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James Watkin Pioneer Missionary - Wesley Historical Society



1. Arrival at Waikouaiti

2. Early life in England

3. Tonga

4. Recovering in Sydney

5. Preparation for NZ

6. Coming to NZ

7. Waikouaiti

8. Mata Wakina

9. Daily Life at Waikouaiti

10. Maori conversions

11. Leaving Waikouiti for Canterbury and Wellington



This short tribute to the Rev. James Watkin, is of particular interest because it came from the pen of a Presbyterian minister, the Rev. Roy Belmer of Dunedin. It was originally written for and appeared in the "Southland Times", who have kindly given permission for it to be re-printed. (Since retirement Mr Belmer has become an ordained priest of the Anglican Cathedral Parish in Dunedin.)

In such a slim volume as this, much has had to be omitted, but sufficient has been included to highlight the character and achievements of the Rev. James Watkin, pioneer Wesleyan missionary to Otago (and indeed to the South Island), where he and his wife arrived at Waikouaiti on board the ship "Regia" on May 16th, 1840.

In an earlier issue of Proceedings (Vol. 6, No. I), the late Rev. D. J. D. Hickman wrote ("Before 1848 and After" p.2):
"The Rev. Jas. Watkin, 34 years of age at this time, was not new to missionary work, having spent seven years in Tonga. Indeed his pamphlet "Pity Poor Feejee", written during his residence in the Friendly Islands, was not only the means of inspiring the German missionary. Rev. J. F. H. Wohlers, to spend more than 40 years among the Maoris on the Island of Ruapuke, between the Bluff and Stewart Island, but has been described as "one of the most precious and fruitful bits of missionary literature ever given to the world. "

Thank you Mr Belmer for reminding us of this great man.

L. R. M. Gilmore, Secretary, Wesley Historical Society (N. Z.)
Aug. 1979