In 1835, the Church Missionary Society to open a southern mission to cater for the large numbers of…

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In 1835, the Church Missionary Society to open a southern mission to cater for the large numbers of natives in the Hauraki area. A site up the Thames River was chosen and three rush houses erected by the Maoris to await the arrival of their missionaries:William Fairburn, James Preece and John Wilson. Whilst it was convenient for access to the Waikato and surrounding lands, the site was ill chosen, as being so close to the river, it was so damp. The families suffered many bouts of ‘marsh miasma”, as they described the many fevers that struck them down. William’s work as a missionary catechist took him far from home for weeks at a time, journeying as far afield as Maketu in the Bay of Plenty, Tauranga, Rotorua, Matamata and to the Coromandel. Travelling on horseback, but far more often on foot and he sometimes had to traverse swamps waist deep in water. Sleeping in damp tents and wet clothes took its toll. He began to complain of bouts of fever and pain.

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