Letters from the Bay of Islands: Story of Marianne Williams

Fitzgerald, Caroline

  9 Reviews

In 1822, Marianne Williams, her missionary-husband, Henry, and their three children left England for the Bay of Islands. A year later, they arrived at a remote one-house settlement where they stayed for thirty years. Marianne's letters to her family in England tell her story. Her courage and uncomplaining determination shine through as she describes, in vivid and compelling detail, the hardships and joys of their daily lives, their relationship with Maori, and the battles between different tribes. NZ Interest.

Comments from Groups

As a documentation of pre treaty of Waitangi history of NZ; from a woman's point of view and as a missionary wife, we felt that the letters are invaluable. We had an animated discussion on all aspects covered in the letters. We felt great admiration for the way Marianne and other missionary wives coped with their lot of continual child-bearing, their own missionary work supporting their husbands and being a pivotal part of the community. Christchurch 010

There was general enjoyment of this book - as residents of the areas Marianne wrote about, we all felt better informed about the times and personal/historic background to our Bay of Islands. Russell 004

We were blown away by the faith the early missionaries and their families had, and how this enabled them to withstand so many dangers and hardships.... Putaruru 001

It is an historical record of life at the time, and everyone agreed it was worth reading although too long and a bit tedious. The early missionaries did a wonderful job befriending the Maori and learning their language, and under very difficult conditions... Hamilton 024

All group members were very positive about this book. We gained insight into the realities of early settlers' lives, their privations and threats to their wellbeing. The book provided first hand and reliable records of 'New Zealanders' back before there was much contact with Europeans.... Wanganui 010

We really enjoyed this book, although some of the content was repetitive - but that is what the life of a missionary's wife was like. All of us are interested in history, and the book brought those early years to life. Wellington 134



PICT 005
Almost all the group appreciated the historical record of life in N.Z. for Pakeha missionaries pre-treaty. We discussed Marianne's achievements and faith. We were hesitant to give this book a rating because it was not intended as a piece of literature.
TAUR 043
Group thought it was a valuable historical text with letters from early N.Z. A struggle to read for some, but all saw the value of the book. We talked about the missionaries' faith, hard work, and resilience to exist and do "God's work". Good questions to guide discussion.
This was a fascinating read, particularly for me as I am not from N.Z. so the history was very enlightening and educational. We were all in awe of how the women missionaries coped with their lives here and the extreme conditions they endured. Very popular read among the whole group.
Our group loved this book. So good to have a piece of N.Z's early history mainly from a woman's perspective. An important story.
ASHH 001
Universally enjoyed - sheer admiration and disbelief regarding what Marianne Williams achieved. Several comments made regarding the value of BDS facilitating us reading books of value we wouldn't normally come across!
NEWP 003
The group found the portrayal of life fascinating. There was a general consensus that we didn't feel we got 'inside' Marianne's thoughts and feelings. There was also a general consensus that the book could have been better edited. We were fascinated by how close Marianne and her family were to the carrying out of the signing ( and translating) of the Treaty of Waitangi. Most people finished the book!
We all found this book a most interesting and worthwhile read. Portraying early life in New Zealand as lived day by day. The early missionaries had extraordinary faith.
A hard read because of the language, but an interesting read and caused a lot of discussion.
This book gave us a very interesting understanding of the early history of NZ, and the amazing strength of those women.