My grandfather, before leaving Scotland, was an
elder of the Free Church, Kirkcaldy. He was inducted to the ruling
office in First Church, Dunedin, on March 16th, 1851, and he served
that Church and later Knox Church in many capacities. His name is on
the list of elders associated in 1854 with the First Presbytery of
Otago, and, indeed, of New Zealand.
Last Sabbath the church at
Port Chalmers [There was no settled minister at Port Chalmers until the
induction of the Rev. William Johnstone on June 23rd, 1858. The Rev.
Thomas Burns walked there to preach every Sunday in the summer of 1848-9.
] was opened for the first time by Mr. Burns. Of course there was no
sermon at Dunedin. Accommodation, however, was provided for conveying as
many as possible by boats to Port Chalmers; the morning being fine six or
seven boats started with a good complement. The sail was pleasant and
beautiful, so with our company and those at Port Chalmers, etc., the house
was well filled. The ship Persia was laying in port with all her colours
flying, and all the boats arriving at the same time, filled with
well-dressed people, had a most imposing effect. The Sabbath bell very
shortly after landing began to toll from the tower of the new edifice, for
the first time sounding among the woods around. The house stands on a
rising ground looking over the town, and commanding a most splendid and
imposing prospect over the whole lower harbour to the Heads, seven miles
off. The collection at the door amounted to £18 3s. 4d., which was not
very bad for a small seaport village in Otago. Mr. Burns preached two very
excellent sermons to a very attentive and solemn congregation—.. forenoon
text, Psalms cxix and cxxxvi; afternoon, Luke 1, 78, 79. We got all safe
home in the evening.
In Dunedin we are just in a
bit of a dilemma about getting a new church built. Part of the money is
subscribed, but we cannot come to an agreement as to whether it is to be
built of iron, stone, brick, or wood, and having few architects amongst us
we cannot get an estimate. It is to be built on a hill-top close on the
bay with a bell on it. Our present house is quite crowded. Cannot you come
over and try your hand at it, without joking. I have no doubt but you
would make more money here than at home, provided you were willing to put
your own shoulder to the wheel. Besides you can now get land to buy at
10s. per acre. A few years’ business here, with a small live stock to
begin with, you could soon live independent. A carpenter here keeps no
stock of wood, and if a man wants to build he must provide all materials
before the tradesman begins. Besides we have an emigration fund here now
of some thousands which, although you don’t need, yet if you have any
tradesmen or friends you want to send out and can recommend them to me as
willing to repay their passage money in the course of two or three years
by instalments, your writing to me their names, ages, and calling, I will
guarantee their passage and send for them immediately. Those having
families or friends here will be preferred. Now I am in earnest about
this, there being great want of labourers and tradesmen, and none more
than female servants who get from £20 to £30 per annum.
We shall be very glad to
see the Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Bethune when the Simlah arrives, which we are
looking for daily. Margaret Lindsay of Kinghorn has just come into town
from the Waitaki—a place about 90 miles north of this on the way to
Canterbury. She looks sunburnt but in good health.
After the arrival of the Revs. Wm. Will and Wm.
Bannerman in February, 1854, he records the fact that " our two
additional ministers are giving general satisfaction and getting on
well. We anticipate good results from their labours. Our congregation
in Dunedin is still quite full, scarcely a seat to be had."
March 12th, 1855.
Mr. Bannerman has just returned from a tour from the same northern
quarter, [North Otago or, as it was then known,
Waitaki.] accompanied by Mr. John McGlashan. Everywhere and in every house
they met with the kindest reception. The people voluntarily subscribed to
the extent of
£112 yearly in the prospect of getting a minister to themselves. Mr. Jones
subscribed £200 towards erecting a church in his neighbourhood, called
Waikouaiti. The Presbytery called a pro re nata meeting and sent for a
minister for them immediately.
June 30th, 1855.
Lately I sent home an account of a
journey I had to the Molyneux. Since then I have had another journey as
far in the opposite direction, about
70 miles in the direction of Canterbury,
coastwise, in company with the Rev. W. Will, on a missionary tour to that
quarter, calling on every house and preaching frequently. Mr. Macandrew
was appointed by the Presbytery to accompany Mr. Will, but could not get
away at the time, so he sent your humble servant. We had a horse each, and
were absent eight days; but more of this after. . . . Intend also
enclosing a journal of my journey if ready and not too large, for when I
begin I am guilty of being too prosy. I enjoyed my week’s journey very
much, only my back became very sore for want of custom in the saddle. Last
Sabbath was our winter sacrament, both the young ministers were assisting.
The day was fine; we collected at the door £25 odd to help to pay the
passage of the next minister, now sent for.
This excerpt from his account of
the North Otago visitation opens with a reference to the natives of
They had the most fiendish
looking faces of any Maoris I had seen, much tattooed and much wrinkled
with age. They also were fond to shake hands with an attempt to smile.
Their neighbours introduced the man as "Bloody Jack [This was not John
Tuhawaiki, known by that same picturesque title, who was drowned off
Moeraki in 1844 shortly after arranging the sale of the Otago Block to the
New Zealand Company. He bore a high character with the Europeans.]" and
the old woman as his wife. Mr. Will said, "Why call him by that name—it’s
not a good name? " All they could say was, "No ken—the white man call him
that." But there is no doubt that were his early history known it would
unfold some dark deeds of horrid cruelty. We enquired of them if the
missionary ever visited them. They say, "No, only once." After enquiring
the way to the house of Mr. Hertslet, [Henry C. Hertslet came to New
Zealand in 1840 and settled at Waikouaiti about 1848. He afterwards
acquired a large property at Oamaru, where he died in 1901.] which we knew
was near at hand, we bade them good-bye.
These native huts are built
very near the seashore with a considerable rising hill behind, all covered
with evergreen trees, very like a home gentleman’s policy ground. We both
admitted the place as the prettiest native reserve of any we had seen.
Here it began to rain rather heavy, and before we got over the hill to Mr.
Hertslet’s house we were both wet enough. However, we soon got dismounted,
tethered our horses—which is all the feed they get—and made ourselves
quite at home around the fire as usual. I was well known to Mr. Hertslet,
and they were very glad to see the minister, only apologising for having
no better accommodation than a sofa and a shakedown for our beds, either
of which we were glad to get after so long a ride. We spent the evening
very agreeably, and after breakfast next morning we started for another
The tide being full we had no room
to pass on the beach but had to go a circuitous round through bush and
over by a precipice of a landslip—rather a dangerous road in the dark. We
found two or three settlers living in the bush—old seamen married to Maori
women with whom they got a piece of land as a dowry. One told us that his
taking a native wife was his only safety on landing. Had he not they would
certainly have cooked him some day. He was an old man, nearly 80, a native
of Edinburgh, had only one eye and his wife had only one also, so they
were quits on that score. Mr.
Will asked if he had a Bible. He said he had, and at once showed a good
family one from a box, which he said he had got from the missionary. Mr.
Will said he hoped he read it daily seeing he could not live long now. He
very readily replied there was no fear of him dying for 20 years yet, that
he was sure of living to 100, for he had been 25 years in New Zealand
without having a sore head. Mr. Will prayed and left the poor old man. His
wife with the one eye showed us the path to the next house, but
unfortunately in crossing a soft sort of ditch or water-run Mr. Will’s
horse went down to the belly all fours, leaving him (the horse) all mud
from the nose to the tail. This was the only bad step we made on the whole
road. My horse shied off and I rounded it all safe.
We again reached the beach
all safe, and had a nice canter for two or three miles. Again we turned
off to call on a Mr. G. B. Wright, where we met a warm reception. He is
from England, has a wife and three children, very superior and pious
people. This was to be our abode for the following night, but had still to
visit another station called Otepopo, some eight or nine miles further
off. After taking an early dinner, and arranging for a meeting to be held
in his house in the evening, we started off over a fine level country.
Still we went off our way a little, and it took us to get back by 6
o’clock, just in the gloaming.
Nothing of interest occurred at Otepopo; only saw the men. After tea in
Mr. Wright’s, some eight or ten persons met, to whom Mr. Will read and
expounded the Scriptures, your humble servant acting always as precentor.
After the meeting one old man, Jack Hughes, [Possibly
J. Hughes, whaler, of Moeraki,
Tuckett’s guide from Moeraki to Waikouaiti in 1844.]
was asked to wait a little for conversation with Mr. Will and Mr. Wright,
who both very tenderly and faithfully enquired as to the state of his
soul. After a lengthened conversation of one hour, the old man generally
approved of what was said, but seemed quite satisfied that all would be
right with him at last, that he had done no great evil, but taking a dram;
but he knew really nothing about it—that is salvation. We spent the
evening very agreeably and profitably.
Next morning we were all
ready to start on our way homewards when it began to rain and blow very
hard. After two hours it cleared away, during which time Mrs. Wright gave
us some very splendid pieces on the piano. She is very accomplished, very
humble and kind.
It being now
Saturday and engaged to preach at Goodwood, we were obliged to be
off by 11 o’clock. It cleared all the way.
Making two or three more calls by the way we reached Goodwood by 6
we were again hospitably entertained. Next, at half
past ten, a good company filled the large dining room, to whom Mr. Will
preached a very excellent and faithful sermon. After sermon we had lunch
served up in style. Our horses all ready up at the gate, the whole family
shook hands as if we had been relations. We bade good-bye and scampered
off for Waikouaiti, which we reached in two hours, where the people were
all again waiting. In crossing the river here, the tide being full, my
horse was up to mid-saddle, so my feet got very wet. However, I got a
change and was all right. The people heard attentively, and some again met
us in the evening, with whom we had prayers. Next day we rode round
visiting all the people in that district, all welcoming us. Stopped
another night in the same house, and started next morning (Tuesday) for
home over the mountain. The day was beautiful; got other two men to go
with us to Dunedin. About halfway we made tea, etc., in a whare—very
acceptable. Reached home at 4 o’clock, where we found all well and a
Thus ended in the good Providence of
God another stage in our wilderness journey, having realised the
fulfillment of His gracious promise that He will keep His people in all
their ways—no evil shall befall them in their going out and in.
March 4th, 1856.
With regard to church matters I
cannot boast great things. Still we are keeping up. A few weeks ago we had
an addition to our office-bearers of six elders and six deacons. I am glad
to say that Uncle James is one of the elders. We are also getting the
church all ceiled and the walls papered, giving it rather a smart
appearance inside from the bare walls and rafters.
June 28th, 1856.
I have got a little more time to
fill up my paper, but having already written so much nonsense that I
should like to change the subject. Our winter sacrament was observed on
Sunday two weeks ago, the third Sabbath of June, I think the same day with
the Kirkaldy midsummer. The weather was fine and dry up to the Saturday
evening previous, when it began to rain. Sabbath was both wet and cold,
consequently our meeting was thinly attended. Nevertheless we had a
comfortable season, Rev. Mr. Bannerman assisting. All the days and forms
are observed here same as at home. Our quarterly collection for the
schemes of the Free Church at home was £16 odd that day.
We have lately made a great
improvement on the inside of our place of worship. Formerly it was only
the rough stone and brick walls with all the roof rafters open. Now the
walls are lined with wood four feet from the floor, one inch boards, and
are planed and plowed as with you. For want of good plaster the walls
(upwards) were first lined with grey calico, then paper and wainscot, and
the ceiling white. Vestry inside door covered with cloth and spring back.
The passages laid with cocoanut matting. The improvement is very great and
much more comfortable. It cost about £80, made up by private
subscription. Uncle James was the most active member of committee in
carrying it forward.
Notwithstanding these favourable
looking accounts of our well-doing, there are not a few disaffected
persons amongst us who have no love towards either our Church or Minister.
Some six months ago a few families united together, headed by Dr. Purdie,
some other Independents and Voluntaries, invited a Rev. Mr. Jeffreys, who
was living here in retirement (an English Independent), to preach to them
in the Mechanics Hall, where they now have stated worship numbering from
30 to 50. How long they will hold out we don’t know. The English Church is
attended by about double that number.
There are also amongst the English
portion of our community a few would-be gentlemen—our Mr. Editor [William
H. Cutten (1822-83) arrived by the John Wickliffe. He was in the
Provincial Council (1853-63), in Parliament (1853-55, 1878-79), on the
Town Board, and Commissioner of Crown Lands.] at the head—and who
are still mortified at
the Scotch people ruling our Province with the old Captain at Our head,
and the majority of our Provincial Council Scotch. Are at present leaving
no stone unturned to upset our Government. The education question, coupled
with the teaching of the Shorter Catechism, is the arena at present, and
am sorry to say that, what with our people’s apathy and in the absence of
the Superintendent and Macandrew, they are carrying the day at the
meetings ; the feeling betwixt parties is very. strong.
I must now refer you for a
little to what is going on in Dunedin. You must have seen from the last
newspapers sent you a course of public lectures advertised, and now are
going on. They are delivered in our church and are very well attended.
Last night was the fifth lecture by the Rev. Mr. Burns on the "Present
State of Europe." It was a very able and splendid lecture, and the house
was filled to the door; more than 300 would be present. This course was
got up by one or two in our place of business, Mr. Paterson being a
leading member. They had all the lecturers engaged and the nights fixed
before the public knew anything about them. Now they have formed a Young
Men’s Society for mutual improvement. The first essay to be delivered next
Wednesday evening, so you see we are making some steps in advance
improvement as well as mere money-making. You will see also from the
papers that we are taking steps towards building a new church. Private
subscriptions have been got in Dunedin amounting to £930.
In his first ten months in the southern parish—from
Milton to the Bluff—Mr. Bannerman walked 3,600 miles in his pastoral
work. Fording rivers and sleeping out were but incidents in a trip. By
1858, when George Hepburn enjoyed his "fine jaunt" to the South, the
worst of the pioneer’s problems would be over.
December 29th, 1858.
Our sacrament was last
Sabbath week. We never had so many people; 374 communicated, and the
collection at the door for the Colonial Scheme was £40. The Presbytery
agreed to a memorial to send home for another minister for Dunedin of a
first-class order, but have no time to-day to give particulars. The
Presbytery appointed your humble servant to go down to Invercargill along
with Rev. W. Bannerman to see after the state of religion there, and to
create that district into an educational district under the Ordinance.
Hope we will get good weather. It will be a fine jaunt of three or four
weeks at Government expenses.
October 21st, 1859.
At present we are ill off
for rain, and last week we had as much wind as might suffice for a long
time; it did us no harm, but you will see from the papers that some fires
which occurred during the gale had an alarming appearance, and
unfortunately burnt down the manse near Port Chalmers, when it was just
about ready to go into. It is a loss to the congregation of £400 to £500,
and a great disappointment to their minister, Mr. Johnston. These were the
greatest fires and the highest winds ever we saw here. The weather is
again very fine.