HENRY WILLIAMS – TEN THINGS, PART II
As previously blogged and tweeted about today, I’ve been on a Henry Williams remebrance day mission, here in the Bay of Islands – one of the most fun tourist coastal resorts in the Southern Hemisphere.
Williams was a missionary and a founding father of New Zealand, who arrived about 800 years after Maori founding fathers (and mothers) arrived in Aotearoa New Zealand. He lived from 11 February 1792 – 16 July 1867.
Here’s ten things about this man, many Maori in the north of New Zealand regarded as a partner in shaping culture, and also as their friend.
He was tenacious: Because Maori-Kiwi can be rather creative people to deal with (until you know our sense of humor well)… although Williams wasn’t the first missionary to arrive in New Zealand it is said of Williams that “he was “the first to make the mission a success, partly because the others had opened up the way, but largely because he was the only man brave enough, stubborn enough, and strong enough to keep going, no matter what the dangers, and no matter what enemies he made”. [Mitcalfe 1963, p. 34.]
He was a coastie: Williams nickname was “Warrior-of-the-sea.”
Military Trained: At 14, Williams served in the British navy in the Napoleanic wars.
Williams believed in equality and fair justice for Maori: “He believed that Maori should be protected from lawless Europeans and fraudulent dealings. He and his son Edward translated the Treaty of Waitangi into Maori.” [NZ History.Net]
He was bilingual in Te Reo Maori & English: With the help of his son Edward, Henry Williams translated The Treay of Waitangi (the founding legal document of New Zealand, into English].
Spiritual Teaching was his key shift focus: “He reorganised the mission so that more time from his team, was devoted to spiritual teaching. “
Learning the Maori language was a requirement of his team: Williams held regular lessons for himself and his team to learn the Maori language (Te Reo Rangatira, the Language of Chiefs]. –NZ History.Net. Today, some of the most outstanding New Zealanders still cross this cultural bridge today to enter in to an authentic New Zealand cultural reality and experience, setting an example for other Kiwis and new arrivals to New Zealand to follow.
He was married to a fine educationalist: Marianne Williams was a tireless educationalist. Pioneering schools for Maori to learn how to write and read books.
His character was “diamond in the rough”: “imperious and distant, almost of repelling manner, and yet very kind hearted. A superb organiser, he not only led but acted.”– (Rogers, 1973:19).
He wa a fearless mediator and Peace Maker: “The fact that he was able to [intervene] in inter-tribal disputes and sometimes managed to negotiate a peace between hostile groups was both a cause and a consequence of his [mana] prestige among the Maoris. Only a person of considerable prestige would be invited to settle a conflict peacefully and it required even greater prestige to be successful” (1975:149).
Williams’ courage is often noted. As one writer put it,
“If physical courage were the measure of virtue, Henry Williams should long have been canonised. He could intervene between two fighting men. He could stand unflinching before a Maori chief whose taiaha (spear) was poised to kill him…As someone has said, ‘he feared his God, and therefore had no need to fear man’” (Rogers, 1973:20).”
Men like Henry Williams left their mark on New Zealand. Today, New Zealand’s role to be Peace Makers in the World continues. Maori have a key role to play in this process too. May the spirit of our founding fathers, never be lost but celebrated for the good things they gave us that live on in Kiwi culture today.
[You can experience the legacy of Henry Williams - by observing the places where he worked in, and the tributes to this founding father of New Zealand in Paihia, The Bay of Islands. These photographs were snapped here today at The Waitangi Treaty Grounds. This contemporary artwork is titled Meeting in The Middle and is on dislay at reception at the Copthorne Hotel -Bay of Islands, Waitangi, New Zealand. Rose, Waitangi Treaty House, today].
~Posted by Horiwood.Com, Aotearoa New Zealand, 21.7.11~