The Right Reverend Frederick Augustus Bennett, C.M.G., Bishop of Aotearoa

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Theses / Dissertations
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Master of Arts
University of Canterbury. History
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Westerman, Elaine J.

I have chosen as the subject of my thesis for the degree of Master of Arts in history a biographical study of the life and work of the Right Reverend Frederick Augustus Bennett, C.M.G., Bishop of Aotearoa. In this research I have sought faithfully to delineate the man as he was and as he is today, and to make a fair and just appraisal of his life’s work as a Christian leader of the Maori people of New Zealand. For history is really a study of man. The outstanding racial features of his character and personality, largely derived from his distinguished genealogical background, developed and brought to full maturity by his environment and training, are revealed and portrayed to some extent, I trust, in the text of this narrative; as, also, are the impacts he has made upon both Maori and pakeha society, by reason of his religious faith and teaching, evangelical fervour, leadership in all matters of reform for the betterment of Maori economic and social welfare, and, latterly, by his dignified service to the Church of England in the province of New Zealand, as the first Maori Bishop of Aotearoa. In the course of my research I have perused many letters, diary records, diocesan and newspaper reports. I have had the privilege of many conversations and informative interviews with the Bishop, and enjoyed the warm welcome of his family circle at Kohupatiki, Hawke's Bay. I have travelled to many of the localities mentioned, meeting and interviewing many Maori informants who were able to contribute factual evidence of value to my task. Observation and deduction, too, have played their parts. In my reading I have been guided by reference to many of the works of leading authorities, and my indebtedness to them has been acknowledged in references throughout the text. I regret, however, that many tribal leaders of the Arawa, Ngati-Kahunganu and Ngati Tuwharetoa have already passed away, carrying with them valuable stores of knowledge and folk-lore that may have been of worth to me in this undertaking. For the main part, opinions that I have sought have been fair and unbiassed. I have endeavoured to present a comprehensive and informative assessment of the life-history and work of this first Maori Bishop, who has never ceased to urge and inspire the mental and spiritual metamorphosis of his kinsfolk who, with their British brethren, have learned to live together as good neighbours in freedom, without strife, in the “Land of the Long White Cloud.” “Let knowledge grow from more to more, But more of reverence in us dwell; That mind and soul, according well, May make one music as before, But vaster. Till the peoples all are one, and all their voices blend in ohorio Hallelujah to the Maker” (Tennyson) Hoeaera te waka nei, Hoea, hoea kite pai. Mate poi e karawhiu E rahui i te pai.

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Copyright Elaine J. Westerman