“Karepa, of Te Hawera”

BIPOC Voices in the Victorian Periodical Press

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OUR Missionary, the Rev. W. Colenso, has under his charge an immense district on the eastern coast of New Zealand. Like other of our Missionaries in that island who are similarly circumstanced, much of his time is occupied in travelling. So widely scattered is the population, and so numerous are his engagements, that months elapse before he is able to revisit the same point again. During the intervening period many changes take place, and on his return he finds, perhaps, the most Christian of the people, who were wont to value him for his work's sake, and kindly greet him on his arrival, removed by death. So it proved on a recent occasion—April 1850—when, emerging from the dark wood through which his path had lain, Mr. Colenso approached the little lonely village of Te Hawera. Mournful cries were heard; nor was he ignorant of the cause. Since he had been with them, his old friend Karepa, or Caleb, the Chief of the village, with two other baptized adults, had died. The New Zealanders are a people of very strong feelings, and their national expressions of sorrow are very affecting. Soon the relatives and friends were seen defiling from the village, uttering the same sounds of sorrow, until, meeting the Missionary party, they conducted them to a little enclosure near the Chapel, where, on similar occasions, the tent had always been pitched. There, removed a little distance, they bewailed the loss of their Chief. Mr. Colenso was sitting on the very spot where he and Caleb had last parted: now, on one side, was his tomb, neatly fenced in, and the weeping widow and tribe; on the other, the little Chapel which he had erected, and where he had been baptized; and at Mr. Colenso's feet, within a little fence which he and Caleb had put up, were four young and healthy apple-trees, which had rapidly grown from as many seeds of an apple which the two friends had shared together on the day on which they parted. Ideas of an opposite character, thus strangely associated, so affected our goof Missionary that he could not refrain weeping with the mourners.

By and bye, the villagers slowly came toward him, with wet eyes, sighing silently, and, as each one shook hands and rubbed noses with him, quietly said, "Accept the dying love of Karepa!"

At night the Natives gathered round Mr. Colenso in his tent, and one of them thus related Caleb's last illness and death—

"Karepa adhered to your advice, and when he felt a little unwell he moved about, and did some light work. In the early part of October he dug around and cleared away the grass from the four young apple-trees, saying how glad he was to see the trees of his Minister spring and grow. His illness increasing, he said he thought he should not recover. He now summoned us all to come close around him, and with much love exhorted us, talking energetically"—as was his custom—"a long while. He said—

'You well know that I have brought you from time to time much riches. I have obtained for you muskets, powder, hatchets, knives, blankets, shirts, spades, &c. I afterward heard of the new riches, called Faith. I sought it. I went to Manawatu—in those days a long and perilous journey, for we were surrounded by enemies: no man travelled alone. I saw the few Natives who, it was said, had heard of it; but they could not satisfy me. I sought further, but in vain. I afterward heard of a White Man, called Hadfield, being at Kapiti, at Otaki, and that with him was the spring where I could fill my empty and dry calabash. I travelled to his place, to Otaki, but in vain: he was gone—gone away ill. I returned to you, my children, darkminded. Many days passed by. The snows fell, they melted, they disappeared: the tree-buds expanded, and the intricate, entangled paths of our low forests were again passable to the foot of the Native Man. At last we heard of another White Man, who was going about over mountains and through forests and swamps, giving drink from his calabash to the poor secluded native folk—to the remnants of the tribes of the mighty, of the renowned of former days—now dwelling by twos and by threes among the roots of the big trees of the ancient forests, and among the long reeds by the rills in the dells! Yes, my grandchildren! my and your ancestors once spread over the country, as the koitareke (quail) and kiwi (apteryx) once did; but now their descendants are even as the descendants of these birds—scarce, gone, dead, fast hastening to utter extinction! Yes, we heard of that White Man: we heard of his going over the high snowy range to Patea, up the East Coast, all over the rocks to Turakirae. I sent four of my children to Mataikona to meet him.* They saw his face—yes, you, you talked with him. You brought me a drop of water from his calabash. You told me he had said he would come to this far-off islet to see me. I rejoiced: I disbelieved his coming; but I said, he may. I built the Chapel: we waited expecting. You slept at nights. I did not. He came: he emerged from the long forest: he stood upon Te Hawera ground. I saw him: I shook hands with him: we rubbed noses together. Yes, I saw a Missionary's face; I sat in his cloth house [tent]; I tasted his new food; I heard him talk Maori. My heart bounded within me; I listened; I ate his words. You slept at nights. I did not. Yes, I listened; and he told me about God and His Son Jesus Christ, and of peace and reconciliation, and of a loving Father's home beyond the stars. And now I, too, drank from his calabash, and was refreshed. He gave me a book, as well as words. I laid hold of the new riches for me and for you; and we have it now. My children, I am old; my teeth are gone, my hair is white, the yellow leaf is falling from the t?wai tree:** I am departing. The sun is sinking behind the great western hills: it will soon be night. But hear me: do you hold fast the new riches—the great riches—the true riches. We have had plenty of sin and pain and death; and we have been teased by many—by our neighbours and relatives; but we have the true riches. Hold fast the true riches which Karepa sight for, for you.'

"Here he became faint, and ceased talking. We all wept like little children around the bed of the dying old man—of our father. We were few in number, and far from human aid or sympathy. The next day he expressed a wish that his only son, Huru, might be sent for. He had been several weeks absent, roaming about on the Manawata river. The messenger went to the nearest villages on the river, and learned that he was nearly a week's journey off, so that he could not be fetched in time to see his dying father. In two days the messenger returned, and Karepa, when he heard that Huru was not come, and considered that he should no more see the face of his only son in this world, was for a time very sad; but he soon talked again as before, and left instructions for his son. The next day the old Chief said, 'My children, I have been dreaming. I last night saw my Minister: he was here, smiling upon me, and praying intercessory prayers for me. It is well. It is good. Now I know I shall go to the world of spirits. It is well. Hold fast the true riches when I am gone. God may be merciful to me a sinner!' He now suffered much pain, from which he had scarcely any cessation until death relieved him. He prayed much and often, under the trees on the edge of the wood, going—in his pain—from place to place. His prayers, in his exigency, were those he had got by heart—the Collects for Ash-Wednesday, the second Sunday in Advent, the second and fourth Sundays in Lent, and the first in Communion Service, and the Lord's Prayer. He also well knew the daily Collects of Morning and Evening Prayer, with the Confession, and Chrysostom's, and St. Paul's Benedictory Prayer: these, with the third chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel, the old man always used whenever he was obliged to stay away from his Chapel, or to act as Minister. His constant prayer was, however, that of the publican, 'God be merciful to me a sinner!' He said he should like to see your face once more; and straitly charged us to tell you, that, though his body is dead, his love for his Minister still lives: this he often repeated. On Sunday, the 4th of November, while we, the few inhabitants of the village, were at School in our little Chapel, Leah, Mikaera's wife"—who had remained as a friend with Azubaha, Caleb's aged wife—"came running to the Chapel to say he was gone! We concluded our School abruptly, and went over to the edge of the wood, where the body was: the soul had fled away to Jesus' city to dwell with Him. With much grief we paid the last rites. In less than a fortnight after, Caleb's only brother, Seth, also an aged man, who was in perfect health at this time, had also died; and now, O our father! your eyes behold the remnant!"

Mr. Colenso adds—

I wept much during this unadorned yet affecting recital; but the holy and certain hope of his having, with all the faithful departed, entered into rest, comforted me not a little.

* In Mr. Colenso's Journal of April 12th, 1845, we find—"I saw at Mataikona four young men from Ihuraua," the old residence of Caleb, "three of whom immediately entered their names as Candidates for Baptism." He then promised to visit their tribe in his next journey. Of those four, three had preceded the old Chief to the eternal world; and the fourth was Mr. Colenso's narrator. [back]

† The Natives call an isolated wood or village, in the interior, by the name of an island—motu. [back]

** Tăwai—Fagus sp.—a deciduous-leaved beech; one of the few deciduous trees of New Zealand. [back]

Digital Publication Details

Title: “Karepa, of Te Hawera”

Creator(s): Anonymous; W. Colenso; Anonymous

Publication date: (1851) 2022

Digital publishers: One More Voice, COVE

Critical encoding: Kenneth C. Crowell, Dino Franco Felluga, Cassie Fletcher, Kayla Morgan, Jocelyn Spoor, Adrian S. Wisnicki

One More Voice identifier: liv_026007

Cite (Chicago Author-Date): Anonymous, W. Colenso, and Anonymous. (1851) 2022. “Karepa, of Te Hawera.” Edited by Kenneth C. Crowell, Cassie Fletcher, Kayla Morgan, and Jocelyn Spoor. In “BIPOC Voices,” One More Voice, solidarity edition; Collaborative Organization for Virtual Education (COVE). https://onemorevoice.org/html/bipoc-voices/digital-editions-amd/liv_026007_HTML.html.

Rights: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

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