Sowing the Gospel of Peace: Missionary James Watkin at Karitāne and Wellington, 1840-1855
Wesleyan missionary James Watkin established the first mission station in the South Island at Karitāne in May 1840 and in 1844 he shifted to Wellington, where he remained with his family until 1855. During this time Watkin recorded his mission work in his journal, a key primary source for this research. While his efforts as a missionary have been considered particularly in texts covering New Zealand mission and South Island history, this thesis focuses on how James Watkin’s work helped to encourage physical and moral peace where he was located. Key elements of this work involved running church services for Māori and Europeans, and commencing schools at which Māori were taught literacy in their own language. By these avenues, Watkin diffused among his hearers the Christian teachings which encouraged peaceful conduct and moderation over violence and excesses which proved detrimental to the wellbeing of the community. Through more direct interventions, Watkin helped to defend young and lowly members of society from violence intended or practiced against them. This diffusion of Christian teachings and Watkin’s direct interventions encouraged peace within the community. Secondly, missionaries aimed to foster peace amidst times of war by assuming the role of mediators and encouraging chiefs to adopt Christianity, by which means peaceable sentiments could be fostered within their tribe. By visiting each area of his circuit and organising church gatherings, Watkin helped to facilitate peace within and between tribes, as Wesleyan Māori from various areas assembled to participate in church activities where amiable sentiments were fostered. This thesis proposes that by these various avenues, the Reverend James Watkin contributed to the fostering of peace in the community and in times of war.