1974 - Williams, W. The Turanga Journals - AFTERMATH: RETURN TO TURANGA, p 581-590

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  1974 - Williams, W. The Turanga Journals - AFTERMATH: RETURN TO TURANGA, p 581-590
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Return to Turanga




Retreat to Napier

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William and Jane returned to Poverty Bay on 16 August 1853. As they proceeded to Whakato there was 'a general cry of welcome' from Maoris on the plain, and over the next few days William rubbed noses and shook hands hundreds of times. But in the years that he had been away a change had taken place; the walls of the Turanga mission had been breached; things were never to be quite the same again.

One of Williams' first observations was that the temporal affairs of the natives were prospering. The high price of wheat had given a stimulus to agriculture and T. S. Grace who had been Williams' locum, encouraged Maori secular welfare. Williams, however, was not appreciative of this aspect of his colleague's efforts.

... his course has been, in many respects different from that which I had followed. His grand theme is the elevation of the temporal condition of the natives. In aiming at this, he has in the first place, been brought into collision with the whites; secondly . . . from a variety of causes . . . the general attendance for instruction and particularly at the Bible Classes has much fallen off. 1

Jane found that it required much grace 'to bear meekly the many vexations and provoking things which Mr G. does not hestitate to say & do'. 2 Grace's 'modern' ideas had even permeated the central boarding school which now had both male and female boarders in the one establishment. Williams thought such an arrangement most unsuitable and set to work to bring about 'a needful separation'. Jane Williams echoed her husband's remarks:

Many, very many are absorbed in their worldly concerns, think of nothing but buying, selling and getting gain, while the attendance at church, bible classes and schools is sadly diminished. 3

Mammon's kingdom had also introduced a new ally--drink.

Four years ago, Jane wrote in 1853, 'it was a very, very rare occurrence for a native to be intoxicated; now I grieve to say that it frequently happens and is encouraged by most of the Europeans in the neighbourhood, many of whom do not scruple to sell them spirits, a bottom full at a time'. 4

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Williams had always held an unfavourable opinion of European traders. Now that there was a demand for native produce in Auckland and even in New South Wales, Maori-trader contact increased, and, according to Williams, the appetite for European vices grew in direct proportion to the prices paid for the produce.

Never had the Turanga mission seemed to be more in need of care and attention, and to compound matters, the East Coast was in its usual state of being without enough European missionaries. William Colenso had been removed from Ahuriri in 1852, Ralph Barker had been invalided to Auckland in 1853, 5 Charles Baker was still convalescing in Auckland, so that at the end of 1853, James Hamlin at Wairoa was the only white missionary other than Williams in the Eastern District. Baker went to Rangitukia in 1854, but ill health forced him to leave in 1857. Williams made a start again with his Bible Classes, but while the older people continued to come, the young had drifted away.

The novelty of Christianity has died away, and such as go back, and became dead and careless, are more difficult to deal with than those who have never heard the gospel. 6

On his journeys Williams noted the same indifference, and although he could still visit Ahuriri and East Cape by packhorse, a severe illness made it impossible for him to attempt any more arduous land journeys. Epidemics of influenza and (in 1854) of measles were also taking their toll. At Waiapu where the measles epidemic was particularly severe, the many deaths were attributed to Christianity, and tohungas were again consulted about the treatment of the sick. In this crippled state of the mission where the main instruction at the outposts was being given by Native Teachers, themselves only half taught, it was not surprising that a cult developed in the late fifties. 'Kowhiowhio' was audible intercourse carried on by whistling with the spirits of departed friends; elderly women generally acted as mediums.

This was carried on to such an extent some months ago, that in the last visit paid on the Coast the Lords Supper was not administered at any village lying between Poverty Bay and Tokomaru. 7

The practice was also strong at Te Reinga. Williams attended some of the seances, but as Jane observed, his presence seemed to have an inimical effect and the spirits would not whistle. The situation therefore at the end of the fifties was gloomy--mass support for Christianity was falling away and missionaries were no longer coming from England to fill the deserted posts.

Williams added to the disenchantment by deciding to move the Turanga station, Whakato, to Waerenga-a-hika, a new site about seven miles further inland. He had little option. The C.M.S. had

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discontinued its allowance for schools, and the New Zealand government grant of £200 per annum for a mission school was only payable on the condition that the school was self supporting. Ngati Kaipoho was unwilling to make a further land grant at Whakato for a mission, farm, and then, in September 1855, Te Whanau a Iwi, hapu of Te Aitanga a Mahaki, offered Williams by deed of gift 'a beautiful tract of land' of about 800 acres at Waerenga-a-hika which he accepted. The Board of Education supplied 100 sheep, and there was plenty of timber on the property for fuel and fences--timber had always been in short supply at Whakato. Three of the Whakato buildings were dismantled and put together again at Waerenga-a-hika; a barge was built to transport the loads up the Waipaoa River. The expenses were much heavier than Williams had anticipated. For the first time he wrote to the Society appealing for financial assistance. The Parent Committee donated £300, English friends, notably Kate Heathcote, also contributed and so too did Bishop Selwyn. In May 1857 the move was completed. The local Maoris near Whakato--Ngati Kaipoho and Ngati Maru--although unwilling to make any further land grants, were opposed to the move. Te Aitanga a Mahaki, on the other hand, although they willingly made over the land, gained little for themselves. The principal function of the mission was no longer to be an evangelical centre for the local community, it was to provide a school for training Maoris from all parts of the Eastern District to take a leadership role in what Williams now saw would have to be a Maori rather then a C.M.S. controlled church. As the C.M.S. was unwilling any longer to provide missionaries for New. Zealand, 'it becomes our duty', Williams wrote to Selwyn, 'to promote to the utmost the preparation of a native pastorate'. 8

Our object then is to make a separation, though in the midst of the people, and to bring up a body of persons with views different from the multitude, who may occupy with efficiency after we have gone. 9

This change of function meant too that the people of Te Aitanga a Mahaki 10 felt no particular affinity with the mission which in turn was not particularly concerned with them. Thus when Pai Marire posed a test of loyalty for the Poverty Bay Maoris, the mission was fairly quickly abandoned by the majority. It was not actually attacked, it just lacked local support.

In the meantime Williams devoted himself with his usual diligence to a teaching role. He was not impressed by Selwyn's training of Maori ordinands and thought his standards too low. Careful preparation was always his aim.

I am afraid some of our friends will be impatient to hear of native clergymen being pushed forward .... But I am not an advocate for following out this measure in haste. We see the way open before us--

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there are many natives making good progress, and it would be a great pity to cut short this present course of studies earlier than necessary. 11

In May 1858 he had 66 under instruction in three schools; 21 were Native Teachers, and some of these Williams hoped would be ordained; 18 were in the boys' school; the third school was for girls and the wives of Native Teachers. By August 1859 the pupils had increased to 98 and he also had an infant school. All the older pupils were boarders and all pupils were clothed and fed which in turn involved a large amount of farm work:

Yesterday I went with a party of men & boys to cut willow branches to the number of 1300 which next year will be as many willow trees . . . Our occupations therefore are very various. Teaching is only a part, and there is no danger of the head being muddled by intense study. 12

His chief assistant was his son Leonard who with his wife reached Turanga on 18 February 1854. Leonard Williams had not followed his cousin Henry's advice but had returned to New Zealand in deacon's orders only. 13 Selwyn, however, did not demur about his going to assist his father at Turanga. They made an able team and for the rest of William Williams' life, father and son worked together without the slightest sign of friction. Fortunately Leonard's English wife, Sarah, fitted in well. In 1857 the Williams' household consisted of William and Jane; three daughters, Maria, Kate and Emma (Marianne was presumably with her aunt at Pakaraka or at school in Auckland); son James; Leonard and Sarah with their three children; two assistants, a Miss Jones from England and one of Charles Baker's sons. James was to take up sheep farming at Hawkes Bay, but during the move and settling in period, he helped his father by ploughing and fencing the new land. Maria at seventeen became her mother's first assistant and the journal 14 which she exchanged with her sister Jane at the Bay of Islands is very reminiscent of her mother's. Her room was 'the resort of women and babies', she 'flitted from one place to another after my usual fashion endeavouring to keep people [the brigade] to their work'. Her mother's journal 15 is again most interesting. There were days, especially in the move from Whakato to Waerenga-a-hika, of 'very great raru', of 'thorough confusion and bustle', of 'natives poking themselves continually where they were not wanted', but generally she was able 'to get straight and comfortable by tea time'.

A day of extreme raru: first Kate and I cleared out the kitchen stove, while the girls did the same by the kitchen & their own room. Mr Harris came and paid an inconveniently long visit. At last I determined not to mind him, so Maria and Kate cleared out the high cupboard wh. is to go in the boat . . . When that was done, drawers, bedding and

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a cask of kitchen requisites were packed with C.B.'s help [Charles Baker jnr.] Next had some boxes brought to the front verandah and packed pictures and lots of other things. In the meantime the kitchen was moving slowly but surely & causing no small excitement. 16 At dusk it was brought up just beyond the pump, having opened to us a very pretty view across the gully, but leaving the chimney and oven looking very disconsolate. 17

The real upset was when the boat moored alongside the punt sank taking with it 24 bags of wheat and the piano. The piano was rescued, water pouring out of it, and deposited on the kitchen table where Leonard took it to pieces, dried it, cut new leathers out of old boots for the hammers, and re-assembled it. William thought the piano sounded as well as ever, but Jane was not so happy with its tone. Half a crown a bag was offered for the wheat and Maoris dived for it 'most perseveringly'. This too was successfully dried out. In the middle of April 1857 William and Jane who were still living at a depleted Whakato, rode over to spend some days at the new station where Leonard and Sarah had already settled in.

We arrived about sunset. Leonard was just concluding his singing class & the bell rang for prayers as we rode up to the gate where Emma and Freddy 18 were waiting for us, the rest of the family were not far behind ready to welcome us to the new habitation which as you approach gives very much the appearance of a substantial farm house. 19

When the whole household had settled in to the routine of the new station, Jane gave the following description of the day's programme:

The great bell rings soon after it is light to raise the sleeping population, and again in about quarter of an hour to summon them to prayers in the native church after which they have an hours school. The girls all go too, the steward of the day only returning at the conclusion of prayers. Then comes breakfast. The interval between that & dinner is chiefly occupied by school .... the rule for the men is to dine at 12, devote the afternoon to out door work, school again at 4, and then prayers in the church . . . Indoors the hours are just as busily occupied. [Bread making--140 lbs daily, churning butter, brewing beer--they grew their own hops--sifting flour, washing wheat, cutting wood, carrying water, sewing, washing, mangling, ironing.] Miss Jones has a little girls' school every morning ... In the afternoon the girls and women have school in the men's school room--Miss J. and Maria taking it alternately. 20

An indefatigable worker in England for the Turanga mission was William's sister Kate Heathcote; money, clothing, 'useful articles' of every description continually arrived. One of her boxes from England contained a washing machine and another, a sausage making machine.

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The evenings were generally given over to sewing. Charles Baker cut out the men's trousers, Maori women mended and made for themselves and their children, and they all sat with the Williams' family in their parlour until nine each evening. It was a busy community, although isolated from most of the neighbourhood Maori activity. Rumours spread about the mission, one being that young boys were collected 'to make taurekarekas of them for the Queen'. 21

At the end of 1857 Williams wrote to the Parent Committee that a change was being contemplated by the creation of a separate diocese for the Eastern District with himself as bishop. 'I have had so far as I know myself, no desire for this appointment', but he admitted that such a position would be valuable for the native church and that he would accept it as 'a call from Him for the furtherance of His own kingdom'. 22 In January 1859 Bishop Selwyn called at Waerenga-a-hika to discuss plans for the new diocese of Waiapu and Jane commented that the visit passed off 'very comfortably':

No one knows better how to make himself pleasant and agreeable and he took great pains to be so. He had much conversation with William on the subject of the approaching changes, and in a very nice spirit which only made us regret the more that he should sometimes be so much otherwise. 23

On 3 April 1859 during the meeting of the General Synod at Wellington, Williams was consecrated Bishop of Waiapu by Bishop Selwyn assisted by the Bishops of Nelson (E. Hobhouse), Christchurch (H. J. Harper), and Wellington (C. J. Abraham). It was a busy day for Wellington Anglicans as in the morning Abraham had been enthroned 24 as Bishop of Wellington at St Pauls; even so, St Peters was packed in the afternoon for the consecration of the Bishop of Waiapu. 25 This was the first time a bishop had been consecrated in New Zealand, but Williams made only the briefest mention of it in his Diary. Unfortunately Selwyn, who preached the sermon, chose as his subject the doctrine of the apostolic succession, and even though daughter Jane thought that Selwyn had preached a splendid sermon, Williams considered that it had 'many peculiarities'. Earlier in the week, one thing had caused 'a little perplexity'--the bishop elect had no robes.

After sundry discussion on the subject in which the ladies engaged as well as the gentlemen, it was decided that the necessary paraphernalia must be made of such materials as Wellington could supply and Mary, Jane and Mrs Kissling undertook the making. Mrs K. & Mrs Selwyn

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took a round of the shops to search for silk, lawn and stuff for a cassock and succeeded better than they expected. 26

At one stage Bishop Selwyn and Williams were stood back to back in a Wellington street while Mrs Selwyn took their relative measurements. Mrs Selwyn made Williams a present of the materials and as the vestments had been made by his daughters and his friends, Jane, his wife, who had been unable to accompany William to Wellington, wrote to Kate Heathcote, that her husband 'justly values them more than if they had been made by the grandest robe maker in England'. 27

There was an upset in the family at the end of 1860 when Maria became seriously ill with influenza which was followed by typhoid fever. She eventually recovered but the fever had caused 'sad havoc with her back', and it was necessary for her 'to keep almost always in a reclining position'. Various treatments were tried ranging from the 'red hot iron' and the 'galvanic battery' to sea bathing. Her condition gradually improved, but for the rest of her life she had a spinal deformity and a distrust of doctors. Kate came forward to take her sister's place as a teacher in the girls' school and by 1862 Marianne was also assisting. In 1863 a larger and more comfortable house was built at Waerenga-a-hika. Williams took pride in the fact that all the work, completely professional in style, had been done within the family.

The new diocese of Waiapu had been designated from its outset as one more especially set apart for the Maori race. The title appealed particularly to Ngati Porou who attempted to prevail upon Williams to shift his station to Rangitukia so that he could be more properly Bishop of Waiapu; but as Waerenga-a-hika with all its schools was well established, Williams continued to make it his headquarters. The Bishop and his son still continued to visit, but the training of a Maori pastorate was now the main job of the Turanga mission. To begin with Maoris were not happy about the prospect of a native ministry, especially as the Bishop insisted that a district had to raise an endowment of at least £200 before the people could have the service of a minister. But with white missionaries both unavailable and also apparently unable to survive on the Coast, it was necessary as Williams advised Ngati Porou, to 'go to the wood and cut down a tree for yourselves & make your own canoe'. 28 It was advisable that the Maori minister be a stranger to his community, for as Williams was told, 'If we are to have a native pastor, let it be a person from a distance, and not one our own tribe, for we shall not otherwise treat him with respect.' 29 Williams' first ordinand was Raniera Kawhia, ordained deacon at Whareponga in February 1860. In March, Rota Waitoa the first Maori deacon, was

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ordained priest. He was stationed at Te Araroa, Hicks Bay. Following these ordinations Williams wrote to the C.M.S.,

The natives now begin to see that there is a reality in this part of the work, and there is no difficulty of bringing together for instruction in our schools those young men whom it is really desirable to have with us. 30

Leonard Williams was the principal of the Training School, and in 1862 he became Archdeacon of Waiapu. 31 By March 1860 the schools at Waerenga-a-hika had 120 pupils of all ages. As the idea of Maori pastors became more acceptable a certain rivalry grew up among the tribes as they competed for the most favoured candidate.

The discernment of the natives in the selection of their ministers is most striking. There are certain favorities, men of ability and of pleasing demeanour ... It frequently happens that different tribes are wishing for the same man. 32

Williams was also astonished by the readiness of some of the Maori communities to raise money for endowment purposes. By August 1861, upwards of £700 had been raised for local endowment and £260 towards the endowment of the bishopric. As Williams did not require this endowment for himself, 33 it was invested for the benefit of those who would follow him. Money for the support of local Maori clergymen frequently arrived on the hoof rather than in the hand. Rota Waitoa gave the following details of his collection at places from Opotiki to Whangaparaoa. He thought the people's heart was not in the work, nevertheless he had collected:

Orete £3-0-0.

Tokakuku 7/- and 1 horse.

Pakorire 10/- and 2 horses.

Opotiki £7-0-0.

Rangitukia 5/6, 7 horses, 7 cows.

Te Horo 14 horses, 14 cows, 23 sheep and £10-0-0.

Matarau £1-10-0, 10 horses, 5 cows, 7 goats.

Te Kawakawa 10 horses, 4 cows, 23 sheep and £4-18-0. The letter was addressed to 'My dear father' and signed 'from your affectionate son.' 34

In his 1860 annual letter Williams was able to write to the Parent Committee of a religious revival among the people generally. At Poverty Bay a young chief who had been a great drinker gave a temporary check

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to the liquor trade--which Williams himself had been unable to do -- by calling together a meeting of Turanga Maoris at which it was decided to impose a fine on anyone who drank spirits.

On the following Sunday we had a very large assembly at Church. I was struck on going towards the building to see an incredible number of dogs outside, at least a hundred, who had followed their masters. Within every place was occupied with an attentive congregation. After service our custom is to have school, and hitherto not one fourth of the people had remained, but now everybody stayed. 35

On the Coast there was renewed activity in church building at nearly every principal village from Poverty Bay to Hicks Bay. Even Ngati Maru, caught up in the prevailing enthusiasm, decided to complete the building of the church at Whakato which had originally been intended to rival Rangiatea Church, Otaki. On 19 April 1863 the Whakato church was officially opened.

The building is very plain in its exterior & will look heavy until a tower is erected, which is contemplated. Within it is elaborately carved, & presents a specimen of native art which is nowhere else to be seen. 36

Maoris came to the opening from every part of the diocese and a party of 70 came from Waikato. Approximately 1400 were present in the building and many others were outside. The congregation decided that the collection of £327 should go to the bishopric endowment fund. In most of the East Coast villages a neatly finished house, 'te whare minita', was kept exclusively for the Maori or English clergyman who might visit. There were 441 confirmations on the Coast during 1861, but in the Bay of Plenty which was also part of the Waiapu diocese, religion was at a low ebb; with few exceptions there were no places of worship, no endowment fund and only 24 confirmations.

The first Native Synod was held in December 1861 and from then annually until Waerenga-a-hika was abandoned in 1865. To begin with the Synod was an experiment: 37

It was indeed a novelty and we were doubtful how far it might succeed. Some natives were prejudiced against it and thought that it must have something to do with government. 38

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All the lay synodesmen were Maoris. Williams had earlier informed the London C.M.S. that in the whole diocese there was not 'a single English layman who could be called in to cooperate'. 39 After the first synod the initial prejudice largely disappeared; many of the tribal representatives were, according to Williams, clever men who took an intelligent interest in proceedings. Nor were they overawed by their Bishop, often choosing their own Maori clergymen rather than merely accepting the Bishop's nominee. By 1865, the last year of the Turanga mission, there were fourteen clergymen--six European and eight Maori--in the Waiapu diocese. The Maoris were: at Waiapu, Rota Waitoa, Raniera Kawhia and Mohi Turei; at Tokomaru, Matiaha Pahewa; at Wairoa, Tamihana Huata; at Turanga, Hare Tawhaa; at Table Cape, Watene Moeka; at Maketu, Ihaia te Ahu.

In 1862 Jane and William Williams returned to Turanga after an absence of four and a half months at Auckland and were made much of by the local Maoris. It was a triumphal welcome they were not to receive again at Turanga: already gathering on the horizon were ominous clouds threatening war and devastation, and the frail bark of the Maori church was to be tossed by the violence of the storm. But this time their people were waiting to receive them.

It was evening and quite dark when we got here .... Every man, woman and child turned out to give us a true maori welcome, and I must say that the first sound of "Haeremai"--which reached us at least a quarter of a mile off--fell pleasantly upon our ears. As we came nearer the vociferations became almost deafening, & as they retreated backwards the gleaming of firebrands here and there added to the strangeness of the scene and gave us a partial view of our friends throwing up their arms and waving handkerchiefs in the air: then on a sudden the firebrands would be cast down and all was darkness again. Our horses behaved very well not to be frightened, but just at the last I quite thought mine would have carried me back the way we had come, if Leonard had not come to lead me through the crowd. 40

1   W. Williams to C.M.S. 28 October 1853, C.N./096.
2   J. Williams to C. Heathcote 23 November 1853, Williams Papers MS 69 (ATL).
3   J. Williams to C. Heathcote 3 September, 1855, Williams Papers MS 69.
4   J. Williams to C. Heathcote 23 November 1853, Williams Papers MS 69.
5   He had also been accused of adultery by his Waiapu Native Teachers.
6   W. Williams to C. Heathcote 23 January 1855, Letters from New Zealand 1828-64.
7   W. Williams to C.M.S. 4 May 1858, C.N./096.
8   W. Williams to G. A. Selwyn 18 September 1857, C.N./096.
9   W. Williams to E. Williams 25 February 1858, Williams Family Letters TS (ATL).
10   Te Aitanga a Mahaki and Rongowhakaata were two distinct tribes.
11   W. Williams to C. Heathcote 3 August 1859, Williams Papers MS 69.
12   idem.
13   He was ordained priest by Bishop Selwyn on 21 December 1856.
14   M. Williams, Journal March to June 1855. (ATL).
15   J. Williams, Journal. (ATL).
16   The kitchen was being pulled on a sledge towards the punt.
17   J. Williams Journal 31 March 1857.
18   Two of Leonard Williams children.
19   J. Williams, Journal 16 April 1857.
20   J. Williams, Journal 5 May 1857.
21   slaves, ibid, 15 October 1857.
22   W. Williams to C.M.S. 17 December 1857, C.N./096.
23   J. Williams to C. Heathcote 16 February 1859, Williams Papers MS 69.
24   He had been consecrated bishop in London.
25   Waiapu diocese was bounded by Wellington province to the south and by 176 deg. longitude to the west. To begin with Hawkes Bay was not officially included although for practical purposes the northern half of the Bay was under Williams' control. He also assumed control over the Archdeaconry of Tauranga.
26   J. Williams to C. Heathcote 1 June 1859, Williams Papers MS 69.
27   idem.
28   W. Williams, Diary 5 April 1858.
29   W. Williams to C. Heathcote 12 March 1860, Williams Papers MS 69.
30   W. Williams to C.M.S. 7 March 1860, C.N./096.
31   William Williams had long considered his son the only suitable person to superintend the Maori clergy, but because of the special relationship had held back the appointment until he had Selwyn's full concurrence.
32   W. Williams to C.M.S. 22 September 1862, C.N./096.
33   The C.M.S. still supported William and Leonard Williams. The former's salary was £497 per annum, the latter's £250. The other C.M.S. supported clergymen in the diocese were A. N. Brown (£250), J. Hamlin (£178), C. S. Volkner, (£200), E. Clarke (£200), T. Chapman (£200), S. M. Spencer (£175).
34   R. Waitoa to W. Williams 9 December 1859, C.N./096.
35   W. Williams to C. Heathcote 13 November 1860, Williams Papers MS 69.
36   ibid, 7 May 1863.
37   Williams thoroughly approved of the constitution of the church of the province of New Zealand, particularly its emphasis on lay participation: 'Our church system here seems to be working well ... [In the Synod] the whole church is represented ... we have all the clergy and two laymen from each parish chosen by the parishioners . . . The consequence is that the church members feel an interest which they have never known before. They find that they are all able to exercise an influence .... If the convocation at home were remodelled after this machine, it would then be found to work well. Perhaps when the colonies shall have acted some time upon this principle, the wise ones at home may take the lesson.' (W. Williams to C. Heathcote 28 December 1859, Williams Papers MS 69.)
38   W. Williams to C. Heathcote 10 November 1862, Williams Papers MS 69.
39   W. Williams to C.M.S. 7 March 1860, C.N./096.
40   J. Williams to C. Heathcote 29 May 1862, Williams Papers MS 69.

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