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Through Ninety Years

Chapter IX

Chapter IX.

1845–1846. Journey to Wairoa, Ahuriri and Wellington via Manawatu and back by East Coast. Bishop Selwyn's Visit, Confirmations held January, 1846.

On October 17th and 18th Archdeacon Williams made preparations for a long land journey to Ahuriri, Manawatu, Wellington and Palliser Bay. On October 20th he left home with a party of natives carrying food and baggage. At 1 p.m. he reached Taikawakawa where a number of natives had gathered to meet him.

After giving them instruction he continued his journey, visiting the kaingas at Nuhaka, Waikokopu, and Whakaki. He then went on to Wairoa, reaching there on 22nd October. Rev. J. Hamlin was absent when he arrived, but returned next day. Archdeacon Williams discussed various matters with him. He also discoursed with the natives, gave them instruction and held the usual services.

The weather as far as Wairoa had been threatening and showery, and there was further rain on 24th October when he proceeded on his way. He walked along the coast under the dangerous cliffs to Waikari, but the continuous rain prevented his going further that day. As the weather cleared on 25th he went on to Arapaonui, remaining there over the next day, Sunday. On October 27th he started off early for Tangoio, and thence went on to Waihinganga. At both these places the numerous page 70 residents pressed the party to stay, but it was necessary for them to push on. After walking over a toilsome road of loose gravel, they eventually reached Rev. W. Colenso's house at Awapuni at 8 p.m.

On October 28th the party went on to Te Ngaue where a large number of natives were busily employed in planting crops. After staying with them a short time to have some food they walked across the plain till dark, when they reached a small village on the Poukawa Lake. They were much indebted to the Chief, Te Hapuku, who sent a guide after them and so saved them from travelling through deep swamps. The weather in the afternoon had been wet with a southerly wind, so they were very grateful for the shelter of a warm house. The people came together for prayers, though very few professed Christianity.

Next day they proceeded to a small village on an island in Lake Rotoatara (opposite what is now Te Aute) which had been the scene of some desperate conflicts between the inhabitants and invaders from Waikato. The latter took the village, but some months later were driven out again with loss by the former inhabitants, assisted by the Ngapuhi Chief, Te Wera, from Table Cape.

Here the party obtained another guide, and after crossing a large tract of unoccupied grass land, reached Waipukurau towards evening. Though the village was a new one, Archdeacon Williams was pleased to find a well-built Chapel.

On October 30th he addressed the people at morning prayers; then, having been furnished with a guide to Manawatu, the party proceeded over the vast plain of Ruataniwha and encamped at Te Whiti, where Bishop Selwyn had spent the Sabbath three years before. The following day they travelled through the forest at the head of the Manawatu River. After a walk of nine hours they came to the village of Hautotara, whence they hoped to proceed by canoe. During the forenoon a partial eclipse of the sun had been observed.

On November 1st Archdeacon Williams addressed and catechised the natives, and afterwards mended and page 71 washed his clothing. On the following day, Sunday, he held services and instructed the natives.

On November 3rd he set out on his voyage down the Manawatu. The scenery here was very picturesque, but though the country was good and fairly flat, it was sparsely populated. He encamped at the small village of Ngaawapurua, and gave suitable advice to a few natives who had given up attending Christian worship. Next day he continued his journey down the river. After travelling some distance he left the canoe at a small village and proceeded on foot in order to avoid a dangerous part of the stream, and arrived at Te Wi in the evening, but found that most of the natives there had gone to Otaki to meet Mr. Taylor for the administration of the Lord's Supper. He had prayers with those who had remained, and urged them to live according to the Gospel.

In his journal on November 5th, 1845, Archdeacon Williams wrote—

“Being furnished with two fresh canoes we resumed our voyage. The stream has a continued succession of rapids, down which the natives manage the canoes with much dexterity. At 10 a.m. we met a party from Otaki, and went on shore to take food with them; they were very urgent for me to remain there for the night, giving as a reason the rare opportunities they have for instruction. Withal a pig was brought for my natives to feast on.”

He had, however, to push on. After giving them a short exhortation he proceeded on his voyage. Navigation here was difficult owing to the numerous trees that fell into the river after every flood. He spent that night at Rewarewa; here he was warmly welcomed and conducted to the house used by Archdeacon Hadfield when he visited there. After taking food the natives assembled in their chapel and were catechised by Archdeacon Williams. Next morning he addressed them at morning prayers, and then proceeded to Otaki. The first part of the road was over soft sand, which made travelling very tedious.

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He reached Otaki at dusk, and was glad to meet Rev. H. Govett, who had been left there by the Bishop because of Archdeacon Hadfield's indisposition. Here the natives had quite a civilised appearance and many had embraced Christianity.

Archdeacon Williams here received a visit from old Te Rauparaha, and spoke of him as a fine specimen of a native chief. Though he had been one of the principals in the sad affair at Wairau,* he had more recently been receiving instruction in Christianity from Archdeacon Hadfield. When he heard that Archdeacon Williams proposed to continue his journey next morning, he told him that he had much to say to him, and prevailed on him to stay longer.

After breakfast on November 7th Te Rauparaha came with two of his sons and some others, and they conversed for two hours. He said he had had experience of evil in every form, of battles, sieges and murders, and now he wished to learn something about Christianity.

On the next day, Saturday, Archdeacon Williams, who had been persuaded by Te Rauparaha, remained quietly at Otaki, and held further conversations and services with him and the natives there, but sent his own party on to Waikanae with his baggage.

On Sunday, November 9th, he, assisted by Rev. H. Govett, took part in the morning services, and preached to an attentive congregation at Otaki, after which he rode on to Waikanae, where in the afternoon he held service with a large congregation there also.

On the following day he proceeded towards Wellington and arrived at Porirua in the afternoon. He stayed the night there in order to hold services with the Christians who were scattered round, and to give them instruction.

On November 11th he was pulled up the Porirua River in a canoe, and came to the beginning of a road which had been cut through the bush to Wellington. After travelling about 6 miles he came upon some settlers' page 73 houses, which continued at intervals for another six miles. He wrote—“We are in a romantic District, very wild and rugged, and the labour which has been spent in clearing the timber and cultivating the soil is immense.”

At length he came suddenly on the view of the harbour and town of Wellington, seeing the whole to advantage from the top of the range. Though he did not think it comparable with Auckland, he was agreeably surprised at it, as he had heard much against it. He wrote: “I was hospitably received by Mr. St Hill, and found Archdeacon Hadfield on his bed, from which he only rose for short intervals, but though his body is frail, his mind retains the fullest measure of Christian cheerfulness.”

On November 12th Rev. W. Colenso called; he had been waiting at Wairarapa with a view to assisting Archdeacon Williams in the administration of the Lord's Supper there before accompanying him northward by the East Coast. While in Wellington Archdeacon Williams saw a number of the English residents; he also met and conversed with the Bishop, who had just arrived that morning by the Government brig.

On November 14th Archdeacon Williams walked to Petone where he met Rev. W. Colenso, who had gone there the previous day.

On Sunday, November 16th, they held services with the natives, at which they had a congregation of 190.

Next day they travelled by the coast to Parangarahu; the following day, after a fatiguing journey over a stony road they reached Te Kopi. Here they held services and conversed with the natives. On November 20th the Lord's Supper was administered to 55 natives. Bad weather prevented their proceeding further until November 21st. Leaving Te Kopi early that morning they rounded Cape Palliser after a walk of three hours.

Archdeacon Williams spoke of this region as a dreary and inhospitable part of the coast, upon which there were many remains of shattered vessels which had been wrecked at different periods. Inshore there was a belt of beautifully grassy land from a quarter to half a mile in width, at the back of which was the long range of rugged page 74 hills separating the valley of Wairarapa from the coast. From Cape Palliser a further walk of six hours took them to the village of Oroi, where a party of natives was waiting to receive them. Here they held services and gave the natives instruction.

They left Oroi next morning, and after a walk of 7½ hours reached Paharoa. Here they remained over Sunday, November 23rd, and held the usual services and catechisings. They walked the following day to Wharaurangi and met a chief who for many years had professed Christianity at Table Cape, but had fallen away and plundered a settler. They urged him to repent, and return from his backsliding. Then they went on a further 6 miles, and camped for the night anticipating bad weather; as it had cleared next morning they pushed on in order to get round a rocky part of the coast before high water, and reached Wharearua after an easy day's journey. Here they found two houses occupied by ten persons, whom they addressed.

On November 26th a walk of two hours brought them to Castle Point, where they were reminded of their experiences two years earlier after landing from the Columbine. The natives urged them to remain and partake of food, after which they proceeded to Mataikona where about 100 natives were assembled. They catechised and addressed the people there, and at the evening service next day administered the Lord's Supper to twenty-one of them.

On November 28th they sent on their natives with the baggage, and then gave further instruction to the Mataikona people. Later in the day they followed on, and reaching Akitio at 4 p.m., as the weather looked unsettled they decided to remain there for the night. Next morning they journeyed over a very stony road to Pakuku, arriving there in time for breakfast; thence they proceeded to Porangahau, reaching there half an hour before dark.

On November 30th, Sunday, they held classes of communicants before breakfast, and at the 10.30 a.m. service administered the Lord's Supper to 40 persons. page 75 Instruction was given in the afternoon, and further services were held in the evening. Next day after giving further instruction and dealing with errors which required correction, they left at 2 p.m. for Parimahu. On December 2nd a fatiguing journey over a stony road brought them to Manawarakau (Kairakau) a little before sunset.

Here they found a small party of natives. Unfortunately owing to the evil influence of a nearby whaling station they were in a listless state. Archdeacon Williams held prayers there and addressed them, and the following afternoon continued his journey to Waimarama. There he found four white men who had been parties to the plundering of the American brig at Table Cape already mentioned, whose example had had a bad influence on the natives.

On December 4th he set out early, and after a walk of 7½ hours arrived at Awapuni, Rev. W. Colenso's station. Next day he held a service with 240 natives in the chapel, and on December 6th held classes of preparation for the Sunday services. On Sunday, December 7th, 127 persons received the Lord's Supper in the morning, and six infants were baptised in the afternoon.

Next day Archdeacon Williams was present at the morning school, and found nearly the whole of the previous day's congregation of 250 attended before they dispersed to their homes, and the reading classes showed marked progress. Later in the day he and his party left for Tangoio, which they reached after a walk of 6½ hours.

On December 9th they left at 5 a.m., had breakfast at Aropoanui, and after a walk of 24 miles reached Waikari a little before sunset.

Next morning they started off early, breakfasted at Mohaka, and after a walk of 24 miles reached Wairoa at 6.30 p.m.

On December 11th Archdeacon Williams went with Rev. J. Hamlin to see the new site for chapel and house, and in the evening held service in chapel.

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On the following day the natives made a transfer of 8 acres of land for the station; this provided an excellent site in the vicinity of their settlement. The day after was spent in preparing communicants and examining candidates for baptism. On Sunday, December 14th, Archdeacon Williams, assisted by Rev. J. Hamlin, administered the Lord's Supper to 120 natives in the morning, and then held an English service which was attended by nine Englishmen from the whaling station. In the afternoon there was school, followed by a service at which 22 adult natives were baptised.

Next morning he left Wairoa, and at Whakaki had a long conversation with a party who had attached themselves to a Roman Catholic priest, whose adherence to that faith was not very strong.

On arrival at Nuhaka he found a small party of natives awaiting him. On the morning of December 16th he administered the Lord's Supper there to twenty persons.

He then proceeded to Table Cape, and after evening prayers, held close converse with the people there, urging those of them who still retained goods stolen from the wrecked American brig Falco to give them up. Next day he gave further instruction and administered the Lord's Supper to 56 natives, after which he returned to Nuhaka and camped for the night at the entrance to the wood.

Leaving there next morning he reached Taikawakawa at 4 p.m. and arrived home at nine o'clock that evening, having accomplished a journey of 700 miles on foot, during which the whole party had been mercifully preserved from casualties of every kind.

On December 20th Archdeacon Williams resumed again his usual home duties, finding many matters which needed his attention.

On examining the natives at Taureka he found them better prepared than any others in the Turanga district, and a great credit to their teacher, Paul, who had kept up the school with regularity.

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On January 13th, 1846, Archdeacon Williams went to Wherowhero to meet Bishop Selwyn who was expected from the south on the next day. The Bishop did not arrive until 9 p.m. on the 14th, having come all the way from Nuhaka that day.

The Bishop accompanied him to Turanga next day, and during the two following days the Bishop was busily occupied examining 282 candidates for confirmation. On Sunday 18th he preached at the morning service, which was attended by a congregation of 600 natives. At 2 p.m. he held an English service, and confirmed Archdeacon Williams's four elder children. Later in the afternoon he confirmed 282 natives. On the two following days he examined 180 more candidates at Toanga. These were confirmed on the afternoon of 20th January, making a total of 462.

On the next day the Bishop left with Archdeacon Williams for Whangara. Thence they went on to Uawa, arriving there on the evening of the 22nd. The Bishop spent two days examining the confirmation candidates there. On Sunday, January 25th, the chapel at Uawa was densely crowded with 400 natives at the morning service. In the afternoon the Bishop confirmed 264 natives, and also Mr. Baker's three children. The following day he continued his journey northwards with Mr. Baker.

Archdeacon Williams then returned to Turanga, reaching there on January 27th. He had thoroughly enjoyed his intercourse with the Bishop, and expressed great admiration for his wisdom, energy, and fervent piety.

On January 29th his sons Leonard and Sydney went to Uawa, 35 miles from Turanga, to make entries in the native census records.

* At Wairau, Marlborough District, in June, 1843, a police magistrate and his armed escort attempted to serve a warrant for the arrest of two chiefs who had interfered with a survey party on disputed land. The attempt failed and 22 English prisoners were massacred.