When the first of this set of graves was dug here, that of Rev Cort Henry Schnackenberg in 1880, this would have been a peaceful part of the slope down to the bottom of Grafton Gully. Native bush and bird song all around, fitting for the last resting place of those who laboured as missionaries for years in the back blocks of this country's early days. Today, of course, on the other side of the overgrowth below is the motorway. How times change.
From left: the graves of Edward Allen, Rev Schnackenberg, George Sargent Jakins and Elizabeth Jakins, Rev Hobbs, and Rev Warren.
It is with feelings of regret we record in our obituary columns this morning the death of the Rev John Hobbs, the oldest Wesleyan missionary in New Zealand, or the Australasian group, and who was a contemporary and fellow-worker in the New Zealand mission field with the Venerable Samuel Marsden, Bishop Williams, Bishop Selwyn, and others who have passed away to their reward. He died last evening at seven o’clock, at the advanced age of 84. Some particulars concerning a career so eventful will be interesting to our readers: --
The Rev John Hobbs was the son of Richard and Elizabeth Hobbs, and born February 21 1800 at St Peter’s, Isle of Thanet, in Kent. His father (who was a local preacher, under John Wesley) was in the building trade, combined with coach-building, and had a large business in which the subject of this memoir was brought up. The knowledge thus acquired proved of great value to him in his mission life. While so engaged in business he also fulfilled the duties of a Wesleyan local preacher.
At the age of 22 the subject of this notice resolved to go to Tasmania, having a strong desire to be of service in his Master’s cause among the convicts in that then penal colony. Soon after his arrival in Tasmania the Revs Nathaniel Turner and Carvoss urged him to write home and offer his services to the Wesleyan Missionary Society. During the interval of hearing from the Society he went to Sydney, where he met the Rev Samuel Marsden who also offered to employ him at once in the Church Missionary Society work if he would go with him to New Zealand, which offer he would have accepted but for being in correspondence with the Wesleyan Missionary Society as well as his father’s parting words. When he told Mr Marsden his determination, that gentleman characteristically replied: “Never mind who you go with, but go.”
On 3rd August 1823, Mr Hobbs sailed from Sydney for New Zealand, in the ship Brampton with Mr Marsden (who was the agent of the Church Missionary Society), the late Archdeacon Henry Williams, and the Rev Nathaniel Turner, a missionary of the Wesleyan Missionary Society. He arrived at the Bay of Islands the same month, and Mr Turner and Mr Hobbs went to Whangaroa to labour. After the destruction of the Mission Station in 1827 by the natives who plundered their house and burnt it, and where they only escaped with their lives through the late chief Patuone taking them under his protection, Mr Hobbs returned to Sydney, where he married Miss Broggreff, who came out from Ramsgate to join him.
The young couple then returned to New Zealand, and went to Hokianga. It was at this station that Patuone and Waka Nene became his true and faithful friends, and remained so till they died. In 1833 Mr Hobbs requested the Home Committee to remove him, and he was directed to go to the Friendly Islands [Tonga] where he speedily acquired the language, took charge of the mission printing press, and soon became quite expert in printing and translating mission publications. Mrs Hobbs’ health, however, soon failed, and a change was ordered by a medical man as the only hope he could hold out and he recommended that they should go to Tasmania.
The whaling ship in which they took passage for Tasmania proved to be in a very leaky condition, and the captain put into the Bay of Islands where the ship was condemned as unseaworthy and beached. Mr Turner, then at Hokianga, having heard of the arrival of Mr Hobbs at the Bay hastened across and requested Mr Hobbs to take charge of the Mission Station then under his care, which he accordingly agreed to do. Mr Hobbs’ previous knowledge of the Maoris and their language proved valuable to the Church, and he soon employed his talent in various departments of Mission labour building houses and boats and in translating and printing the Scriptures in Maori – a work in which he was assisted by Abraham Taonui, a chief of the Ngapuhi, lately deceased.
Mr Hobbs had a more than ordinary attachment to his Queen and country, and the Government. It is not too much to say that it was mainly due to his influence for good amongst the Ngapuhi that Tamati Waka Nene, Mohi Tawhai and Eruera Putuone came out so staunchly as allies at the time of the colony’s peril, when Hone Heke declared war and sacked Kororareka (now called Russell). His services were often asked and freely given to the Government when they had any important questions in hand with the natives. Mr Hobbs acted as interpreter to Governor Hobson when he went over to Hokianga to get the Treaty of Waitangi signed by the Ngapuhi. The loyal influence of the Wesleyan mission in Hokianga was of infinite value to the authorities in those days, and was freely acknowledged by the Government.
Mr Hobbs was frequently weeks away at a time visiting the natives in various parts of the colony. When heard of the untimely death of the Rev John Bumby by the upsetting of a canoe in crossing the Waitemata from Rangitoto to the North Shore, he started off at once overland from Hokianga to Auckland, in the vain hope of recovering the body which, however, was never recovered.
In 1848 Mr Hobbs was appointed to commence a Wesleyan station in the Upper Whanganui district and a vessel, the Harriet Leathart, was chartered for the purpose of conveying the Rev G Stannard and family and the Rev W Kirk and wife to their new scene of labour. The voyage proved to be a disastrous one, the vessel being stranded on the West Coast, near Whanganui, after a most providential escape from being cast on the rocky coast adjacent. Owing to Mr Hobbs being all night exposed to the winds and waves, lashed to the rigging, he became afflicted with almost total deafness which caused his retirement from active work long before his own wishes would have permitted him doing so.
In 1855 he removed with his family to Auckland and spent a year at the Three Kings Institution, but his loss of hearing so much interfered with his duties that he was compelled to retire into private life, and has since resided in Auckland where he has enjoyed the friendship of many of his early associates in mission work.
His early association with the founders of the Church Mission and the sympathy and help given by them in all times of need, greatly endeared them to him and many of his dying words referred to the exciting times of their early mission labours together. Telegrams from these friends of his youth, in his last illness, testified their sympathy for their “brother John”, as he was familiarly styled. The Rev James Walls, Thomas Buddle, and Alexander Reid, old workers in the Maori mission field, and other clergymen have visited him in his last illness and amongst other friends Bishop and Mrs Cowie. Our space will not admit of our referring at length to his mission labours, but no doubt at the fitting time some of his old fellow co-workers in the mission field will fulfil the duty of recounting them.
His last illness proved tedious and painful. Sometimes he said he feared patience had not yet had “her perfect work”, but his mind was kept in perfect peace. Kind messages to friends and to young people in whose welfare he was interested were on his lips to the last. When asked some questions as to his past career, he said, “I do not desire any praise. God knows I have done my poor best, but having done all, I have been an unprofitable servant.” His memory will be dear to many in England, America, Australia, Tonga, and in New Zealand.
Mr Hobbs never acquired any property worth speaking about. His legacy to his children is the memory of a life of strict integrity, devoted to the service of the Master whom he loved. His aged partner survives him, aged 85. They celebrated their “golden wedding” some six years ago. Of his ten children seven survive, two sons and five daughters. The former are Mr Richard Hobbs, MHR for the Bay of Islands and Mangonui, and Mr Edward Hobbs, both of Pokeno. Of the daughters two are married to Wesleyan clergymen – the Rev W Kirk of Wellington, and the Rev W Gittos of Kaipara, the others being Mrs Wilcox of Wellington, whose husband is deceased, Mrs James Bloomfield, and Mrs G. S. Jakins, of Ponsonby.
He leaves also thirty grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Mr Hobbs left a written request, signed by himself and Mrs Hobbs, to the effect that his funeral was to be as plain and simple as possible, and without the usual embellishment of mourning.
The funeral will take place on Wednesday, leaving the Pitt-street Wesleyan Church at 3 o’clock. There will be a short mortuary service in the Church, commencing at 2.30.
(NZ Herald 25 June 1883)
There's more on Rev Hobbs here, and here.
Rev Hobbs' daughter Elizabeth (1842-1921), along with her husband George Sargent Jakins (1839-1928), are buried next to him. According to what's available via Paper's Past, George S Jakins arrived in Auckland from London on the Nourmahaul in 1859. He married Eliza Hobbs at Rev. Hobbs' residence at Beresford Street in Auckland 1 May 1862. He was a licensed Custom House Agent by February 1863, and had his headquarters on Queen Street the following year. In 1865 he entered into partnership with Samuel John Edmonds, merchants, under the name Edmonds & Jakins. The family sold up their Wellington Street home that year and sailed for Melbourne. He came back in 1866 and set himself up as an importer and commission agent on Queen Street Wharf. The firm of Edmonds & Jakins apparently continued through to February 1867, when it was wound up., Jakins consigning debts to Edmonds. Another partnership, with Henry Palmer of Mahurangi, was dissolved in April 1867. This, however, doesn't appear to have been an amicable parting of the ways.
Henry Palmer was charged by G S Jakins with having, on Saturday, 19th inst., at Mahurangi, assaulted him by striking him several blows with his clenched fist. Mr J B Russell appeared for complainant; Mr. Beveridge for defendant. G S Jakins deposed: I reside at Mahurangi. On 20th October, I went to Palmer at the mills to obtain some money, £9 odd, received by him. He admitted having received the money, and wished to deduct £5. I told him I could not let him off. He gave me several blows with his clenched fist. I ran away from him to a man named Brown, a special constable. He followed me, and struck me again in the mill and outside the premises. I gave him no provocation except by saying that he had got off "jolly easy," when he asked the £5 to be deducted from the money he had received.
Cross-examined : He did not say he had been taken advantage of by me and my brother. I did not tell him he was a great fool not to go to the Insolvency Court to be white-washed, before he struck me. We were perfectly friendly until I said, "You've got off jolly easy." When he struck me I got off as soon as I could. I did not strike in return. I ran upstairs, the nearest way to get out of the mill. Palmer told me to leave the mill. Force was used to put me out of the mill. Palmer is in the occupation of the mill, which I believe belonged to Mr. Hurst. Mr. Wood put me out of the mill. I did not use threats towards him.
Re-examined : I expected Brown to have taken Palmer in charge. That was why I did not leave the mill when asked to do so, after he had assaulted me. He followed me outside the mill and beat me.
John B Brown deposed : I am a special constable living at Mahurangi. I was in Palmer's employment on 20th October. I recollect Jakins coming into the mill. Jakins came upstairs, and wished Palmer to be taken in charge. I went as soon as I could, and found Jakins outside the mill. I saw a very slight blow struck outside the mill by Palmer. When I had hold of Palmer he desisted. I did not see Jakins resist Palmer in any way.
Cross-examined: I did not hear Palmer order Jakins out of the mill. Wood put Jakins out of the mill. The proper way to get out of the mill would be by going downstairs and going out by the entrance door. Jakins did not do so. This closed the complainant's case.
W J Wood deposed : I saw Jakins coming into the mill on the occasion referred in question. He came running upstairs, when I heard Palmer order him to leave the mill. He did not go. I put him out. I used force to put him out. I saw Palmer strike Jakins on the back. It was not a severe blow. He had ordered him out previously. His object for striking Jakins was to put him out.
Cross-examined: It was to save him from being knocked against the ironwork that I put Jakins out. I did not hear any angry discussion.
This closed the evidence. His Worship regretted that the parties had not endeavoured to settle the matter without the intervention of the Court. There was no doubt an assault had been committed. There was clearly provocation on the part of the plaintiff. He inflicted a fine on defendant of 40s. and costs.
(Southern Cross 31 October 1867)
By October 1868, Jakins was selling "Whelpton's Vegetable Pills" and stone lime from his Produce Stores at Durham Street. The following year, he becoming involved as a shareholder and director of mining companies. In July 1870, another partnership, this time with E D Willcox. By 1879, the Jakins & Willcox store had shifted to Custom Street, then the partnership dissolved in the 1880s and Jakins was again in business on his own. By 1890, he was in Sydney, selling produce in Sussex Street. He returned to New Zealand and settled in Christchurch in 1891. Is he the same G S Jakins who operated the Belfast Dairy Factory in Canterbury in 1895? It appears he was a produce merchant in Christchurch in 1901. By 1921, when Elizabeth died, they were living in Parnell.
I couldn't find an obituary for Rev John Warren so, as with G S Jakins, I pulled together what I could from Papers Past.
He arrived in New Zealand in 1838, serving in the Hokianga by the late 1840s. By the late 1850s he was down near Nelson and the Wairau area.
The Rev. J. Warren.—This gentleman met the office bearers of the Wesleyan Church for the last time on Monday last, at their usual quarterly meeting, when the following resolution was adopted.- Proposed by Mr. Hough and resolved—" That the thanks of this meeting are justly due, and are hereby cordially presented to our faithful and beloved pastor, the Rev. John Warren, for his instructive and efficient ministry, and for the zeal, ability, and discretion with which he has fulfilled the duties of Superintendent of the circuit, for the space of five years. …" Mr. Warren will preach to the congregation on Sunday next for the last time, alter which the pulpit will be occupied by the stationed minister from the Hutt, the Rev. Mr. Innes, and in the Waimea by the Rev. Mr. Moorhouse.
(Colonist, 30 March 1860)
He was in the Wellington area until 1862, then he moved to Auckland, where he served at the High Street Wesleyan Chapel and lectured on the Maori at the Oddfellow’s Hall.
In 1863, in one such lecture to the YMCA in Auckland, he came out fully in favour of the policy of confiscation of Maori land in the event of rebellion against the Queen.
THE REV. JOHN WARREN UPON CONFISCATION OF NATIVE LAND.I believe the way in which British supremacy could be most speedily established, and with least loss of life, would be at once to declare a district of country already gone for ever to the Queen in consequence of native rebellion and a proclamation that Maori sovereignty would be unhesitatingly put down, and that all natives found in arms after a certain date would be declared the Queen's enemies, and to have forfeited all right and title to land. Some will say that would be to exterminate the natives because it is well known that such is their attachment to the land, that they will die to a man in defence of it. We deny that this is well known, and we assert the contrary of this. No doubt the natives are exceedingly covetous about land, and this is the reason why they have been continually fighting about it. That they will to any extent die in defence of land is utterly contrary to the history of the Maori people.
I have seen many quarrels about land, and some rather severe contests. Both parties have invariably made the same assertions — that the land was theirs; that they wanted it for an inheritance for their children after them; that life was of no consequence to them unless they could possess that particular piece of land; that they had come prepared to die, and if they could not have the land, would at least die upon it. One party has, of course, always had the best of the contest. The weaker party, like wise men, have invariably retired and left the conquerors in possession of the land; and immediately they ascertained that they could not possess it, have given up all idea of dying upon it. The New Zealanders are an ambitious and a courageous people, but they are an intelligent people also — and no people on earth ever knew better how to be beaten, or to submit graciously to a superior power. It will be said, perhaps, that the natives may submit and yield up land to each other in this way, but would never yield land to the pakeha. A person who will make this assertion must be ignorant of New Zealand, and what has already transpired in the country.
The first war in which we were involved with the natives was forced upon the Government by the turbulent proceedings of a Ngapuhi chief, Honi Heke. Heke was a chief equal in rank to any of the men taking part in the present rebellion, and probably superior to any of them in education and general information. Heke had no ill-will to the colonists, as was proved by many acts of generosity during the war. But he had the common infirmity: he was a restless, ambitious man, who had a thirst for military glory, and wished to measure his strength with the English force then in New Zealand — I believe about 25 men. So he cut down what he regarded as the emblem of British sovereignty, the flagstaff in the Bay of Islands. The staff was re-erected, and cut down by Heke in defiance of the Government, if I mistake not, three different times. The people of the town of Kororareka became involved in the quarrel, and the township was taken by the natives, sacked, and laid in ashes — an event which I personally witnessed. Things were, of course, now become serious. Troops were brought from Sydney, and a large body of allies, under Tamati Waka and Moses Tawhai, joined the Government for the purpose of punishing Heke for his rebellion. In a short time Heke, in an engagement with Waka, was severely wounded, and narrowly escaped falling into the hands of his enemy. Heke proved no exception to the general rule. As soon as defeat and adversity came, Heke's courage and ambition evaporated, and he wrote to Governor Fitzroy, confessing his error, acknowledging his defeat, begging for peace, and offering land to the Queen as the price of peace. Governor Fitzroy immediately answered Heke's letter, pointing out certain places to be ceded to the Queen as an atonement for his rebellion. Heke was perfectly satisfied, and considered himself liberally dealt with, and wondered that the Government had not taken more land.
Kawiti, however, Heke's ally, who had shut himself up in a pa at the Ruapekapeka, out of which he believed the English could not drive him, was opposed to giving up any land, and wrote an insolent and defiant letter to the Governor, declaring, in the true style of an old New Zealand warrior, that the Governor should never have his land while he lived. That he would die in its defence. There was, therefore, no alternative but for the Government to attack Kawiti, and Governor Fitzroy was making preparations to do this when he was superseded by Governor Grey, whose first act was to meet the native allies. Tamati Waka, on that occasion, addressing Governor Grey, said, (I quote from official translation in despatches to Lord Stanley). " I wish to say to you that there is no chance of making peace, unless Kawiti and Heke agree to give the land mentioned in the terms proposed by Governor Fitzroy. Unless they did so, peace would not remain. What I say now are not my thoughts only, but thoughts of all. There is no chance of peace until the lands are given up to the Queen." Kawiti was soon driven out of his pa, and reduced to great straits for want of food. He saw that his enemy was too powerful for him, so he forgot what he had said about dying for his land, and came and humbled himself to Waka, and begged him to act as mediator, and take his unconditional submission to the Governor, and to say that he was now willing, not only to give up the lands demanded by Governor Fitzroy, but also any other additional lands which Governor Grey might think proper to take, if he would make peace with him and pardon his rebellion.
Is this confirmatory of the idea that the natives, as a people, would contend to the death for the mere barren pride of ownership of land, which they well know will never be of any earthly use to them?— or is not rather contradictory of any such irrational and unphilosophical conclusion ? On reception of Kawiti's submission, the Governor immediately proclaimed peace, and a free pardon to all the rebels, without taking an inch of their land; supposing that so generous a proceeding would for ever attach the natives in gratitude to Government. Events have shown how much he was mistaken. Even the flagstaff was not erected, but was seven years after, when I left the Bay of Islands,in the humiliating position to which Heke had consigned it, and a native has pointed out to me the dishonored staff which bore the flag that for a thousand years has “Braved the battle and the breeze.”
With the following sentence, not a very euphonious one in the ears of a loyal subject of the greatest sovereign in the world : — '" Ko Wikitoria tena, e moe ana i te puehu, i rote te wahi i tura kiua ai ia e Hone Heke." (There is Victoria sleeping in the dust, in the place into which she was thrown by Johnny Heke.)-- Lecture to Young Men's Christian Association, Auckland.
(Hawke’s Bay Herald, 2 September 1863)
In 1865, as superintendent of the Wesleyan circuit in Auckland, Rev Warren conducted the ceremony of the laying of the foundation stone for the Pitt Street Wesleyan Church. (Southern Cross, 16 November 1865) In 1869, he settled in the Otahuhu circuit, and continued to lecture into the 1870s. At his Onehunga home, he became known for growing oranges, amongst the first in Auckland. (Wellington Independent, 16 June 1874). He fell seriously ill in June 1879. He died 24 November 1883 at Park House in Ponsonby, aged 69.
It was announced at the Wesleyan Conference in Wellington on 31 January 1884 that Rev Warren bequeathed £100 to the Supernumerary Fund. (Thames Star, 31 January 1884) His name was amongst those of other pioneering Wesleyan missionaries on plaques unveiling at Pitt Street church in April 1893. (Bay of Plenty Times, 14 April 1893)
The name at the head of this notice is another of those early pioneers who know much but who, so far as is present known, has left no memoranda of the vast amount of useful native and other knowledge which he must have acquired during a sojourn of nearly 40 years amongst the Maoris. As is well known Mr Schnakenberg has been for a very long time connected with the Wesleyan mission to the Maoris in the southern part of the Auckland province. A native of Prussia, he was brought up in the Lutheran faith, and while still a young man removed to London to push his fortunes in a commercial career. After a short residence there, he emigrated to Sydney about forty years ago, and was connected with a mercantile house there.
His principals wishing to extend their trade relations with New Zealand, young Schnackenberg was commissioned to proceed to New Zealand to be the agent of the firm among the Maoris for the purpose of purchasing flax and other articles produced by the Maoris. For a short time he was thus employed, but having joined the Wesleyan Commissioner while in Sydney, the late Rev Mr Whiteley prevailed upon Mr Schnackenberg to become identified with the Wesleyan Mission to the Maoris, whose language he was fast acquiring great facility in using. Mr Schnackenberg gave his consent, and his first station was in the Mokau district. There he laboured many years and gained the esteem and confidence of the Maoris. He was subsequently removed to the Kawhia district and for the last sixteen years he has laboured in the district around Raglan, at which place he had his residence.
During his career on the southwest coast of this province he had been associated in the mission work with the Rev Messrs Wallis, Smales, Whiteley, Buttle, Buddle and Turton. He possessed the full confidence of the Maori people, and had great influence with them.
At the time of the Rev Mr Volkner’s murder on the East Coast Mr Schnackenberg was caused to remove his family to Raglan for greater safety by the heads of the mission, though he had full confidence in living amongst those for whose elevation he had so long laboured. But it was deemed unsafe, and he obeyed the orders sent him. Since he came to Raglan, his circuit of labour has extended from Raglan on the north to Kawhia on the south, and from the sea on the west to Te Kopua, near Alexandra, on the east. The district is large, and his labours were incessant. He not only attended to the spiritual wants of the Maoris, but preached to the scattered European settlers in the district, sometimes making his journeys by canoe, and at other times on horseback. He was liked by all classes of people, and was ever ready to give a helping hand to the different new arrivals in his district. Many will miss his kindly advice and substantial help, and wherever he was known he was respected. So esteemed was he by the Maoris that they desired his remains should be buried amongst them as an evidence of their respect for him, and as a proof of the interest he took in their affairs.
Besides the spiritual charge of those in his district, the Government native schools have practically been under his supervision for many years. He was the chief advisor of the Government on native matters in that district; and during the lifetime of the late Sir Donald McLean he was repeatedly urged to join the Government service on account of his local knowledge and the respect the natives had for him. Their repeated offers he steadfastly refused, and he plodded on with the details of the work to which he had set himself.
For several years his health had not been so good as he could have desired, and about a month ago he consulted Dr Philson who, on examining him, found that his heart was extensively affected. When he died on Tuesday evening he was on the way to Auckland for a little rest and for medical treatment. His end was peace, and he quietly stepped from one world to the other just before crossing the Manukau Bar, on board the Lalla Rookh, at the age of 67 years, in the presence of Mrs Schnackenberg and his brother-in-law, Mr Allen.
Mr Schnackenberg was married to the eldest daughter of Mr Edward Allen, Mount Albert, about seventeen or eighteen years ago. She has a family of five living – three girls and two boys. The eldest is about 15 and the youngest about 7 years. The funeral takes place tomorrow at 2 o’clock. His remains will leave the residence of Mr Allen, Mount Albert, and the Pitt-street Wesleyan Church at 3 o’clock. Many of the friends of the deceased gentleman will no doubt pay their last respects to one who has taken part in the early work of laying the foundations and building up the colony to its present importance.
(NZ Herald 12 August 1880)
The biography of his wife Annie Jane Schnackenberg can be found here.
Edward Allen (d. 1891) arrived in Auckland in November 1861. By April 1863, he was a resident at Mt Albert. Allen was an active member of the Mt Albert Road Board (successor to the Highway District) from the time of its formation, and a member of the local school committee. He was a member of the Wesleyan Methodist Church and one of the trustees of the Wesley College at Three Kings.
He was also the landowner who refused to have part of his farm dedicated as a road for the continuation of New North Road in the 1860s through to Avondale – hence, the odd angle at the intersection of New North, Mt Albert and Carrington Roads today. More on him can be found here.