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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 IV. The Seven Dioceses.

Chapter V. Diocese of Waiapu

Early History--Bishopric Endowment--Contrast between Northern and Southern Districts--The Bishop and his Staff--Statistics.

For the following information respecting this diocese the editor is indebted partly to the Ven. Archdeacon W. L. Williams, and partly to the Right Rev. the Bishop of Waiapu:--

Early History of Diocese.--The diocese of Waiapu was constituted in 1859, the southern boundary being the 39th parallel of latitude. The population was almost exclusively Maori. The first meeting of the Diocesan Synod was on 30th December, 1861, at Waerengahika, the proceedings being all conducted, of course, in Maori. It met afterwards, on Jan. 5th, 1863, March 2nd, 1864, Jan. 3rd, 1865, and then the troubles came, Mr. Volkner being murdered in the following March. In 1868 the boundary of the diocese was altered, and the provincial district of Hawke's Bay was taken from Wellington and added to Waiapu; but the Synod did not meet again till August, 1872. The reason why the Synod was not called together during those seven years was that a considerable English population now formed part of [453/454] the diocese, and a Maori Synod would not, therefore, have been representative. At the same time, there was a difficulty in getting together a quorum of clergy without bringing in the Maori clergy, and this was thought to be inexpedient, as the principal work of the Synod would consist in legislation for the English part of the Church. Four clergy were required to form a quorum, and we could not muster more than three (without Archdeacon Brown, who could not come), until more English clergy came into the diocese. The Maories meanwhile were provided for by the Native Church Boards Statute (now Title B, Canon III.), of which more will be said in the concluding chapter of this book.

Bishopric Endowment.--The first effort towards providing an endowment for the Bishopric of Waiapu was made by the Maories in 1863 on the occasion of a large gathering to celebrate the opening of a church at Poverty Bay, when a sum of between £500 and £600 was raised for the purpose. This was invested in property at Onehunga, but has not proved a profitable investment. In the meantime the Bishop's stipend consisted of £450, provided by the C. M. S. Nothing further was done until 1877. The Ven. Archdeacon Williams, as President of the Synod, called the attention of that body to the importance of doing something, in his address in 1876, his father, the Bishop, having done so from time to time in previous years, but without effect. The Synod took the matter up in 1877, when a committee was formed to canvass the diocese, with the view of raising ultimately a sum of £10,000. In 1879 a sum of [454/455] £1,086 was reported to the Synod as being in hand. This has been steadily increased, until last year the amount had reached £5,098. 17s. 8d., and application has since been made to the S. P. C. K., who, with their usual generosity, have added £500 more. The account laid before the Synod last year shows a quarterly sum of £67. 10s. paid to the Bishop. During the first years of his episcopate he was dependent on the £450 paid by the C. M. S. There is no episcopal residence, the Bishop occupying a hired house in Napier, and spending some months of the year at Tauranga, where he has the use of the old mission house. This is with a special view towards missionary work amongst the Maories of the Bay of Plenty and Lake Districts.

Contrast between Northern and Southern Districts.--The rapid progress of Hawke's Bay, owing to the formation of the line of railway connecting Napier with Wellington, and to the great extension of sheep-farming and agriculture in the central part of the district, has given a preponderating importance to the southern portion of the diocese. Here, therefore, has been the principal increase in the number of clergy, and of churches for the English portion of the community. On the other hand, the growth and consolidation of the Maori Church have been most marked in the middle division of the east coast, the Archdeaconry of Waiapu, having Gisborne for its centre. In the northern Archdeaconry of Tauranga, the work of regaining lost ground, and recovering the lapsed adherents of the Church from Hauhauism, and other abnormal cults (the latest delusion being [455/456] Mormonism, introduced by active propagandists from Salt Lake City), is still strictly of a missionary character. There are only two clergymen of English congregations in this Archdeaconry, one at Tauranga, the other at Opotiki; the three English missionaries (one of them superannuated from regular employment) have their time and strength fully occupied with native work.

The Bishop and his Staff.--The Right Rev. Edward Craig Stuart, D.D., was born at Edinburgh in 1827, and received his early education at the Edinburgh Academy, under the well-known head of that school, Archdeacon Williams; was afterwards a student of Trinity College, Dublin. After his ordination, went to India as a C. M. S. Missionary in 1850, commissioned with the Rev. Valpy French, now Bishop of Lahore, to establish a mission college at Agra (now St. John's College). In 1860 he was appointed Secretary to the C. M. S. Calcutta Committee, and became chaplain to Bishop Cotton. In 1874 he visited Australia and New Zealand, and ultimately joined the Mission in the latter country. His election and consecration as second Bishop of Waiapu have been related in the preceding pages. The Ven. William Leonard Williams, B.A., so often mentioned in the foregoing history, is Archdeacon of Waiapu, having been appointed in 1862. The Archdeaconry of Tauranga was formerly held by Ven. Alfred Nesbitt Brown, who died in 1884. The Rev. Samuel Williams, son of Archdeacon Henry Williams, is now Archdeacon. The Rev. De Berdt Hovell is Incumbent of St. John's Pro-Cathedral Church, Napier.

[457] Statistics of the Diocese.--We are fortunate in being able to give these down to the latest date, and on the very best authority, in the following extracts from the address delivered by the Bishop at the opening of the annual session of the Synod of the Diocese on September 27, 1887. It being the tenth annual session at which his lordship had presided, he was led to take a review of the progress of the Church in his diocese in the course of the preceding decade, with the following result, as regards the European portion of his flock.

From the statistical returns for the year ending June 30th, 1877, the following figures are taken, and are compared with the statistics of 1886, as the parochial returns up to June 30th of the current year are not yet tabulated.

   1877  1886
 Baptisms  331  653
 Communicants  289  913
 Sunday Schools  10  26
 Sunday School teachers  66  145
 Sunday School scholars  793  1884
 Confirmed  65  118

Such are the statistics that indicate the the flock. Speaking roughly, the several items have doubled themselves in these ten years. But, seeing that the population has largely increased, the advance of Church work is not so considerable as at first sight appears. The census of 1878 gives the Church of England population of the diocese exclusive of the Maoris as 10,303. In 1881 we find 12,375. By the last census returns of religious denominations (1886) the Church of England adherents in the eight counties [457/458] and the three boroughs included in the diocese aggregate 26,220, exclusive of Maories. From this a small deduction has to be made for a part of the Tauranga county, which falls within the diocese of Auckland. But this may be considered as made up again by the increase of the year and a half which has elapsed since the census was taken. So we shall not be far wrong in affirming the present Church population of the diocese (exclusive of some 12,000 Maories) as aggregating 26,000, as against the 10,000 of ten years ago. On this estimate it must be admitted that the growth of Church work, as represented by the above statistics, has not kept full pace with the "leaps and bounds" with which the Church population has advanced. When we turn to other items in our parochial returns, the comparison yields results which are more encouraging. First, there has been a marked increase in the number of clergy. In 1877 the Synod roll included the names of fifteen English clergymen, six of whom were missionaries of the Church Missionary Society, engaged in the Maori Mission, and nine held English cures. The English clergy of the diocese now number twenty-six, of whom seven are absorbed in the missionary work amongst the natives, and seventeen are licensed to parochial cures. Two are unattached.

In 1877 there were ten churches used by English congregations. There are now twenty-two. The two parochial or Sunday school rooms of 1877 have grown to eight, which is still very short of our requirements; and the same remark will apply still more strongly to the parsonages, which have increased from six to [458/459] eight, including four which have been entirely rebuilt or materially enlarged.

The gross receipts shown in the parochial accounts of 1877 amount to £2,660. In 1886 the total is £7,672.

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