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Through Ninety Years

Chapter VII

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Chapter VII.

Bishop Selwyn Takes Over Waimate School as His College. Archdeacon Williams Visits Southern East Coast. Revision Committee at Waimate. Heke's Attack on Kororareka Flagstaff. First Synod. College Moved to Auckland.

As suggested Bishop Selwyn took over the control of the School at Waimate, and called it St. John's College. He purposed to have candidates for Orders as students there, and to include among them some of the most suitable of the Mission catechists and any of the Missionaries' sons who were prepared to take up the work of the Church.

Among these was Samuel Williams, Rev. H. Williams's second son who was spoken of as the flower of the family, though it was expected that he would find the training uphill work.

Entering St. John's College, Waimate, at this time, he at once impressed the Bishop with his ability and perseverance, and was appointed senior Bursar. Later he also had charge of the school for native teachers attached to the College.

The District under the control of Archdeacon W. Williams extended southwards nearly to Cape Palliser, and in order to visit those parts he decided in October, 1843, to go by sea to Wellington and work northwards along the coast. The Columbine, now owned by her captain, called at Poverty Bay, and he took passage by her.

He was accompanied by his son Leonard, then 14 years of age, also by Mr. W. Colenso, who was then on his vacation from St. John's College where he was studying for Orders, together with a party of natives to carry supplies and baggage. They had a rough passage, and a succession of strong north-westerly gales prevented them page 51 from rounding Cape Palliser. Therefore they determined to land if possible to the north of it.

During a lull in the wind when off Flat Point the boat was lowered, and most of the natives and the baggage were landed, but on the return of the boat the strong wind which again sprang up prevented a second trip with the balance of the party, who only got on shore three days later at Castle Point. There they had to wait with the natives at Mataikona until they were rejoined by the rest of their party with the baggage. This involved a delay of fifteen days, as those first landed had gone on to Port Nicholson, and messages had to be sent them to return northwards.

The time was spent with one of the native teachers who lived near, instructing and examining candidates for baptism. Some of the teachers who had been placed in Wairarapa also came to see them. They then worked northwards, visiting the native kaingas on their way. At Ahuriri (Hawke's Bay) they selected a site and arranged for a raupo house to be built at Waitangi near the mouth of the Ngaruroro River for Mr. Colenso, who was to occupy the station there.

At Wairoa they found things in a cheerless state from want of attention; the natives had been disappointed at not receiving the resident missionary whom they had expected for the last three years. The Bishop proposed that Mr. J. Hamlin should be placed there.

From Wairoa Mr. Colenso travelled homewards by way of Tauranga and Waikato. Archdeacon W. Williams and his son Leonard returned home in time to spend Christmas 1843 with his wife and family, whom he was thankful to find in good health.

While living at Kaupapa (Turanga) two more daughters were born, Lydia Catherine on April 7th, 1841, and Marianne on August 22nd, 1843.

The Missionaries were still favourably impressed by the Bishop, and they had much reason to be satisfied with his administration.

In September, 1844, Rev. Henry Williams was appointed by the Bishop Archdeacon of the northern page 52 portion of his diocese, Rev. A. N. Brown was appointed Archdeacon of Tauranga with jurisdiction over Rotorua and Taupo, Rev. O. Hadfield was similarly appointed to superintend the whole coastline from Port Nicholson to New Plymouth or Taranaki.

On September 22nd, 1844, Right Rev. Bishop Selwyn held an Ordination at Auckland and admitted Mr. W. Colenso and Mr. J. Hamlin to Deacon's Orders, and they forthwith took charge of their respective stations at Ahuriri and Wairoa.

On January 1st, 1844, Archdeacon Wm. Williams again left home to visit the various native teachers and kaingas along the coast as far as East Cape. After conducting the usual services and examining the schools he returned to his station.

On February 20th he wrote from Turanga—“I am now contemplating a visit to Waimate to reside there six months, during part of which time Henry will take my place here. My two eldest sons have been at home for twelve months, and have lost much time expecting to return to school every month, but no opportunity afforded until too late.”

He further wrote on board H.M.S. Victoria off the Bay of Islands on June 8th—“It is now more than six weeks since I left Turanga. A meeting had been appointed by the Bishop at which I was directed to attend, the object of which was to revise various translations into the New Zealand language. This meeting was to come together at the beginning of March, and I was holding myself in readiness to come this way at that time with my two eldest boys,” (William Leonard aged 14 ½ years and Thomas Sydney aged 13 years) “when a serious accident befel us; a good dwelling house, into which we were on the point of entering, took fire through the extreme carelessness of one of my natives and was speedily burnt to the ground. He had been told to remove all shavings and timber litter out of the house and burn them, in doing this he left a trail of shavings between house and fire which he made too close to building, and when lighted neglected to control page 53 it, and the house caught fire. I was therefore obliged to remain at home for two months to erect another—a rough building which might shelter our family during the present winter. This was accomplished and I left my wife with our two elder daughters and our four younger children and set out on our journey overland. But we have not yet availed ourselves of the modern improvements in travelling, so that two weeks were spent in advancing as far as Tauranga, the greater part of the third in getting to Mr. Preece's station on the Firth of the Thames, a fourth passed away in waiting for a favourable state of weather for crossing over to Auckland, a fifth was spent at Auckland, there not being a vessel direct for this Bay, and now the sixth is nearly gone in our passage up.

“I have nothing worth mentioning up to the time I reached Auckland. The town presents a good appearance considering its infant state. The houses are principally of wood, but there are a few substantial buildings of brick and stone” (scoria from the volcanic hills). “The most pleasing feature of the whole is a good brick church which will hold about 600 people and stands in a prominent position, being the most striking object on entering the harbour. The site, in my opinion, is particularly well chosen, although the agents of the New Zealand Company have been unsparing in their abuse of Captain Hobson for having made this selection. The case is that there is not another place in this island in which there is anything like the extent of level land which surrounds Auckland. The consequence is that the surrounding country is beginning to put on a beautiful appearance from the number of cottages which are rising in all quarters. The district was wholly unoccupied by natives until our countrymen came there.”

The Revision Committee was composed of the Bishop, Archdeacon W. Williams, Rev. R. Maunsell, and Mr. Puckey. As soon as Archdeacon Williams reached Waimate they set to work on the revision of the Prayer Book.

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Archdeacon W. Williams wrote on August 15th, 1844 —"For a time the Bishop was regular in his attendances, but he soon found that our close sittings would interfere with his various duties, and by degrees he withdrew until the work was left to ourselves. I may here mention that the Bishop since his arrival at Waimate has made it a principal object to make this place altogether a scholastic establishment, and having in addition to his vast power of reducing things to a good system, the means also of extensive assistance from among the students. He has first the College in which are candidates for Holy Orders under himself and Mr. Cotton, secondly the English boys' school under Mr. Cotton and Mr. Hutton, a student, thirdly a school for native teachers under himself and Mr. Nihil, a student, fourthly a native boys' school under Mr. Wm. Davis, and fifthly the infant school under Mrs. Christopher Davies and Mrs. Colenso” (the daughter of Mr. Fairburn). “There is also a small printing establishment conducted by Mr. Nihil, a hospital in charge of Mr. Christopher Davies, a spinning and weaving school under Mr. Hamlin and Mr. Matthews. The Bishop's wish has been to have the various departments worked into a regular system, and then placing at Waimate one of the older Missionaries, himself to withdraw to Auckland with part of the machinery, and establish a permanent College. These plans have been detailed to the Society” (C.M.S.) “in a long letter, to which there has not yet been time to receive an answer.”

On September 15th, 1844, Archdeacon W. Williams wrote from Waimate—“We have lately had a good deal of excitement from another cause. A young chief of some influence named Heke, a relative of Hongi, married also to his daughter, embraced Christianity some years ago, and for a time walked consistently with his new profession, but last year was drawn into a quarrel with the Kaitaia tribe and obtained some notoriety as a warrior. Since that time he has seemed to court public notice, and by way of doing this more effectually has not carried on his mischievous schemes against people of no reputation, but has made an open attack upon the Government by page 55 cutting down the flagstaff at Kororareka. The reason he assigns for it is that many of our countrymen, and more particularly an American, have told the natives that it is in consequence of the flagstaff that ships do not frequent the Bay of Islands as they used to do. Of course information was immediately sent to the Governor, Captain FitzRoy, and it is expected that serious notice will be taken of the matter. In the meantime at the suggestion of the natives at Waimate, a meeting of the chiefs was called by the Bishop, at which Heke also was present. The general feeling was strongly against this outrage, and a letter was written to the Governor from the chiefs, and another also from Heke, in which he proposed to repair the mischief by a promise of amendment, and by offering to replace the flagstaff with a new one. The Governor in the meantime had sent to New South Wales for 250 soldiers and for a ship of war, which arrived at Kororareka a little before the Governor made his appearance. We had in consequence much excitement, the natives not knowing what steps were going to be taken, and the settlers at the outposts, fearing that if matters came to an open rupture, their property would first fall sacrifice to the natives. Mr. Clarke, the native protector, was with the Governor, and the latter was desirous in every way to do that which, while it would restore peace to the community, might tend to conciliate the natives. He decided therefore to leave the hostile array at Kororareka and to come quietly to Waimate, and there hold a meeting with the native chiefs.

“On the day appointed the meeting was held, there being a large assembly of leading chiefs. The Governor spoke for a long time, each sentence being interpreted by Mr. Puckey, after which the chiefs delivered their sentiments in native style, and a nominal payment of about 20 muskets was brought forward for the cutting down of the flagstaff by John Heke's friends. He would not, however, come forward himself, and so far the meeting was not satisfactory because the promise of peace was depending only on the goodwill of the friendly chiefs.”

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After this meeting the Governor discussed with the missionaries and the Bishop the formation of a committee to control the Mission work, which had been proposed in letters from the Church Missionary Society. He stated that he did not consider the proposal workable, but suggested an alternative which was approved of by those present. He therefore undertook to write to the Society, which it was hoped would accept his suggestion.

On September 22nd, 1844, the Right Rev. Bishop Selwyn held an ordination service at Auckland, and admitted Messrs. W. Colenso and J. Hamlin to deacons' orders; they forthwith took charge of their respective stations at Ahuriri and Wairoa.

Archdeacon Henry Williams returned to Bay of Islands after the Governor had departed. During his visit to the south he had only been able to spend five Sundays at Turanga.

Archdeacon W. Williams returned to Turanga on November 1st, 1844, taking home from school his two eldest sons. He was thankful to find his wife and six other children were well, and had enjoyed many blessings during his six months' absence. Mr. C. Baker had paid them two visits of several days each, in addition to the few weeks Archdeacon H. Williams had spent with them, but the natives had suffered from the want of the regular attention they required.

The Bishop held his first Synod at Waimate before the missionaries returned to their stations, of which Archdeacon W. Williams on November 19th, 1844, wrote thus—“The Bishop held a Synod which lasted two days, at which he brought forward various points of importance to the Mission and the Church in general, for the purpose of obtaining from his Clergy, who have had much experience in the country, their opinions, for the Bishop declared it to be his wish to act in these respects as the Bishops did in former days, acting more in unison with his Clergy, and not upon his single responsibility. Upon some questions there was a difference of opinion, and the minute was recorded accordingly, and I believe the general results of the Meeting will be given by the page 57 Bishop in his charge. The chief subjects of consideration were, the best mode of dealing with candidates for baptism, and for the Lord's Supper, the time of probation, the regulation of native teachers' schools.

“There was one particular which excited a little unpleasant feeling in the minds of some. The Bishop has appointed that in the administration of adult baptism, generally there shall be reference made to the Archdeacon of the district, and that generally such baptisms shall take place at the time of the Archdeacon's visitation.”

This was designed to check a tendency to baptise large bodies of natives together, without regard to due individual preparation.

“At the conclusion of the Synod we presented an address to his Lordship, which has been printed. The reply was most gratifying. He spoke most feelingly of the gratification he felt at the union of sentiment which pervaded the body of his Clergy, and at the confidence which they repose in him.

“The Bishop at the same time expressed his entire confidence and satisfaction with the whole of his Clergy. This was done, not as a Bishop to his Clergy, placed far beneath him, but with the warm affection of a father to his children. The feelings of everyone were much wrought upon by the pathos of his manner, and particularly by the affectionate delivery of his blessing, with which he dismissed us.”

A letter from Mr. Coates, the Secretary of the Church Missionary Society in England, was received later by Bishop Selwyn, which led him to take immediate steps to transfer his College from Waimate to Auckland, where he could work out his own plans without interference.

He proposed to leave at Waimate the schools for elder girls and infants together with the spinning and weaving establishment.

After discussing the difficulties of the Bishop in the opening of St. John's College in Auckland, Archdeacon W. Williams wrote on February 26th, 1845—“One way in which this great difference is made in the expenditure page 58 is that the cooking for the School, College and Bishop's family is all done by one person and at the same time. Now that the School is removed to Auckland I shall be glad to see the nature of its progress. For a time it will have to struggle with difficulties. At Waimate there were accommodations of every kind, which had been provided at much expense through a series of years, now everything will be new, and at first the buildings will be very scanty. I have wished that the Bishop's removal had not been so expeditious, and that he had remained another year, while preparations might be in progress for the new College, but the removal at the time it took place seems to have been most providential, for such is the state of excitement from the disturbed state of the natives that the operations of the College could hardly have gone on during the present season. You will hear from Henry all particulars of the attack, and I will only remark that there does not seem to be any cause for the proceedings of the natives more than a jealous notion which has been instilled into their minds of the English flag, which is hoisted on the flagstaff at Kororareka, which the natives have been told is the sign of their being made slaves. The poor Governor is much perplexed. Having a strong desire to promote the interests of the natives in every way, he not only finds his plans thwarted, but he has an intense anxiety to the means of preserving the public peace.

“Since I last wrote I have received much help in the Eastern District in the arrival of Rev. James Hamlin and Rev. W. Colenso respectively at the Stations of Wairoa and Ahuriri. I have been to visit them at their Stations and found them in the midst of much labour. Mr. Colenso will have to travel down to the immediate neighbourhood of Port Nicholson, and Mr. Hamlin will have a wide range among a body of natives who much need his ministrations.”

Samuel Williams came from St. John's College for the vacation at the end of 1844, and assisted his uncle by taking some of the native classes at Turanga during the succeeding few weeks.