who had tried to seize him as a prey. In 1831 this chief sent a messenger with an urgent request to have a Missionary placed to reside in his district. It was therefore decided that Rev. H. Williams should go and investigate the possibility of planting a station there, and if practicable select a suitable site for it. He was accompanied by Mr. T. Chapman who had volunteered for the post at Tauranga.

On October 18th of that year they left in the Karere, and two days later brought up in smooth water under Maunganui off Tauranga; owing, however, to boisterous winds they were unable to land until October 23rd. The natives gave them a hearty welcome in a large house 50 feet by 30; next day they proceeded to Maketu, and later to Arorangi where Taiwhanga's father-in-law lived. The party enjoyed baths in a hot spring. Later they proceeded to Ohinemutu and Mokoia in Rotorua. At various places the object of their visit was fully discussed with the assembled natives.

On Sunday, October 30th, they held Divine Service and a large number attended. On November 30th they returned to Tauranga whence they continued their voyage on board the Karere to Maketu and Motiti. Their return voyage which was commenced on November 5th was a perilous one in consequence of boisterous adverse gales and heavy seas. As they were prevented by the weather from rounding Cape Brett, the southern point of the Bay, they ran into Whangaruru, to the south of it, and anchored at midnight on November 18th. They page 22 walked thence overland to Paihia, thankful for their safe return and deliverance from all the perils through which they had passed. Their appearance was a great relief to their families who had become very anxious about their welfare.

On their arrival they found that the Ngapuhi tribe was preparing to dispatch the raid against Tauranga which had been put off earlier in the year.

Notwithstanding the most strenuous efforts by Revs. H. and W. Williams and others to prevent it, the fleet of war canoes made a start early in 1832 and moved slowly down the coast, eventually reaching Tauranga on March 6th, 1832.

Rev. H. Williams and Messrs. Kemp and Fairburn, who sailed after them to Tauranga, continued their efforts to prevent conflict between the parties. Finding that their several weeks of patient exertion were still without success, they returned to the Mission schooner Active on March 15th and arrived at Bay of Islands three days later.

After a stay of eight days, Rev. H. Williams and Mr. Fairburn again left in the Active for Tauranga, hoping still to be able to stop the fighting. They arrived on March 31st but found that the Ngapuhi would not yet listen to their proposals. They therefore returned by the Active and reached the Bay on April 7th after a very stormy voyage.

When the Ngapuhi returned home later, the Chiefs admitted that their expedition had been a failure, and attributed this to the God of the missionaries having made them listless, and having prevented their achieving their purposes.

The tribes on the southern coasts had by this time secured supplies of firearms from whalers and traders and were thus able to meet the northern raiding forces on more even terms; this no doubt contributed materially to the failure of the later expeditions against them.

The Ngapuhi chief, Titore, though he had expressed a desire for peace after his return home in November, 1832, still determined to make war against Tauranga, page 23 hoping to accomplish what others had failed to do. Having induced the Rarewa tribe to join him, he set out again. Rev. H. Williams and Mr. Chapman resolved to follow them again and endeavour to reconcile the contending parties. They left on February 7th, 1833, and soon overtook the raiding forces. Finding after three weeks of effort that they could not put a stop to the fighting, they returned to the Bay of Islands, arriving there on April 4th.

These frequent tribal wars rendered it unwise for the present to attempt to establish a new station in the south. It was therefore decided that an exploring party consisting of Rev. W. Williams, Messrs. Baker, Hamlin, Matthews and Puckey, and a few native Christians, should visit the tribes in the northern part of the island. Setting out from Kerikeri on November 26th, 1832, they found a fair prospect of extending their Missionary labours in that direction. Messrs. Matthews and Puckey were later stationed at Kaitaia.

While the Ngapuhi chiefs had been carrying on their conflicts with the tribes in the south, the work of the Mission was still going on steadily among those who remained at home; many natives began to show some interest in Christianity and a desire to learn and read the Scriptures. Rev. W. Williams continued in charge of the home station at Paihia and surrounding districts, while his brother and others of the Mission party were on their journeys in the south.

Early in the year 1833 an event occurred which led ultimately to an important step being taken in spreading the work of the Mission further afield.

An English whaler the Elizabeth—Captain Black—when becalmed near East Cape was boarded by twelve natives of the district who sought to trade with her. They hoped to land again next morning, but a strong breeze got up and the Captain stood out to sea. Finding it difficult to make the coast again, he ran on to the Bay of Islands and landed the natives at Rangihoua.

The Ngapuhi wished to keep them as slaves, but the missionaries interfered, and after some persuasion page 24 induced them to give up the strangers, on the understanding that they were sent back to their homes immediately. Accordingly Rev. W. Williams and Mr. Hamlin took charge of them and sailed in the Active on April 30th, 1833. After almost reaching their destination without effecting a landing, she was compelled by strong contrary winds to return. The force of the heavy south-east gale on the voyage back split several of their sails, but they landed safely at the Bay of Islands on May 8th.

It was then arranged that these strangers should remain at Paihia until the following summer. They resided at the Mission Station, and while there received regular instruction.

Early in 1833, the work of translation having further progressed, an edition (1800 copies) of another book was printed in New South Wales; this contained a large portion of the Prayer Book Services and about half the New Testament.

In October of the same year a Missionary party consisting of Revs. Henry Williams, A. N. Brown and Messrs. Fairburn and Morgan, left the Bay of Islands in two boats with the object of choosing a site for a Mission Station in the Thames District. They received a hearty welcome from the natives, who were numerous, notwithstanding the losses they had suffered from the Ngapuhi raids of previous years; signs of these raids could be seen in the form of human bones which were strewn in all directions.

Proceeding up the Waihou (now Thames) river, they reached Mata Mata on November 15th and were well received by Waharoa, the chief of this tribe. Later they returned down the Waihou to Puriri, which they decided was the most suitable site, and arranged for the erection there of three raupo houses.

Later in the year the schooner Fortitude was chartered to carry timber and stores for the new Station at Puriri, and to take back to the East Coast the natives who had been carried off to the Bay of Islands by the Elizabeth.

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The Fortitude left Paihia on December 19th, and on the 24th anchored within a few miles of the proposed Puriri station. The party on board comprised Rev. W. Williams, Messrs. Preece and Morgan and thirty natives from the East Coast; some of these had been set free by the Ngapuhi after being their slaves for several years. Among them was a man named Taumatakura, who, while living with his master at Waimate, had learned to read and write at the Mission school, though he had never been recognized as a candidate for baptism, or taken any special interest in Christian teaching.

The voyage was continued from the Thames, and they dropped anchor in Hicks Bay on January 8th. 1834.

As they approached the coast, the returning natives pointed out to Rev. W. Williams places where disastrous battles had been fought by their relatives against the powerful Ngapuhi raiding forces. Later when they were proceeding inland they showed the site of what had been a strongly fortified pa which had been destroyed by the same people. Two canoes came alongside, and the East Cape chief, Rukuata, recognised his brothers among the occupants. It was not long before these came on board and joyfully welcomed the returned natives, who had not been heard of since they had been carried away.

Sailing round the East Cape, Mr. Williams landed on January 10th off Waiapu in a canoe, a task of some difficulty owing to the heavy sea on the beach. He was well received here by the natives, who earnestly requested that a Missionary might be stationed there to teach them. He spent that night at Rangitukia, a fortified pa which mustered 560 fighting men; the following day he went on to Whakawhitira, said to contain 2,000 men. This populous district appeared to him to be a most desirable position for establishing a Mission station.

On Sunday, January 12th, Mr. Williams held Divine Service with a large party of natives. Rukuata, whose residence at Paihia had given him some knowledge and experience, made all arrangements for this, and instructed his friends in the proper procedure at Paihia.

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After leaving Waiapu Rev. W. Williams proceeded in the Fortitude as far as Table Cape on the Mahia. Sixteen years previously this place had been attacked by the Ngapuhi who had killed or enslaved many of the inhabitants. After this first visit to the district of his future labours he landed again at Bay of Islands on January 22nd, 1834.

After three months at the Paihia home station Rev. W. Williams sailed on April 19th, 1834, in the Fortitude for the Thames. He was accompanied by Messrs. Fairburn and Wilson and their families, who were left at the Puriri Station. He returned to Paihia on May 17th.

On May 26th, 1833, he wrote that Mr. James Stack, who had been at the Wesleyan Mission Stations at Whangaroa and Hokianga, was likely to offer his services to the Church Missionary Society, and that he hoped he would be accepted, as he had a good knowledge of the language. Mr. Stack was duly appointed, and he and his wife arrived by the Bolina on July 12th, 1834. The local Missionary Committee decided that Rev. Win. Williams, with Messrs. Morgan and Stack, should go to the Waikato District and endeavour to establish a station there. With this object Revs. Wm. Williams and A. N. Brown accompanied by Kati and his party of natives, sailed on July 19th, 1834, in the Bolina which called on her way to the Thames, and landed them at Mahurangi four days later. Here their journey was somewhat delayed owing to disputes between the resident natives and their party.

On August 26th, 1834, Rev. W. Williams thus described the continuance of their journey and the selection of Mangapouri as a Station site—“At length on August 11th we left our quarters at Whakatiwai and the next day came to a river which empties itself into the Waikato where we embarked in three canoes and continued our course down that stream and up the Waikato river until we came on August 16th to Ngaruawahia where the Waipa empties itself into the Waikato. On the 21st August we proceeded up the river (the Waipa), and on. August 23rd reached this place.

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“The ground here is about 30 feet above the channel of the river, and as soon as we mounted the Bank we were much struck with the appearance of the place. It is a romantic situation, having on one side the beautiful range of Pirongia, and at the back a conical hill called Kakapuku. The land is good, with an abundant supply of timber and firewood.

“Finding the situation so favourable, we have determined to fix upon this spot.

“To-day we have amused ourselves with walking over the ground and have selected a beautiful spot for a garden, the back of which was sheltered by a few trees and bounded by a small rivulet.”

He later arranged with the natives to clear and cultivate this ground. He estimated that the population within a radius of 10 miles would number 1,500 men.

Later they proceeded in an easterly direction and reached Mata Mata on September 2nd, thence to Otumoetai, the principal pa at Tauranga four days later. On September 8th they went to Te Papa, where they selected a site for a mission station and arranged for two raupo houses to be built for the missionaries.

The missionaries had applied for a printing press, which it was felt would be of great assistance in developing the work of the mission. In the year 1834 the Home Committee had a press with a supply of type shipped to Sydney, where it was delayed for a time. There had been no opportunity of advising the missionaries in New Zealand that this important addition to their working plant was on the way; hence its arrival at the Bay of Islands on December 30th, 1834, accompanied by the printer Mr. William Colenso and his press superintendent, Mr. W. R. Wade, was somewhat unexpected. Mr. Colenso described the press as a “Stanhope” with a very bulky and heavy staple.

There was no wharf or landing place at which the importing vessel could discharge such a cumbrous machine. Therefore great ingenuity and a liberal supply of man power had to be brought into play in landing it. As the Mission boats were too light to take such a page 28 package, two Maori canoes were lashed together with a suitable decking fixed over them. The heavy package was placed on this and at high water on a calm morning it was taken to the beach, whence it was transferred to the shore in safety.

Though no preparation had been made for housing the plant, when it came a large well-lighted room attached to one of the Mission houses was fortunately vacant. This had been used as a schoolroom for the missionaries' sons, and the boys had gone home for the holidays. Here the press and printing material were therefore placed in due course, and printing commenced.

It may be noted that this building was not the old stone ruin afterwards reputed by some people to be the old printing office.

The boys' school was later transferred to Waimate.

There was great disappointment when it was found on unpacking the cases that many necessary adjuncts for the type-setting and printing had not been included, and no supply of printing paper had been sent. Therefore, in order that the printing plant might be brought into prompt use, the printer had to call in the services of a carpenter and stone worker of the Mission staff to improvise from local wood and stone the requisites for setting to work. Pending the arrival from England of the necessary paper and plant, he procured small supplies of writing paper from the missionaries' private stock, and in February, 1835, produced the first little books issued from this press.