Rev. John Hobbs,
a pioneer Wesleyan missionary, father of Mr. Richard Hobbs, ex-M.H.R., was born on 22nd of February, 1800, at St. Peter's, Isle of Thanet, Kent, England. He began to study for the University at an early age, and left his native country for Tasmania to enter upon ministrations at the convict settlements. He was encouraged by Rev. Samuel Marsden to come to New Zealand, where he joined the mission agents of the Wesleyan Church in 1823, and laboured with great energy at Whangaroa, experiencing all the hardships and privations of bush life in those primitive times. In 1827, owing to inter-tribal wars and other disturbing causes, the threatening attitude of the Maoris at length compelled the mission agents to withdraw from the district and take passage for Sydney. Mr. Hobbs met there the young lady who had come from England to be his “companion in tribulation,” for such it truly was. They were married by Dr. Cowper (Anglican), came to New Zealand and lived in a nikau house at Waihou, Hokianga, under the protection of the chief Patuone. Services were regularly conducted, schools established, all adjacent setlements visited, and the sick provided with medicines and food. Mr. Hobbs was transferred to the Friendly
Islands in 1833, where he succeeded Rev. W. Woon, and applied himself to studying the art of printing in connection with the mission press. He transacted and revised and also printed the first books in Fijian and Samoan. He was remarkably successful as a medical missionary. Owing to Mrs Hobbs' failing health, they left the Islands in 1837 and Mr. Hobbs relieved Rev. N. Turner at the Mangungu station, Hokianga, where he also devoted himself to the work of translation, revision, printing and binding mission books. He remained at the station till the outbreak of Hone Heke's war in 1845, the result of which was fatal to the Wesleyan mission which could not stem the great relapses of the Maori people. Increasing infirmities, and the effects of exposure from ship-wreck at Wanganui in 1848, compelled Mr. Hobbs' retirement from active life, and he spent his last years in Auckland, where he expired on the 24th of June, 1883, at the ripe age of eighty-three.