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Through Ninety Years

Chapter VI

Chapter VI.

Move to Turanga and First Years There—1839 to 1843. Arrival in New Zealand of First Governor, Captain Hobson. Treaty of Waitangi Signed. Arrival of Bishop Selwyn. Rev. W. Williams Appointed Archdeacon.

Rev. Richard Taylor and his wife who had arrived in Sydney on June 12th, 1836, on their way to New Zealand had been detained there for a time by Rev. S. Marsden to take charge of a large and most populous parish in Sydney whose minister Rev. H. Hill had died suddenly. After this Rev. R. Taylor came on to New Zealand and landed at Paihia on March 10th, 1839.

As it had been decided that Rev. William Williams should take charge of the new expansion of the Mission work on the East Coast, it was arranged that he and Rev. R. Taylor should make a journey to that district together, and select a site for the new station. On March 19th, 1839, they therefore set out for Paihia and embarked on the Aquita. They set sail the same evening and were off Tauranga Heads on the 22nd and anchored at Waikorire next morning.

They found Tauranga as unsettled as ever, the natives there being still engaged in warfare. They spent a few days there assisting those in charge of the stations, and held services with large congregations of natives in their kaingas. Finding that the Columbine which had received page 40 damage in a recent gale was not yet at their disposal, they arranged on March 25th with the Master of a cutter in port to convey them to Opotiki, about 60 miles to the eastward.

As they proposed to go overland from there to Poverty Bay they repacked their baggage in bundles that could be carried on men's backs. They were, however, unable to sail from Tauranga until March 31st. Adverse winds and heavy seas hindered them, and they could not land at Opotiki. They were therefore compelled to change their destination, and anchored at Wharehika on the evening of April 4th. On landing next morning they were met by a party of natives from Awatere who conducted them to the pa at Hekawa. Here they had to leave six of their packages which included their tents. Until these came on later they had to find shelter from the wet weather in native huts.

They left Hekawa on April 6th and had to travel slowly, as Mr. Taylor was a little lame from a tight boot, and they did not reach Rangitukia until an hour after dark. The native teacher James Kiko had arranged quarters for them in a native house which was fairly comfortable, except for the fleas. He gave them an encouraging account of the progress of his work during his three months' residence.

Next morning, Sunday, April 7th, they moved on to more suitable quarters and held a service with about 250 natives. The six men who had carried their packages a distance of 18 miles the previous day each received a prayer book, which they preferred to any other form of remuneration.

On April 8th they left Rangitukia with their luggage bearers, visiting the same native kaingas as they did the previous year.

They were pleased to find that at several places Chapels had been built for worshipping in. The one then in course of erection at Whakawhitira was 60 ft. by 28 and was attended by a congregation of 500. The natives were very attentive, and showed an increasing desire for instruction. All this was the result of the influence of page 41 the native Christians who had been placed to work among them. The luggage carriers again asked for prayer books as payment for their work.

They arrived at Tokomaru at 5 p.m. on April 11th, but rain prevented them from assembling the natives, although at the several settlements visited they had received attentive welcomes.

Next day they called at Messrs. Harris and Espie's Whaling Station at Motukaroro; here they were detained by rain and did not reach Uawa until sunset the following evening. On April 15th they proceeded some 8 miles down the Uawa Valley through well-kept cultivations. When they came to the crossing place, as there was no canoe available, they were obliged to swim the river, conveying their luggage on a raft.

At noon next day they walked at low water round a remarkable point (Gable End Foreland). They camped beyond it at a spot that left them a walk of nine miles next morning to Mr. Harris's station at Turanganui, which they reached at midday on April 17th. That afternoon they went on to Okahu, a large pa one mile in length, intended as a city of refuge for the whole of Turanga in case of an attack from Waikato. At a house outside the pa the resident native teachers welcomed them and gave a good account of their work, telling of the earnest desire of the natives for teachers and books.

Owing to stormy weather they had great difficulty in keeping their tents standing, and suffered much discomfort. Eventually they moved to the shelter of the teachers' half-finished house.

When the weather cleared on April 20th they went on to Umukapua where Rev. W. Williams fixed upon a suitable site for a raupo house to be built in a central situation. The following day, Sunday, they held services with the natives and an English service at Mr. Harris's establishment.

On the morning of April 22nd, 1839, they left on their return journey. In two and a half hours they reached Turanganui where Mr. Espie was waiting to take them in his boat part of the way.

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They made Whangara that evening, and on next day to Uawa by boat, where their natives soon overtook them. They were pleased to find that the chief there, whose people were anxious for instruction, had secured a young Tauranga chief as a teacher. On April 24th they continued their voyage in Mr. Espie's boat as far as Motukaroro. Thence they walked on to Whakawhitira which they reached at dusk on April 26th.

Next day they addressed the natives there. As the weather was unfavourable, they remained over Sunday, April 28th, and they had well-ordered congregations of 500 in the morning and 300 in the evening. They reached Rangitukia the following day, and arrived at Hekawa at 11 a.m. on May 1st. Here they had to await the Columbine; she was ten days overdue, and they were running short of provisions.

The Columbine arrived on May 7th. A canoe going off to her was swamped in the breakers, but during the afternoon a boat was sent in and they got on board safely, thankful to have thus far satisfactorily accomplished the object of their journey.

After being delayed by adverse winds, they landed at Tauranga on May 13th and resumed their voyage on May 18th with Messrs. Fairburn, Hamlin, Wilson and family as passengers; they finally landed at Paihia on May 23rd, 1839.

At the end of the month Rev. W. Williams again took charge of the school and duties at the Waimate Station until the boys went to their homes on June 18th for holidays, and two days later he took Mrs. Williams and their three sons and youngest daughter to Paihia, where this daughter was baptised on Sunday, June 23rd.

On June 24th he collected and packed trees for Turanga, these being shipped by the Jess the following day.

While on their journey he and Mr. Taylor had discussed the proposal that the latter should take charge of the school at Waimate. To this Mr. Taylor agreed; he went to Waimate in October, 1839, but did not assume complete control until after Rev. W. page 43 Williams's departure for Turanga. Meanwhile the latter continued his old duties at Waimate when the school reassembled on August 14th.

Early in October Rev. W. Williams took his wife and two youngest children to Paihia where they remained for a time that she might prepare a supply of clothing for their children, some of whom were being left at the Bay of Islands for the present. During the last three months of 1839, in addition to his usual duties, he was busily engaged in packing preparatory to moving his household to the south. A shipment of his effects, requirements and supplies, together with some cattle, was sent off by the Jess on November 22nd.

He severed his connection with Waimate on December 4th.

As the Columbine was not available, arrangements were made with another suitable vessel to convey him and his household to their southern station. They sailed from Paihia towards the end of December, and reached Tauranga on January 6th, 1840. Here they remained two days, and were thus able to meet Rev. H. Williams who had just arrived on his journey overland from the south. A meeting of Committee was held, after which they continued their voyage and landed safely at Turanga (Poverty Bay) a few days later.

It should be noted that Rev. W. Williams's station at Turanga (Poverty Bay) must not be confused with Tauranga (Bay of Plenty).

On his visit nine months earlier Rev. W. Williams had arranged for a raupo house to be built for him. This had been duly erected, but it was without doors or windows; moreover having only an earthen floor it was infested with fleas, which could only be expelled by a judicious application of fire and boiling water. Some requisites for making the house habitable had been brought with them, but it was some time before they could be used, as timber for flooring and other purposes had to be felled in the forest, sawn and seasoned before it could be used. As skilled artisans were not available, Rev. W. Williams himself therefore had to arrange for page 44 and supervise the procuring and erection of all that was required.

In anticipation of the first Sunday after their arrival, a large number of natives from the neighbouring kaingas collected on Saturday. On the Sunday the weather was fortunately fine, and an attentive congregation of at least 1,000 assembled in the open air. This was a most gratifying beginning to Rev. W. Williams's missionary work there.

At noon they assembled again for school; here there were five classes of men numbering from 50 to 150 each, also one of 50 boys and two of women. Some who had learned to do so read in the New Testament, and others were instructed in the Catechism, repeating the answers after their teachers.

Dr. Lang in a letter to Lord Durham had stated that the Mission in New Zealand was worse than a failure. Replying to this charge Rev. W. Williams stated that their congregations aggregated from 13,000 to 20,000 persons, and in addition to the 5,000 New Testaments printed in New Zealand they had also printed 20,000 Morning and Evening Prayer Books, and had asked for an additional 10,000 Testaments to be printed in England.

The first station at Turanga was at Kaupapa near the Waipaoa River not far from its mouth.

Captain Hobson, R.N., was appointed by the British Government to negotiate a Treaty with the natives of New Zealand ceding the sovereignty of the country to the Queen of England. He arrived in the Bay of Islands in January, 1840. Early in February a meeting was held at Waitangi which was attended by all the principal chiefs of the district. Signatures to the first copy of this Treaty were then obtained. Rev. Henry Williams assisted in explaining its terms to the natives. His name appears as one of the witnesses to several of the signatures. Additional sheets of the Treaty were sent to many other districts, that the signatures of those resident there might also be obtained. Rev. W. Williams's name appears also as the attesting witness to some of these.

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In the middle of May, 1841, Rev. W. Williams set out and spent six weeks visiting the East Cape district, when he found steady progress had been made in the spread of the Gospel under the diligent attention of the native teachers.

After examination he baptised 600 adults and 300 infants. The leading chiefs with few exceptions had become Christians.

In a letter dated August 24th, 1841, Rev. W. Williams wrote—“The presence at home of our eldest daughter, Mary, now fifteen years of age, has been a source of great comfort to her Mother. She is industrious in her habits, and takes an equal share with her mother in all household duties; indeed without her I know not how she would get through the difficulties of her present situation, the eldest of our three youngest children being only four years of age. While on the subject of the children I will again mention my two eldest boys who are with me. From all I hear of the school at Waimate I am thankful I have them with me, and still more thankful I am able to carry out the plan I had formed for their instruction without interfering with the care of the natives. The time I give up to them is about three hours daily, of which half is before breakfast and the remainder at the close of the day before tea. My nephews Henry and Thomas, aged respectively 17 ½ and 16 years, who are also with us, are reading Homer, Herodotus, Virgil and Cicero, and Leonard (aged 12 years) without difficulty keeps up with them. Twice a week we make an attempt at Hebrew, which is interesting to all parties, and may hereafter turn to good account. The daily occupation is one lesson in Greek, one in Latin or Hebrew, with a problem of Euclid and Latin exercise. A little French has lately been added twice in the week, which is attended to by Jane (Mrs. Williams).”

In September, 1841, Leonard Williams wrote from Kaupapa, Turanga, to his sister Jane who was at Bay of Islands—“Father will soon be going to Wairoa and will very likely take Henry (his cousin) and me with him. There is some of the fence put up where the new house page 46 is to be. The garden is all fenced in and some raspberries are planted there, but the house will not be put up until father has got a carpenter to do it.”

He wrote again from Kaupapa on December 24th, 1841—“Father, Henry and I started from here on 6th October about 10 o'clock, and we took Thomas, another cousin, and Sydney, part of the way with us, and they left us not long before we got to Taikawakawa on the coast, where we stopped a little time while the natives cooked some food, and then we went on to a high hill called Tarewa. Before we got half way up it I was so tired I wondered where we were to pitch our tent, and when we got there we had to send two natives a good way off to get some water for our tea. When we got up in the morning we found snow lying about 2 inches thick upon the ground, and we melted some of it for our breakfast. When we set off that day we travelled a very long way through a wood along a ridge of hills until we came down the hill into a plain, and then we had to go a long way to Nuhaka where we stopped two or three days while father examined the natives that were to be baptised on Sunday, and on Monday we started for Table Cape where we stopped a whole week on account of father's waiwai (disputation) with one of the ‘Pikopo’ (Roman Catholic) priests who had landed there. On Monday following we went back to Nuhaka. I have only given you the account of the first and worst part of my journey, if you wish for the rest you must read it in my letter to M.”

On October 15th, 1841, Rev. W. Williams wrote—“In a letter I shewed the Society that our congregations muster altogether 27,000 natives, which at the time was more than are found in all the other Missions of the Society.”

He further recorded that in the year 1841 the number of natives attending Christian worship at Waiapu and Tokomaru was 3,200, Uawa and Turanga 2,500, Table Cape, Wairoa and Ahuriri 2,900, in all 8,600. These services were mainly conducted by the resident native page 47 Christian teachers, and were an evidence of the earnestness of their work.

Early in April, 1842, Rev. William Williams, accompanied by his family, left in the Columbine for the Bay of Islands to attend the Central Missionary Committee. It was while he was there that the Missionaries were surprised by the sudden arrival of the Bishop of New Zealand, Right Rev. G. A. Selwyn. The Bishop had arrived in Auckland, and had sailed from that place to Bay of Islands, but had left his vessel out at sea, and with the assistance of his Chaplain had rowed his own boat to the beach at Paihia.

The Missionaries welcomed the arrival of the Bishop, who impressed them with his disposition to meet their views, and his anxiety to promote the welfare of the Maoris. They expressed their thankfulness to God who had directed his appointment.

On August 24th, 1842, Rev. W. Williams wrote—“One of the leading subjects upon which we had communication with his Lordship was the School at Waimate which was likely to die a natural death; most of the children had been withdrawn because the parents were dissatisfied, and Mr. Taylor had sent in his resignation. This subject being brought before the Bishop, he said that the establishment of good schools was with him of primary importance, and he had already made provision for a commencement either at Auckland or at Bay of Islands, but that if it met the views of the Society, he would form his establishment for the present out of the materials of the School there, taking charge of the buildings at Waimate as soon as Mr. Taylor relinquished it, and giving the children of the Missionaries the advantage of being on the foundation. In expectation of some improvement on the past, I have left my boys again at Waimate.”

The Bishop appointed Rev. W. Williams Archdeacon of East Cape, including in his jurisdiction Opotiki, Tauranga and Rotorua.

Some new Mission workers arrived with the Bishop. Rev. W. C. and Mrs. Dudley, and Rev. C. L. Reay came page 48 out with him. Mr. and Mrs. S. M. Spencer and Rev. G. A. Kissling arrived soon after in the same year; the last named had previously worked in the West African mission field.

In due course Archdeacon W. Williams with his family returned to his Turanga station, accompanied by Rev. W. C. and Mrs. Dudley, who were to be stationed at Wairoa.

On arrival at Turanga they found Mr. and Mrs. J. Stack who had come from Tauranga to take charge of the Rangitukia Station at Waiapu.

After paying a visit to Tolaga Bay Archdeacon Williams set out at the beginning of October with Rev. W. C. Dudley for Table Cape, Wairoa and Ahuriri. They had expected to meet the Bishop at Ahuriri on his way from Port Nicholson (now Wellington) early in November. Owing, however, to the death of Mr. Evans, the Bishop's companion and pupil, this meeting did not take place until November 15th.

From Ahuriri Archdeacon Williams accompanied the Bishop and Chief Justice Martin (who was travelling with him) to Poverty Bay. From the personal intercourse and discussions that he had with the Bishop on this journey he formed a high opinion of his character and ability.

A great catastrophe befell a new Church that was being erected at Turanga, which it was hoped the Bishop would consecrate. The building was advancing rapidly until within a week of their arrival, when a violent hurricane lifted the ponderous roof, which being displaced carried the rest of the fabric to the ground, a heap of almost useless ruin, so instead of a fine building, the Bishop had therefore to be satisfied with a simple awning from which to address a congregation of 1,000 seated before him in the open air.

From Poverty Bay, the Bishop and Chief Justice Martin, who accompanied him, were conducted by Archdeacon W. Williams as far as Rangitukia, where Mr. J. Stack was stationed. Leaving them there to continue page 49 their way by Bay of Plenty to Auckland, Archdeacon Williams returned home.

Rev. W. C. Dudley was to have been stationed at Wairoa, but at the end of 1842 while staying with Archdeacon Williams, he suffered a complete mental breakdown. The Archdeacon had to obtain assistance to ensure his being safely cared for; as he did not improve he took him in January, 1843, in the Columbine to the Bay of Islands. The Bishop, then in residence at Waimate, undertook to relieve the Archdeacon of all the responsibility for Mr. Dudley.

Until Mr. J. Stack occupied the post at Rangitukia, Archdeacon Williams was in sole charge of the work on the East Coast. He wrote on May 15th, 1843, that in August, 1842, it had been decided that Mr. C. Baker, who had been at Waikare, Bay of Islands, should be placed at Tolaga Bay. Later the Bishop had appointed Rev. G. A. Kissling to Kawa Kawa near Hicks Bay.