| The Streets of my city, Wellington New Zealand, |
by F. L. Irvine-Smith. (1948).
Part Two : Chapter Five
|Contents: a letter | Part One chapters: 1 | 2 | Part Two chapters: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 |
Part Three chapters: Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Appendix
Founding of Christianity at Port Nicholson
Rev. M. A. Rugby Pratt.
FEWEST OF ALL are the early Wellington streets named after Churchmen. Reasons are not wanting. From the outset the colonising aspirations of the New Zealand Association had been an object of deep apprehension to the New Zealand missionaries. The latter, first on the field, had wrestled heroically not only with the spiritual problems of the Maori, but harder still, with the demoralising ing influence of lawless whites, ready at every turn to take advantage of the ignorance and cupidity of the gullible native. Another large influx of white population, they argued, would do much to accentuate similar difficulties, and spell the doom of the native race.
They appealed to friends at court. Lord Glenelg, at that time Colonial Secretary, and an ex-President of the Church Missionary Society, took up the cudgels for the missionary cause and resolutely set his face against granting to the Directors any empowering charter. New Zealand must remain an independent native state. The Association was only spurred to greater effort. Time and Wakefield were on their side - a formidable pair. The Association redoubled its activities. Likewise the lawless whites. Even Glenelg came finally to see that some form of settled government for New Zealand was inevitable. If not British, others were ready and waiting. The French for one were eagerly debating colonisation schemes in their Chamber.
As the result of a further deputation, the Government relented to the extent of promising a charter provided the Association became a Joint Stock Company. The Association refused as contrary to their aims, but when on later developments, they adopted this course and became a Joint Stock Company - the " New Zealand
Land Company," later, the "New Zealand Company" - it was only to find that the Government, still hostile, refused to reopen the question. Very well, if they could not colonise New Zealand under the aegis of the British Government, they would do it as private individuals. Away sped the "Tory" in secret to buy land for the coming colonists. The British Government sat up. So did the French for that matter. Hobson proceeds to the Bay of Islands under instructions to annex as much of New Zealand as he could. The Treaty of Waitangi goes through. New Zealand becomes a British possession. All land must be purchased from the Government - a knockaut blow for the Company, whose purchases, already made, are null and void. Missionaries and officials exultant. Colonists checkmated. Few Church Streets in Wellington, but abundance of Dragons' Teeth.
In spite of the opening clash and its Ionglasting repercussions, it must not be thought that the Company was apathetic concerning the establishment of the Church in its new settlements. As a body, their settlers were doubtless as deeply imbued with religious principles as their forebears in the Old World and various denominations were soon established in their midst. Edward Gibbon Wakefield himself, only too conscious of the imprimatur of the Established Church, writing in 1841 to his sister, the wife of the Rev, Charles Martin Torlesse (Vicar of Stoke-by-Nayland), states: "The Company has already contributed in land and money £2,000 towards the endowment of the New Zealand bishopric." Nevertheless, no provision was made for any Anglican chaplain to accompany an immigrant vessel of the Company until the sailing of the sixth ship, the "Bolton," with the Rev. J. P. Churton on board, though Scotch emigrants sailing in the fourth veasel, the "Bengal Merchant," had secured the services of a Presbyterian minister, the Rev. J. Macfarlane.
The honour of establishing the first church in early Wellington goes to the Wesleyans. Some months before the arrival of the "Tory," two Wesleyan missionaries, Messrs. Bumby and Hobbs, had come sailing south from the northern station of Mangungu to Port Nicholson where, on Te Aro Flat, with the help of friendly natives, they erected the first church of the settlement, a primitive structure, built of the raupo which covered fully a third of the surrounding flat. Here on June 9th, 1839, was held the city's first Christian Service on a spot commemorated in Manners Street by a memorial fountain which bears the inscription: Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst. (John iv, 14.)
On the arrival of the "Tory," Messrs. Bumby and Hobbs proceeded to visit Colonel Wakefield, and on September 2nd, 1839, held on board the first service in Port Nicholson for their own race. It may be mentioned here that the grant of land given to the Wesleyan missionaries by the Maoris on Te Aro Plat was later found to interfere with the survey of the town, and was exchanged by the Company for land in the vicinity of Wesley Road - hence its name.
Greater interest centres around the first service for emigrants held in the port. This was conducted by the Rev. James Buller, an arrival in New Zealand in 1835, who on Sunday, January 26th, 1840, went on board the "Aurora," the first emigrant vessel to arrive, and held Divine Service for all present. How came he to be there? He was stationed in North Auckland at the time, at Mangungu on the Hokianga River, but acting on instructions from the London Wesleyan Society, had proceeded to Wellington to meet the emigrant vessels and consider the establishment of a mission in their midst. The entire journey was made on foot, a distance of five hundred miles, "climbing mountains, descending precipices, wading rivers and penetrating forests, sometimes drenched with rain, then broiling in the sun, and sleeping on the ground." (a href="#1"> (1) Three months were spent on the way and six days on the return journey in the whaling tender, "Atlas." The present air-time is two and a quarter hours.
When our great deeds of pioneering are gathered together for the inspiration of our children's children, high on the roll must come the shining answer of James Buller to the call of duty.
Of yet greater interest, if such were possible, is the first service for emigrants held on land. The scene was the Petone Beach on Sunday, February 26th, 1840 - a service beautifully recorded in a letter quoted verbatim by the late Mr. Ward in his recollections of early Wellington (page thirtysix). From extracts we note:
"It was a beautiful calm day, not a cloud to be seen in the sky, and the sun shone forth in all its meridian splendour. The magnificent harbour of Port Nicholson lay before us, but not a breath of wind to ruffle the surface of its waters; and the laving of the tide upon the beach was the only sound heard in that direction, to break the stillness of the peaceful scene. To the left might be seen, anchored off Somes Island, the vessels which had been for months the temporary homes of the settlers, and which had brought them in safety across the mighty deep, with the British ensign hanging at their peak. To the right, and about a quarter of a mile distant, was the bush with its various and beautiful foliage, the nikau palm and the tree fern conspicuous for their beauty; and the woods were musical with the songs of birds . . . There was no Sabbath bell to call the congregation together, but the song of the bellbird could be distinctly heard above all the songsters of the grove." The writer proceeds to describe the personnel of the worshippers and the order of service, and concludes with these glowing words which might well be written up in every place of worship within sight and sound of that hallowed spot: "And there, with the canopy of heaven for a covering, did they pour forth their thanksgiving to God for bringing them in safety across the mighty deep to their desired haven."The Bible used by Mr. Macfarlane in this first service on Petone Beach was in 1937 presented to St. Andrew's Church by Lady McLean. Mr. Macfarlane stayed at "Dalmuir" (q.v.) with Mr. R. Strang, grandfather of Sir Douglas McLean, and the "minister's room" on the verandah was, until 1938, kept as he used it.
We are a young country - very young - far from our full nationhood. Our fundamental problems are as yet unsolved, and until that is done, our great days of art must wait behind. When the time comes, there are great themes waiting for great canvases, but scarcely one of greater moment than the first Sabbath service on Petone Beach - a handful of weary pilgrims - the rolling ocean at their feet - the dim mysterious forest land beyond and mounting to the summer sky the rolling cadence of the Hundredth Psalm and the cry of their covenanting forefathers, as of old they poured forth their souls upon the hillsides.
O God of Bethel by whose hand,The spot is now marked by a Celtic cross.
Thy people still are fed,
Who through this weary pilgrimage,
Hast all our fathers led.
. . . . . . . . .
O spread Thy covering wings around
Till all our wanderings cease.
Their pastor, the Rev. John Macfarlane, besides being the first minister to accompany any emigrant vessel of the Company, was the first parish minister of the gospel in Port Nicholson and the first Presbyterian minister to enter New Zealand.
For some time after his arrival, he ministered to the needs of every Protestant in the community, tramping long miles in his plaidie and preaching in English or Gaelic according to the needs of his congregation. He officiated at the opening of the first St. Andrew's Church in January, 1844, and later in the year left for a visit - "only a visit" - to Scotland, but owing to illhealth was unable to return, and New Zealand saw him no more. John Macfarlane's body lies in the little Inverary graveyard of Lochgilphead, but his soul goes marching on. We remember him in Wellington in the name of Macfarlane Street. St. John's congregation in 1853 split off from St. Andrew's and its first minister was the Rev. J. Moir, after whom, at a later date, Moir Street was named. He resigned in 1867 and was succeeded by the Rev. James Paterson.
Those were active days for the pastor of any flock, and when the long expected Anglican bishop arrived, he proved to be the very embodiment of activity - mental, spiritual and physical. He landed in Wellington, August 12th, 1842, and was welcomed with a salute of guns. Henceforth Auckland, as the capital, was to be the centre of his ministrations, but the whole of the Colony was assigned to his episcopal care and he visited every province on foot. No physical obstacle daunted him. As "Punch" remarked:
If no boat could be come at he breasted the river,Handsome and athletic, intellectual and understanding, tireless in mind and body, the gods had given all their gifts to George Augustus Selwyn and he used them unstintingly to infuse into his great diocese the glory of whatsoever was right and of good repute.
And woe to the chaplain who craned at a swim.
He grew to love the land and its people, and could gladly in God's good time, have lain his weary bones among them, but his Queen had other views. "Bishop Selwyn," she said, on his visit to England in 1867, "you must stay in England now." The Royal Command.
One of our smaller streets records his name - Selwyn Terrace. The University of Cambridge in 1882 founded Selwyn College in his honour and more than one of its alumni have returned to give New Zealand of their best.
Mrs. Selwyn's autobiography describing her twenty five years' residence in New Zealand (1842-1867) and as yet unprinted, is one of the most interesting personal records in the Turnbull collection. She frequently travelled with her husband over his vast diocese. Writing in the forties, she describes a hurried visit from Port Nicholson to Waikanae where Mr. Hadfield, at that time the resident missionary, was supposed to be on his death-bed - George (the Bishop) on foot, she herself on Mr. Hadfield's "nice horse," which unfortunately for present purposes, was used to getting from Wellington to Waikanae in the quickest possible time, two maids with a horse between them to ride and tie, little Willie (Selwyn) in a potato-kit swung on poles carried by two bearers, and four Maoris on foot.
As always, the natural surroundings gave her unbounded joy. "In those days," she writes, "you went straight out of Wellington into a most lovely wood . . . We saw it in its pristine beauty; the luxuriance of the vegetation; the parasites and creepcrs on every stem of a tree; the masses of ferns of every variety, including treeferns most lovely. Later on, we found ourselves on a high road which sloped straight down to the sea far below. (2) The bank was clothed with shrubs in great variety, and starred with splendid tree ferns at intervals. It was a sight to see . . . The shore extends north as straight as the line of duty. It was curious to watch the waves rolling over as far as the eye could reach." Capable to her fingertips, she well understood the ways of the Maori, who in turn admired the qualifications of "Mother Bishop" as much as they did those of her versatile husband. An ideal missionary pair!
The later forties saw Wellington settlers receiving the ministrations either of Father O'Reily (q.v.) or the Rev. Robert Cole, the first Anglican incumbent. The first St. Paul's, now in part the Sydney Street Cemetery Chapel, was erected in 1844, near the site of the old Dominion Museum. In 1866 the building was removed to the Bolton Street Cemetery as a mortuary chapel, its place as the chief Anglican Church of the settlement being taken by St. Paul's Church, Mulgrave Street, a lovely structure, designed by the elder Pugin. In September, 1926, a proposal to restore this chapel which had fallen into neglect, was successfully carried out, £400 being collected for the purpose.
In 1847 the first St. Peter's was built, providing in addition to its ecclesiastical uses, the Town Clock for the community. It was Mr. MacKay who, on visiting England in 1849, returned with a large turret clock with a bell for striking the hours. Mr. Cole opened a subscription in order to secure the clock for St. Peter's and the necessary £50 was soon forthcoming. When a newer St. Peter's arose in 1879, the clock was transferred to the Anglican Church in Washington Avenue, Brooklyn, and is still in perfect order - surely the most historic timepiece in our midst.
Some of the fine old Wellington families commemorated in the windows of St. Peter's are the Martins, the Kebbells, the Hon. Algernon Tollemache, Mr. W. B. Rhodes and Mr. John Blundell and his wife. The marble font is in memory of Mr. Edward Anderson.
Mr. John Blundell, son of the founder in 1865 of the city's oldest daily, the "Evening Post," in 1922 presented to the city the Town Hall Clock, but on the removal in 1943 of the Town Hall tower (for earthquake precautions) the clock was dismantled and reerected in the new Cental Fire Brigade Station.
Talking of clocks, the most ingenious clock in Wellington is possibly that of the Gresham Hotel, Lambton Quay, the letters of whose name exactly mark the twelve hours. The minutes take care of themselves.
Church Street (C.1) consists of a series of steps connecting Boulcott Strcet with the Terrace. To avoid confusion, Church Street (E.5) was changed in 192 5 to Ferry Street, as it led to the Ferry Wharf, while at the same time Church Street (W.3) was altered to Fancourt Street in memory of Archdeacon Fancourt, the first resident clergyman of this suburb.
Harper Street commemorates Bishop Harper (1804-1893), Primate of New Zealand, who reached the Colony in the ship "Egmont" in 1856 as Bishop of Canterbury and Otago. His episcopacy saw the building of the beautiful Christchurch Cathedral, consecrated for public worship in November, 1881.
One of our newer streets bearing an honoured name is Hadfield Terrace which commemorates another spiritual giant of early days, Octavius Hadfield (1814-1904) to whom it pleased the Almighty to vouchsafe ninety years of guidance and uplift to white and brown alike. Frail in body but indomitable in spirit, no man penetrated deeper into the intricacies of the Maori mind than Bishop Hadfield. Governor Grey too, stands supreme in his manipulation of Maori mentality, but it was frequently through the wisdom and advice of Hadfield that the Governor steered clear of the shoals that a less wise administrator might have failed to see. The world is gladly in debt to Sir George Grey for his rich gleanings of Maori mythology, but his constant visits to Bishop Hadfield, during the latter's five years of invalidism (1844-1849) must have contributed not a little towards opening up a deeper understanding of Polynesian concepts to the Governor's receptive mind.
Further light was subsequently shed upon the community by a member of the family, when in 1930 Mrs. Henry Hadfield, daughterinlaw of the Bishop, founded the Wellington Braille Club with the primary object of translating into Braille books for the blind. The Club has continued to flourish, providing year by year a steady stream of literature for the sightless reader, and by the friendly manifestations of its intercourse, alleviating not a little the grievous burdens of many thus afflicted. The first president, Mrs. Hadfield, was succeeded in 1933 by Mrs. Israel, in 1945 by Miss Moginie and in 1946 by Mrs. K. Gordon. A generous legacy under the will of the late Lady Beauchamp has enabled its members to envisage, in the vicinity of Wellington, a future home for blind ladies, who will not be too far removed from past associations and friends. The world is full of good people.
Marsden School and Marsden Avenue commemorate, the greatest of all missionary pioneers to visit New Zealand - Samuel Marsden, chaplain to the convict settlement of Sydney, farmer, magistrate and man of God who brought his tidings of joy to the new land in 1814, the first of seven such visits, and established in the Bay of Islands the earliest missionary centre, an institution that was to forge far more potent weapons than guns and declarations for the destruction of the evils that were fast demoralising the Maori race.
Governors and prelates, they played their parts and moved off the stage. Wellington can never claim to have been exactly an earthly paradise for any parish priest. Of all cities of the Dominion, it possesses the reputation of being the least emotional. The taming of its rock-bound landscape was too absorbing a task in
early days to leave much time for meditation of the soul, and in later times, its large floating population has been engrossed mainly with the material problems of life, absorbed in "saving up to retire elsewhere." Even at the close of a century and more, plans for a civic cathedral have not yet materialised. But these same hills have brought forth strong men, and no city of the Dominion can show an abler set of church leaders than Wellington has produced - Hadfield and Sprott, Redwood and O'Reily, Paterson and Ogg, Samuel Ironside, the early bulwark of local Methodism; that great
humanitarian, the Rabbi van Staveren, W. E. Evans, founder of the defunct Forward Movement - (3)they hewed out a standard of courage and integrity that must make unborn congregations their debtors. If their way was hard it is certainly no easier today, when so many of the old faiths have lost their power and there are as yet, no new ones to take their place, when the war has
shown that much of our civilisation was merely veneered barbarism; when our gods for the time being appear to be money and machines, science and scepticism, bodies hefore souls and reason before faith. But there is another side. Never before has the world been charged with greater charity, with wider sympathy,
larger service or more wholesale eradication of prejudices than today and these are all "Children of the Spirit, which neither Science nor Industry nor Finance can create. It may be well that in the rhythm of human development, we are just putting the material world in order to await the better world to be - the Commonwealth of Man."
1. Buller's Diary
2. Paekakariki Hill
3. An unsectarian attempt to bring the cardinal principles of Christianity to bear on the complex conditions of modern life. Part Two : Chapter Six : Provinces and Politics