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Fr Reignier to Fr Favier, Ahuriri, Napier, 5 June 1865



The original of this hastily written letter in the APM carries the address: “Au T. Rev. P. Favier, Sup. Gen.” Claude-Joseph Favier (1796-1878), a relation of the Colins, and a member of the Society since 1841, was stationed at Puylata, where he was an author as well as advisor to the provincial and superior general. It is in this capacity that Reignier writes to him in the postscript [7], but the body of the letter appears to be addressed more to Favre, and the confusion in the address may be due to Reignier’s being in too much of a hurry to reread what he has written and make the correction.

Having heard that his report (L 182) and Poupinel’s were already on their way to France, he has written a further appeal for brothers himself. He adds here another reason for their coming to Meeanee – the spiritual needs of his two brothers, Basile and Florentin [4]. Poupinel will have reason to chide the latter for his excessive involvement in the business affairs of the mission (rf L 191).

Although in Lyon it seems that the superiors believed that the Society had sole title to the Meeanee property, the inclusion of Viard among the trustees indicates that the bishop considered it diocesan property. It was not until a decade later, in 1876, that his successor, Redwood, set aside Reignier’s farm for Marist ownership, with its revenues being an on-going resource for the Society (O’Meeghan 118).

Text of the Letter

Very Reverend Father & Sup. General,
In accordance with Very Rev. Fr Poupinel’s wishes, I sent him a report on our establishment. He took a copy of this report and attached it to the report he himself prepared on this subject, and it all left Sydney last month on the mail-boat leaving for Europe.
I renew the expression of my very great desire that the very dear brothers come as soon as possible to occupy our farm with the aim of helping with the resources of the various missions and the respective populations, to create, maintain and conduct schools here and in the different parts of the diocese. These reports have doubtless been communicated to you. I will not speak any further to you on the subject.
If the brothers, for want of personnel, or for other reasons, cannot or do not wish to take the responsibility of directing and running a farm properly speaking, there is another means, another way available for them to come with confidence. They can lease the farm to others and the greater part of the property, and things will be simpler.
(The dear brothers Florentin and Basile cannot be shown)[1] too much gratitude for their long service and effort, but you must imagine that, separated for such a long time from their community, they have more need of being directed than to direct. The good religious spirit is being more or less lost. The new brothers will be of great good to them by their good religious spirit of simplicity, humility, obedience and charity. Particularly dear brother Florentin, more exposed to outside through their business affairs, will have an excellent opportunity on the arrival of good new brothers to renew in himself the religious spirit as it reigns in the communities of France.
When the dear brothers arrive, how welcome they will be, but not knowing the colonies and all the procedures, I recommend them to proceed cautiously, to take their time and consult people of experience.
You may, if you wish, my V.R. Father, communicate to the Rev. Brother Superior of the brothers this letter which I am writing you in Rev Fr Poupinel’s absence. He has left for Fidjee [sic] and is not expected to return to Sydney until next November. If the Rev Father needs more information, I am ready to send him all I know about the brothers and the offer they are being asked to accept.
I have the honour of being, with the most profound and entire devotion, my very Rev Father and Sup. Your very humble and obedient servant,
E. Reignier pr. S.m.
PS. My Very Rev Father,
We are busy securing and authenticating these property titles in the names of the three naturalized fathers, as you expressed the desire to Very Rev Fr Favre, who has communicated to me your view that this good was acquired for the Society. But Very Rev Fr Poupinel wanted the addition also of the name of His Lordship Monsignor Viard. The fathers who will be holders of the property will be Rev Frs Forest, Seon, and Reignier.
While awaiting the brothers’ arrival I will try to arrange things as best I can. If anything new and important turns up, I will make it my duty to let you know.
I will not give you any details of the mission. I haven’t the time. Alas, the war has made its mark here and has given birth to a monstrous superstition among our Maori which has worked great havoc among souls.[2]
The dear sisters are succeeding, but the work falls mainly on the courageous Sister Marie des Anges, the others not having sufficient English. It is a great trial for the beginnings. They are full of good will and available for anything which helps the school progress. They have, I believe, about forty students, nine of them boarders.
As the years accumulate for me I am often confused in the middle of worries and concerns of all sorts. Very Rev Father, take pity on your dear children so far away from you and so exposed to being lost. I ask very humbly for your fatherly blessing.[3]
E. Reignier. Pr. S.m.


  1. The version in brackets is offered for a line lost in the original, perhaps due to the folding of the letter. It seems to best fit the context.
  2. An allusion to the spread of Hauhau influence in the area (rf LL 176, 184).
  3. The opening words of this last paragraph in the original are very difficult to interpret because of the writing.

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