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A History of the English Church in New Zealand

The Wesleyan missionaries were working down the west coast


On leaving the river the expedition had before them a week's march to Taupo. For three days this meant climbing steep mountains and sliding down precipices, creeping along the trunks of fallen trees, or worming a way underneath them. On the fourth morning the travellers emerged into the open country at the foot of Mt. Ruapehu, and took their way across the pumice plateau. Their food was now nearly exhausted, and it was in a "tight-belted" condition that, on the last day but one of the old year, they saw the great lake glittering before them. Villages clustered round its shores, and in most of them there stood a chapel erected at the instance of Chapman and his Rotorua teachers. Williams enjoyed the feeling of being once more on the track of other missionaries; nor did he despise the evidences of their care which met him from time to time on his way--tea and sugar in one place and a horse in another--until he at last reached Rotorua in a somewhat exhausted condition, and was thankful to rest once more on the island, in Morgan's quiet abode.

A still more pleasant surprise awaited the dauntless traveller on his further journey to Tauranga. While pushing his way through wet bush, he suddenly met Mr. William Williams, who in the midst of his migration to the east coast had been blown into Tauranga by contrary winds. On entering the village the brothers held a meeting, at which it was resolved to send a missionary to Whanganui without delay, both for the sake of the earnest enquirers in that district, and to afford some companionship to Hadfield in his lonely post at Otaki. The man chosen for this duty was the Rev. J. Mason, who had lately arrived in the country. Henry Williams arrived at his home on Jan. 18th, 1840, in time to negotiate the Treaty of Waitangi, which will fall to be considered in a different connection.

Twenty-five years had elapsed since Marsden had brought the tidings of Christianity to New Zealand, and his settlers had begun in fear and trembling to lay the foundation stones of the Church in this new land. Now, there was hardly a district of the North Island into which the knowledge of the truth had not penetrated. We have watched its progress in north and east and south-west and centre. The Wesleyan missionaries were working down the west coast. Only the south-east had not been touched. Its population was small and had been greatly reduced by Rauparaha, but the readiness of the people was great, if we may judge from one of the most pathetic passages from the old Maori days. The events relate to a time a little later than that of those already described, but they must look back to the early days of Hadfield's residence at Kapiti. The speaker is an old chief who died in the Wairarapa district between Eketahuna and Pahiatua in 1850. The old man thus described to his sons his search for the new light of which he had heard:

"You well know that I have from time to time brought you much riches. I used to bring you muskets, hatchets, and blankets, but I afterwards heard of the new riches called Faith. I sought it; I went to Manawatu, a long and dangerous journey, for we were surrounded by enemies. I saw some natives who had heard of it, but they could not satisfy me. I sought further, but in vain. I then heard of a white man, called Hadfield, at Kapiti, and that with him was the spring where I could fill my empty and dry calabash. I travelled to


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