The Early Journals of Henry Williams
Appendix V — C.M.S. Vindication of — Henry Williams
C.M.S. Vindication of
The following extract from the minutes of the Committee of the Church Missionary Society, 27 September 1939, speaks for itself:
In view of the forthcoming Centenary of the signing of the historic Treaty of Waitangi on 6 February 1840, by which New Zealand, with the free consent of the Maori chiefs, became a British Colony, the Committee of the Church Missionary Society desire to place on record their deep appreciation of the life and service of their pioneer emissary, Archdeacon Henry Williams.
They gratefully recall the example of this intrepid missionary, who with tireless energy laboured for forty-four years among the Maoris of the North Island without once returning to England. They recall his courage and resourcefulness in making peace among hostile warring tribes, his fearless stand for truth and fair play between a stronger and a weaker race, as well as his gifts both as a pioneer and builder of the young Maori Church. Particularly at this historic moment in the life of New Zealand, they recollect the noble contribution which his great influence with the Maori people enabled him to make in persuading the Chiefs to sign the Treaty—the Magna Charta of their people which has ever since remained the basis of citizenship for British and Maori alike. They rejoice that he was thus able to fulfil a great mission both as a founder of the Maori Church, and of the Colony of New Zealand.
With deep regret they note that historical records show how an unfortunate controversy arose between the Society at home and its chief representative in New Zealand, on the question of purchases of land by the missionaries as a means of providing for their children. While allowing for such difficulties as were involved in the fact of distance—in those days letters took a year to travel—and in a misrepresentation of the facts which misled the Society as to the real state of affairs, the Committee, in the light of present-day knowledge, recognize that the Society was mistaken in its judgment, and that the charges made against Archdeacon Williams were without foundation. They affirm their complete confidence in his integrity and sterling character, and deeply regret that any unfounded mistrust of his motives should have clouded a period of his long and devoted work page 492 among the Maori people. They wish to place on record their conviction that New Zealand owes more to him than to any other individual missionary, and that his life and service call for the gratitude of the whole Church, as well as of the Church Missionary Society, in whose annals his name will always have an honoured place.
W. Wilson Cash