Chapter 9

Written by: Suraya Dewing

My dearest great, great grand-daughter

History will undoubtedly judge me harshly as are my former neighbours and friends now. I am in their eyes a fallen woman. I say I don’t care, but I do. Taine is a caring and loving man but I am now suspended in a no man’s land, neither Pakeha or Maori. 

But how could I ever forget the day I decided to leave the comforts of the familiar for this new life. The local women had gathered in the church. Thomas Kendall, a missionary for the Church Missionary Society had heard that I was about to leave to join my new husband in Wairoa by the Kaipara Harbour. The women, once my friends, were begging me to stay and they beseeched the Reverend Thomas Kendall to make me see sense. But how could he do such a thing when he had taken a Maori woman as his second wife?

Anyway, Rev. Thomas Kendall was highly regarded in this area because he was also the magistrate. You can imagine my quiet laughter when I found he had not only taken a Maori wife, entirely frowned upon by all the missionaries and their wives and regarded as fraternising with the ‘heathen’, but he was also the servant to the demon drink. 

So there he was trying to stop a riot as I gripped Sarah Elizabeth’s hand and made my way toward Taine who waited for me by the mission house. He held the reins of a single horse hitched to a carriage. Sarah Elizabeth, bless her young innocent soul, went straight to Taine and allowed him to lift her onto the seat. I climbed up beside her and we travelled across the dirt tracks to what was to be our home on the other side of the Island. Thankfully there had been no rain as I have no idea how we would have traversed that rough terrain if it had.

How deeply touched I was when Taine stopped the carriage on a small knoll and pointed to a new kauri log cabin. This was to be our home. It was like many others nearby, a single room with a fireplace over which hung a pot at one end and a cot for Sarah Elizabeth in the far corner and I blush, as I mention this, a place for us. This land is owned by Taine’s uncle, Ngāpuhi chief Parore Te Āwhā.

Sarah Elizabeth, unafraid of anyone, saw some children and went up to them. She shyly hovered by a group of young girls playing poi and when they invited her to join them she sat.

But my goodness Taine wasted no time in introducing me to my new married life. He lifted me in his strong arms and carried me inside our home. I shall stop there because I am afraid my English manners forbid me from elucidating on the heavenly hours I spent locked in Taine’s arms.