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Fr Baty to Fr Maitrepierre, Bay of Islands, 18 January 1843

Translated by P Kiley April 2000

Bay of Islands, New Zealand
18th January 1843
… On the 30th September, 1841, Bishop Pompallier put me off at the Mahia peninsula where I was supposed to stay for about three weeks and from where the Mission boat was supposed to take me back to Auckland; but during this time, the Bishop learnt about the martyrdom of Father Chanel, and made a trip to the tropics. I remained at my post, alone, in the middle of the natives, because a scarcity of brothers and the lack of funds didn’t allow him to leave me a companion…
On the 17th of December, since I hadn’t any news of the Bishop, I set off on a long trip into the south and the high mountains of the interior… Towards midday we had crossed the isthmus and we were in the bay of Te Mahia… The next day at 2 o’clock we arrived at Te Wairoa (long water). This was the second time that I was seeing this place… Although this place had seen a priest only during a short stay that I had made there two months before (there were Catholics there previously), we were well received. We spent Sunday the 19th there and I had the happiness of offering the Holy Sacrifice for the first time in this place… On the 20th we boarded a boat of the natives and we went back up the beautiful Te Wairoa river… We arrive at a confluence… the branch to the left is called Wai-au; there we abandon the oars and the boat is made to go back up by force of arms, with the help of long poles. In the evening we arrived at a kainga (household) which was mainly Catholic. The next day we set off again and arrived at Etoru-Upoko (three heads) where all the natives were Catholic… On the 22nd we went back up the river again… at midday we found a confluence, we took the right, a river called Wai-au-taheke (flowing water with falls). There we found a Catholic kainga… A little later we left the boat to go by land. The next day we climb the mountains… we arrive at the kainga on the lake Waikare (skipping water)… I celebrated Christmas in this place, and the next day the lake was calm enough to cross. On our arrival on the other side, there were only a few heretics amongst the fervent Catholics in the middle of their forests… On the 29th we crossed an arm of the lake and we penetrated into huge forests, we scale the mountains… After we have passed the crest of the mountain the waters went through the other side as far as the Bay of Plenty… On the 9th of January we were in a forest, two leagues from our residence… On the 9th, in the afternoon, we arrived at our residence.