Through Ninety Years
1835–1839. Removal to Waimate and Journeys to Southern Districts
It had been arranged that Rev. W. Williams should occupy the selected station at Mangapouri on the Waipa River. But on his return to Paihia to remove his family, he found that the local Committee had decided that he should go to Waimate and take charge of the school for the missionaries' sons, and that Mr. Hamlin should take his place at Mangapouri and join Messrs. Morgan and Stack who were already there.
Leaving his two elder daughters at school with their aunt at Paihia, he moved the rest of his family to Waimate on May 15th, 1835, occupying a wooden house, the building of which was not finished for some time afterwards. In consequence of this they had to put up with considerable inconvenience.
Writing on September 1st, 1835, Rev. W. Williams mentioned that he took up the duties of the school at the urgent request of the majority of the Mission staff, and by common consent was placed in charge of the final revision of the translation work. These duties together with the control of the affairs of this station, his share of visits to the neighbouring kaingas, committee meetings and calls for his medical services very fully occupied his time. He also mentioned that the schooner Active had been sold, but had been returned to the Committee's hands. She had been sent off from Sydney in an unseaworthy condition, with a load of stores for New Zealand; she later arrived in a piteous condition, but fortunately her cargo, being principally iron, was not much damaged. Another little vessel, the Columbine, a schooner of about 20 tons burden, was still employed in the service of the Mission.
The Church Missionary Society had advised that they were sending out. Rev. Henry H. Bobart to take charge page 30 of the school for the missionaries' children. He arrived on March 3rd, 1836, and took up his duties at Waimate a fortnight later. This for a time enabled Rev. W. Williams to devote more attention to his work among the Maoris, and to the translation and revision work which was steadily continued throughout the year. He recorded the examination and baptism of considerable numbers of natives, both adults and children.
While Mr. Bobart was teaching at Waimate he did good work with his scholars, and Mrs. Williams wrote on March 29th, 1836—“Leonard is a general favorite, and is improving fast. His father had kept him back a little that he might not get before some of his seniors, but he is beginning Latin with Mr. Bobart, and amuses himself with learning the Greek Alphabet. May the love of God be poured into his heart that he may be devoted to his Father's service.” (He was then 6 ½ years of age.)
Mr. Bobart lost his wife in Sydney on the way to New Zealand. This affected him so much that he decided to leave the Mission, and went back to Sydney at the end of the year; here he became curate to Mr. Marsden at Parramatta, N.S.W., and married Mr. Marsden's daughter.
Throughout this year, 1836, the work of revising the translation of the New Testament was steadily continued, and Rev. W. Williams corrected the proofs of several books of it which were being printed by Mr. Colenso. By the end of August he had read the proofs of the last Chapters of Revelation; the following month he began the translation of the book of Genesis, and later a final revision and correction of proofs of St. Luke's Gospel and following books was begun.
Mention was made during this year that Messrs. Edmonds, Pilley, Ashwell, Maunsell and Mr. and Mrs. Wade had become members of the staff.
To indicate progress made in farming it may be mentioned that Rev. W. Williams wrote that he had sold a colt for ten pigs. Horses had evidently come into use as a means of transit. In November when visiting native kaingas he inspected a small native school carried on by page 31 Rawiri and he wrote of this native that he had a good crop of wheat in the ground, and that his cows were producing 8 lb. of butter per week which he sold in the Bay; his neighbours had improved their cultivations, and were keeping some cattle whose milk was a great benefit to their children.
On his return from these visits he found the whole settlement, both Maoris and Europeans, had been attacked by another epidemic of influenza.
On December 14th the boys went to their respective homes for the summer vacation; Rev. W. Williams proceeded to Paihia with his nephews and Mr. Davis's sons; he found there 200 natives belonging to Paihia and Kawa Kawa who had been under instruction and assembled for the periodical examination.
Rev. W. Williams's daughters attended the English girls' school at Paihia which was under the control of Mrs. Henry Williams. On December 16th he visited and examined this, and reported that its progress gave satisfaction. He wrote that the year 1836 was the “most eventful that the Mission had passed through since it was founded in New Zealand. The enormity of sin had been made fearfully manifest. While the trials which had visited them had exceeded any that had gone before, they were still able to strengthen themselves in the Lord God, and look to His arm for salvation.”
On January 1st, 1837, Rev. W. Williams went to Kawa Kawa, which he had not visited for two years. This party of natives were in a very promising way, and he was much pleased with the improvement shown by them. The congregation which had much increased now assembled in a comfortable Chapel, and much order and attention was manifested. In February Mr. Marsden landed at Hokianga on his seventh and last visit. Being in his 73rd year he was no longer able to travel on foot, though still vigorous for his age. After resting for a few days with the Rev. N. Turner at the Wesleyan Mission Station he proceeded on his way to the Bay of Islands, and though on the journey from Hokianga, he was offered a horse to ride, the natives insisted on carrying him in a page 32 litter. After visiting all the stations he could there, and conferring with the missionaries, he took final leave of the Mission in New Zealand on July 3rd and returned to New South Wales.
Throughout the year 1837 the work of finally revising and reading the proofs of the various books of the New Testament was continued steadily. Rev. W. Williams wrote that beginning with St. Luke's Gospel XV Chapter on January 7th he finished the Book of Revelation at the end of November. All this was in addition to the usual routine work of the school in which Mr. Wade assisted, and to his periodical visits to the natives in their settlements.
During this year a Ngapuhi chief, who had returned from a prolonged visit he had made to the East Cape district, called on Rev. W. Williams at Waimate and asked how it was that no missionary had been placed there. He said that the people who were all eager for instruction in Christianity, had already begun to refrain from work on Sundays, and to worship the God of the Christians in intention if not with much knowledge.
On enquiry he found that their interest in Christianity was due to the efforts of a Waiapu man named Taumatakura. This native, as previously mentioned, was one of those who had been returned to their homes in January, 1834. After his return to his own people he began to impart to as many as were willing to learn what knowledge of the new religion he had acquired.
His material for doing this was of the simplest description. He had only a few texts of Scripture and short prayers written on scraps of paper. Writing tablets were made of flat pieces of wood well greased and dusted with ashes so that they could be written on with a sharply pointed piece of stick. This exhibition of extraordinary knowledge greatly impressed his people, and they looked upon him as a tohunga.
Paihia from the islet Motuorangi
The house under the two birds was where the New Testament was printed
On December 10th, 1837, Rev. W. Williams wrote—“You will be thankful that the printing of the New Testament by Mr. Colenso will be completed in another week, and I bless God that I have been spared to see the work thus far advanced, and that I have been permitted to take part in this glorious undertaking. The revision has given me close occupation for nearly the whole of the last two years, during the time I have not been employed with the school. The next work to be attended to will be the publication of a small grammar and a dictionary of the language, which will be forthcoming as fast as Mr. Colenso will call for them, but before engaging in any more close work I hope to have the relaxation of a trip to East Cape, which I wish to occupy the period of my summer vacation. Nothing has been done yet for the people in that quarter, the only visit paid to them being that I made three years ago.”
The edition of the New Testament here spoken of was of 5,000 copies of 356 pages, and was at once put into circulation.
The progress of the Mission was again disturbed, and the work hindered, by a deadly conflict which broke out between neighbouring parties of natives in the Hokianga district. In the course of this about fifty people were killed.
With Rev. A. N. Brown and Messrs. Morgan and Wilson and their families, who were returning to their respective stations at Tauranga, Rev. W. Williams accompanied by Mr. Colenso and Mr. R. Matthews, went on board the Columbine on January 1st, 1838, and sailed from the anchorage off Paihia at midnight, with light variable winds. It was fortunate they had clear weather, so that the natives, of whom a number were camped on page 34 deck, suffered no injury. They anchored outside Maunganui, off Tauranga, on January 4th. Mr. T. Chapman came off in his boat and took most of their passengers on shore. Mr. Williams himself landed next day, and took up his quarters at Mr. Stack's house, where he remained a week assisting those in charge, visiting the natives and holding services with them. On January 11th he mentioned that a slight shock of earthquake was felt at the station.
After loading a quantity of goods for the Rotorua station, the Columbine sailed on January 12th with Rev. W. Williams and his party, which now included Mr. Stack. The other passengers were Mr. and Mrs. Chapman and Mr. and Mrs. Morgan, who were landed at Waihi with their goods next day. From this place they had to travel a considerable distance by land to their station at Rotorua.
The course of the Columbine was then laid for East Cape; that afternoon they passed within three miles of White Island, which, while not burning with its usual violence, was pouring out fumes of smoke which were enough to give it a truly dismal appearance. Contrary winds prevented their reaching Wharekahika (Hicks Bay) until after sunset on January 15th, 1838. A few canoes came off next morning, and they left for shore about 9 a.m. They had to walk some distance to the village where the natives recognized Rev. W. Williams who had visited them three years earlier. They pitched their tent at a pa near Awatere, and in the evening addressed the 240 natives who had assembled. Having directed the Columbine to go on to Poverty Bay and there await their arrival, they commenced their long journey to Turanga on foot.
They left Awatere at 9 a.m. on January 17th and having passed East Cape at noon reached Rangitukia at 7 p.m. after a tiring journey. The natives gave them a hearty welcome, particularly the Chief Rukuata, whom they had brought back on their last visit. They were pleased to find that the natives seemed to know the page 35 Sabbath; though their observance of it was only a shadow, it indicated a disposition to attend to instruction.
On January 20th, 1838, Rev. Wm. Williams and Messrs. Colenso, Matthews and Stack left Rangitukia, travelling separately in pairs, each two with a party of natives to carry food. Thus they were able to visit more of the native kaingas, and occasionally interchanging companions. After visiting Whakawhitira, Reporua, Ariawai, Maweta, Whareponga, and Tapatahi, they at length reached Tokomaru, having been able to address assemblies of Maoris at different points varying in numbers from 100 to 600. From Tokomaru to Uawa (Tolaga Bay) they were conveyed by canoes; thence on January 25th resumed their way on foot along the coast. This journey they found very fatiguing, and they were glad to reach Turanga (Poverty Bay) on the afternoon of January 26th, 1838, and to find the Columbine at anchor there. Here Mr. J. W. Harris had an establishment for catching black whales where 18 Europeans were employed.
They pitched their tents on the bank opposite the vessel, and spent several days visiting a number of the pas and settlements, and addressing groups of natives who came together at various places. Rev. W. Williams thus described this place—“The whole district upon which the natives live is a beautiful plain of rich alluvial soil about eight miles wide by from 12 to 20 miles in length. It is intersected by three rivers, which for New Zealand are large, and navigable for several miles up their courses, but have bars of sand at their entrances.
“The population at Turanga is not more than half of that of Waiapu, but it possesses many great advantages for a Mission Station. There is an abundance of good land, every convenience for loading goods except during the winter, and which is most important, the natives are all accessible at a distance of from two to ten miles from the spot which would be fixed upon as a Station. The numerous population on the Wairoa river which empties itself into Hawke's Bay, though not near page 36 enough to be regularly attended to, would yet be under the influence of a Station placed here.”
On March 23rd, 1838, Rev. W. Williams wrote—“The object of this journey was not merely to see the natives and communicate to them the glad tidings of the Gospel, but also to examine the country and population with a view to the formation of one or more stations in that quarter. This part of New Zealand is the most interesting I have gone over. I have now seen the greater part of the Northern Island. The natives are doubtless like all the rest, but they are more numerous and less scattered, thus affording greater facilities for communicating instruction. Poverty Bay we found to be a most interesting place, presenting every facility for a good station, and the people withal are very desirous of having Missionaries. At Waiapu the people are equally anxious, and the population is more numerous, but there will be some difficulty in landing goods. I trust it will not be long before both places will be supplied.”
They took away several natives to receive instruction in the schools at the Bay of Islands, with the intention that they should return later with some of the Christian natives belonging to the East Coast who had received the Gospel while living as slaves among the Ngapuhi.
On January 30th, 1838, they set out on their return voyage. The Columbine meeting with light winds rounded East Cape the next afternoon, and dropped anchor at Maraetai on February 3rd. Here they landed and held services at Mr. Fairburn's house, and with the natives. On February 12th they set sail again for the Bay of Islands, and anchored off Paihia at noon next day.
Rev. W. Williams returned to Waimate on February 16th with Mrs. Williams and their three sons who had been at Paihia during his absence in the south.
The school at Waimate reopened on February 21st and Rev. W. Williams resumed his usual duties there, and the regular routine work of the station. His assistant, Mr. Wade, who had spent his vacation on a journey through another part of the country, did not page 37 return until March 20th; he resumed his duties at the school again two days later.
On May 22nd Rev. W. Williams recorded that they had received from Paihia the first package of Testaments for their natives, who were exceedingly anxious to possess them, but as yet the number bound was so small that very few could be supplied. These were first introduced into the schools on March 28th, and proved a great stimulus to the natives.
On June 10th the Lord's Supper was administered at Waimate to 117 native Christians, and to the Mission families.
On June 28th an examination was held at the boys' school. Prizes were distributed, and the boys went to their homes. Mr. Williams's daughters had come from school at Paihia on the previous day.
The schools resumed work again at the end of July.
On October 30th the Columbine sailed from the Bay of Islands taking Rev. Henry Williams who was conveying to the East Coast a party of six Christian natives, five of whom belonged to that district. These had all volunteered to go and live there and teach their fellow-countrymen. Three of these were located at Waiapu, and the remainder in the Turanga District.
Another epidemic of influenza made its appearance in the second week of December; this attacked both Europeans and natives, and became so prevalent that the schools had to be closed on December 15th.
At this time the Right Rev. Bishop Broughton of Australia paid an episcopal visit to the New Zealand Mission, arriving in H.M.S. Pelorus on December 21st, 1838. During the following days he visited Paihia, Keri-keri, and Rangihoua, and on January 5th, 1839, he held a Confirmation at Paihia at which 20 members of the Mission families and 40 natives were confirmed. The prevailing epidemic prevented a larger number of natives from presenting themselves.
That afternoon an address was presented to the Bishop who delivered an excellent Apostolic reply, and page 38 also gave an address to the native Christians, which was afterwards translated into Maori and printed.
On Sunday, January 6th, 1839, Rev. Octavius Hadfield, who had arrived by the Pelorus to join the Mission staff, was ordained priest at Paihia by Bishop Broughton, who also preached at the service. The same evening the Bishop bade farewell to the Missionaries, and boarded the Pelorus; she sailed for the Thames the following morning.
The work of the Mission had continued steadily among the natives throughout the year 1838, and a noticeable, though somewhat slow, advance was made in the spread of the Chrstian knowledge. Many more, after thorough instruction and examination, were admitted to the membership of the Church.
While they were living at Waimate two more children were born, James Nelson Williams on August 22nd, 1837, and Anna Maria Williams on February 25th, 1839.
For several months after his arrival Rev. O. Hadfield remained in the Bay of Islands, taking part in the work there, and acquiring a knowledge of the language. He also assisted Rev. W. Williams for part of the time by taking classes of boys at the Waimate school.
In September, 1839, after the receipt of urgent requests from the region about Cook Strait, that a Missionary should be sent to reside there, the Committee decided that Rev. O. Hadfield, who had volunteered to take the post, should open a station at Kapiti assisted by Mr. R. Matthews. These requests were due to a man named Riparoa who had been a slave to a Bay of Islands chief, and while there had received teaching in Christianity. On return to his relatives, who lived at Otaki with Te Rauparaha, he imparted to them the knowledge he had received.
On October 31st, 1839, Rev. H. Williams set out in the Columbine to conduct Rev. O. Hadfield to his post, also taking Messrs. Stack and Wilson to Tauranga, and Mr. Clarke to Bay of Plenty. Rev. O. Hadfield was first placed at Waikanae where the people under Te Rangitaake had shown a more ready disposition to accept the page 39 new teaching. To settle a quarrel between the Waikanae natives and Te Rauparaha's party, it was decided that he should have a house at both places, and divide his time between them. After leaving Rev. O. Hadfield at his post, Rev. H. Williams sent the Columbine back to Tauranga, and proceeded there himself overland by way of the Whanganui River and Taupo.