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Colonial Church Histories: New Zealand

Containing the Dioceses of Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Nelson, Waiapu, Wellington, and Melanesia.

By Henry Jacobs

London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1887.

Part II. The Period of Organisation.


First Missionary Tour in Middle Island--Return to Bay of Islands--Bishop Selwyn as a Missionary--Ordinations--Installation of Archdeacons--Rev. A. Kissling--Removal of St. John's College to Tamaki Illness of Rev. O. Hadfield--Translation of the Old and New Testaments--Translation of Prayer Book.

At the beginning of the following year, 1844, Bishop Selwyn paid his first visit to the Middle Island in a miserable schooner of twenty tons, named the Richmond. In his journal he gives a lively description of the portion of Banks's Peninsula, which lies south of Akaroa, of "a magnificent view over the vast plains of the south"--known a few years later as the Canterbury Plains--of the "apparently interminable line of the Ninety Mile Beach," of the great lake Waihora (Lake Ellesmere), and of "the distant hills in the neighbourhood of Timaru," which "closed in the view." At night he encamped with his party of ten natives at "a very small native village named Wairewa (Little River), where," he says, "a little party of nine or ten entertained us hospitably with eels, which form almost their only means of subsistence." Next day, January l0th, he describes a walk of eighteen miles, between the sea and Lake Waihora, over an alluvial bed of dry gravel, to Te Taumutu. Here he found another small settlement, containing a population of about forty natives, with whom he conversed, [119/120] and distributed books among them. This was the first time they had been visited by a missionary, but it is a remarkable proof of the extent to which Christian knowledge had spread, that in this out-of-the-way place some were able to read, and many were acquainted with the Lord's Prayer, the Belief, and portions of the Catechism. The next day, January 11th, 1844, is memorable for the first-recorded service held by any minister of the Church of England in that which is now the diocese of Christchurch. It was held by the Bishop of New Zealand with that handful of natives at Taumutu. The following Sunday, the 14th, was spent at Te Wai-te-Rauti, [Footnote: Almost identical with the Maori settlement, better known by the name of Arowhenua] a native village containing a population of upwards of a hundred, near the southern extremity of the Ninety Mile Beach. Here we are met with a melancholy instance--extremely ludicrous, if it were not so painful--of the wide-spread evil of organic disunion among Christians. The following is the entry in the Bishop's journal:--"The village population divided between the members of the Church of England and Wesleyans. No English minister had visited the place before my arrival; but native teachers from other places had duly informed them of the difference between (Hahi) Church and (Weteri) Wesley. The discussions resulting from this division of opinion took away much of the satisfaction of my visit to the Southern Island, as much of my time was spent in answering unprofitable [120/121] questions." There is a similar entry under January 31st:--"Here"--that is, in a native village at Ruapuke, an island in Foveaux Straits--"as in other places, there was too much discussion about Weteri and Hahi (Wesley and the Church). We need not wonder at the controversies which are raging at home, when even in the most distant part of this most remote of all countries, in places hitherto unvisited by English missionaries, the spirit of controversy, so congenial as it seems to the fallen nature of man, is everywhere found to prevail, in many cases to the entire exclusion of all simplicity of faith." Before reaching Ruapuke, the bishop had visited scattered native hamlets, at Timaru (described as "a deserted whaling station"), at the river Waitangi (Waitaki), at Moerangi (Moeraki), at Waikouaiti, a Wesleyan mission station, where he stayed at the house of Mr. Watkins, Wesleyan missionary, and catechised his natives; and at Otakou (Otago), where he placed a native teacher, a man whom he had baptized at Moeraki, to minister to the Church of England natives. Thus far he had travelled mostly on foot, but partly in a large sealing boat belonging to some of the natives. But at Otakou he engaged a passage in a schooner called the Perseverance, the property of a chief named Tuhawaiki of Ruapuke, and found that, in point of comfort, it contrasted favourably with the Richmond, which was owned by an Englishman. No English missionary had visited Ruapuke before the bishop's arrival, but the natives had received some instructions from the zealous Tamahana Te Rauparaha, of whom so much was [121/122] related in the preceding part of this history. He had been sent by Mr. Hadfield on a missionary expedition to these distant parts. The bishop then traversed Stewart's Island to its furthest extremity, visiting every native hamlet and every whaling station, teaching, exhorting, baptizing the children, and marrying many of the seafearing Englishmen to native wives. On Sunday, February 4th, he held service at Port William, where he "found a party of forty natives under a most intelligent chief." The entry in the bishop's journal under this date bears valuable evidence to the effectiveness of the mission work of thirty years in spreading the knowledge of the Gospel throughout the length and breadth of New Zealand:--"This place had not been visited by any teacher, either native or English; but some of the men knew the Belief, and the children could repeat portions of the Catechism. To this, then, the most distant settlement in my diocese, the Word of God had come, and prepared the hearts of the people to receive gladly the instruction which I gave them, confirming fully an opinion which I expressed last year, that there is no part of New Zealand where the Gospel is unknown." Having completed his circuit of all the inhabited places in Foveaux Straits, both on Stewart's Island and on the mainland, he set sail in the Perseverance on his return voyage, entered Akaroa Harbour on the 14th February, walked over to Pigeon Bay [Footnote: For the sake of the pleasure it will give to the small and rapidly-diminishing band of early Canterbury settlers, to whom the interesting family of the Sinclairs was so well known, the following extract from the bishop's journal is here appended: "In this bay I found some Scotch settlers of the right sort; living in great comfort by their own exertions, making everything for themselves, and, above all, keeping up their religious principles and usages, though far away from any ministerial assistance. The name of the family was Sinclair; I spent the evening with them, and conducted their family prayers."--"Annals of the Colonial Church, New Zealand," p. 145.] on the 15th, thence to Port Levy, [122/123] where the three following days were spent, and with respect to which the following interesting entry occurs in the journal:--"A few miles further to the westward of Port Levy, with only one headland [Footnote: Adderley Head, named after Sir Charles Adderley, now Lord Norton. It faces the better-known Godley I lead, named after Sir Charles's great friend, John Robert Godley.] between the two harbours, is Port Cooper, [Footnote: Now Lyttelton Harbour. Levy and Cooper were the names of two whalers, said to have been old convicts. Port Levy still retains its ancient name. The words which follow--"An opening can be made without difficulty"--read like a prophecy of the Moorhouse Tunnel.] now much talked of for a new colony. A large party of natives had assembled at Port Levy, in hopes of selling land; so that I made acquaintance with most of the principal chiefs of the Middle Island, whom I had not before seen. Port Cooper is surrounded by precipitous hills, with very little level ground, but an opening can be made, without difficulty, to the extensive plains which range along the eastern shore of this island from Kaikoura (Lookers On) to Moerangi."

He set sail from Port Cooper for Port Nicholson (Wellington) on the 19th February, in another small schooner, the Eliza, but did not reach his destination [123/124] till the 26th. Here he was met on the jetty, and most cordially welcomed, by the new governor, Captain R. Fitzroy, recently arrived from England to succeed Captain Hobson, deceased, and, on the following day, left in His Excellency's company in the Government brig Victoria for Auckland. The bishop characteristically says nothing in his journal of the extreme roughness and discomfort he must needs have experienced in the course of this tour of two months' duration, but the initiated will not be slow to read a good deal "between the lines" of the following brief remark:--"Went on board Victoria, which seemed a floating palace after the Richmond, Perseverance, and Eliza." He arrived at Auckland on the 6th March, and, having consecrated St. Paul's Church on Sunday, March 17th, embarked on board the Victoria on the following day, and finally anchored at the mouth of the Kerikeri river in the Bay of Islands on the l0th, having accomplished, by the blessing of God, a wonderfully successful missionary tour. We may, indeed, appropriately close this portion of our narrative with the following pithy extract from a letter written by Henry Williams to the Rev. E. G. Marsh on the 25th July in the same year, 1844:--"We are looking out with some expectancy for the bishop's charge, when we may learn more clearly his lordship's views. As yet all has been very smooth and quiet; and the good man has gone to work with the strength of a giant in the discharge of true and faithful missionary work. He has laboured hard, and set us all a noble example. I may certainly say that he does the work of the best [124/125] two missionaries I have ever known. He richly earns the £600 per annum allowed by the C.M.S. I told him he must take better care of himself, if he expects to last, which is strictly the duty of a soldier, though to be always ready for any work to which he may be called to engage." (Carleton's "Life of Henry Williams," vol. ii., p. 72.)

On the l0th September, in this year, the bishop announced his intention, in consequence of communications of an untoward nature from the C.M.S., to remove his own residence from Waimate to Auckland; [Footnote: Differences of a serious character had arisen between the Society and the Bishop. They showed themselves jealous of his residence at, and immediate control over, their station at Waimate, and refused to give him a lease of the land and buildings. They declined, moreover, to present their catechists to him for ordination, because he stipulated for the right of placing them where he judged best.] and, as this change in his head-quarters would withdraw him from the personal superintendence of the northern district, he requested the Rev. H. Williams to accept the office of Archdeacon of the Waimate. On Sunday, the 22nd, Messrs. T. Hamlin, T. Chapman, W. Colenso, J. Matthews, and C. P. Davies, [Footnote: The clergyman last named married the eldest daughter of Archdeacon Henry Williams] were admitted to Deacon's Orders. The occasion was made more memorable by the public installation of the Ven. H. Williams and the Ven. A. N. Brown, in the office of archdeacon, in the presence of about 500 natives, besides several Europeans. It should be mentioned also, as part of the history of [125/126] this year, that, in the early part of it, the Rev. G. A. Kissling, a German by birth, who had served as a missionary for many years in Africa, but had been compelled by ill health to retire from that field of labour, arrived to join the mission in New Zealand, and, on account of his high character and ripe experience, was an important addition to its strength. In November of this year, the bishop carried out his intention of removing to Auckland; and St. John's College, with its students, was transplanted from Waimate to Tamaki, about six miles from that town, the students encamping on the land, until wooden buildings could be erected for their reception; and a large church tent, which the bishop had brought out from England, furnished with every requisite for Divine service--the gift of W. Cotton, Esq., governor of the Bank of England--serving for a temporary college chapel. About the same time the Rev. O. Hadfield, who had now laboured for five years with devoted zeal and marked success at Otaki and Waikanae, the centres of the south-western district, was brought to death's door by what seemed a mortal disease. The bishop mourned for him in his letters to his English friends, as though he were already taken away, spoke of him as "Mr. Hadfield, now, perhaps, of blessed memory"--the date of this particular letter was March 9, 1845--and further on, in the same letter, wrote as follows:--"You will easily understand why I value anything which serves to bring the memory of Mr. Hadfield to my mind, when I tell you that I left him at Wellington smitten with an incurable disease, and scarcely dare to hope that [126-127] I may see him again in this life. [Footnote: Tucker's "Life and Episcopate," &c., vol. i., pp. 186, 187. How strangely at variance our forecasts often are with the actual course of events! Bishop Selwyn has been numbered among the departed for more than nine years, and Bishop Hadfield, though often ailing, is still vigorously administering the affairs of his diocese (August, 1888).] So true a Christian, so influential a missionary, and so valuable a friend, like others whom I have lost before, can never be replaced. Their deaths must be in themselves the benefits which they were designed by God to bestow upon this country."

The present will be a fitting opportunity for speaking of the progress made in the work of translation since we last referred to it; and it will be convenient to bring together under one view all the steps that were taken in this most important matter in the course of the whole period comprehended in this second division of our history. Before the close of 1843 the bishop appointed a Translation Committee or Syndicate, composed of Archdeacon W. Williams, the Rev. R. Maunsell, and Messrs. Hamlin and Puckey, catechists, "to revise all old translations, and to look over all new matter." "I hope, in due time," he said, aiming in this, as in all things, at the utmost attainable perfection, "to get a standard copy of the Bible and Prayer Book, to be published under authority." Mr. Maunsell, who was the chief leader in the work during this period, as Mr. W. Williams was in the preceding, has favoured the writer with a brief sketch of a portion of his labours, which must be supplemented from other sources. [Footnote: The other principal source to which he is indebted is Mr. Hugh Carleton, who has thrown together in Appendix D of the first vol. of his "Life of Henry Williams" a mass of information on this subject. The writer has heard from yet another source amusing and characteristic anecdotes of Dr. Maunsell's efforts to perfect himself in the Maori idiom. He proclaimed prizes of so many sticks of tobacco to be given to any native who should puzzle him with six Maori words previously unknown to him. Occasionally also he would lie at full length in the Maori pa at his station at the Waikato Heads, with no apparent object but that of amusing himself with the conversation of his lively neighbours, but in reality intent all the while on watching the forms of their speech. At another time, when he came across a difficulty in rendering any particular thought of psalmist or prophet into idiomatic Maori, he would throw down his pen, rush from his study to the pa, and engaging in discussion with one of the most intelligent of its occupants--and the Maori is always ready for a korero or talk--would designedly give such a turn to the conversation as to bring out, by means of an ingenuity and perseverance in which he had few equals, the very form of phrase he was anxious to arrive at.] "I have often [127/128] thought," writes this justly venerated man, who has survived nearly all his contemporaries, "that God had designed me for the translation of His Word. I felt an intense desire to engage in it; and as soon as I embarked from the Isle of Wight, began zealously to study Hebrew. Before I had been twelve months in New Zealand, I began with the catechist Hamlin to translate Exodus, and steadily continuing my labours, prepared a grammar and dictionary of the language. I found, on my arrival in New Zealand, that Mr. W. Williams was engaged in translating the New Testament; so I tackled the Old. I came in 1835, Bishop Selwyn in 1842. The New Testament [128/129] having been translated before the principles of the language and its distinctions had been laid down, I was called upon to assist in a revision of it and of the Prayer Book. I set to work at once, and had proceeded as far as John xiv. 1. on the Saturday night, when on Sunday morning my house was in flames. All my translations and my dictionary perished. A fortnight afterwards, the shed in which my wife had taken refuge, took fire, and she had to fly to a native hut, while I lay beside her with my hands all blistered in my vain attempts to put out the fire. As soon as I recovered, I set to work again." His grammar, fortunately, had been printed previously, and had passed through three editions. Friends in the old country, hearing of his loss, contributed £200, which enabled him, in part at least, to repair the loss of his library. The Pentateuch, and the succeeding Books of the Old Testament, as far as the Psalms, were printed as soon as completed by him, at the expense of the C.M.S.; but their press having been then given up, Mr. Maunsell appealed to the Auckland public for the wherewithal to publish the remaining portions of the Old Testament. In June, 1856, an urgent appeal was addressed by the Auckland Committee to the colonists of Canterbury, soliciting their aid in the publication of the whole of the Old Testament in the native tongue; and sermons were preached, and offertories made in Christchurch and Lyttelton, in furtherance of this object. Subscriptions to the amount of £500 were the result of these appeals to the public of New Zealand [129/130] generally, and by means of this assistance the remainder of the Old Testament, from the Book of Proverbs to that of Malachi inclusive, was put in print. When the work was completed, the University of Dublin conferred on Mr. Maunsell the honorary degree of LL.D. The utmost zeal and pains were manifested by the missionary body, headed by the bishop, in successive endeavours to perfect the translation of both Testaments; more than one committee of revision was appointed, and the aid of the best Maori scholars of the Wesleyan Mission was sought. The last revision committee for the Old Testament consisted of Dr. Maunsell, Archdeacon William Williams, and his son the Rev. (now the Ven.) W. Leonard Williams, of Magdalen Hall, Oxford, declared by Dr. Maunsell to be "the best Maori critic he ever had to deal with." Messrs. Hobbs and Reid, Wesleyans, sat and worked with them: Mr. Whiteley, another minister of the same body, also sent some notes. The translation of the Old Testament, as revised by this committee, was carried through the press in England by the Rev. G. Maunsell, son of the translator, and Mrs. Colenso, now of the Melanesian Mission, daughter of Mr. Fairbun, catechist, and described as "a very able and intelligent Maori scholar." In 1867, the three above-named clergymen, Dr. Maunsell, William Williams (now become Bishop of Waiapu), and his son Leonard, were appointed to revise the translation of the New Testament. "This third and last revision," Mr. Carleton tells us, "was prepared for the press by Mrs. Colenso, writing in [130/131] the corrections on a printed copy, herself suggesting several, which were adopted. It was carried through the press in England in 1867 by Bishop Selwyn," who had gone home to attend the first Lambeth Conference. The Maori Translation of the Bible is probably not susceptible of further improvement; for when a people is, if not in a decaying, at least in a transitional stage, its language must reflect its condition; so that, in all likelihood, we have just reason for saying, "Thus concludes the not uneventful history of this translation." The names of the translators will be for ever held in honour in the New Zealand Church.

With regard to the Prayer Book, the Translation Syndicate, appointed by the bishop in 1843, met at Waimate in May, 1844, to revise the translation previously made by Mr. W. Williams, and continued in session there, the bishop presiding, until October of the same year, the Rev. H. Williams taking his brother's duty at Turanga in the meanwhile. This important work was brought to a satisfactory conclusion at this time. [Footnote: After the foregoing paragraphs were written, the substance of them was submitted to the Ven. Archdeacon Williams. The following are his remarks thereupon:--"With regard to the translations of the Bible and Prayer-book, neither is perfect, but at present there seems little prospect of a further revision of either. I should say, however, that a revised edition of the Bible is now being carried through the press by the British and Foreign Bible Society. The revision was carried out by Archdeacon Maunsell with my assistance, but was not so thorough as I should have preferred, had there been time. The edition of 1868 was nearly exhausted, and the new impression could not be deferred for an indefinite time for a more thorough revision. I should hardly say that the language is 'decaying,' though undoubtedly it is in a state of change from the effect of contact with English. Not only is there a large supply of new words coming into it, transliterations for the most part, but some of the old words are acquiring modified meanings, and no doubt many solecisms in grammar will come ultimately to be accepted as correct. The great majority of the new words are, however, still in a state of flux, and therefore they are not easy to deal with."]

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