Monday, January 30, 2012

Never the Faint Hearted

I have just finished reading this book.  It is titled Never the Faint Hearted - Charles Baker, Pioneer Missionary 1803-1875. A biography written from his journals and letters by Mary Baker.

Rev Charles Baker is my Great, Great, Great Grandfather on my Fathers' Mothers side (she was a Baker).
It tells of his life as a pioneering Missionary sent to New Zealand by the Church Missionary Society at his own request. Baker preached in the Bay of Islands from 1828 to 1843, the East Coast until 1857 and then Auckland and Tauranga.


Rev Charles Baker family

Charles Baker (born in Yorkshire in 1803) was trained in agricultural and industrial pursuits. 
Upon the death of his first wife, he entered the C.M.S. College at Islington. With the second Mrs. Baker, and the daughter of the first marriage, he landed at the Bay of Islands on 9 June, 1828. 
He was stationed first at Kerikeri and then at Paihia. 
In the temporary absence of the Rev. H. Williams he played a not unimportant part in making the arrangements ashore for the proclamation of British sovereignty over New Zealand. Lieutenant-Governor Hobson requested him to have copies printed of an invitation to the chiefs to meet him, and arranged with him to send messengers to deliver them. He also sought permission to use the church on the occasion of the reading of the official documents relating to his appointment, etc. 
On Christmas Day, 1835, Charles Darwin (the eminent naturalist) and Captain FitzRoy (of H.M.S. Beagle and, later, successor to Governor Hobson) attended a service conducted by Mr. Baker and made donations towards the cost of the historic church which was built at Paihia under his supervision and which is still standing. 
Mr. Baker was stationed at Waikare (1840–2), Tolaga Bay (1843–51) and Rangitukia (1854–7). 
Whilst he was at Tolaga Bay his family of nine was increased on 11 April, 1843, by the birth of a son, Henry Williams, who might have been the first white boy born at Uawa, and on 3 September, 1844, by the arrival of another daughter, Charlotte Elizabeth, who might have been the first white girl born there.
In 1860 Mr. Baker and the Rev. E. B. Clarke were stationed at Tauranga, but, in 1863, they had to leave when the natives began openly to sympathise with the Waikato rebels. 
Returning to Auckland, Mr. Baker paid regular visits to the stockades, the gaol, and the hospital and to the hulks on which rebel prisoners were being detained. 
He died on 15 February, 1875.

I have had this book for many years and it is signed by the author, Mary Baker, but I had not read it.
But after attending a workshop on early discipleship in New Zealand last year I was very interested to read about Rev Charles' story and the hardship he encountered. I was encouraged to read how accepting of the Christian faith the Maoris were and that Rev Charles learnt and was fluent enough to preach in the Maori language.

He had 12 children and nearly half died before he did. He suffered from rheumatism and it would appear he had a couple of strokes before he finally passed away,

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