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Through Ninety Years

Chapter VIII

page 59

Chapter VIII.

Sons' Journey Overland to Auckland. Journey to Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, and Return by Waikaremoana, and Work at Turanga During 1845.

On January 1st Archdeacon W. Williams was asked to meet a taua (war party) of Wairoa natives who were on their way to meet the local natives at Patutahi. He therefore went with his son, Sydney, on 2nd January, but as there was no appearance of the visitors they returned and went again two days later. When the taua arrived, after a number of speeches on both sides, and sundry formalities, the Wairoa people were amicably invited into the pa.

On January 14th Samuel and Leonard Williams set out for Uawa at 7 a.m. to collect census information, and four hours lated Archdeacon Wm. Williams and his son Sydney, started on a journey southwards.

Next day they found their journey a very tedious one, owing to the number of trees blown across the road, and did not reach camping place until two hours after dark. They visited various kaingas including Nuhaka, Waikokopu, and Nuku taurua (Table Cape). Here instruction was given to the natives, and services held. They reached Wairoa on January 21st where they met Rev. J. Hamlin who had just returned from a visit up the river, and was then busy building himself a chimney. The next day they went on to Mohaka past a dangerous cliff from which masses of rock had fallen, thence to Waikare and Moeangiangi. Frequent showers and the high fern through which they passed made travelling very unpleasant, and they were glad of fires to dry their clothing at their camp in a shed. On January 25th they proceeded in a canoe to Ahuriri, where they crossed the mouth of the harbour. They then walked to Rev. W. Colenso's station (Waitangi) and were pleased to find that he had got well page 60 over his first difficulties with the rough untutored natives with whom he had to deal.

The following day, Sunday, they had the usual services and classes, and on January 28th left Ahuriri on their return, calling at the various kaingas. When passing the dangerous cliff between Mohaka and Waihua on January 31st some of the party had a narrow escape from a mass of stone which fell from the summit. They spent Sunday, February 2nd at Mr. Hamlin's, and held the usual services. The night of February 4th was passed at Maraetaha, and they reached home in time for breakfast next day.

Archdeacon W. Williams recorded congregations of 500 on January 12th and 600 on March 2nd of whom 166, on the first date, and 284 on the second, partook of the Lord's Supper.

While at his station he was kept busy with a variety of other duties. He had to meet frequent calls for medicines and also to arrange, as opportunity offered, for the purchase of the necessary supplies of wheat and potatoes.

Archdeacon Williams had arranged for his nephew Samuel (aged 23) and his sons Leonard (aged 15½) and Sydney (aged 14) to travel overland from Turanga to St. John's College, Auckland. They started on their journey at 5 p.m. on 17th February, 1845. He accompanied them as far as Patutahi, where at 8 p.m. they camped for the night. The next morning the young travellers got away at 8 a.m. with the natives who carried their supplies, and he returned home just in time to escape heavy rain, which continued through the night and brought down a flood in the rivers next day. Later his sons wrote to him that they had been delayed on their way, and had to remain in camp until the rain ceased, and the floods went down.

Another incident of the journey through Tauranga was told, many years later, by Archdeacon Williams's niece, Mrs. C. P. Davies, who was then with her husband at the Tauranga station, and with whom the boys stayed. Leonard Williams went for a bathe in the sea and made page 61 use of a canoe which was on the shore as a convenient dry spot to place his clothes on, but when he came out from his swim he was dismayed to find that the natives had moved the canoe, and he had considerable difficulty in locating and recovering his apparel.

Archdeacon A. N. Brown, who was in charge of the Tauranga station and Bay of Plenty, was detained in the Bay of Islands by the severe illness of his son. It had therefore been arranged that Archdeacon Williams should pay an inspection visit through the Tauranga district. A fortnight later therefore he took the same road as his sons and nephew with a party of 10 natives carrying supplies. His description of this journey gives some idea of the experiences of the younger party.

He wrote to Leonard Williams on March 17th, 1845—“Your three letters giving us an account of the different stages of your journey were highly interesting, and I will give you the utu (payment) in an account of my travels. I slept at Parakiwai on the Monday night, and the next morning passed your encampment where you waited for the gale to pass over and for the flood to go down. In the afternoon we dined with old Powaitere and went on about four miles to sleep. On Wednesday at eight o'clock we came to your next resting place where your initials are cut upon a Kowhai tree. That day we travelled very slowly owing to the heat of the sun and the heavy loads of potatoes which the natives carried, and making not more than half a day's journey, we slept at the river Rangiriri, having first passed the place where your tent was blown down. The next day, Thursday, we pushed on before breakfast up Tauawatea and over Hukanui, the hill from which you get the last look at Turanga, then along Ngatamahine and past Pukikiwi where you spent Sunday, over the river Motu and on to Waremaire. Friday we breakfasted at Pakihi, passed your encampment on the hill, where we picked up a piece of candle, and slept at Te Umukuri. On Saturday by 10 o'clock we got down to the river of Opotiki, and after 26 crossings we took to the plain and reached Mr. Wilson's in good time in the afternoon. On Tuesday we again started and page 62 slept at the foot of Whakatane hill, then at Otamarora, and the next day at Maketu. You will know better how to measure your distance the next journey, that Maunganui is none the nearer to Maketu because it is a high hill, being at the lowest computation not less than 17 miles.”

On Sunday, March 9th Archdeacon Williams held services in Maori and English. The following morning he went with Mr. Wilson to see a new Chapel 63 ft. by 33 ft., which the natives, working with great spirit, were building to replace their old one which was too small for them. On March 11th he left Opotiki after breakfast, crossed the Waitaha and Ohiwa and reached a village at the foot of Whakatane hill, where he addressed the natives.

Next morning he went on to Whakatane, where relatives of some of their party welcomed them with a sumptuous supply of cooked food. He hurried on to Otamarora which they reached just after dark. On March 13th he went on to Otamarakau and to Maketu, where he held classes with natives, and the following day he proceeded to Tauranga; arriving there at sunset he found that Mr. and Mrs. C. P. Davies were comfortably settled; their principal attention was devoted to the Infant School. Mr. and Mrs. Chapman had just returned to their station at Rotorua after a long absence at Waimate.

On March 15th he visited Otumoetai and Maungatapu, and after evening prayers addressed the natives. On the following day, Sunday, he held the usual services, and also talked to a party of Roman Catholic natives; converts of this faith had also been met at Opotiki and other places on this journey. He packed the natives' loads on March 17th and at noon sent them on towards Rotorua. Next morning he left Tauranga at 6 a.m. on horseback, and overtaking his party half way along the road, reached the lake a little before 6 p.m. He found Mr. Chapman awaiting them with his boat, but they did not get to the station till 11 p.m. as the wind was against them.

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On March 19th he held classes with the natives, and addressed them. Next day he walked to Tikitere hot springs, and talked to the Christian natives there. On Good Friday, March 21st, Mr. Chapman read prayers and Archdeacon Williams preached, and administered the Lord's Supper to 94 communicants. The following day Mr. Chapman, who had arranged to make a missionary journey to Maketu and the Coast, accompanied Archdeacon W. Williams as far as Kupenga. Though hindered by the rain which fell heavily for half an hour, they reached Tarawera Lake in about four hours, and found quarters in a small raupo house there belonging to Mr. Chapman.

Sunday, 23rd—Mr. Chapman went to the natives at Rotokakahi and Archdeacon Williams proceeded by boat to other settlements on the lake, where he gave the natives services and instruction.

The following morning he crossed the lake at sunrise to another pa which he had not been able to visit the day before, and walked through remarkable country near the lake, with picturesque park-like scenery. The latter part of the journey was over a dreary barren waste of pumice stone gravel near Mount Edgecombe, and after a walk of 22 miles he eventually reached Kupenga.

On March 25th he examined the Christian natives who had assembled from two adjoining villages, and held services with them. Then he obtained a canoe and went 26 miles down the rapid stream of Rangitapeke to Pupuaruhe, the principal pa of Whakatane. Here he met Mr. Wilson who had come from Opotiki the day before, and had assembled the Christian natives for instruction. The next day he administered the Lord's Supper to 32 natives, after which he went with Mr. Wilson to visit the sick, and in the evening again addressed the natives.

March 27th—Archdeacon Williams and his party proceeded up the valley, and reached the small village of Ruatoki late in the afternoon. The following day heavy rain prevented them from leaving their quarters. The weather cleared at noon on March 29th and they went to another village about a mile along the road, where they page 64 found better accommodation. Here they remained over Sunday. The weather was fine that day, and they had an assembly of about 40 adults, with whom services were held. In the afternoon he assembled the children, and gave them some instruction in Watts' Catechism, in which they were evidently interested, and answered some questions intelligently.

March 31st—Continued up the Whakatane River in a canoe to the small village Tunanui where he stayed for the night to give instruction to the natives.

On April 1st he travelled through woods over a very rough road. A walk of five hours brought them to Waikare, where the party stayed nearly three hours for food. Most of the natives here professed to be Roman Catholics, but they were civil and attentive while Archdeacon Williams gave them some instruction. He then walked on for three hours, and camped for the night in a deserted village.

After a walk of 2½ hours on April 2nd he reached Maruteane, a pa of some size. Most of the inhabitants were absent, but a number of them returned, and towards noon the principal chief, who was a Christian, made his appearance. He was an elderly man of pleasing manners, and he prevailed upon them to stay. Archdeacon Williams spent a pleasant afternoon answering the numerous enquiries of the people, who appeared to be the most important Christian party he had seen.

A walk of four hours on April 3rd brought him to Te Kapu, a small pa whose inhabitants were professedly Roman Catholics, but they admitted that the hope of obtaining clothes and tobacco had led them to make this profession. Several months ago this party had had a quarrel with the natives who were his companions, in which twelve persons had been killed. This was the first meeting since that event, and they “tangied” or cried over each other for at least an hour.

The visitors were furnished with an ample repast, and then they proceeded to Oputao, the last village on the Whakatane River. Here there was a commodious Chapel, where the Christian natives had assembled to page 65 receive the Lord's Supper. Archdeacon Williams spent two hours with 23 of them catechising them on this service in preparation for the Lord's Supper which he administered on the morning of April 4th. He then took leave of them and set out for Waikare Lake (Waikaremoana) which they reached a little before dark on April 5th.

This lake, a large body of water about four miles in width, is dangerous to cross except in calm weather. Next day the party left in a canoe soon after sunrise, and were nearly over when a strong breeze sprang up which raised such waves that they were in danger of being swamped. They, however, reached the shore in safety and met a party of Christian natives who wished them to remain, but as Rev. J. Hamlin had been there a few days earlier, Archdeacon Williams simply gave them a few words of exhortation, and proceeded to Whataroa, a village midway between the lake and Wairoa. There he remained the following day, Sunday, and held the usual services and classes with the resident natives.

On April 7th the party left early, but missed their way when near their destination. As bad weather came on they had to make themselves comfortable for the night in an old house, with a short supply of food. When the fog cleared away the following morning they made their way to Opowhiti, where one of the native teachers lived. He, however, had gone down the river with Rev. J. Hamlin, but his people treated them hospitably, and in the afternoon they went on to Te Reinga. They reached Ngamahanga on April 9th and camped for the night, and next afternoon arrived at the Turanga home station safely.

Archdeacon Williams again took up the usual home round of services and classes.

An eruptive disease from which a native was suffering caused him some anxiety, as at first he feared that it might be a case of smallpox. His fears, however, fortunately later proved to be groundless, but as a safeguard he took the opportunity of vaccinating as many page 66 natives as he could, and during the next two months he vaccinated 200 persons.

On May 1st he set out for Uawa. On reaching there the next afternoon he heard a confirmation of the report of hostilities between the natives and the Government forces in the Bay of Islands.

On Sunday, May 4th, he recorded that he had a congregation of nearly 400, of whom 175 partook of the Lord's Supper. On his arrival home on the afternoon of May 7th he received letters from the north giving full particulars of the melancholy state of affairs in the Bay of Islands; he was thankful that they were still at peace in his own district.

While at his home station Archdeacon Williams made regular visits to the numerous kaingas in the neighbourhood, where he catechised varying numbers of candidates for baptism, held largely attended Bible Classes with the residents, and administered medicine to those who required it. He also supervised and directed the teachers and classes in the Central school at Turanga.

He described an experiment he made on May 10th. He directed a native to crush a quantity of beetroot, squeezed the juice out with a lever, and boiled it. He thus obtained a liquor of the consistency of molasses, which he thought might be an acquisition to the natives for sweetening their food.

Later he supervised the erection of a flour mill for grinding their wheat, and also made a lime kiln.

On May 26th he received letters from the Bay of Islands telling that the settlers had deserted it, and a force of 600 soldiers and marines had gone there.

On June 16th Archdeacon Williams proceeded to Table Cape and met Rev. J. Hamlin who accompanied him to Nuhaka, and thence he returned home, working as usual among the natives he met.

At the end of this month a large party of about 100 East Cape natives paid a visit to Poverty Bay with the professed object of lamenting over deceased friends, a custom more prevalent here than elsewhere. This lamentation, Archdeacon Williams stated, was practically page 67 formal; they passed round the villages in succession feasting with their living friends on abundant supplies of pork, potatoes and flour.

Rev. J. Hamlin arrived on July 6th to attend local Committee, and assisted Archdeacon Williams in the Sunday services and in preparing for the Meeting. For this Messrs. Kissling, Stack, and Baker arrived on the 10th. The Meetings were held from 11th to 15th July, after which they returned to their respective stations.

At the end of this month Archdeacon Williams received a letter from Table Cape reporting the wreck in Palliser Bay of the ship Tyne from England, which had supplies for him on board. He also heard that the Falco an American brig of 280 tons from Port Nicholson, which had stores for him, had been driven on shore on July 27th at Table Cape, and that the owner and several seamen had removed some of the cargo to a settler's establishment. A number of Englishmen from a neighbouring whaling station began stealing from the vessel, and they were soon joined by a number of natives.

Archdeacon Williams promptly journeyed to Table Cape to investigate what had happened. He exerted his influence, and was thus able after several days to secure the recovery of some at any rate of the looted property.

On July 27th Archdeacon Williams recorded a crowded congregation of natives at the Morning Service, 172 partaking of the Lord's Supper, and on August 17th there were 126 partakers at services at Toanga.

On August 6th Rev. W. Colenso arrived from Ahuriri, bringing Mrs. Colenso for a visit, and while at Turanga he assisted in taking the services and classes with the natives. On the 13th he returned alone to his station.

He mentioned on August 25th that influenza was again prevalent among the Maoris, and a number of deaths had occurred.

On September 13th a large party of natives arrived from Wairoa, bringing 8 new canoes for the Turanga natives. This created much excitement in the pa, and the following day, Sunday, there were large congregations which included a number of the Wairoa visitors.

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On October 2nd he left home arriving the following afternoon at Uawa where he assisted Mr. Baker in his examinations and catechising. On Sunday, October 5th, he administered the Lord's Supper to 121, and baptised a number of adults and children. On October 7th he went with Mr. Baker to Tokomaru, and the day following conducted services at which 83 partook of the Lord's Supper, and also baptised a number of natives. He returned to Uawa on the 9th and reached home again on the afternoon of 11th October, having visited and inspected the various kaingas on the way.

As indicating the personal attention which was essential for the adequate working of a Mission Station such as that carried on by Archdeacon W. Williams in the Turanga District, reference to his Journal for the year 1845 shows that he was at Turanga and neighbouring places which could be reached by a journey of not more than two or three days, for 34 weeks.

During this period, in addition to the regular Sunday morning and afternoon services with the Maoris, and an English service at midday, a catechising at one of the native services, and other occasional services for baptisms, weddings, and funerals, he personally held 238 classes for natives on 116 different days for Bible readings, instruction and examination of candidates for baptism, and preparation for the administration of the Lord's Supper. The aggregate attendances at these classes was 5,448. Though sometimes numbering less than five, a few of them contained from 90 to 120 each; the majority ranged between these extremes.

In addition he had to keep up his regular reports and returns to the C.M.S. He was frequently interrupted by calls to visit or supply medicine for the sick, and had regularly to supervise the procuring of food and material required for carrying on the work.

While at St. John's College, Leonard Williams received the following letter from Bishop Selwyn under date of October 22nd, 1845—

“In token of my approbation of your diligence and good conduct, as it has come under my observation page 69 during this term, I have elected you to a Scholarship in St. John's College on the foundation of the late Rev. Thomas Whytehead. The income of your Scholarship, added to such advantages as you may gain in any duties to which I may appoint, will soon, I hope, enable you to release your father from the charge of your maintenance.”