Te Waimate mission, Bay of Islands, New Zealand | CruiseBe
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Te Waimate mission

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This article is about the Mission in the North Island, New Zealand. For the town in the South Island, see Waimate.

The Waimate Mission established one of the earliest European settlements in New Zealand, at Waimate North in the Bay of Islands. The members of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) appointed to establish the Waimate Mission were the Rev. William Yate and the lay members of the CMS, Messrs. Richard Davis, George Clarke and James Hamlin.

The establishment of the Waimate Mission

At the instigation of Samuel Marsden, a model farming village for the Māori was constructed at Te Waimate by the Church Missionary Society. Land was bought from the Ngāpuhi tribe following the Girls' War of 1830.

In 1831, Richard Davis, a farmer and lay member of the Church Missionary Society, established a farm at the Waimate Mission. The first marriage of two Europeans in New Zealand was conducted on 11 October 1831 at the St John the Baptist church, between William Gilbert Puckey (26), son of a Missionary carpenter, William Puckey, and Matilda Elizabeth Davis (17), second daughter of Richard Davis. The existing Church of St John the Baptist was built in 1871.

In 1835 William Williams, Jane and their family move to Waimate, where Williams continued his work on the translation of the Bible into Māori. The boarding school for the sons of the CMS missionaries was also transferred from Paihia to the Waimate Mission. Richard Taylor succeeded William Williams as principal of the Waimate Boys’ School in September 1839.

On 23 & 24 December 1835 Charles Darwin visited when the Beagle spent 10 days in the Bay of Islands.

The work of the Waimate Mission

The village comprised three wooden houses for missionary families, a flour mill, printery, carpenters' shop, brickworks, blacksmith, school and of course the church. Marsden hoped Māori would be educated into European culture while making Waimate Mission a paying proposition by producing goods for sale to European shipping and the local Māori through the Stone Store at Kerikeri. The attempt to impose European culture on Māori in a controlled fashion where those being taught also formed the labour, failed to attract many Māori and the station was gradually run down.

In June 1842 Bishop George Selwyn set up residence at the Waimate Mission. Some buildings were converted for use by St John’s College to teach theology to candidates for ordination into the Anglican Church. In 1844 Bishop Selwyn moved his residence and St John’s College to Auckland. Revd Christopher P. Davies studied for his ordination at St John’s College, when it was located at Waimate.

Henry Williams was installed as Archdeacon of Waimate in 1844.

During the Flagstaff War (1845-1846) casualties of the Battle of Ohaeawai were buried in the church yard of Church of St John the Baptist. The mission station was used as the headquarters for the British army, after which the mission lost support among the Māori. The mission station gradually fell into disrepair and the buildings were subsequently put up for sale.

Remnants of the Waimate Mission

Today the only remnant on the site is the house originally occupied by George Clarke, which is preserved by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust as a museum. One of the other houses survives at the Butler Point Whaling Museum.

CMS members stationed at the Waimate Mission

The members of the Church Missionary Society who were appointed to the Waimate Mission include:

  • William Yate, arrived in the Bay of Islands on 19 January 1828. He was appointed to lead the Waimate Mission, however his personal life became a matter of controversy and he was dismissed from the CMS in June 1834.
  • George Clarke arrived in the Bay of Islands on 4 April 1824. He was first appointed to Kerikeri to work as a blacksmith, Then he worked at the Waimate Mission teaching the Māori students.
  • Richard Davis, a farmer, arrived in the Bay of Islands on 7 May 1824. In 1831 he established a farm at the Waimate Mission. In 1843 he was ordained and appointed to Kaikohe.
  • William Gilbert Puckey joined the CMS mission in 1821, to follow his father. As he had become fluent in the language since arriving as a boy of 14, he was a useful translator for the CMS mission, including collaborating with William Williams on the translation of the New Testament in 1837 and its revision in 1844.
  • James Hamlin, flax dresser and weaver, arrived in the Bay of Islands on 25 March 1826 with his wife Elizabeth on the same ship as William and Jane Williams. He served as a catechist at the Waimate Mission Station. Hamlin left to establish a mission station at Puriri (in Thames) in 1834.
  • William Williams move to the Waimate Mission in 1835 where William was the principal of the Waimate Boys’ School and he continued his work on the translation of the Bible into Māori. In December 1839 William, Jane and their family left Waimate to establish the Poverty Bay Mission at Tūranga.
  • Richard Taylor, arrived in the Bay of Islands in 1839. He was appointed a head of the school at the Waimate Mission and remained there into the 1840s. The Revd Taylor moved to join the mission station at Whanganui in 1842.
  • William Colenso, arrived in December 1834 to work as a printer at Paihia. In 1843 Colenso went to the Waimate Mission to study for ordination as a deacon, preparatory to engaging in full-time missionary work. Ordained a deacon in 1844 Colenso was appointed to open a new mission station at Ahuriri, at Napier.
  • Robert Maunsell arrived at the Waimate Mission in 1835 and worked with William Williams on the translation of the Bible. Maunsell worked on the Old Testament, portions of which were published in 1840 with the full translation completed in 1857. He became a leading scholar of the Māori language. He established the Manukau mission station in 1836.
  • Robert Burrows, arrived in 1840; and was at the Waimate Mission into the 1850s.

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