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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

Bishopric of Waiapu

Bishopric of Waiapu

The Diocese of Waiapu is unique in that a father, son and grandson have served among its Bishops.

Bishop William Williams (consecrated under Royal Letters Patent page 167 at Wellington on 3 April, 1859) held office until 31 May, 1876. He was born at Nottingham in 1801, his father, Thomas Williams, “being of a good Welsh family.” Joining the Church Missionary Society, he was accepted for service in the mission field in New Zealand. He had had some medical training, but had not qualified as a doctor. On 25 March, 1826, he and Mrs. Williams landed at the Bay of Islands. Marsden described Mr. Williams as “a man of rare talent, piety, zeal and Christian wisdom who promises to do much. His heart is in his work, and so is his brother's. Their wives are both devoted to the work, and are most amiable and valuable women.”

Before William Williams established the first mission station in Poverty Bay (1840) his family numbered six: Mary (born 12 April, 1826); Jane Elizabeth (23 October, 1827); William Leonard (22 July, 1829); Thomas Sydney (9 February, 1831); James Nelson (22 August, 1837); and Anna Maria (25 February, 1839). Three additional children—Lydia Catherine (7 April, 1841), Marianna (22 August, 1843) and Emma Caroline (20 February, 1846)—were born in Poverty Bay.

Lydia Catherine (Kate) Williams (born at Kaupapa, 7 April, 1841) was the first white child to be born in Poverty Bay. Next in order came Thomas U'Ren (born 12 October, 1841; died 17 October, 1912). When Miss Williams grew up she assisted her parents in teaching the Maori girls at Waerenga-a-Hika mission station. Subsequently she became keenly interested in the Hukarere Maori Girls' School at Napier, which was established by her father in 1875. Even late in life she frequently took special classes there. Her death occurred in tragic circumstances when she was in her ninetieth year. She was attending a service in St. John's Cathedral at Napier on 3 February, 1931, when the structure collapsed during the earthquake which took such a heavy toll of life and property in Napier and Hastings. Miss Williams received an injury to her arm and suffered greatly from shock. She was removed to a private hospital, where she succumbed on the following day.

Bishop W. Williams was the author of A Dictionary of the New Zealand Language (1844), and also of Christianity Among the New Zealanders (1867). He passed away at Napier on 9 February, 1878. Mrs. Williams survived till 6 October, 1896, her death occurring at the great age of ninety-five years.

William Leonard Williams (consecrated on 20 January, 1895; resigned 30 June, 1909) was the third Bishop of Waiapu. Eldest son of Bishop W. Williams, he was born at Paihia on 22 July, 1829, and was baptized on 23 August, 1829, on the occasion of the baptisms of the first native infants—four in number—in New Zealand. He walked from Poverty Bay to Auckland in 1845 to enrol at St. John's College. In 1851 he graduated at Oxford, and, two years later, he was admitted to deacon's orders. Ordained a priest by Bishop Selwyn, he became Archdeacon of Waiapu in 1862. His death occurred on 24 August, 1916. Mrs. Williams died on 18 December, 1894.

Herbert William Williams, M.A., Litt.D. (Camb.) was the sixth Bishop of Waiapu (consecrated 6 February, 1930; died 6 December, 1937). He was the second son of Bishop W. L. Williams and was born at Waerenga-a-Hika on 10 October, 1860. At Jesus College (Cambridge) in 1887 he graduated M.A., with honours in mathematics. Ordained a deacon in 1886, he became a priest in 1887. From 1895 till 1902 he was principal of Te Rau College. In 1907 he was appointed Archdeacon of Waiapu. Bishop Herbert Williams died in his bed whilst presiding over a meeting of the Waiapu Diocesan Board of Nomination. He was the first Anglican Bishop since Bishop Cowie to die in harness in New Zealand and the only Anglican Bishop in the Dominion to die whilst actually at work.