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William and Jane
The nature of the pre-1840 Christian Conversion
Pre-1840 C.M.S. visits to the East Coast
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WILLIAM AND JANE
Missionary beginnings in New Zealand were a by-product of the late 18th century evangelical revival in England. The English evangelicals, however, were by no means the dominant party in the Established Church which viewed with suspicion their excessive piety and enthusiasm, coupled as it often was with little knowledge of the world. The Reverend Sydney Smith wrote in the Edinburgh Review:
Why are we to send out little detachments of maniacs to spread over the fine regions of the world the most unjust and contemptible opinion of the gospel? The wise and rational part of the christian ministry find they have enough to do at home . . . But if a tinker is a devout man, he infallibly sets off for the East. 1
The Church Missionary Society, founded in 1799 by the Clapham sect, was closer in thought and action to the non-conformist missionary groups such as the London Missionary Society and the Wesleyan Missionary Society than it was to the bishops of the Anglican church. All three Societies worked, among other places, in the South Pacific.
It is likely that William Williams attended the thirtieth anniversary of the L.M.S. in 1825 and listened to the guest speaker's oratory as he spoke passionately, even imperiously for the mission cause.
When I think on the worth of an immortal soul and cast my eye over the immense multitudes living in darkness in the Heathen World, lost to happiness and to God, crowding, by myriads, every day, without the knowledge of a Saviour, to their eternal destiny; when I seriously reflect on the numbers that have passed away, even during the few hours that we have been assembled together in this place, and sunk to rise no more; my spirits are depressed, my heart is sorrowful, and my whole frame trembles . . . My wonder is not that Missionary Societies have been established within the last thirty or forty years, but that they were not established ages before. 2
Not only were the fields white unto harvest, they were also embarrassingly British. 3 A speaker at an Annual General Meeting of the C.M.S. stated this fact with the same compelling urgency.
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Contemplate but for a moment that astonishing fact that a TENTH OF THE WHOLE HUMAN RACE ARE SUBJECTS OF THE BRITISH CROWN! . . . that, of these millions of dying but immortal men; three fourths are deluded Mohammedans, or wretched Pagans!--that 60 or 70 millions of men, our fellow subjects, know nothing of that Only name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. 4
Nearly a century and a half later the fervour of these messages still remains, evocative of an age of certainty that has gone, for the sweep of 19th century liberalism and humanism, of materialism and scepticism, has left the evangelical missionaries oddly perched on a shelf. Piety, industry, duty, self-questioning, sabbath keeping, an unshakable belief in a life after death, and an equally unshakable belief in the necessity for personal salvation, a literal interpretation of the Bible, and a profound respect for exhortations, sermons, and 'improving' books, and consequently for the benefits of learning itself--these were the evangelicals' characteristics. 'The Lord reigneth' was their battlecry, but they were not revolutionaries, for the world, although it was the Lord's vineyard was given over to the powers of darkness. The City of God was the goal, and it was towards this eternal city that the missionaries pressed, firmly guiding the wayward feet of their converts through the world's temptations and snares. It was not an easy path; salvation brought no constant joy, but had to be proved in day to day conduct and by renunciation of former habits. Death climaxed life. It was no easeful death; exhortations and self-examining increased, assurances were sought in case, at the end, Satan might wrest salvation from the grasp. Heaven existed but so too did Hell, and 'there was a way to Hell even from the Gates of Heaven as well as from the City of Destruction'.
One now sees clearly the limitations of this militant piety, and regrets both that from 'poor benighted heathen' whose every act and custom was ruled over by Satan, nothing could be learned or accepted, and that the heathen's cultural and social habits had to be 'changed' for him to be 'saved'. But in the process, in New Zealand, Maoris also worked on missionaries. Converts may have been changed but they were not dominated. The Maori church was never a subject one, and the changes wrought by Christianity upon Maoris were not more remarkable than the adaptations Maoris made to Christianity. The land also worked--the long journeys through the bush, the trudge around the coast, the sopping wet clothes, the worn out boots; the arrival, and the open-handed hospitality. The extended coast line worked--the small, uncomfortable schooner stacked with pigs and maize below deck, and with missionaries and Maoris above. The Maori tongue worked-- learned, understood, used by the missionaries, and handed back as a written language, conscientiously taught and avidly received. Whether or not the missionary message was later rejected, there remained on both sides care and concern and friendship.
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New Zealand protestant missionaries interpreted in good faith the Word of God and the Treaty of Waitangi. Both interpretations gave rise to later misunderstandings, but for the latter the missionaries were scarcely responsible. They came, mostly from obscure English backgrounds, with an eager urgency to save souls. In contrast to other European adventurers, they were neither self-seekers nor opportunists. They had seen the light of God's salvation and it was their one concern to take it to those living in the darkness of sin and death. The missionaries were sure; because of this they acted. E. M. Forster in his admirable biography of his great aunt Marianne Thornton whose father was honorary treasurer of the Clapham sect, defended the evangelicals from the charge of being 'do-gooders' at a distance:
The really bad people, it seems to me, are those who do no good anywhere and help no one either at home or abroad. There are plenty of them about, and when they are clever as well as selfish, they often manage to slip through their lives unnoticed, and so escape the censure of historians. 5
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It was not the intention of the Church Missionary Society to send out poorly educated, un-ordained men; it wanted clergymen to volunteer. But as the Annual Report of 1805 admitted,
A sense of duty, in most cases well founded, and in many others imperceptibly influenced by local attachments and a natural love of ease, will probably render offers of missionary service but rare among Clergymen of our own Church.6
If ordained men were unprepared to meet the challenge, then lay helpers would have to be accepted. These catechists, the 'godly mechanics', formed the basis of the C.M.S. in New Zealand. They also suited the early C.M.S. thinking that civilization preceded evangelization. In addition to their trade, these lay missionaries had high hopes, evangelical zeal, and what was defined at mission headquarters as an accurate knowledge of the Bible and a general knowledge of the history of the world. They had little initial appreciation of the hardship and complexity of their task. By 1825 the C.M.S. had a more realistic attitude to what was needed and was also determined to end its 'pious tinker' image. A missionary was to be a man of 'considerable Bodily Endowments, able to climb mountains, penetrate forests, able to sleep roughly and live hardly'. Strict piety was still necessary, but 'the heart must not be sounder than the head', and human knowledge did not necessarily exclude 'the light from above'.7 The C.M.S. Training College at Islington was opened in January 1825. William Williams was among its first
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students. He had already been sent to Oxford at C.M.S. expense and had read classics for a B.A. degree.8
William Williams was the youngest of a family of nine. Like many other middle class, evangelical families, the Williams' household lived in comfortable circumstances. The father, Thomas Williams, had a successful lace manufacturing business at Nottingham, and the mother, Mary Williams, daughter of a naval captain who had been in command of the royal yacht, was an educated woman with accomplishments in drawing and music. William's brother, Henry, was eight years older. The other two members of the family with whom William and Jane were most intimate, were his sister, Catherine, (Kate) who married Edward Heathcote, organist of Southwell Minster and Edward Garrard Marsh, fellow of Oriel College, Oxford, and prebendary of Southwell who married Lydia, another of William's sisters. Edward Marsh was an evangelical clergyman and a member of the Church Missionary Society. He seems to have been the spiritual adviser to the Williams' family, aiding Henry in his decision to leave naval service and enter that of the C.M.S., which in turn influenced William, and persuaded him to follow. Years later, in 1848, when William Williams, exasperated by the failure of St John's College, Auckland, to provide a suitable education for his son, Leonard, decided to send him to England, it was to Edward Marsh that he turned for advice, and to his care that he entrusted his son.
In 1804, when William was just three, Thomas Williams and his business partner died of typhus fever. In spite of the efforts of the eldest son, the business collapsed. To support her family, Mrs Williams began a school for 'young ladies' at Southwell. This school at Bishop's Old Palace, Southwell, provided the background against which William Williams grew up. Unfortunately there is now very little information about this period. After leaving the local grammar school, he was apprenticed to a Southwell surgeon and completed this apprenticeship before entering Magdalen Hall as a prospective C.M.S. missionary trainee in 1822. He was under the special care of its evangelical principal, Dr John Macbride.
The few Oxford letters which have been preserved tell little. He seems to have been amused by the antics of the fox hunting members of Christ Church with whom he travelled to Oxford, but not envious of their 'advantages'. His own resources totalled less than £100, so he was indebted to the C.M.S. for his college living expenses. These expenses were modest and meticulously noted down each term for the inspection of the Secretaries at Salisbury Square, London. He was serious and sought the company of other like-minded young men in the Oxford branches of the C.M.S. and British and Foreign Bible Society. One of his last letters to Henry before the latter's departure for New Zealand,
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reads like a letter from a father to his son, instead of a twenty one year old to an older brother. William was cast in the missionary mould well before he landed at the Bay of Islands.
I cannot but lament that this is likely to be the last time of my seeing you, and had I chosen for myself it would perhaps have been ordered differently. But we are too apt in most instances to desire that, which if granted, would prove the greatest evil. We should therefore be thankful that we are not left to our own direction. I always considered it a great uncertainty that we should both labor in the same field, and I hope I shall willingly accept any station which is appointed to me . . . The time is fast approaching when you will be called to the ministry, may God prepare you for it by an abundant measure of his Holy Spirit. 9
Williams came down from Oxford in 1824; he was ordained deacon in September and priest in December of that year. At the beginning of 1825 he was at the C.M.S. Training College at Islington-- James Hamlin, another New Zealand-destined student was also there. In July he undertook a C.M.S. fund raising appeal through the Midlands in company with Thomas Bartlett, one of the Society's secretaries. William Williams was a popular speaker and a very personable missionary. He was remembered, and his son Leonard enjoyed some of his father's reputation when he too was at Magdalen Hall. On one occasion William Williams attracted the attention of George Augustus Selwyn's sister:
She remembers walking to Church with you one Sunday at Hampstead and that she thought she would have liked very much to have gone with you to New Zealand. She says I am like what you used to be formerly, as everybody does who remembers you. 10
Thus by the end of his C.M.S. Apprenticeship, William Williams had shown himself to be the very model of a 'new look' evangelical missionary. In fact if it had not been for a tacit agreement with the C.M.S. at the beginning of his training that he should follow Henry to New Zealand, it is likely that he would have been sent to India for the more prestigious job of converting educated Brahmans.
Another lesson learnt by the C.M.S. was that suitable missionaries should have suitable wives. In the early years of its New Zealand mission, wives had proved something of an occupational hazard. Samuel Marsden in an early memorandum to the London Missionary Society wrote:
It appears to me that a married woman, coming along with her husband in the mission would ... if a prudent woman, prove the greatest comfort and protection to her husband, sweeten his trials and sustain his burdens. 11
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More than prudence was required; New Zealand was no place for squeamish women. The early C.M.S. missionaries, John Butler, Charles Gordon, and William Carlisle decided that it was no place for women at all. Butler wrote in 1819 that he was busily employed in building a fence around the Kerikeri mission premises to keep the natives from the doors.
We have hundreds about us all the day, and from their natural curiosity they throng the doors so that we are scarcely able to get out or in. Their noise, singing, talking, laughing, ochre, lice and other filth is exceedingly disagreeable, especially to the women and children, indeed it is impossible for them to go out of doors. 12
Mrs Butler had never wished to come to New Zealand. Charles Gordon's wife received 'so great and sudden a shock, from a Native catching hold of her round the waist, whilst she was at the Bay of Islands in a state of Pregnancy, that she never recovered'. 13 William Carlisle's wife survived, but her husband considered that she had been 'a cruel impediment in the way of my duty among the Heathen', 14 and he wished to return to New Zealand in 'a single state'. His services as a missionary were discontinued. Marsden revised his opinion:
Never send out a married man, if it can be avoided, unless his wife is as willing to engage in the work as her husband. The wife should be consulted. 15
Charlotte Bronte in Jane Eyre, published 1847, captured the predicament that a prospective missionary faced when choosing a partner who had to be wife and helpmeet. Female charm may have done very well for a clergyman's wife in England; for India more was demanded, and St. John Rivers, although 'acutely sensible' of Rosamond Oliver's charms was deeply impressed with her defects:
. . . they are such that she could sympathise in nothing I aspired to --co-operate in nothing I undertook. Rosamond a sufferer, a labourer, a female apostle? Rosamond a missionary's wife? No! 16
Henry Williams made quite certain that his wife was as aware of, and as committed to the nature and likely hardship of life in New Zealand as he was himself. He wrote to the C.M.S. that Marianne did not accompany him 'merely as my wife, but as a fellow helper in the work'. 17
In January 1823, Mrs Williams wrote to Henry about William:
I think there is a little history to tell you respecting him and I must go back to the long vacation . . . My house was then tolerably full for I had eight young ladies so that with him we were pretty thick upon the
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ground. He studied however very comfortably at the top of the house in the little room in which you at one time used to draw, & nothing disturbed him except the idea of having been rejected by two ladies and not having a third at hand on whom he could place his affections; one thing however he had determined which was never to put it in Jane's power to refuse him again. 18
Very little is known of Jane Nelson's early life. She came from Nottingham, and in 1817 at the age of sixteen, was engaged as a pupil teacher at Mrs Williams' school. Jane's refusal of William's hand had nothing to do with William personally, nor was she bothered about being a missionary's wife in New Zealand, although this prospect may have daunted the other unknown young lady. It was Jane's mother who was the stumbling block: she did not wish her daughter to live 'abroad'. Edward Heathcote let his brother-in-law into the secret of Jane's refusal, and this, Mrs Williams continued, 'acted like magic. He very soon obtained permission to combat her Mother's objections, & the business was soon settled'. William Williams' mother required no such persuasion. Although two of her children had died in infancy, the prospect of losing two more sons to New Zealand did not daunt her. Her hope, only strengthened by death and departures, was in that other kingdom. Shortly before Henry and Marianne left for New Zealand she wrote:
When I consider that my race must be nearly run, it appears of little consequence whether you dwell in or out of this kingdom ... let me therefore be thankful that I am permitted to look forward to a blessed eternity where I hope to enjoy your society without fear of separation. 19
While he was on his Midland's tour in July 1825, William Williams received news that he was to sail the following month for New South Wales. His wedding to Jane was hurriedly arranged at a village near Sheffield where Jane had been paying a farewell visit at the rectory. They were married on 11 July 1825. A missionary meeting, at which William Williams spoke was held in the evening. Nine days later they were both at the C.M.S. headquarters at Salisbury Square, when the Society's instructions were read to them. Two other New Zealand bound missionaries were also present, James and Elizabeth Hamlin. Both couples sailed on the Sir George Osborne on 12 August 1825.
Apart from the normal trials of storms and sea sickness, the voyage was a pleasant one. Henry and Marianne had travelled on a convict ship to New South Wales; the Sir George Osborne carried stud sheep. The captain was most friendly, and proposed that Williams should say grace at table and prayers in the large cabin each evening. The other eight passengers were also 'disposed to be friendly'. Even the surgeon who had earlier admitted that 'he dreaded the idea of sailing with missionaries because they would be such a restraint upon him, & he would not be able to swear', 20 succumbed, and attended evening prayers.
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The ship reached Port Jackson on 17 December. The next three months were spent in Sydney. Marsden thought Williams a man of rare talent and Christian wisdom. He also esteemed Jane, and at Christmas, when William was indisposed, called to take Jane for a ride in his gig.
It was delightfully cool for Christmas in these climates, and the tete a tete during a three hours drive through the bush . . . was to me both pleasant and profitable. 21
The New Zealand missionary schooner Herald with Henry Williams on board, sailed into Port Jackson on 7 March 1826. He was able to finish his business in Sydney, leave the Herald to be sailed back by her crew, and join Jane and William on board the Sir George Osborne which sailed for the Bay of Islands 11 days later. On the evening of 25 March, to Marianne Williams' surprise and delight, the missionary party of Jane, William, and Henry Williams, plus James and Elizabeth Hamlin, landed at Paihia.
The C.M.S. instructions which Jane and William Williams listened to before embarking for New Zealand contained a special message for Jane. No longer were missionary wives to go out uncertain of their calling.
She was exhorted to remember that 'no country can be happy or Christian but in proportion as its Females become so', and she was 'to seek every opportunity of influencing the Maori women. "You should rank", they said, "with those honourable Women of old who laboured with even Apostles in the Gospel".' 22
The C.M.S. historian went on to add, 'In all missionary history, has any woman proved herself more worthy of this "rank" than Jane Williams.'
One wonders whether the missionary vocation itself was sufficient to make Jane Wilhams happy in New Zealand. Her letters, particularly those from Turanga, Poverty Bay, read as if written from a self imposed exile.
In my last I requested you to send some music adapted for our seraphine . . . Will you add to the list "God save the Queen" and "Rule Britannia". We still have English hearts tho' we have lived eighteen years and a half in our adopted country. 23
Her constant request was for more information, no matter how trivial, about the doings of her friends and relatives in England. Letters from England were read and re-read, but there were never enough of them. With the exception of her sister-in-law, Kate Heathcote, and brother-in-law, Edward Marsh, the rest of the family seem gradually to have given up writing. The highlight of any month was the arrival of 'a box' from England, but to find, after all the articles had been carefully unwrapped, that there were no letters, was a disappointment indeed. Jane Williams
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never desired to return to England, in fact she was glad to come back to the ordered quiet of the Turanga station after the bustle of her infrequent trips to Auckland or Paihia--but she did want to be kept in touch. At Turanga she was often without her husband's company for weeks and months at a time while he was away on mission journeys or with the Translation Syndicate. She wrote
These continual separations form my greatest trial, but I try to remember that I am a soldier's wife and that when he is away he is on his Master's service. Still I cannot but feel it. 24
Mrs Selwyn once described the shore north of Waikanae as 'straight as the line of duty'. 25 It was this imperious sense of duty that firmed the will and straightened the back. Perhaps Selwyn and his wife, Sarah, were the only missionaries who actually enjoyed being missionaries, and they are borderline cases, as they were never subjected for any length of time to the wear and tear and loneliness of an outback mission station. Some gave way to despondency. In this highly personal, self-examining religion, guilt and despair were always just below the surface. If grace abounded, so too did sin. John Butler, Thomas Kendall, Francis Hall, William Dudley, James Stack, Benjamin Ashwell, William Colenso, all knew and experienced this overwhelming depression. For Stack and Dudley it became mental derangement. Wives bore the additional burden of numerous pregnancies and infant deaths. In the whooping cough epidemic at the Bay of Islands in 1828, the European children had a better chance of survival than the Maori; even so, George Clarke's wife awoke at daybreak to find her baby lying by her side, quite dead. The same month little Harriet Shepherd died and her brother was not expected to survive. 'Death', Jane wrote, 'seems to be hovering around us.' 26 Death was the Lord's visitation. There were times, nevertheless, when natural human distress triumphed, and at these times missionaries sent their wives away for 'a change of air'. After one pregnancy Jane Williams went to Kerikeri for the 'change', and much appreciated the salt water shower bath constructed for her by John Hobbs and William Fairburn. Although often overcome with fatigue, Jane was resilient; confident in her faith and in her own ability. She was a conscientious, efficient, and generally cheerful wife, helpmeet, major domo of the domestic establishment, and teacher of Maori women and girls and of her own children.
The particular duties of a missionary wife were training her domestic natives and teaching the native women and children to read and write. Missionaries did not have servants simply to ease the burden of their domestic duties. Jane Williams, who was an efficient housewife, would have preferred to do the 'chores' herself with the aid of her own family. Maoris, one feels, continually got under her feet. The main value of the
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domestic training was to teach Maori 'girls' civilized housekeeping habits. But Maoris were difficult to order about. Many of the servants were of high rank and instructions were always given in the form of invitations,
... if they did wrong we could go no further than express our disgust and call them to their senses by appealing to their honour as gentlemen and ladies. 27
By 1828 some progress had been made in the training programme, although 'perplexities' continually arose:
The elder ones are very useful in washing, ironing, sewing and nursing, and begin to write and read with tolerable ease: these acquirements afford us much pleasure, but we are more satisfied at perceiving that they become more orderly and obedient, and that their habits are more decorous and less dirty, though there remains much, very much to be reformed outwardly, to say nothing of the cleansing and purifying requisite for the inner man, and which nothing short of the Saviour's blood can effect. 28
Requests for teaching aids and useful articles were sent to friends in England:
We are almost inundated with pin cushions and needle books for our girls but are without pins and needles. A few bags and housewifes . . . would be most useful, but what would be far more acceptable to us are roundabouts for our native girls . . . pictures also are very acceptable, particularly those relating to scripture history, or representing the common occurrences of civilized life. 29
At the end of the year examinations were held and the mission Maoris were the focus of attention.
Jane Williams described the party held after the 1828 examination.
First you must imagine 176 natives seated upon the ground in a large circle, the males clothed in white duck and trousers, the females in dark blue gowns, white aprons, and buff handkerchiefs, while at a respectful distance sat a large party of strangers ... In the centre of the circle were to be seen the Pakihas arranging the feast which consisted of several large iron pots (each as big as a tolerable sized copper) filled with Beef and Pork stewed down to most excellent soup accompanied by tubs full of Koomera puddings, and a dessert of stinking fish dried in the sun, which Henry took a night's voyage to purchase. These delicacies were helped around in tin dishes to parties of four or five, their fingers answering every purpose of knife, fork and spoon, and you would have been not a little amused with those who were honoured with the post of stewards, whose politeness and agility could have scarcely been outdone by a more polished and civilized race. After the substantial meal the girls were treated with tea and cakes, and the boys with a small portion of grog, after which they were dispersed and the English females adjourned to the house to pass
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judgement upon the native needlework . . . and though everyone could not be commended, yet ... it might be considered a respectable assortment of shifts, frocks, trousers, pinafores, etc. . . . The next morning we all assembled at the chapel to witness the distribution of prizes, which consisted of blankets as the highest token of admiration. The best sewers had hoes given them. 30
In an amusing journal kept at Turanga from March to June 1855, by Jane Williams' daughter Jane, the Maori domestics were referred to as 'the brigade'. Some days it was impossible to get 'the brigade ladies' to do anything. Their particular jobs were the laundry and the cleaning, but the brigade often took advantage of showery weather 'to walk about and amuse themselves'. Occasionally there were quarrels between the girls and the women, and 'Father was called in to sit in judgement'. There was always some uncertainty as to whether 'the brigade' would turn up, for although they were paid in clothing, Maori employments such as kumara planting or berry picking always took precedence; so too did Maori feasts and excursions.
Two of Jane Williams' 'girls'--Ripeka and Katarina--who came with her from the Bay of Islands, were particularly helpful during the first difficult settling in year at Turanga. Jane obviously leaned heavily on them; they were also the only women Jane had with her when her fourth daughter was born in 1841. These women she called 'my friends', but such a feeling of intimacy was rare. To the Maori women, Jane Williams was 'matua', and no matter how old the Maori girls were, it tended to remain a mother-child relationship; except, of course, that they were very independent children. A more intimate, equal relationship was not sought, but when Jane Williams visited John Patteson's Melanesian School at Kohimarama in 1859, she noted in a letter to Kate, that the islanders 'have warmer feelings and less independence about them than the Maoris, and are more loveable, I fancy'. 31
At Paihia, Jane and Marianne Williams conducted the English girls' school. Both families shared dinner and the two wives took turns at either cooking or teaching. At Turanga Jane Williams also taught the younger members of her own family, which was generally augmented by a niece or nephew from Paihia, and read French with the older ones. Jane shared her husband's passion for education, but learning was to be an adjunct to faith, never a replacement of it. One of her special prayers for her children, for Leonard when he was at Oxford, in particular, was that their religion 'may not be that of the head only, having the form of godliness without the power thereof. 32
William and Jane were fortunate in their children. All of them, with one possible exception, were mentally bright, and as capable with their hands as with their heads. It was a close knit family, each one delighting in the other's company. There was no generation gap; the children
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slipped straight into their parents' shoes and from their early teens took a share in teaching natives. The one exception was the second boy, Thomas Sydney. Sydney was dull and fat--the fattest boy she had ever seen, Mrs Selwyn considered. In some of her early letters Jane seems to find him almost repugnant. Obviously Sydney was going to be a problem, but fortunately (I think one can use the word without appearing cynical) Providence intervened. Sydney died, age sixteen, during the typhus epidemic at St John's in 1847. In retrospect he was remembered not as 'dull and fat', but as 'stout' and 'in the full vigour of early manhood'.
Although lack of European society at Turanga upset neither William nor Jane Williams, provided letters came, it was at times wearisome to their children. Jane's eldest daughter, Mary, wrote to her Aunt Kate about the expected visit of two of their Paihia cousins: 'We shall be very glad to see them as we never see anybody besides natives of whom there are a great number.' 33 Nieces and nephews frequently went to stay either at Paihia or Turanga; Jane Williams' children called Henry and Marianne Williams, 'Papa and Mama'; two of Henry's sons married their cousins; the same christian names were used again and again. As William Bambridge observed while watching Samuel and Mary's wedding procession in 1846, the Williams' family was 'awfully numerous', and added, T should think that New Zealand and the Williams will ultimately be as closely connected as Wales & Jones'. 34 At Poverty Bay, and later at Hawkes Bay, Maoris might well have thought that another hapu, Ngati Wiremu, had been added to Kahungunu. . The society that Jane Williams enjoyed most was that of her husband and family. There were often days of 'very great raru' 35 when evening was upon the household before things were finally set to rights. It was often on these days that J. W. Harris, one of Poverty Bay's few 'respectable' or semi-respectable settlers would choose to call, and he tended to overstay his welcome. Jane Williams' favourite time was the evening, when the bustle and confusion of the day was over, when Maoris were safely out of doors, and her younger children asleep and not poorly. Then Jane or Mary or one of the nieces played the seraphine, or William read aloud, or Jane, if she was not too tired, wrote letters. Quiet evenings and quiet and profitable Sabbaths were the blessings that Jane valued. In 1844 Henry Williams took his brother's place at Turanga for a few weeks while William was away at Waimate with the Syndicate. The new mission home at Whakato had just been burnt to the ground, and Jane and her children were living in temporary quarters that William had hastily built before he left.
Had the pleasure of finding the family quite well and much more comfortable than I had expected. But what place would not be comfortable where such a family resides. I could not but compare our good
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sister to Christiana surrounded as she is by her children all walking the same heavenly road. There are no superfluous noises here or anything out of place or time. 36
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When Jane and William Williams arrived at Paihia, the Bay of Islands' C.M.S. community consisted of artisan-catechists. The sole clergyman was William's brother Henry, who with Marianne Williams had been at Paihia since August 1823. Once Henry Williams knew that William was safely on a vessel bound for New Zealand and not for India, he wrote, ' ... his coming among us will be the greatest boon .... William will be a great support to me, and I to him'. 37 In comparing the two brothers, the tendency has been to see them as complementary to each other--Henry as the determined man of action, William as the quiet scholar. Physically there was an obvious difference; Henry was short and stout, William, tall and, if not thin, at least less stout. William Williams was every bit as determined as Henry, and although he seldom attacked, he never gave ground. He found that 'a little quiet expostulation' generally settled differences between Maoris and missionaries, and he was equally prepared to expostulate quietly, but stubbornly, with Bishop Selwyn, with Sir George Grey, and with the London C.M.S. secretaries. In physical action he was even more vigorous than his brother. Apart from his epic journey December 1839 to January 1840 from Wellington, through the centre of the North Island to Tauranga, Henry Williams mostly stayed at home. It was William Williams who was the journeying missionary. He undertook several missionary journeys from the Bay of Islands, and when he was first at Turanga, covered his parish on foot. This parish extended north to East Cape, south to Palliser Bay, and inland to Lake Waikaremoana; he was the first white man to reach Waikaremoana. Unfortunately he had neither Colenso's observant eye, nor Selwyn's appreciation of natural beauty; it was the arrival, not the journey that mattered.
Unlike many of the missionaries, William Williams never complained about personal hardships, but he frequently acted as defender of the C.M.S. in New Zealand. His book, Christianity among the New Zealanders, published in 1867, was written for an English public made sceptical of the value of missionary endeavour by the Maori Wars, and in particular by the Hauhau insurrection. One now wishes that William Williams could have ceased being so conscientiously devoted to explaining New Zealand missionary problems to the London C.M.S., and written more about himself and about Poverty Bay in the forties. Attitudes and aspirations remain, but the man seldom appears. For the domestic minutiae we are dependent on Jane Williams' letters and journals, and unfortunately, according to the writer of her obituary in the Hawkes Bay Herald, most of her manuscript records of her early New Zealand experiences were destroyed when Waerenga-a-hika was evacuated during the Hauhau disturbance.
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Self-effacing, even elusive, William Williams may now appear, but there was one quality about him which was obvious to his contemporaries. He was a gentleman. With feelings of surprise and relief Sarah Selwyn and Mary Martin described Williams when they first arrived at the Bay of Islands:
He is really an extraordinary person, remarkably well informed, and by nature a perfect gentleman. 38
In 1844 Judge Martin and his wife visited Waimate when Williams was there with the Translation Syndicate. Mary Martin was impressed:
... he is a noble man--upright, honest and singlehearted and with a peculiar refinement of manner--you might suppose that he had been mixing in the highest society all his life, instead of labouring among what our elegant Colonial papers call "naked savages." 39
There was another quality, more difficult to pin down, even less discernible in his letters and journals, but again obvious to his contemporaries--a warm, outward-reaching generosity of spirit which broke through the rigid proprieties of evangelical charity and piety. His fellow undergraduates at Magdalen Hall said of him, 'that if anyone wished to go to heaven he would be safe if he kept hold of Williams' coat tail'. 40 William Broughton, Bishop of Australia was judged by his colleagues to be a dispassionate, hard-headed clergyman; he spoke to Selwyn of William Williams whom he had met on his 1838 visit to the Bay of Islands: 'He is the man I should like to have with me when I am dying'. 41 In December 1847 when Selwyn quoted this remark, he and Williams no longer agreed about the mission, the church, or about the sort of education best suited for New Zealand youth, yet Selwyn had not forgotten Broughton's words and still shared his feeling for Williams. So too did Selwyn's chaplain, William Cotton, who was not otherwise greatly impressed by C.M.S. missionaries. William Bambridge, a teacher at St John's College, exclaimed,
The more I see of this Gentleman, the more I respect him. He talks to me like a Father ... I have always heard that Archdn; W. Wms is a real loving husband & Father. 42
Richard Taylor who followed Williams at the Waimate Boys' School; feared that his predecessor was far too easy with the boys and far too good natured with Maoris. Williams' aim with his pupils was 'to. bring young people out'; he was not interested in teaching by rote, and even at table his own children and visiting nieces and nephews were encouraged to speak their minds. His young children and grand-
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children also saw through the sober missionary demeanour and were with difficulty restrained from following after him on his journeys, and bundled into his arms on his return. Unfortunately this human warmth and affection seldom penetrate his letters and journals; his writing is precise and restrained, emotions seldom break the surface.
Besides helping his brother with the pastoral care of the mission families at the Bay of Islands and with visiting to neighbouring Maori villages, William was in charge of the English Boys' School which Henry had built at Paihia. The house William and Jane lived in at Paihia was also used as the English Girls' School which Jane and Marianne commenced in 1827. William Williams was also, until the arrival of Samuel Ford, the mission doctor. Although he was modest about his qualifications, he had completed his apprenticeship to a surgeon, and had attended anatomical lectures at Oxford. While waiting for a passage to New Zealand, he had walked the London hospitals. He was able to cope with childbirth--as were most of the male missionaries--set broken limbs, and treat the minor ailments of the mission and Maori families. Against the mass invasion of whooping cough, influenza and scrofula, he was powerless, but conscientiously visited sick Maoris and gave what succour he could. Medical treatment for such illnesses generally consisted of doses of epsom salts and the application of 'blisters'. Cupping was often used for what was commonly referred to as 'disorders'. There is no evidence to suggest that he vaccinated any of the Bay of Islands' Maoris, although this became missionary practice during the forties.
Missionaries also had to be competent handimen. Marsden occasionally sent across 'emancipists' from New South Wales to assist with manual labour, but William and Henry generally found them of little use and preferred to do the jobs themselves.
We preach we talk, we keep school and translate ... we lay bricks, we plaster, we plant, we salt pork, and occasionally hunt cows in the bush. We take voyages in search of provisions for our schools. We have various hindrances which never occur to a person living in England. If we want a chimney we must make bricks and lime and build also. 43
When Mary Martin visited Paihia in 1844, someone pointed out to her the station's first chimney which had been built by William Williams:
He had been seen standing on the rounds of a ladder, with a trowel and mortar in his hand, hard at work, and a Latin grammar fixed before him, while his little son went through his lessons. 44
A concern William Williams held equally with his desire to spread the gospel, was the education of mission children. At Paihia he was the classics' teacher at the boys' school. In November 1829, another ordained clergyman, Alfred Brown arrived at Paihia and became chief
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instructor at the school. Brown was not too happy to find that instead of being a missionary to the natives, his whole time was devoted to European children, but supposed that they must be rescued from the 'contaminating influence' of the heathen by whom they were surrounded. William Williams wished the school to continue at Paihia, the mission headquarters, but not all the missionaries shared this opinion-- some even doubted the value of Greek and Latin. In a letter probably to Kate Heathcote, Williams made one of his few disparaging remarks about catechists:
Poor Mr. Brown and the English boys' school have been tossed about from pillar to post by the votes of our local committee. We were once nearly all of a mind that Mr. Brown should be at Pyhea, but now, even since the parent committee have sent their approval, there are many who would fain not have it so ... . Mr. Marsden has said very much to several of the missionaries and had persuaded them that it will be decidedly wrong that three clergymen should reside in our settlement . . . The second reason for this difference of opinion is, whereas it is proposed to fix Mr. Brown at Pyhea, in order to make the school more effective, there are many who know not how to appreciate that efficiency. How is it likely that either Mr. King, Mr. Hamlin, Mr. Baker, or many others should have any very particular regard for Latin and Greek, which are useful neither in making shoes, spinning flax, nor grafting trees. And yet every voice here tells with equal weight. I have now two boys, and I hope, if they and I are spared, to teach them both Latin and Greek. 45
For the time being the boys' school remained at Paihia. In October 1833, Brown left the Bay of Islands to superintend the C.M.S. extension to the south, William Williams himself prepared to go to the new Waikato station of Mangapouri, but his colleagues decided that he should remain in charge of the boys' school. Two years later the local committee also decided to relocate the school inland at Waimate, and this became the new mission station for William and Jane:
Our transplantation to this rural place took place a fortnight ago . . . We bade adieu to the dear inhabitants of Paihia, which had been our happy home for nine years, with some feelings of regret . . . but when I remember what our destination was to have been, and the distance that would have separated us from our children, ... I feel I can hardly call it a separation to be placed within less than half a day's journey,. . . but I miss Marianne greatly. 46
William again set to work to build a chimney and an oven, to continue with his New Testament translation, to conduct services, and to visit sick Maoris. The Waimate station also included a native school under George Clarke and the mission farm run by Richard Davis. The school commenced with 19 boys in September 1835. Jane, assisted by an Irish couple, was the housekeeper-matron. Apart from his visits
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to the East Coast, Williams remained at the Waimate until the end of 1839, when he left to begin the Poverty Bay-East Coast mission station, Turanga.
Unless his principles were crossed, William Williams was an easy man to get along with. He never railed at Maoris, his sermons were simple and to the point. If reproof was needed, 'a little quiet expostulation' generally put matters to rights; if a more severe censure was required, he simply withdrew his presence. Converted Maoris who reverted to tattooing, who took up with more than one wife, or who in other ways consistently broke the rules laid down for seemly Christian conduct, were omitted from his visiting list. He never refused to visit a sick person. Native teachers who sometimes added embellishments of their own to evangelical doctrine, were warned of the consequence, and if they persisted, excluded from the Lord's Supper. Until 1850 this worked. Williams was conscientious in both his visiting and his teaching; he was a pleasant, kindly man, who could speak Maori fluently. His absence was felt; backsliders generally returned, sometimes after many months, and were received without too many recriminations. When the American brig Falco was plundered at Table Cape in July 1845, Williams was grieved to find that much of the depredation had been carried out by Christian Maoris. He called a meeting at Mahia and announced that he would hold no intercourse with those concerned in the outrage until the plunder was voluntarily surrendered. At the time he got very little of the cargo back, but over the months, little by little, it was returned. One of the chiefs involved, Paraone Hakihaki, hung on to his share for eighteen months, during which time he and his people were kept at a distance. When he finally surrendered his plunder, Williams rubbed noses with him and shook hands with all his people.
Williams was also on good terms with his missionary colleagues, and this was not easy at the Bay of Islands in the late thirties when missionaries were 'thick upon the ground'. The Bay community was an edgy one, and its acknowledged leader, Henry Williams, while respected, was not popular. William Colenso commented that the only person who could get along with Henry Williams for any length of time was his brother. Octavius Hadfield looked askance at the Bay missionaries when he arrived in 1839, and decided that the only educated and cultivated ones were Jane and William Williams with whom, fortunately, he was to live. Williams also thought Hadfield 'stiff', but added, 'He is now with me and we go on well together'. 47 Williams was the first clergyman appointed archdeacon by Selwyn, and on his subsequent visits to his brother missionaries, he was welcomed as a friend and adviser--'the dear Archdeacon'--rather than as a spiritual superior.
When principle was involved, however, William Williams, like his brother, would make few sacrifices to affability. Roman Catholicism was anathema to him, and he was not prepared to live and let live with its missionaries when he met with them on what he considered to be his
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territory. Although Jane Williams wrote of 'our British hearts', Williams was often critical of British Government policy, particularly towards the 'waste lands' of New Zealand. He was a strong advocate of a literal interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi. In the late forties he was largely concerned with the defence of his brother against Governor Grey's charge that he and other northern missionaries provoked the Hone Heke war by the extent of their land claims.
The most interesting case of principle overriding friendship was in his relations with Bishop Selwyn. On his arrival at Paihia, Selwyn, like his wife, had been most impressed with William Williams.
Here I found Mr H. Williams and Mr W. Williams the two senior clergymen of the Mission, with both of whom I was much pleased. They are very different men; but the latter is one of the most pleasing men that I have ever met: he has lived in New Zealand 20 years without losing any of the characteristics of an English clergyman of the best stamp. 48
The two brothers were equally pleased with Selwyn. They had rather expected an elderly 'broken-down' 49 bishop, instead of which, striding up the beach, had come a young, vigorous, and charming man, already able to speak Maori. They had also been suspicious of his likely 'high church' views, for Anglican bishops were not generally in sympathy with evangelicals. To begin with, however, Selwyn's high church leanings were not obtrusive although Henry Williams entertained no doubt at all about Selwyn's young men. William Williams was increasingly in favour of episcopal jurisdiction, if only to move some of the catechists out of the Bay of Islands to the south and to the East Coast where they were badly needed.
Two years later William Williams was back at the Bay of Islands for the first meeting of the Translation Syndicate. This time the Bishop was in residence at the Waimate. Again relations were most cordial. Judge Martin and his wife were also Waimate guests, and Mrs Martin wrote: 'Archdeacon William Williams quite reverences the Bishop-- he speaks of him right lovingly'. 50 Selwyn was delighted to have such a confidant and spoke to Williams at length about his plans for St John's College. Unfortunately, although Selwyn was a brilliant talker and out-liner of plans which were duly published in the Annals of the Church in New Zealand, plans on papers were often where the imaginative venture began and ended. On his subsequent visits to St John's College, Auckland, Williams became increasingly worried and upset about its
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educational standard. His interviews with Selwyn became progressively less satisfactory. Selwyn out-talked him, but at the conclusion of the interview, Williams, not outdone, handed over a memorandum with all his points made in writing.
There was an even more serious clash of principle. The gap between Tractarians and Evangelicals in the Anglican church was almost as wide, and certainly by the Evangelicals, as seriously felt, as that between christians and heathen. At St. John's, Waimate, Selwyn had been careful to keep his views to himself, although Williams thought him a little confused over the contentious subject of baptismal regeneration. Once ensconced at 'Bishop's Auckland', however, Selwyn brought his high church (he himself called them simply 'anglican') liturgical practices into the open. When he visited Auckland, Williams was incensed to find crosses on the chapel roofs, candles on the altar, the clergy and ordinands in cassocks, the collects and prayers intoned rather than spoken. Then there was Selwyn's 1847 'charge' to his clergy, during which he blessed
those servants of God, who, when much of our apostolical discipline had been decayed and lost, devoted all the energies of their minds, and all the intensity of their prayers, to building up again the walls which seemed to be tottering to their fall--those three men [Keble, Pusey, and Newman] mighty in the Scriptures, who, when they found us hemmed in with enemies, and thirsting for Catholic unity, went forth to draw for us from the well of primitive antiquity.
[Selwyn also added, that] when a change came upon the spirit of their teaching, and it seemed as if our own Church were not good enough to retain their allegiance; . . . then indeed I shrunk back, as if a voice had spoken within me: Not one step further; for I love my Church in which I was born to God, and by His help I will love her unto the end. 51
The 'charge' had taken four hours to deliver; for William Williams it was all much too much. He returned to the college for dinner being 'unwell'. 52 Again there were the barren interviews with Selwyn, the unanswered memoranda. Other issues widened the rift which was not only between Selwyn and William Williams, but between Selwyn and the C.M.S. missionaries. By 1850, the Bishop was isolated from his clergy. It was small wonder that Melanesia seemed an attractive mission field. But Selwyn, although hurt by the attitude of William Williams still thought of him as a good and capable man, with whom he would gladly share his diocese, and Williams wrote of the Bishop as a clever, even brilliant man, but one in whom he had been sadly mistaken.
William Williams' reputation largely rests on his ability as a translator. 53 The 'Williams' Maori Dictionary is an enduring monument to himself, his son, and grandson. Henry Williams noted his brother's early fluency in Maori; 'He . . . appears not to learn it; but it seems to flow
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naturally from him'. 54 To William Williams, translation was merely a teaching aid, for it was as a diligent teacher that Williams interpreted his missionary role. In reply to a letter from Kate Heathcote asking for 'missionary intelligence', Williams wrote:
There is not much in the daily or weekly routine of a novel character, my work is more like the unbroken course of a parish schoolmaster. A great deal of work, but most of it of the same character. The object is not the raising of exotics to please the eye, but which will not endure the chilling blast, but rather the tree of vigorous growth prepared to weather every storm. Our instruction therefore is simple and makes but little show--first the simple truths of repentance & faith, which you will allow are difficult as they are important. If then we can add to these first and most essential points a little general knowledge of the scriptures we consider that much is gained. For the accomplishment of this our Bible Classes are held, and our classes of candidates which are frequent and demand our chief attention. 55
Williams was an evangelical descended from the English puritans rather than from the Wesleyan revivalists. He 'catechized' and 'conversed' rather than preached and saved. Conversion was never an emotional response. When he was at the Turanga station, each of the neighbouring hapu had an allotted time for instruction at the mission station. Every Sunday service was followed by school, each Wednesday evening he gave a lecture at one of the villages. Out-lying pas and villages were visited according to the same strict timetable. There were classes in reading, in Bible instruction, candidates classes for admission to the Lord's Supper and to baptism. Ngati Maru, Ngati Kaipoho, Te Whanau a Iwi, etc. all knew when it was 'their' day. In between times he had his Native Teachers' classes in which his teachers were instructed to carry out the same methodical round of duties. In the 1840's none of the irritant causes which led to the Hone Heke war in the north existed in the Eastern district, but even if the East Coast had been more favourably situated for white trade and settlement, one wonders whether the local Maoris would have had the time to organize rebellion. When Williams was away on mission journeys, things at Turanga slipped, and as Henry Williams remarked while he was at Turanga in 1844, 'while the Cat's away the mice play and sad play it is'. 56 On William Williams' return, however, the routine was re-established.
He strove to make his converts understand that 'the Kingdom of God is within you', and that the outward sign of such indwelling was consistency of life, rather than the appearance of religion. It was a fine distinction. To Williams it meant that religious precepts and habits had to be inculcated so that they permeated all daily life. Williams insisted upon decency and good order in his services so that God could be worshipped in a seemly fashion, but he was not interested in religious
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ritual and ceremony. It was not only his candidates for baptism and church membership who had to attend classes regularly; all intending communicants were personally examined either by Williams himself, or by his checking of the Native Teacher's good conduct lists. As a conscientious teacher, Williams prepared his candidates for the test of Christianity, but regarded it as inevitable that some should fail to pass. He was not surprised at the ebb and flow of Christian progress during the forties, nor too dismayed by the massive falling away of the fifties and sixties. He believed that the sifting time of the church would ultimately be for its benefit.
Many have not endured the sifting to which they have been subjected. But in all this we only see another instance of what has been the experience of the Church in all ages. Whenever persons take up a religious profession under the influence of excitement, they will fall back as soon as that excitement ceases. 57
This was a realistic appraisal of the pre-1840 Christian conversion. The 'plants of exotic growth' withered from the 'rude blasts of the common world', because they were never really rooted in Maori society. As Professor Oliver has stated, 'The missionaries were nurtured in a spiritual tradition which over-stressed individual experience and ignored the significance of the social context'. 58 Finally the Maori church survived on the East Coast because Maoris rather than Europeans shouldered the responsibility for its upkeep. On his return from England in 1853, William Williams was forced to recognize that the urgent need of the mission was for Maori clergymen to supply the posts left vacant by departing C.M.S. missionaries, and the training of future Maori church leaders became his and his son Leonard's main job at Waerenga-a-hika.
Nevertheless conversion remained paramount, and conversion was still an individual affair; it was not to the Maori church nor even to this world's society that the convert ultimately belonged. Nor were evangelical zeal, careful preparation of candidates, and consistency of conduct, the only factors at work. Because 'the Lord reigneth', the missionary's task was not to count heads and bewail losses, but faithfully and diligently to be the instrument of God's purpose, for ultimately all things would work together for good.
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THE NATURE OF THE PRE-1840 CHRISTIAN CONVERSION
The 'conversion' of the East Coast 59 was a joint Maori-Pakeha enterprise. The enthusiastic reception of William Williams and his missionary brethren from the Bay of Islands on their various pre-1840 visits there, was because Maori forerunners like the legendary Taumata a kura, Bible in one hand, musket in the other, had already prepared the way, giving to Christianity a prestige, an elan, an exciting belief in that talisman of East Coast Christianity, 'the book', which by themselves the European missionaries would not have achieved. Maori teachers were not only the harbingers of the Gospel to the East Coast, they were also responsible for its practice. It has become customary to think of the New Zealand missionary as European and male, and to forget that the Janes and Mariannes, the Elizabeths and the Charlottes, were generally as committed to this vocation as their husbands; to forget also, that the Native Teacher and his wife, attached to a particular Maori community, often wielded an influence more decisive, because it was more constant and more intimate than that of their pakeha superiors. The East Coast had a low survival rate for white missionaries. During this 1840-50 period, only William Williams was stationed on the East Coast for the whole time, and he was often away, either at Paihia or Auckland with the Translation Syndicate, or on missionary journeys. Of the C.M.S. missionaries there, one died, two became insane, and two others were forced to leave through ill health. 60 Thus Maori teachers were missionaries in fact if not in name. Like the European catechists they were unable to perform the Sacraments of the Church, but were nevertheless responsible for most of its activity and gave most of its instruction.
The word 'conversion' raises the whole issue of what the C.M.S.
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missionaries were trying to achieve, and why, and to what extent, the Maori was converted. The first point to understand about conversion is that it was never either to Maori or missionary a static concept. For the missionary, conversion was a different process by 1823 from what it had been in 1814, and for the Maori, the East Coast swing to Christianity, although it followed in the wake of the mission success at the Bay of Islands, was nevertheless a different sort of reaction from that of the northern Maoris. Finally, conversion was never simply a confrontation between missionary and Maori. The walls of heathendom, which might have withstood endless onslaughts from the Very Word of God, were not proof against breaches made by pig iron, by slops and blankets, by whooping cough and influenza, and by the whole minutiae and impedimenta of nineteenth century trade and civilization. The East Coast Maoris did not go through the tedious drudgery of the northern conversion, when missionary tenacity and increasing language ability, among other reasons, finally broke through Maori resistance. But for seven years prior to 1840 the East Coast had been an outpost of Paihia, and the wildfire spread of Christianity along the Coast which culminated in the arrival of William Williams as resident missionary at Turanga in 1840, can be understood only in the light of missionary experience and the extent of the missionary success at the Bay of Islands.
'These people will not let us do them good'
The charge most frequently levelled against the first C.M.S. missionaries--William Hall, John King, Thomas Kendall, Francis Hall, John Butler, James Kemp and James Shepherd--is that they did not convert one single Maori; that they survived at all is attributed to Maori tolerance rather than missionary proselytizing. But conversion, when mentioned at all in the first C.M.S. instructions, was seen as a later by-product of the civilizing process. A heathen's soul could not be saved by religious exhortation; the error of all his ways had to be clearly pointed out and his errant steps guided into British paths of decency and good order. His native way of doing things had to be changed so that it conformed as nearly as possible to that of his British artisan prototype, who was also to be his mentor. How and at what cost some sort of tabula rasa could be established, and how and at what cost a native then adjusted to a superimposed form of society which used a different technology as well as a different ideology, were questions neither the early missionaries, nor the later ones, nor their London headquarters, ever asked. That the native convert was alienated both from his indigenous heathen world as much as from his adopted white one was of no matter if his path was directed to the heavenly kingdom. In this scheme of things the missionary's part was to be 'an ambassador from a chosen people, whom God had raised up to be supreme in civilization'. 61 The step from secular to spiritual instructor seemed logical and simple.
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He, therefore, who shews them that he is their superior in the arts which they feel to be most useful and important in life, and who employs his superior skill for their benefit, may expect a friendly attention to his wise and gradual instruction on subjects of infinitely higher moment. 62
'Civilization and general Improvement in the simple Arts', as a first prerequisite of missionary success, was the main thesis that Samuel Marsden propounded in a series of letters advocating the New Zealand mission which he wrote to the C.M.S. between 1807 and 1809.
Till their attention is gained, and moral and industrious Habits are induced, little or no progress can be made in teaching them the Gospel. I do not mean that a native should learn to build a Hut or make an Axe before he should be told anything of Man's Fall and Redemption, but that these grand Subjects should be introduced at every favorable opportunity while the Natives are learning any of the simple Arts. 63
This civilize-to-evangelize programme was the basic instruction given to these first C.M.S. missionaries--conversion to Christianity was stressed only as something that would inevitably follow, it was not laid on them as a prime charge. The logic of the Maoris' choice in first 'civilizing' their fighting methods by the use of muskets and powder, was appreciated only by Thomas Kendall, 64 and in a very real sense he was right. Jehovah came to New Zealand borne as much on the muskets of the Ngapuhi as on the deck of the Active. There was an inherent fallacy in the thinking of the evangelicals which encouraged the first C.M.S. missionaries to assume that they were going to instruct a people living in a social, economic, and spiritual vacuum. It was scarcely the fault of these first missionaries, that the attentive and suitably awe-struck audience of Maoris did not materialise, nor was there ineluctable progress from instruction in the simple arts to instruction in everlasting life; as Francis Hall dispiritedly wrote, 'These people will not let us do them good'. 65 The Ngapuhi in fact stood off, and with a critical detachment, chose by adaptation rather than adoption, the articles and skills of civilization which would fit most readily into their own existing pattern of living.
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'Mr Marsden is in error'
The reversal of this civilize-to-evangelize conversion technique is generally attributed to the arrival at the Bay of Islands of the Reverend Henry Williams in 1823, from which point also the C.M.S. mission is regarded as 'successful'. 66 But before 1823, Kendall, Hall, Kemp, King, and particularly Shepherd, had all queried, in letters to both Marsden and the C.M.S., conversion through 'the simple arts', and were themselves moving towards a straight gospel evangelism. As early as 1819 Kendall wrote;
I expect no general good to be effected amongst them until there are some real conversions to Christianity . . . Our prospects bid much fairer simply as Missionaries than they do as civil settlers. 67
James Shepherd, although a man of little education, had a natural ability with the Maori language. He was firmly convinced that as the Maoris valued none of the missionaries' comforts, they could never appreciate their civil advantages.
. . . they seem to love none of our ways, [and later he wrote] I think the Gospel will prove the only means of civilizing the heathen ... I say Evangelization precedes Civilization. 68
Following his own advice, Shepherd wrote an account in Maori of the 'Creation, Fall and Recovery of man', and he also began working on a translation of St. John's Gospel.
I told them that their hearts were dark, [he wrote in his journal], to which they replied that our minds were not light to know God: and one added . . . your wisdom consists in cultivating land, sawing, building, etc. 69
More time was given to religious instruction, and Kemp, Shepherd and King all began, in a small way, a school again at Rangihoua and Kerikeri.
There was nothing spectacular in this, but by 1823 the emphasis in conversion had shifted from digging, making and building, to preaching and teaching. Completely convinced of the necessity for this change in outlook, William Williams wrote,
Mr Marsden is in error . . . attaching too much importance to agriculture and the arts of civilized life .... But I do most firmly maintain from experience that the progress of civilization does not contribute one iota towards the evangelization of a heathen people. 70
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Observance of the Sabbath was the first missionary success. In the instructions which the C.M.S. gave to its first missionaries in New Zealand, Sabbath Day observance was particularly stressed:
The duty of resting on this day, according to the commandment, is of the utmost importance for the promotion of individual and national piety. Without this there can be no religion even in the most remote corner of the earth. 71
Henry Williams wrote of the Bay Maoris' observance of the Sabbath:
They know when it arrives as well as we do, and distinguish the day by wearing their European clothes and abstaining from work; our Settlement on that day is perfectly quiet. The head Chief, with his wife and many others, generally attend our services, and frequently family prayer. 72
More regular supplies from New South Wales and England, the development of a mission farm at Waimate in 1831, the mission schooner Herald built at Paihia in 1825, the cutter Karere in 1831, enabled the missionaries to be self supporting. With this material independence went a certain authority and sureness in their teaching.
By 1826 the missionaries were also reasonably fluent in spoken Maori. With the arrival of William Williams, the translation of the New Testament and of parts of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer became a major missionary employment. The transformation of Maori into a written language was a major missionary achievement. In this translation the missionaries not only gave the Maoris a new language, they frequently gave them new concepts. How well these concepts were understood, and the extent to which new concepts replaced, or were themselves absorbed by indigenous ones, was not investigated. The principal translator, William Williams until he was joined in 1844 by Robert Maunsell, understood a little of the problem.
They often tell us that they cannot understand us, and one of them observed a few nights since, that if we were to speak to them about their fights, the cultivation of their land etc., they can readily understand us, but that as for the truths we tell them about their souls, they cannot comprehend them. 73
The first serious attempt to translate the Scriptures began in September 1826.
We have commenced at Pyhea the translation of the Scriptures with the first three chapters of Genesis. And when this is completed we intend to proceed to the Gospel of John. For this purpose every member of the station assembles in the morning when a verse is given by William Puckey, who understands the native language very well. And then after the original and books of reference such as we have at hand have been examined, we pull to pieces and sift it as closely as we are able. 74
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In 1827 a small book was printed in New South Wales consisting of the first three chapters of Genesis, the twentieth chapter of Exodus, the fifth chapter of St. Matthew, and the first of St. John. By 1830 part of the first epistle to the Corinthians, and parts of the Anglican liturgy and catechism had been added. Three years later an edition of 1800 copies was printed in New South Wales consisting of about half the New Testament and a large proportion of the Anglican Prayer Book. By the end of 1837 the whole of the New Testament had been translated into Maori by William Williams and 5000 copies printed by William Colenso at the Paihia mission press. The second and third editions were printed in England in 1841 and 1842.
Translating, teaching, preaching, visiting--particularly the sick-- make up most of the entries in William Williams' Bay of Islands Journal, although his teaching from 1835 until he left the Bay of Islands, was as much Latin and Greek to missionary sons, as Christianity to Maoris. There were still the 'simple arts'; but now the missionaries were the doers rather than the instructors. The Maori heart rather than the Maori hands had to be changed, through conviction of sin, through belief in the saving grace of Jesus Christ, through a desire to lead a Christian life guided by the principles of seemly conduct laid down by the missionary and enforced by the Native Teacher. Salvation was a personal matter, and the C.M.S. evangelicals were as aware of, and as dubious about the Maori rush to conform as any twentieth century historian. The changed heart had to be demonstrated in a changed way of life, mere profession of faith was not enough. William Williams was particularly suspicious of the number of baptisms cited by the Wesleyans, as he feared that the London W.M.S. and C.M.S. committees which had jointly printed the 1841 and 1842 editions of the Maori New Testament, might make distribution of testaments proportionate to number of baptisms.
The assertions made by the Wesleyans respecting their numbers as compared with ours are preposterous. They baptize all who become attendants at a place of worship and who profess to believe in Christ. 75
Once the Christian conversion gathered momentum, from the mid 1830's until the mid 1840's, C.M.S. missionaries proceeded with extreme caution in Maori baptisms and confirmations, fearing that the Christian profession came from a desire to conform to the views of their neighbours, now that 'an avowal of these principles no longer drew upon them shame or reproach'. 76
When they came forward as candidates for baptism, the practice was to keep them back as much as possible, to allow time for proof to appear that the profession made was not merely that of the lips. 77
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It was, as William Williams stated, 'no easy thing to submit to the yoke of Christianity', 78 and when the excitement of Christianity and its co-partner, literacy, began to give way to weariness in the mid-forties, Williams and his colleagues were not downhearted, nor did they doubt the efficacy of the conversion process. In fact this falling off in numbers was almost welcomed as proof of the sincerity of those who remained. The evangelicals expected tares among the wheat, that the seed would have fallen also on stony and shallow soil--the way was narrow and for the few.
The useful allies: war weariness, disease and death, literacy
What did conversion mean to Maoris, and why were they converted? One is conscious from the outset of being yet another European making comments and generalizations about a Maori reaction, based almost entirely on sources supplied by other Europeans.
Indeed, from the centre of the Bay of Plenty to Table Cape, the natives were generally ready to lay aside their old superstitions and to listen without reserve to instruction. 79
. . . the whole fabric of native superstition was gone ... the old priests being as forward to take this step as any others. 80
Our Gods are not annihilated they are only silenced by the superior influence of the European God. We are still in the power of Maori Gods. 81
She was as good a Washerwoman as could be, and was as clean herself, as any European Woman could be. She washed from head to foot with Soap, every night before going to bed, her dress was 4 slop Shirts, Black silk handkerchiefs, 3 red Shirts altered into Panny gots or Petticoats, a Blanket or Cacahow. Her hair always well dressed . . . She could say all the Church prayers by Heart, play a good game of drafts, and Swim like a Fish. 82
If we do as you say we must do we shall not be able to keep up our native ways, we believe what you say is right and good, but it wont do for a New Zealander. 83
The above quotations could be added to again and again. The nature of conversion is a complex question, well beyond the scope of this volume, but as Williams himself saw it, there were several factors which aided the process: war weariness, disease and death, literacy.
There was by the late twenties and early thirties a war weariness among the North Island Maoris. In raids to the south the Ngapuhi armed with muskets had been overwhelmingly successful. But this war weariness, perhaps satiation, was as evident among the victors as among the survivors.
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'There are many natives', wrote Williams in 1827, 'who are weary of the warfare which exists in this country and would gladly emigrate that they may not be compelled as is now the case to join in it. Among others our old chief Tekoki, has often asked if there is not some distant island to which he can remove with his people.' 84
One doubts the general prevalence of this desire, no party of Maoris did emigrate, but increasingly from 1830 onwards, the Bay of Islands and Hokianga Maoris accepted the missionaries as peacemakers. It was Titore, a Ngapuhi chief, who in December 1830 proposed that the missionaries, both C.M.S. and Wesleyan, should interfere and endeavour to make peace when fighting broke out at Hokianga, saying that the Maoris could not make peace by themselves, but would go on fighting until one party was broken up. It was the Ngapuhi who allowed Henry Williams in March 1832 to accompany them, not as an observer but as a peacemaker, on their war expedition to Tauranga. With Williams went William Fairburn and James Kemp: Henry Williams the peacemaker was at odds with Henry Williams the naval officer--he found the tardy movement of the war party 'truly vexatious'. He was able to insist that the taua observed the Ra tapu, was allowed to visit and was received in friendly fashion by the Maoris of the besieged Otumoetai pa which was not captured by the Ngapuhi and their allies, the Ngati Awa being also armed with muskets. Thus in contrast to former times, it was a thoroughly dispirited and confused taua that returned to the Bay of Islands, to be greeted there by a day of general thanksgiving over the failure of the expedition to achieve any spectacular success.
... the chiefs acknowledged that their expedition had been a failure and that . . . the God of the missionaries had made them listless. 85
Death, however, was still coming to the Bay of Islands, not from muskets and fighting, but in a more insidious and debilitating way, from European diseases. In October 1828 the mission children at every station became poorly with coughs and colds which proved to be whooping cough. Its effect was devastating on the Maori children. In December William Williams wrote in his Journal:
Indeed there was scarcely a family to be met with which had not been visited by death. It seemed to be a prevailing opinion that it is a visitation from our God in anger to them for not observing the sabbath day etc. 86
Williams attempted to correct this view, but he stated firmly that the origin of sickness was sin. Again missionary tenacity, aided by their relatively good health, won the day. To begin with the Bay Maoris blamed the Europeans for their deaths and illnesses, pointing out that before Europeans came few persons died before they were old, and
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that the sickness to which all ages fell victim, was as much a pakeha import as were muskets. The missionary counter attack was that the devil had been permitted to afflict them on account of their unbelief. During 1835 to 1839, influenza ravaged the Bay Maoris; from arguing the cause of their sickness the Maoris began to accept the missionary explanation, and attended with more apparent sincerity to the missionary karakia. 87 'The native God', said a tohunga to William Williams in explanation of why he had been unable to cure sick Maoris, 'is dead since you are come to the land and can do nothing.' 88 Baptisms, especially of the sick and the dying, increased. One now wonders at the equanimity with which the missionaries accepted the death-bed repentance of so many of their early converts--the insensitivity seems ghoulish, the moral repugnant. But death far more than birth was of supreme importance to the evangelicals. The death-bed held the last chance for repentance; it held hope for eternal life side by side with fear of eternal damnation. That death should be an ally of conversion was in no way at odds with evangelical philosophy--the happy death presaged the sure and certain hope of the resurrection.
'I agreeably hope', wrote Henry Williams, 'this universal illness may tend to their spiriutal good.' 89
War weariness and death may have been within God's providence for the salvation of New Zealanders, but the C.M.S. missionary had also something more palatable, as well as more exciting and positive, to offer--the 'book'. The New Testament and Anglican Prayer Book in Maori became the prized taonga or treasure of the C.M.S. mission. The 'book' and the Native Teacher made the missionary breakthrough. Literacy became the fashion.
Many of the earliest converts were displaced persons, slaves who had been brought to the Bay of Islands from all parts of the country by Hongi's victorious Ngapuhi. Several of them were allowed to live with the mission families, and they 'appreciated the kindness and commiseration they met with there, which was so different from the severity of their masters'. 90 It was not just kindness that was shown to these mission station Maoris; as in England where Hannah More's Sunday Schools prepared the way for the spread of literacy among the lower classes, so in New Zealand, school instruction--learning to read and write--followed the Sunday services and was also given during the week. Again as in England, literacy was for one particular purpose, to prepare the way for personal salvation through an ability to read the Bible. The literate mission Maoris became a prestige group, sons and daughters of local chiefs were also permitted by their parents to learn this new skill, and, while at the mission, to wear European clothing.
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In May 1830 William Williams took one of his literate and baptized Maoris visiting with him, and the Maori spoke 'very pleasingly' to some of the people.
When he began, he was asked what he knew about the matter. "I know", said he, "do you think we do not know these things from the word of God? According to natives ideas", continued he "old people only have understandings, but young people are able to understand the word of God." 91
From 1831 onwards missionaries began to make use of their baptized Maoris as Native Teachers, sending them out to villages to give both instruction and admonition. In 1832 Williams made an exploratory trip north to Kaitaia taking with him several of his baptized Maoris.
In the course of this journey [he wrote] it became abundantly apparent how great is likely to be the value of the native agency. An intelligent New Zealander, if only his thoughts are directed into a right channel, is much better able than a foreigner to adapt his language so as to arrest the attention of his countrymen. 92
Native Teachers became increasingly useful, both to the Wesleyans at Hokianga, as well as to the C.M.S. missionaries. There was, nevertheless, an initial opposition from the local chiefs.
Some of our natives went to visit a party at Waitangi, and gave great offence thro' plain speaking. The chief said it is very well for the Europeans to tell them that their souls will be put into the fire, but for the natives to do so is not to be endured. 93
Endure, however, is what the chiefs for the most part finally did; some of them also became Native Teachers. The practice evolved was for the Teachers--the most exemplary of the literate, baptized, and later confirmed Maoris--to come to the mission station every Sunday evening, when a chapter in the Bible would be read and explained and upon which they would be severally questioned. The following morning they returned to their own districts, read the same portion of the scripture and explained it to the best of their ability.
Maori candidates for both baptism and confirmation were not only well drilled in the catechism, 94 they became competent Bible scholars as well. This accomplishment became increasingly useful to the C.M.S. missionaries in the Protestant--Roman Catholic confrontations of the forties, in which the C.M.S. adherents closely followed in their own Testaments the scriptural references of the rival protagonists. The identification of literacy with Christianity was aptly summed up by the
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Bay of Islands chief Rewa, who in May 1835 celebrated what he said would be the last occasion for the hahunga: from then on they intended to bury their dead according to European custom. 95 On this last Maori occasion, Rewa 'expressed a wish to have a flag hoisted . . . with a native bible and a slate and pencil attached to it, to signify to their friends from Hokianga that they henceforth give up the customs of their fathers and take the word of God as their guide'. 96
To the Bay of Islands the word of God had come over a number of years and through a variety of agencies; the printed word was the successful culmination of a sustained attack. But to the East Coast, to Kapiti, to the Wanganui River, to the Bay of Plenty, the advent of the book was the alpha and omega of the Christian conversion; it completely displaced clothes, muskets, blankets, as the most sought after and prized possession. The pukapuka 97 did not have to be a bound book, any leaves of printed paper sufficed.
It might be an old ship's almanac, or a cast-away novel, or even a few stitched leaves of old newspapers. What did it matter? A book was a book, and everyone knew that to hold a book was part of the ceremony in the new Karakia. 98
In November 1839 William Williams wrote to the C.M.S. that the demand for books on the East Coast was such that Gilbert Mair, a Bay of Islands trader, told Williams that 'if he had had a number of our small prayer books he could have purchased a cargo with them alone'. 99 One system of control in the distribution of these highly prized articles was that a Maori should first be able to read a verse of Scripture. Such was the desire to obtain a Prayer Book or Testament, however, that many Maoris memorized large portions of Scripture, and if allowed to choose their own verse, could read just as well if the book was handed to them upside down. Nevertheless many learnt to read and write:
. . . every day generally brought its Maori mail, with letters on all subjects; one giving information of a quarrel, requesting interference; another containing a petition for books or medicine; another from a teacher giving an account of his last sermon, and the heads of it, requesting a reply to say whether he had treated the subject rightly;
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some were filled with queries as to the meaning of different texts, or to their proper line of conduct under certain circumstances. 100
Unfortunately there was another later result of this identification of literacy with Christianity. When interest in Christianity declined, so did interest in literacy. Except in a few instances, only religious tracts, testaments and prayer books were printed. 101 The ardour with which William Williams fought for the right of missionary children to be taught Latin and Greek, was not matched by an equal ambition for Maori children to be educated beyond the confines of good husbandry, good housekeeping, and the Christian religion. To the missionaries, the Maori language was simply the vehicle for the Gospel.
'A place for the Devil'
In commenting on Rewa and his Bible flag, William Williams wrote:
This man is no Christian, nor has he much pretensions to be called one, but this circumstance may be taken as proof of a general change. 102
By the mid-thirties a 'general change' had taken place at the Bay of Islands, but that it was a general 'conversion', the missionaries themselves would have been the first to doubt. There was at the Bay another factor at work 'civilizing' Maoris in the ways of the nineteenth century. The C.M.S. community was only an enclave in the general European population of the Bay of Islands, and if the Christian yoke proved irksome, it could be slipped off at a ship's side. Over Kororareka and its shipping, missionaries and Maoris achieved a tacit understanding. The Kororareka chiefs ordered away all Maoris who showed any disposition to attend the missionary karakia, and said,
that they will not allow anything of the kind at the place; that those who wished to believe might go to Paihia or Waimate but that Kororareka should be left as a place for the devil. 103
It was agreed that European missionaries could speak to those disposed to hear, but that they would not be spoken to by the 'believing natives'. So from time to time C.M.S. missionaries visited Kororareka where, according to Williams, their congregation consisted principally of attentive prostitutes.
The particular missionary grievance, other than the general drunken debauchery of Kororareka, was the use visiting crews made of Maori girls.
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What grieves and mortifies us most is, when a girl has been some time with us and is making satisfactory progress at school and beginning to be useful in the house, to have her taken away by her nearest connections and carried on board the vessels which frequent the Bay, because the reward they receive for their iniquity there is greater than we can afford for their services here. 104
With reason Jane Williams complained, Edward Markham estimated that,
Thirty to five and Thirty Sail of Whalers come in for three weeks to the Bay and about 400 to 500 Sailors require as many women, and they have been out a year. I saw some that had been out Thirty two Months and of course the Ladies were in great request, and even the Relations of those living as Servants with the Missionaries go to Pihere [Paihia] and bring them away, in spite of all their prayer lessons. These young Ladies go off to the Ships, and three weeks on board are spent much to their satisfaction as they get from the Sailors a Fowling piece for the Father or Brother, Blankets, Gowns, etc., as much as they would get from a Missionary in a year. 105
Markham agreed with the missionaries that the girls went on board too young, and he gave this as a reason for their later sjerility, and thus, independent of any other disease, for the population decrease. Obviously the extent of venereal diseases can only be guessed at. Harrison Wright states that by the 1830's 'the Maoris were treating the diseases as a matter of course'. 106 Henry Williams wrote in March 1835:
That scourge, the venereal disease, we find everywhere we move-- even infants are born with it. 107
If the missionaries found the gap between evangelization and the European civilization of the Bay too great to be bridged, the Maoris were more dexterous. By 1840 the Bay Maoris were living on three levels--as mission Maoris, as trading Maoris, and as Maoris. The simple arts that Marsden had so eagerly envisaged were in evidence in European-style crop cultivation; as well as trading their women, Bay Maoris were selling butter and milk, and of course pork, flax and potatoes. Perhaps the Maori gods were not annihilated, nor even sleeping, but were simply accommodating.
If the waters of salvation seemed muddied and confused in the Bay of Islands, they appeared by 1840 to run as clear as crystal on the East Coast. War from the North had killed or enslaved large numbers of Eastern Maoris--at Waiapu it was a fraction only of the former population that remained. But war was not followed, as in the victorious North, by the debilitating aftermath of Gospel disunion, 'the father is divided against the son and the son against the father'. 108
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Furthermore, it was a complete cross-section of the population which survived. War had come, but prior to 1840 European diseases had not, and one of the things that impressed the visiting Bay missionaries was the number of healthy children. The Coast presented no safe anchorage for shipping (this was to be a hazard in the landing of mission supplies), but Williams welcomed it as a safeguard against European intrusion. Apart from two small pockets at Tolaga Bay and Turanga, the East Coast was free from the confusing, contaminating presence of Europeans. It was also in the grip of a literacy fever--the cry was for teachers, Maori or European, for instruction, and above all, for books. Trained in the rigours of the Bay of Islands conversion, the C.M.S. missionaries prepared to reap the unsullied harvest of the East Coast.
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PRE-1840 C.M.S. VISITS TO THE EAST COAST
A series of Maori-trader reprisals ending with a kidnapping brought about the first Maori-missionary contact on the East Coast. On 13 April 1833, A. N. Brown went to Rangihoua (Bay of Islands), to investigate a report that a whaler lying there had brought up some Maoris from the East Cape 'against their consent'. Brown questioned Captain Black of the whaler Elizabeth who told him that he had
sent a man on shore at the East Cape to trade for pigs, and finding that the Natives did not bring them off he went on shore and saw the man held by the Natives. Capt. B. was then told by his sailor that they had made him a prisoner, and that unless he (Capt B) departed immediately they would also make a prisoner of him. He then jumped into his boat leaving behind two more white men & 3 Natives belonging to the Bay of Islands, and fearing lest the Natives should take possession of his Vessel which he understood they intended doing in consequence of a claim which the Natives made upon him for some Flax supplied to him when in the Prince of Denmark, he put off to sea not knowing that he had any Natives on board belonging to the place. The latter part of the statement he however contradicted afterwards for he said that he offered to put the Natives on shore but they refused to go. I endeavoured to impress on his mind the danger to which the lives of his Crew 109 left behind would be exposed to if he did not take the natives back, but he said he would not be able to make his Sailors take them on shore if he returned to the East Cape. I found too that these poor Natives (7 Men & 5 Women) had been delivered up by Capt. Black to Warepoaka and that they had been distributed as slaves to 8 different Chiefs. The following day one of the captured chiefs told Brown, 'that he and his companions were on board the Elizabeth trafficking and that the Captain on his return from shore made prisoners of them and set sail, and that on begging the Captain to put them on shore he said he would do so tomorrow--they were however brought up and put on shore at Rangihoua. The name of the tribe is Ngatiporo and their residence Waiapu near the East Cape.' 110
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After persuasion by Brown, Henry and William Williams, the Ngapuhi chiefs agreed to give up their Ngati Porou slaves, provided that the missionary schooner Active returned them forthwith to the East Cape. On 22 April a special meeting at Kerikeri authorised William Williams and James Hamlin to return the Maoris, and on 30 April the Active sailed for the East Cape, 'having on board the whole of the natives brought from the southward except one who is up the country and two who have returned in another vessel'. 111
This opportunity for the 'unchristian and un english like conduct of Capt Black to be over ruled by the introduction of the Gospel to the East Cape', 112 was thwarted for the time being by the weather. When the Active was in sight of Hicks Bay anchorage, a heavy gale came up, the Active was damaged, and William Williams advised Captain Wright to bear up for the Bay of Islands. Because of the uncertainty of the weather, the dangerous nature of the East Coast, and possibly too because of the additional hazard provided by the Active, 113 the C.M.S. missionaries decided not to brave the return trip until the following summer. At some time during this period, the missionaries paid for or 'redeemed' the Ngati Porou slaves. The mission store account for July to October 1833 shows that 11 blankets, 2 pots, an axe and some tobacco were used in redeeming slaves. 114 For eight months the East Coast Maoris lived at the Paihia mission station, receiving regular instruction, and thus becoming a part of the nucleus of Paihia-trained Christian Maoris who established such a strong foothold on the East Coast for their new religion, years before the establishment of the first mission station.
On 19 December 1833, William Williams, this time accompanied by Rev. William Yate, 115 sailed again for the East Cape in the schooner Fortitude. In addition to returning the East Cape Maoris, Williams and Yate were instructed by the local committee to obtain 'a better acquaintance with the inhabitants of that district'. 116 In typical missionary fashion the Fortitude, owned by Captain J. R. Clendon and his partner, S. Stephenson, was crowded with goods and people. There were about 40 Maori passengers to various places, the timber frame of a house for the new Puriri station, and along with Williams and Yate were
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the missionaries for this station, James Preece, his wife, 117 and John Morgan. From 25 December 1833 to 7 January 1834, Williams and Yate explored the neighbourhood of Puriri, and Williams made a trip to Katikati, Tauranga. On 8 January the Fortitude came to anchor in Hicks Bay. The returning Maoris were joyfully welcomed, 118 and although Williams thought the Maoris there 'the wildest set I have yet seen in the land', both he and Yate were treated with great civility. The Paihia Maoris were careful to explain to their countrymen the difference between the missionaries and the other Europeans with whom the East Coast Maoris had had to do. When the Fortitude arrived, a war party was assembling to attack a tribe living further inland, but some of the chiefs were willing to give up the expedition if the missionaries told them to do so--'Give us missionaries to instruct us, and we will leave off our wars.' 119 The following day Williams and Yate walked overland from Hicks Bay to Waiapu along a cliff path which Williams described as 'precipitous' and Yate as 'one of the very worst and most dangerous I ever before travelled. I had to creep upon my hands and knees by the side of precipices so steep and dizzily lofty that one false step would have been death as it would have plunged me upon the rocks which frowned or the waves which roared below.' 120
At Waiapu the two missionaries visited Rangitukia and some of the pas of the Waiapu valley, including Whakawhitira. They were impressed by the number of Maoris who would be easily accessible to a mission station established there. Even though the 500 Maoris to whom Williams spoke was the largest assembly he had addressed in New Zealand, war had already cut down their numbers. Thousands had been killed or taken slaves when the Waiapu pas had been conquered and devastated by Hongi's raids of 1818, and by those of Te Wera and Pomare in 1820 and 1823. In fact, the present inhabitants, although numerous in Williams' eyes when compared with the dwindling Bay of Islands' population, 'consisted principally of those who had escaped to the woods'. 121 January 12 was a Sunday, 'the first sabbath which has been observed at Waiapu since the creation of the world', but the Ngati Porou seemed to know that they were not to work on that day and that all their food was to be prepared beforehand. Rukuata, one of the East Cape chiefs who had returned with the missionaries, explained the nature of the Sunday service and of the teaching which
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followed; Yate read the greater part of the Anglican liturgy for Morning Prayer to the assembly, and Williams addressed them.
The people were arranged in squares and for so very large a number behaved remarkably well. They presented a most grotesque and savage appearance. Some were perched on the tops of houses--others stretched at full length on the ground--some were squatted with a child upon each knee others with one or more children at the back but all attentive to what was passing. The old men were dressed in their best and the young ones for the most part naked. Some had their beards plastered with red ochre and oil, others with blue clay and a deep mark of red over each eye brow which together with the tattooing gave them the most ferocious aspect that can well be conceived and would do well for some of the pictures of Apollyon in the older editions of Bunyan's Pilgrims Progress .... "Well", said one very old man when the services of the day were concluded, "Well we shall never forget to sit still every seventh day. I will count the nights and remind the tribes when the sacred day comes round".' 122
From Waiapu, the missionaries sailed to the Mahia Peninsula. Here again the Maoris pointed out the depredation of the Ngapuhi raids, and Williams took comfort in the thought that the day had arrived when wars and rumours of wars should cease. He also admitted that the more even distribution of muskets made the outcome of fighting less a foregone conclusion.
But a better cause than this is now working its silent way. It is the knowledge of the principles of the gospel .... We have had much satisfaction in being able to state in different places which we have visited, that among the Ngapuhi, the father is divided against the son and the son against the father, and that many of those chiefs, known formerly in this part of the island by the part they took in the work of desolation, are now desirous not only to embrace the gospel themselves, but to promote its extension among those who are dependent upon them. 123
At the Mahia they were welcomed by Te Wera, a former Ngapuhi chief who, after leading an expedition against the East Coast Maoris in 1820, returned three years later at the invitation of Ngati Kahungunu to live at Mahia Peninsula as their protector. On board the Fortitude were two Bay of Islands chiefs, one of whom was a relative of Te Wera. Yate gave their names as 'Pomare', who would have been a nephew of the Pomare who raided the coast with Te Wera, and 'Kekeau', probably Te Kekeao. In the general confusion of 'crying with relations', of talking, singing and speeches, Williams and Yate found it difficult to give their own message, but they were heard, if not by the whole assembly, at least by smaller groups, and again the Maoris asked that missionaries should come and live with them. On 18 January, the Fortitude stood out to sea and returned to the Bay of Islands.
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For the next four and a half years there were no further C.M.S. visits to the East Coast. In 1834, from July to November, Williams made a trip to the south which included Thames, Ngaruawahia, Matamata, Otumoetai, Te Papa, Mangapouri, Kawhia and Aotea. He and Jane expected to be placed at Mangapouri station in view of the growing friction with the Wesleyan missionaries over the latter's assumption of control over the western part of the island. What galled William Williams was the inverse disparity in numbers and influence between the two groups. With only three missionaries at this time compared with at least 18 in the C.M.S., the Wesleyans were far more active in extending their influence southward. In April 1835, however, Williams took Brown's place in charge of the Boys' School. His next contact with the East Coast was in March 1837 when he gave a set of reading lessons to a Maori going on a visit to the Mahia Peninsula. From this man Williams learnt that a Maori he had left there in 1834, although not a Christian, had introduced Sabbath day observance.
At the end of 1837 the Maori New Testament was completed. The local C.M.S. committee decided to give the editor, William Williams, and the printer, William Colenso, 124 a holiday--a sea trip to Tauranga and the East Cape, and then an overland walk from East Cape to Turanga, Poverty Bay. In January 1838, Williams and Colenso left the Bay of Islands in the missionary schooner Columbine. 125 Also on board were the families of A. N. Brown, J. Wilson, and J. Morgan who were going south to re-establish the stations temporarily abandoned during the 1836-7 fighting between Te Waharoa and the Rotorua tribes. The East Coast party consisted of Williams, Colenso, Richard Matthews, 126 and James Stack. 127 The last named joined them at Tauranga.
At Hicks Bay, which was reached on 15 January 1838, Williams and his party left the Columbine for their overland journey to Turanga, much to the distress of the Maori cook who cried, '"They should never see us again!" Such was their opinion of the East Coast Maoris . . . who had long borne a bad name from being treacherous to shipping and to
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seamen visiting their shores'. 128 The Hicks Bay Maoris remembered Williams from his 1834 visit, and he was pleased to find that there was still some semblance of Sabbath observance. He assembled about 240 Maoris and spoke to them about the last judgement. At Rangitukia, Waiapu, they were warmly welcomed, especially by Rukuata, whom the missionaries had returned to his people in 1834. 129 The crowds so thronged about them that Colenso wrote that it was scarcely possible for them to pitch their tent. The following day the missionary party moved about ten miles up the Waiapu valley to Whakawhitira; on the way Colenso noted the neat plantations of taro and tobacco. Whakawhitira was the largest pa Colenso had seen; the fence on one side was nearly a mile in length, and on top of the fence were a great number of large, carved full-length human figures. On Sunday, Williams and Stack spoke to about 150 at Ariawai, and Colenso held a service with about 40 at Reporoa where he had some slight difficulty in coping with the women present, who supposed him to be either a sailor or trader
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and were unable to understand his apparent indifference. The party then continued its journey down the East Coast towards Tokomaru Bay, accompanied some of the way by the old chief of Whakawhitira, Ouenuku, who wished to press his claim for a missionary to live with them. He told Williams that the European traders living on or visiting the Coast kept them well enough supplied with 'foreign' goods--from the missionary he wanted 'instruction'.
Oh! how hot and sultry it was this day travelling over the stony beaches at the foot of these eternal cliffs, without the luxury of the least shade! 130
They were sustained on their walk to Tokomaru by the thought of the supper they would have from an immense codfish, the gift of a chief at Whareponga. Unfortunately when they arrived at Tokomaru, and Colenso prepared to cook the cod, he asked the Maori slave who carried it when it was caught. On hearing that it had been caught on the Sabbath, the missionaries felt obliged to abandon their fish supper and make do with tea:
it would not do for us to use the fish, our doing so would doubtless have given rise to a very pernicious and sinful custom. 131
The Maoris of Tokomaru were very civil and 'undoubtedly ripening for the Gospel': all four missionaries engaged in teaching the catechism. The missionaries on this trip were even more the ambassadors of peace, as two of the chiefs accompanying them were peace emissaries to the Coast tribes from Te Waharoa. 'The natives', Williams wrote,
seem to take it for granted that peace is the universal consequence of the introduction of missionaries, and they are urgent with us that we should use our influence with Wera the chief of Table Cape to induce him to make peace with the natives living on the coast from Cape Runaway to Tauranga with whom the natives from East Cape to Table Cape have been for some time at war. 132
From Tokomaru, the party went by canoe to Uawa, Tolaga Bay, calling on the way at Motukaroro, 133 where a white man who proposed setting up a whaling station was living. In contrast with their reception elsewhere on the Coast, the Maoris at Uawa were rather unfriendly-- 'very rough and lewd in their manners', which both Williams and Colenso attributed to Europeans having lived there. Two hundred Maoris assembled for prayers, but not one enquirer came to their tents. On 26 January, the missionaries reached Turanga, the name by which the Poverty Bay district was known to both missionaries and traders. The
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Columbine was anchored in the Bay. Here they stayed for three days visiting the neighbouring pas and also the whaling station near the mouth of the Turanganui River where there were approximately twenty Europeans: 'From Mr. Espie, the manager, we received no small attention'. 134 On Sunday Colenso held a service in Maori in the store attached to the whaling station, at which 60 were present, and afterwards, an English one, at which 12 were present. He also held a service at Toanga where the principal chief, who was very ill, took a great interest in all Colenso told him.
While Colenso and Stack remained on the north side of the Bay, Williams and Matthews crossed in the Columbine and held services and 'conversations' on the opposite side. Two of the chiefs who welcomed Williams were related to one of his Christian, formerly slave, Maoris from the Bay of Islands. Williams also held an English service at Wherowhero with four Europeans and 'one American man of color', living there. 135 The next day Williams and Matthews made a circuit of Poverty Bay before returning to the Columbine, which on 30 January left for the Bay of Islands.
The mission field possibilities of Poverty Bay had impressed William Williams.
The whole district upon which the natives live is a beautiful plain of rich alluvial soil about eight miles wide and from 12 to 20 in length. It is intersected by three rivers which for New Zealand, are large, being navigable for several miles up their course, but all have a bar of sand at their entrance. The number of people at Turanga is not more than half the amount of Waiapu, but it possesses many good advantages for a missionary station. There is every convenience for landing goods except during the winter season, when the Bay, being open to the East, is unsafe. But what is of the most importance, the natives are all accessible at the distance of from 2 to 10 miles respectively from the spot which would be fixed upon as a station. The numerous population on the river Wairoa which empties itself into Hawkes Bay though not near enough to be regularly attended to, would yet be under the influence of a station placed here. 136
As the Columbine left Poverty Bay, Colenso noted in his Journal, 'What a different reception we received compared with that received by Cook'! 137 James Stack, on the other hand, in the tersest of comments to the London C.M.S., wrote that although the thickly populated state of
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the country was inviting, 'the landing of Mission stores would be attended with serious hazard and expense'. 138
For the next few months, plans for missionary work on the East Coast were carried forward at the Bay of Islands. Both Williams and Colenso had brought back with them Maori youths for instruction at the mission schools. But European missionaries were needed: six, according to William Williams, of the present strength should be sent south of East Cape. Here was the problem, few of the older missionaries wished to move. Thomas Kendall had foreseen the likelihood of this missionary dilemma, even in the relatively primitive settlement of Rangihoua:
Every missionary ought to proceed to his appointed station at the time of his arrival .... If there are more than two in one place they will be tempted to confine themselves within their own body; and like us keep aloof from the natives and forget the main object of the Mission. 139
At Paihia in 1838, there were five missionary families. 'Really we have a medley at Paihia', wrote Henry Williams, 'I find it needful to remain very much in my own house'. 140 The mission ladies divided the Paihia beach in two, those at the Horotutu end, where the Bakers and the Fords lived, confining their acquaintance with the Henry Williams end to 'speaking if they accidentally met'. 141 Charles Baker from Paihia was an obvious choice, but every time a move south was mooted, Mrs Baker was taken poorly. 142 Another possibility was Samuel Ford, the official C.M.S. doctor, and William Williams saw no reason for there being two medical men at the Bay of Islands, when the southern stations had no medical assistance whatever. Ford, however, refused to go. He wrote to the Society that,
The necessity of frequent travelling, for the most part on foot, sleeping out in a tent in a damp climate like this, had already proved very prejudicial to my health. 143
Mrs Ford also pleaded 'delicate health'. Benjamin Ashwell offered himself for the south, having, he wrote,
a very strong predilection for Turanga, Poverty Bay, and knowing that the Almighty does of times choose the weak thing of the world to confound those that are mighty encourages me to offer myself as a Volunteer. 144
Henry Williams decided that Ashwell was both too weak physically-- his health had suffered in Sierra Leone--and too temperamental to go to the southward, especially to a sole charge station, a view in which Ashwell came to acquiesce:
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'I do not care where I am,' he wrote to Brown from Paihia, 'but sometimes it is difficult to know . . . whether you are where the Almighty would have you to be or not.' 145
As an emergency measure, which was especially needed now that the Roman Catholic mission was also in the field, 146 the local C.M.S. committee resolved,
That the Columbine proceed to the Thames . . . and Tauranga and from there proceed beyond the East Cape with the Christian Natives. 147
If no European missionaries were able or prepared to save the East Coast, into the breach went the Maori ones.
At the end of October 1838, the Columbine sailed with six married 148 Native Teachers and their wives, three to be placed at East Cape, and three at Turanga. This time the accompanying missionary was Henry Williams.
I found the natives very numerous when compared with those of this part of the Island and at all the Pas, both at the East Cape and Turanga all seemed perfectly prepared to receive Christian instruction and their repeated and strong solicitations for teachers . . . should not be longer neglected .... The demand for books was very great and general. 149
Henry Williams distributed 500 slates, a few early lessons, and catechisms. With this equipment it was intended that the Native Teachers would be able to make a start with schools as well as with services.
In the early part of 1839 two new missionaries joined the C.M.S. at the Bay of Islands--Octavius Hadfield in January, and Richard Taylor in March. Both were ordained priests and university-trained, although ill health had prevented Hadfield from completing his degree. They were also, particularly Hadfield, more strict in their Anglicanism, than were the earlier C.M.S. missionaries. But the important thing to William Williams was not so much their views as the fact that both were qualified to teach at the Waimate Boys' School, which would allow Williams to go to the East Coast; although neither Hadfield nor Taylor was particularly anxious to begin his missionary career by teaching English boys. With the return of Henry Williams from the East Coast, Jane Williams saw the writing on the wall:
There is a very large population in that part of the country perishing for lack of knowledge, and Henry and William are so much interested for them, that I think it not at all unlikely that one of our two families
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will move thither before long. We are a large body now in the neighbourhood of the Bay of Islands, and there are several who might move, but want the inclination. Consequently if Mr Taylor when he arrives will take the school, William considers it will be our duty to go, as he can be better spared than Henry. We have neither of us any wish to forsake the school . . . but we have put our hand to the plough, and shall we now look back and give the preference to our children and our worldly comforts. 150
In spite of Jane's prediction, it was still not decided whether Richard Taylor or William Williams would be the first missionary permanently on the Coast, when Taylor suggested that both he and Williams should make a trip there in the small cutter Aquila in March 1839. Richard Taylor had been only a few weeks in New Zealand, he was completely unused to the hardship of missionary travel, he did not have robust health, and he found the sea journey in the cramped quarters most unpleasant. The weather was poor, the cabin very small and full of bugs, the food 'very ordinary', consisting of tea, pork and potatoes for breakfast, dinner and tea, 'prepared in a filthy way'. They slept on bare boards. 151 Williams, completely inured to missionary travel, mentioned none of this; to Taylor it was all too obvious. A few days were spent at Tauranga, and on 5 April they landed at Hicks Bay. Then over the steep slippery path, which Taylor also noticed--one of his boots was too tight and he was lame--to Waiapu and the pa of Rangitukia. Here the chief Rukuata welcomed them, especially William Williams:
... as the chief was an old acquaintance of Mr. W. they touched noses together, an honor I was not sorry to escape, shaking hands is quite sufficient for me for they wipe their noses with their fingers. 152
The Native Teacher, James Kiko, told them that a party of Maoris from the Bay of Islands were doing all they could to influence the Rangitukia Maoris against the gospel. Nevertheless he had made a good start with his school--75 men, 70 women, and 38 children were in his classes, and although none were as yet able to repeat the catechism, Williams was gratified to see so many willing to learn. A few of the younger Maoris were beginning to read, but they had only six books to share. All were anxious to possess prayer books, and the six Maoris who had carried the missionaries' baggage from Hicks Bay to Waiapu, preferred the prayer book to any other form of payment. Taylor was impressed by the respect in which James Kiko was held:
. . . our teacher . . . appears to have far more power than any chief and in fact to be the chief of Waiapu though but a redeemed slave. 153
The Sabbath was celebrated at Whakawhitira, and Richard Taylor, seeing with a newcomer's eye, made an interesting observation on the bond between Maori fathers and their children.
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One of the finest traits I have noticed in the New Zealander is that of parental love; the men appear chiefly to nurse their children, and are generally to be seen with one on their backs covered up under their mats, the little things appear likewise sensible of their fathers' love for they seem principally to cling to them. 154
Another trait of which Taylor could not but be aware, and which in spite of his vocation he found nauseating, was the anxiety the Maoris showed to be near the two missionaries and to observe everything they did.
. . . directly we sit down the people rush in and we are almost stifled with dust and heat and my companion is too good natured to desire them to retire to a distance. I tell him I hope antichrist will not walk in for he would not have the heart to command him to walk out. I have adopted a regular plan of fortification, I place all our packages and boxes in a line and mark off a corner of the room beyond which I will not suffer the people to intrude. 155
Taylor's line of boxes could not prevent Maoris from being fascinated observers of the missionaries' toilet:
. . . their exclamations of admiration were very frequent . . . the shape of the white man's foot was noticed as I plastered up my sores the toes being pressed together by shoes whilst theirs are open . . . and when I brushed my teeth and gargled my mouth with water, the gurgling noise drew forth a burst of applause. I could not help laughing and almost dreaded to shave lest I should cut my throat, but that operation was viewed with unbroken silence their observation was so intense. 156
With six pas in the Waiapu valley and with four nearby on the coast, Williams was again convinced that Waiapu must become a C.M.S. station, and equally convinced of the folly of the missionaries in clinging so desperately to the Bay of Islands.
O that a different disposition of our missionary strength could be made, and that instead of three or four families being huddled together in places where they are not wanted, or at Kerikeri where there are no natives, something could be done for this place where more natives are to be found than in all the Bay of Islands stations and Kaitaia put together. 157
At Whakawhitira Williams and Taylor celebrated the Lord's Supper with the three teachers and their wives, and before leaving Williams addressed 300 to 400 Maoris in their new and very well built chapel. At every place in Waiapu which they visited they found some of the slates which Henry Williams had left with the teachers; all of the slates seemed to be in constant use.
From Waiapu the missionaries journeyed down the coast, stopping at Whareponga, Tokomaru, and Uawa. At Robert Espie's whaling
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station 158 they held a service with two Europeans who were working for him, and Taylor expressed his repugnance at the wretched hut which was Espie's house. On 17 April they reached Turanga, called at J. W. Harris's house for dinner, 159 and went on to Paokahu, 'a large pa more than a mile in length intended as a city of refuge for the whole of the Turanga natives in the event of an attack from Waikato'. 160 At this pa were two of their teachers, Edward Wananga and Richard Taki. In spite of an influenza outbreak the teachers gave a good account of their Maoris and of the general outcry for books and instruction,
The evil spirit seems to be dislodged from this people generally, [wrote Williams] and they are ready to receive much good or much evil. 161
He thought the latter a distinct possibility in view of the expected arrival in New Zealand of further Roman Catholic priests, and as he also thought that the East Coast would make an easy prey, Williams was more anxious than ever to come himself to Turanga, if only Taylor would agree to relieve him at the Waimate Boys' School. Both agreed that a site for a station should be chosen, and a house ordered to be built. Williams then went to Umukapua pa, 162 where the Native Teacher was Marsden Tukareaha and his son Paul, and marked out a site for a house, which at least would be suitable for his own accommodation if Taylor was persuaded to take the school. At Umukapua he married an Englishman living there, Thomas Halbert, 163 to his Maori wife, and after that ceremony, baptized his child which had Christian Maoris as sponsors. On 22 April Williams and Taylor set out on the return trip to Hicks Bay, going part of the way to Uawa in Espie's boat. The Columbine was not in sight when they arrived at Hicks Bay on 20 April, and they spent the week awaiting her arrival at Hekawa. They returned to the Bay of Islands, 23 May 1839.
At Waimate, Williams again took up his duties at the School, 164
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but only for a few months longer. Richard Taylor went to New South Wales to bring over his wife and the rest of his family--his sons only had come with him in March--and when he returned to New Zealand in September 1839, freely assented to take charge of the school. In the meantime William Williams had been busy with preparations for the Turanga station, which he hoped to occupy himself, and which he was absolutely determined would be occupied by someone. He shipped trees by the Jess, 165 on June 25 for Turanga, and these were temporarily bedded down in Harris's garden. After Taylor had agreed to the Boys' School, the Jess was again used to convey much of Williams' own personal effects and some of his cattle to Turanga.
But a stop-gap measure was still needed. Rumours had reached the Bay of Islands that Pompallier with some of his newly arrived priests were 'planting popery at the Bay of Plenty'. On 21 October 1839 the Columbine left the Bay of Islands with Henry Williams, Octavius Hadfield, George Clarke and John Wilson. Henry Williams was taking Hadfield to his new Kapiti station, John Wilson was going to Tauranga, and George Clarke with James Stack who joined the Columbine at Tauranga, made a short visit to Hicks Bay and Waiapu. At Hicks Bay, where Stack and Clarke left Columbine, they had a good congregation of attentive hearers, and Clarke left another teacher and his wife. At Waiapu they also found matters in a very pleasing state, and were impressed, as Williams and Taylor had been, with the chapel at Whakawhitira. Stack was also impressed by the two Native Teachers there who, he wrote, 'have more influence than I ever saw native teachers have before'. 166 On 11 November Stack and Clarke returned along the Bay of Plenty coast to Tauranga.
After a five month interval, William Williams resumed his Journal to the C.M.S. with the entry, 'shipped my cattle on board the Martha with the remainder of my goods'. 167 Three days later the Martha set sail for Turanga. In addition to the Williams' family, James Stack, his wife and three children were on board, bound for Tauranga. Two others in the Turanga party were George Clarke and Henry Williams. George, aged 17, was the son of the C.M.S. catechist. He had been one of Williams' most promising pupils at Waimate, and had been persuaded to go to Turanga for a year's reading. The reading was to be 'the analysis of Greek and Latin sentences, after the strict and literal fashion of the old Oxford school', no novels were allowed. 168 His companion, Henry Williams, also 17, was the fourth child of Henry and Marianne. Jane and William Williams at this time had six children, but only two, James Nelson aged 2 1/2, and Anna Maria, 11 months, went with them on this first trip to Turanga. Their two other boys, William
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Leonard, 10, and Thomas Sydney, 8, remained at the Waimate Boys' School, and their two girls, Mary 13, and Jane Elizabeth, 12, with their Aunt and Uncle at Paihia. When they went to Turanga, William Williams was 39 and Jane Williams, 38.
JOURNAL ENTRY; 31 December: Embarked at noon and set sail with a slight breeze. Our party consists of Mr. and Mrs. Stack and family, my nephew Henry Williams, Mr. Clarke's oldest son George, and my own family with about 45 natives.