History of New Zealand
It is necessary to add some facts which might appear cumbersome in the text. In June, 1848, the Church Mission Society resolved that Henry Williams ought to have acceded to the Bishop's requests. They hoped he would renew his consent to the Bishop's proposals, and “thus avert the painful alternative in which they would otherwise be placed of regarding his continued refusal as a dissolution on his part of his connection with the society, which the committee could not contemplate without pain and regret.”They trusted he would make reparation for his vehement letter to the Bishop. They omitted to notice that Williams' consent was conditional on “substantiation or retractation”of the grave charges against him. The Bishop made the same omission when (November, 1848) he transmitted the society's resolutions to Williams, and courteously urged him to comply with them. Williams pointed out the omission, and answered that “so long as the imputations of the Governor”were approved and supported by the Bishop he could not comply. He had courted inquiry. The Secretary of State and the Governor had refused to sanction it. The Bishop had (September, 1847) undertaken to prove that the missionary purchases had been baneful, and yet, without proof, called upon Williams to act in a manner which would imply admission of the charges. “When I am told that it is impossible to institute inquiries upon the subject, my confidence in the Church Missionary Society is extinct; for we are evidently betrayed, and my duty now is clearly that I must personally defend our cause, which I will do, by God's grace, rejecting the aid of man.”The Bishop had hinted that recusancy might lead to “having the whole question reopened in the most public form in England.”The Archdeacon had “no possible objection”to thorough and impartial public inquiry. A central committee of the Mission Society in New Zealand was then set in motion. Mr. Clarke was informed that in consequence of the legal decision in favour of his grants “a stronger obligation rested on him to fulfil his pledge by surrendering his surplus lands.”When the Governor declined the condition that those lands should be held by “the Church for the education of the natives,”—Clarke had assigned the grants to members of his own family. This procedure was condemned by the central committee. They also blamed Henry Williams, and required him to state whether he had been accessory to the publication of the ‘Blood and Treasure’ despatch, and of a letter from the Governor to the Bishop. He answered: “To reply to your queries I should consider to be a degradation to my station.”He page 538 quoted a letter from himself to the society in London, stating that the despatch had not been supplied by him, and reminded the central committee that it had the letter before it.
The central committee reported unfavourably to Henry Williams,—disclaiming “all knowledge of any stipulation expressed or understood beyond the one proviso contained in the pledge itself.”His own brethren thus brushed aside the condition which in the eyes of Williams was essential to redeem his name. The missionary house was divided against itself. and the power of the Governor had borne down all resistance. The society in London, in November, 1849, made the iron enter the Archdeacon's unconquered soul. Taking no notice of his care for his character they deemed him recalcitrant, and adverting “to the many hindrances and evils which his unhappy contention for his extensive land claims has brought upon the cause of missions,”they were “reluctantly compelled to declare the connection to be dissolved between Archdeacon Henry Williams and the Church Missionary Society.”They strove to mitigate the blow by resolving that their decision “must not be regarded as giving any countenance to the charges”of which Williams complained; and recorded “their confident hope”that the general interests of Christianity would not suffer, but would “still receive the aid of the Archdeacon's experience and labour”in New Zealand. The resolutions were to be sent to the Bishop, to Earl Grey, and to the conquering Governor. Mr. Clarke was also dismissed. One of the grounds was his having allowed his “claims for more extended grants to be tried by the Civil Courts in New Zealand.”As the Governor had instituted the proceedings, and Clarke had not defended his case in the primary or in the Appeal Court, the sentence was scarcely defensible.
Early in 1850 the blow fell upon Williams and his friends. At Kororarika the congregation bore living testimony to his worth and to his influence for good. A public man, Mr. Bartley, wrote from Auckland: “'Tis not in human nature to suppose you unaffected by this blow. Although you will bear your sorrows as a man, you must also feel them as one. In honest truth I, for one, think that you could not have done otherwise than you have done… Our excellent friends … thought that you would have compromised your character if you had yielded… I have not heard one syllable of unkindness expressed towards you here. I have heard a strong expression of sympathy.”
1 ‘Diary of Mrs. Williams.’ “I asked for news. Yes; I have news—my dismissal from the Church Mission Society. I felt all in a tremor, and yet my husband looked cheerful and happy… 26th May, Trinity Sunday.— The day was beautiful on which we saw our old and much-loved home, all untouched in Sabbath peace, for the last time. We told no one. All went on as usual, but it was a great conflict all the day to keep down thoughts of our expulsion, and all its attendant cruel injustice… Henry had a good native congregation. The sermon was excellent, but my attention bewildered. May 27th.—All to pack up … as Henry has determined to clear out this week.”
The Rev. E. G. Marsh drew up a statement of the case, and in reply the secretaries blundered into an assertion that Henry Williams made his chief purchases of land after the society had, in 1840, interdicted further purchases. As the last of them was made in 1837, it was hoped that conviction of error might lead to reparation; but it was slow to come. It was hard to admit that so violent a measure as the dismissal of an old servant had been rashly or unjustly resolved upon.
The Rev. J. W. Disney, of Newark, cogently but vainly brought before the society the fact that their former decision was “influenced by misstatements;”and it was reserved for Bishop Selwyn to furnish the society with a sufficient excuse for doing justice. The Bishop and Governor Grey conferred with the society in London in 1854. The Bishop expressed a desire that Williams should resume his position. The committee unanimously resolved to request him to do so, and the secretary informed him that if the committee had “misunderstood your action, or mis-stated facts, it has been unintentional on their part, as they are most desirous of doing full justice to your character…”The friends of Williams were satisfied with the tardy reparation as regarded himself, but they never forgave the duplicity and want of candour with which they charged the Governor who had in a land like that of the Maori assailed the reputation, or “mana,”of the venerated apostle of Paihia. Mr. Hugh Carleton, the son-in-law of Henry Williams, battled for him in New Zealand. In scathing language, page 540 under the name of ‘Metoikos,’ he published in the ‘Southern Cross’ newspaper an analysis of the missionary case, and in 1854 he gathered his contributions together under the title—‘A Page from the History of New Zealand.’ To him the old man wrote (1855): “I believe the fear of that ‘Page’ brought them to terms. Though my confidence has ever been in the righteous Judge of all, yet I shall ever regard your untiring efforts as His means to accomplish His ends. The victory is complete.”
Congratulations poured upon the victor-victim. He pursued his missionary duties. He was on good terms with the Bishop. He saw the erection of the flagstaff which replaced the one cut down by Heke. He lived to mourn over “the severe trial of another Maori war, wantonly brought on by the Governor in the forcing of a disputed claim of land at Taranaki”in 1860. “The language used by the Europeans to the natives is extremely vile, and I am prepared to expect sad work.”He held his peace in public, but he wrote to a friend in England: “The country is involved in war through the folly of our self-willed ministers, men of no experience of native matters.”He met and was courteously received by Grey, who, as Sir George Grey, in 1861, assumed a second time the government of the colony. He saw the grim spectre of Hauhauism stalk through the land, reviving the long-laid ghost of Maori ferocities. He saw his brother (who had battled for him before the society in London) made Bishop of Waiapu under circumstances which must have made the hearts of both brothers warm towards Bishop Selwyn. In 1847, the latter wrote of William Williams: “I cannot pretend to equal his piety or maturity of wisdom.”In 1859, at a Church Synod in Wellington, the brave but modest Selwyn spoke publicly of William Williams, then about to be consecrated, as “one whose age and experience have often made me feel ashamed that I should have been preferred before him.”
Henry Williams saw his brother, the Bishop of Waiapu, driven from Turanga by the Hauhau fanatics to take refuge with him, and to aid him in his ministrations in the north. When his brother returned to his diocese, Henry Williams, though seventy-five years old, continued his pastoral labours for a brief space only. In May, 1867, a tribal war was imminent near Pakaraka, concerning a boundary line, and the old man grieved that he could not as of yore rush between the combatants. He was ill, and sent his sons to essay the task of peace-making. But his own spirit was the mainspring by which peace was secured. Blood had been shed in skirmishes. The resident magistrate, a son of Henry Williams, had risked his life by riding between the combatants, and stayed the strife for a time. But the day for a general battle was fixed. In each camp the dusky heroes had prepared for strife at the coming daylight.
Suddenly rumour ran that “Te Wiremu”(The Williams) was dead. Haratua, the general on one side, exclaimed: “Naku i mate ai a Te Wiremu,—I have killed Te Wiremu.”He ordered that his people should act only on the defensive. There was a truce, not formally made, but felt on both sides. Chiefs left the camp to act as mourners. Haratua was a pall-bearer, and declared that he could not fight after the ceremony. Other Maoris arriving from Hokianga aided the sons of Williams, and peace was made. Judge Maning arrived opportunely to open a Land Court, page 541 and cast his influence in the scale. A Hokianga Christian chief, Abraham Taonui, issued from Haratua's pah with a white flag, followed by Haratua's warriors. He read from the New Testament, concluding with the text: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”A war-dance followed, with every show of defiance between the forces. Again Taonui read from the Testament, and at his bidding the rival forces knelt on the field and prayed for a blessing on his work. Peace-offerings and oratory were interchanged, and there was the customary feast. The “tangi”or wailing for the dead followed, and according to ancient custom Haratua with other chiefs remained to spend the night in the pah of their late enemies. All felt that Te Wiremu, in death as in life, was treasured in the hearts of the Maoris. He had originated church endowments at no less than seven places. The church at Pakaraka, founded by himself, and built by his family, was formally opened on the 27th November, 1873, by the Bishop of Auckland. The Bishop of Waiapu was present to see the fruition of one whose “works did follow him.”The Bishop of Auckland reminded the Maoris that Te Wiremu feared God, and therefore had nothing else to fear.
The Maoris determined to raise a memorial to their departed friend. Matthew Taupaki, Maori minister at Paihia, gathered subscriptions in the north. A stone cross at Paihia1 was unveiled on the 11th January, 1876. After the Bishop of Auckland had addressed the assemblage, the Rev. Matthew Taupaki spoke… “The one great moving principle which brought Te Wiremu to this island was the word of God, ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.’”He recounted his apostolic labours, and how often he had made peace. “It is meet and proper, therefore, that we should erect this monument to keep in memory a great man who is dead.”A ‘Memoir’ of the Life of Williams was written by his staunch advocate, his son-in-law, Hugh Carleton.2
1 The Maori inscription meant–“A Memorial to Te Wiremu. A token of love to him from the Maori Church. He was a father indeed to all the tribes; a man brave to make peace in the Maori wars. For forty-four years he sowed the Glad Tidings in this island. He came to us in the year 1823. He was taken from us in the year 1867. The tribes who raised this monument are Ngapuhi, Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri, Ngatiraukawa, Ngatikahungunu, Ngatiporou, Ngatimaru.”On the other side of the bay stands the memorial erected by the Colonial Government in honour of Waka Nene, the coadjutor with Williams in securing the treaty of Waitangi.