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The women were responsible for teaching Māori girls and women, as well as training them in domestic chores, paid for in clothing, and often food and board.[1] Household duties and management were in those days a normal part of the education of girls – including missionary daughters – and while there was some benefit in this source of help, it was at times a mixed blessing. When their daughters were old enough they assisted with teaching. Altogether eight missionary daughters assisted at the Paihia school between 1827-38 enabling Marianne and Jane to spend up to five hours a day in supervision. [2] It was not just the routine tasks of cooking, washing and ironing, as nursing, embroidery and sewing were also taught, along with reading, writing and scripture.[3]


The men were responsible for the boys schools, usually conducted separately from the girls. Depending on location there were a number of different schools, catering for different age groups and genders. For males these included the English boys school, the Native boys school, and a school for Native teachers. Pupils were fed at school and obtaining sufficient supplies consumed much missionary time.[4] There were graduation ceremonies for the Māori girls and boys, dressed in English-style clothes, with a substantial feast and prizes awarded for the best work.[5] At Waimate, which for a time became something of an education centre, there was an infant school for Māori children, staffed by missionary wives. 

The organisation of schools was to an extent in the hands of the local CMS committee. Something of a division arose that had its roots in the different educational backgrounds of the catechists and the ordained missionaries. The former saw the need of practical skills, whereas the ordained ministers who were university educated favoured a classical education. While Latin or Greek would have had little practical value in New Zealand, it was most likely favoured by William Williams and others because  it was a prerequisite for higher education in England where it was hoped that a few of the sons might go.

One of the lasting contributions made to education was the establishment of schools for Maori boys and girls, the first at Te Aute and the second at Hukarere, achieved through the collaboration of William Williams, Samuel Williams (son of Henry and Marianne) and Leonard Williams (son of William and Jane). Samuel attempted to start Te Aute in 1854, but funding proved a problem, but his skills as a farmer enabled him, with William and Leonard, to make a more successful attempt in 1870. The school was completed in 1872, and remains today. William donated the site, in Napier, for the Hukarere girls school, with funding coming from the Te Aute farm and Catherine (Kate) Heathcote in England, with a small grant from the government. The school was completed in 1875, although burned down in 1910, to be rebuilt in 1911 on Napier Terrace. William Williams also had a hand in the establishment of Napier Boys Grammar School.

Both William and Jane were unhappy at the development of the Native school system set up by the Government in 1867, with increasing demand for instruction in English and suppression of te reo. They complained that some of the teachers "did not know a word of maori". Equally disappointing to them was the variable nature of religious instruction.[6]


[1] Henry and Marianne’s house at Paihia had a room set aside for the Maori girls.

[2] p. 153, Fitzgerald, T., 2004. ‘To unite their strength with ours’. Journal of Pacific History, 39(2): 147-161.

[3] Modern critics sometimes refer to this as servitude, however the relationship was not equivalent to domestic servitude in England, to which Marianne and Jane were accustomed. It was evident that the Maori under their charge were free to come and go as they pleased – and they often did. Jane would have preferred to carry out her domestic duties herself and with her family, but they saw value in teaching ‘civilized housekeeping habits’ (p. 27-28, Porter, F. (ed.), 1974. The Turanga Journals). Domestic duties were interwoven with more formal education. Jane and Marianne were also responsible for the English Girls School at Paihia.

[4] p. 76 Fitzgerald.C. (ed.) 2011, loc.cit.

[5] pp. 28, 29,  Porter, F. 1974, loc.cit

[6] pp 604,605, Porter, F. 1974. loc.cit.


Interior of new infants school at Waimate, 1844, sketch by William Bainbridge, MS-0130-208, Alexander Turnbull Library


Te Aute College Prefects, 1880. Ref. 1/2-061582-F. Alexander Turnbull Library.


Hukarere Maori Girls School 1877-78, photo F W Williams

Ref. 309 78077, Hawkes Bay Museum.

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