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A History of the English Church in New Zealand

9 Archdeacon Williams' son in law


[9] Archdeacon Williams' son-in-law, Mr. Hugh Carleton, has left it on record that the archdeacon and his family would at any time have given up the lands, if only the bishop had shown them some sympathy and publicly disavowed his concurrence with the governor's charges.

The year 1848 brought one ray of light to the unhappy "grantees." The governor brought against one of them an action in the Supreme Court of New Zealand. The two judges were friends of the bishop and of the governor, but their verdict confirmed the missionaries in possession of their land. The legal status thus acquired enabled Henry Williams to convey the whole of the land which stood in his name to his family, and thus to make quite clear to all the real state of the case. But the old question of honour was still unsettled, and Williams sought for a public enquiry both from the British Government and from the Missionary Society. Both bodies, however, were under the influence of his foes, and refused his request. Instead of enquiring into his wrongs, the C.M.S., misled by the constant accusations of the governor, resolved to end the trouble by terminating the connection with their old and well-tried servant.

This was a stunning blow. It was the Eve of Trinity Sunday, 1850, that the letter came to Paihia, after a period so long that it had seemed as though the trouble were at rest. Mrs. Williams has left on record the feelings of herself and her husband on that Sunday: "The day was beautiful in 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 to keep down the thoughts of our expulsion, and all its attendant cruel injustice."

On the following Thursday the move was made. Amidst heavy rain the family rode off to the inland farm at Pakaraka, where the sons were already settled. The cavalcade was escorted by Pene Taui, the general who had repulsed the British troops at Ohaeawai, and by Tamati Pukututu, who had guarded the stores of the English in the same campaign. They had fought on opposite sides in the war, but they were at one in their devotion to Wiremu.

With the removal of Henry Williams, came to an end the Golden Age, or influential period, of the Bay of Islands. Governor and bishop had both left it, and the war had dealt its missions a blow from which they were never to recover. The visitor to Paihia to-day sees a few silent houses ranged along the quiet beach, and amongst them the ruins of the building in which the first printing-press in New Zealand was set up. A church of more modern date contains some remains of the early period, and at the other end of the beach stands the dismantled house in which Carleton lived and wrote. But the most enduring object is the fine granite cross which was erected long afterwards by the Maori Church to the memory of Henry Williams--"a Preacher of the Gospel of Peace, and a Father of the Tribes."


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