New Zealand Methodist Church OnLine History
 Go to Index

Rev. John Bumby Commemoration by I.Whyle

To mark the centenary of Methodism, John Waterhouse and John Bumby were sent from Birmingham to Australia and New Zealand as missionaries. Bumby, a young man, was appointed to be leader, or Chairman, of the Wesleyan Mission, based on the Hokianga. He handled the Mission affairs with skill, made deep friendships, and worked at learning the Maori language.

His last journey was made to put new missionaries in place in the Kawhia-Raglan area, and plan for further south, including Wellington. The return home was overland via Waipa, to Maraetai, then north. The Methodists named in the extracts are from the Hokianga, and Kawhia-Raglan. The older Anglican Mission is represented by Fairburn at Maraetai, and Taylor at Waimate (North). A church 'treaty" allocated Anglicans and Wesleyans to eastern and western areas, respectively.

When the mission ship Triton arrived, change was underway and the future uncertain. The Treaty had had its second signing at Mangungu during Bumby's absence in Australia, his sister Mary an able hostess on the occasion. Already a site for a new capital was planned. The missionaries, particularly Anglican and Methodist, were of great importance in the conclusion of the Treaty. The Maoris were dependent on their advice; the missionaries deeply concerned for their flock. Auckland exists because of that Treaty.

Maraetai was the initial Anglican mission site here. Bumby arrives and confers with Fairburn. He avoids the favoured route home, and chooses the one regarded as dangerous. He has his reasons.

The first news of the disaster is a letter of sympathy - confirmation and details follow. It is the story not only of Bumby, but of five Maoris from Mangungu, three from Kawhia, and a Tongan. It is also a story of survival, incredibly. Communication is slow, by letter, by foot, by boat; by quill pen, by multiple copies. It comes out of the Maori language initially; and the accounts not only differ but conflict. The Mission investigated, reported, reorganised. And the missionaries recorded the event in the first Methodist church in Auckland.