200 years of the JP RSS

THOMAS KENDALL – Quick facts about our first J.P.

Ric Carlyon - Thursday, August 14, 2014


                                THOMAS KENDALL – Quick facts about our first J.P.


Thomas Kendall, J.P., b. 1778 – d. 1832*

    • Born Lincolnshire, 13th December 1778, younger son of farmer Edward  and Susanna
    • He grew up in rural North Thoresby, Lincolnshire
    • Married Jane Quickfall in November 1803
    • Had a ‘religious experience’ in London in 1808 and moved his family to Marylebone
    • Accepted into the Church of England Missionary Society and sailed for Sydney in 1813
    • June 1814 - First exploratory trip aboard “Active” to set up a Mission in Bay of Islands
    • June 19 Kendall leads a church service aboard “Active”, attended by Maori leaders 
    • July returns to NSW accompanied by influential Maori chiefs Hongi Hika and Ruatara
    • Appointed first J.P. for New Zealand by NSW Governor, Macquarie, 12 November 1814

Rev. Samuel Marsden’s party arrives Bay of Islands, December 1814**

    • Arrives back in Bay of Islands mid-December 1814, with Samuel Marsden and others
    • 5 prisoners, seamen-deserters, held by Kendall in Bay of Islands and sent to Sydney in 1815 
    • 1815:  wrote “New Zealander’s First Book” published in Sydney - first Maori words in print
    • With J. L. Nicholas and Maori chiefs, in 1815, signed the sale of the first plot of land in N.Z. 
    • Started first school in Rangihoua, August, 1816
    • Made an unauthorised visit to London in 1820 with chiefs Hongi Hika and Waikato
    • Met Charles H. P. de Thierry in the UK and agreed to buy land for him in Bay of Islands   
    • Kendall is ordained a priest in England in November 1820, his licence limited to N.Z.
    • Collaborated with Professor S. Lee at Cambridge on his book about the Maori language…
    • … “A Grammar and Vocabulary of the Language of New Zealand” is published in 1820.
    • De Thierry’s fantastic plan to colonise NZ is revealed, based on land purchased by Kendall
    • July 1821 – Kendall returns to Bay of Islands 
    • He has an affair with Tungaroa, a tohunga’s daughter: his wife elopes with a convict-servant 
    • Sought favours with the natives by condoning trading land and firearms with them
    • Was gifted a tract of land by Maoris (for De Thierry?) provided Kendall would reside there
    • August 1822 he is dismissed from the Church Missionary Society, but remains in NZ
    • In August 1823 Marsden returns to NZ to personally banish Kendall…
    • ….but his wife takes him back and they continue living at Matauwhi, away from the Station 
    • In 1825 the Kendall family leaves New Zealand for missionary work in Valparaiso, Chile 
    • In 1827 the family returns to NSW where he receives a land grant at Kiama and farms 
    • Died 1832, presumed drowned when “Brisbane” foundered at Shoalhaven River, NSW 
    • 1837- De Thierry arrives in NZ bombastically styled as "Charles, by the grace of God, Sovereign Chief of New Zealand" only to find Maori are disputing the land which Kendall said he had purchased on De Thierry’s behalf***. Instead, De Theirry bought land at Hokianga, again “the start of a colony” with France’s permission. The intiative salled, and then curtailed, when British sovereignty over New Zealand followed the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

* Kendall from "The chiefs Waikato and Hongi Hika with misssionary Thomas Kendall in England" oil, by James Barry, 1820. Alexander Turnbull Library Wellington, New Zealand (ref G-618) 

 **   Artist unknown, engraving, 1913. Marsden, J. B. : Life and work of Samuel Marsden. Christchurch, Whitcombe & Tombs, 1913. Ref: PUBL-0158-76. Alexander Turnbull Library http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22412925

***   Dr John Dunmore Lang in his 4th letter to Rt Hon Lord Durham



Shipping News : “Active” sails

Ric Carlyon - Sunday, July 27, 2014

Kororareka, (Russell) Bay of Islands 25th July 1814

The brigantine “Active” sailed today for Botany Bay having been a familiar sight in Bay of Islands this past month. “Active “, Captain Dillon, is returning to Sydney-town having brought  missionaries  Thomas Kendall and William Hall to New Zealand, their task to ascertain the current native attitudes towards missionaries and settlers.

Long-time and sometimes impatient advocate of Christian missionaries here, the Reverend Samuel Marsden, commissioned both the ship and the persons as an “advance party” to make certain future European visitors won’t meet the same dreadful and unforgettable fate as the ship “Boyd”, 6 years ago sacked by the natives and its crew and passengers, most killed and some cannibalised.

Kendall returns to Marsden with favourable signs that a mission might be established. Since their arrival here both Misters Kendall and Hall have travelled throughout the Bay of Islands, and a little inland, meeting Maori chiefs. The visitors have been amicably received throughout and have persuaded a number of chiefly personages to return with them to Botany Bay aboard the “Active”, namely Ngapuhi chiefs Ruatara, Hongi Hika, Korokoro, Te Nganga, Punahou and Hongi's son Ripiro.

Their appearance in Sydney-town will almost certainly persuade Governor Macquarie to allow departures for New Zealand and to encourage Marsden to bring Christianity to these islands. This  will be greatly assisted if, as envisaged, the natives give assurances of a peaceful reception for all future missionaries and settlers.

Before departure Captain Dillon estimated the voyage across the Tasman, given favourable conditions, would take about a month.

Thomas Kendall Arrives in N.Z.

Ric Carlyon - Saturday, June 14, 2014

14th June, 1814: “Active” Arrives
200 years ago this week a small sailing ship, the Active, arrived in New Zealand on a voyage of discovery. Missionary Thomas Kendall was not to know it at the time, but his visit would pave the way for the first Christian Mission in New Zealand - and his return as New Zealand’s first Justice of the Peace.
Kendall was neither ordained nor a JP when he arrived in the Bay of Islands from Sydney aboard the 110 ton brigantine, Active.  Together with fellow missionary William Hall, Kendall had been sent by the Church of England Missionary Society as an advance reconnaissance party. They left Sydney on 14th March, called at Hobart departing there on May 23rd and anchored in Bay of Islands on June 14th.

“Boyd” Massacre Memories
The Society’s Rev. Samuel Marsden had long been impatient to set up a mission station in Bay of Islands. But memories were still raw of the Boyd tragedy at Whangaroa in 1809, when Maori massacred and cannibalised an estimated 60 passengers and crew members and destroyed the ship. Memories of the massacre lingered for years. Ships' captains had no appetite to sail to New Zealand to court a similar fate and, in any case, the Governor of New South Wales, who at the time governed New Zealand as part of his territory, discouraged all departures for New Zealand. He would not release Marsden from his position as Chaplain, thus thwarting the churchman’s vision of journeying to Bay of Islands to set up a Christian mission. Moreover, public opinion in New South Wales still demanded not the evangelization of Maoris, but their extermination. Until the Maori attitude towards Europeans could be ascertained as far as the Governor was concerned, New Zealand was off-limits.  

Advance Scouts Arrive
Kendall and Hall were the advance scouts to determine Maori feelings. They travelled on the brig Active which had been purchased by Marsden especially for the purpose. On the ship’s arrival in the Bay of Islands mid-June 1814, the visitors met up with a number of Ngapuhi chiefs, among them Ruatara. Marsden had earlier shown great kindness to this chief when he visited Sydney. This patronage was now rewarded. The two missionaries were escorted some way inland by Ruatara where they were introduced to other chiefs, all of whom said they supported the Christians’ proposition.

Church Services
On June 12 Kendall and Hall attempted to lead Sunday Service on the deck of the Active but heavy rain curtailed proceedings. The following Sunday, 19th, Kendall conducted a service aboard Active, with some of the ‘congregation’, Maori, sitting in their canoes alongside the ship, while others boarded the ship. “Two or three chiefs were also with us, and the behaviour of the natives during Divine Service was very decent and commendable. It was a new thing with them to see our way of worship and to hear of a day of rest from labour, and they seemed to enjoy the idea very much. The Union Jack was hoisted on board the Active”*
It was probably the first Christian service in the English language in New Zealand. 

Kendall and Hall were to get on well with Maori and, as Marsden had requested, Ruatara and three elders accompanied the missionaries on their return voyage to Sydney: testimony that Reverend Samuel Marsden and his assistants would be welcome in Bay of Islands. The way was clear for the first missionaries to travel to New Zealand: they could now make all preparations required of the country’s first mission and settlement.

*Kendall’s writings in Marsden's Lieutenants, Edited by John Rawson Elder, Coulls, Somerville, and Wilkie and A. H. Reed, published by the Otago University Council, 1934.

Introducing Year of the JP

Ric Carlyon - Tuesday, June 10, 2014

We are celebrating the Year of the JP because it’s 200 years since New Zealand’s first JP, Thomas Kendall, was appointed in 1814. Few, if any, other entities in New Zealand can boast 200 years’ continuous service to the community.  Something to celebrate!


On our website we’ll be part of other nation-wide activities to mark this mile-stone.  

 Right here -

  • We’ll tell you how it was Kendall came to New Zealand to test the Maori mood and
  • We’ll explain how it was he was both missionary and a JP,
  • How he was appointed in Sydney yet was warranted for New Zealand
  • We’ll tell about his other attributes, like starting New Zealand’s first school and writing the first book of Maori words.

 You’ll get to know Kendall quite well through our website –

  • His covert trip to London,
  • His adultery,
  • His second book of Maori language 
  • The question of his sale of muskets to the natives
  • His brush with a fantastic plan to colonise New Zealand.

 We’ll also tell you what other people thought about Kendall: they are not all complimentary

 We’ll review the huge range of duties JPs have undertaken since 1814

 We’ll let you in on some of the stories about what JPs got up to over 200 years: some strange, some quirky and some comical.

 And, JPs being only human, we’ll recall that a few of them found themselves in hot water over the decades. A few even lost their commission!      

 Start date?  

June 14, 2014 - 200 years to the day when Thomas Kendall arrived in Bay of Islands on his first, exploratory trip, before he was either a Reverend Gentleman or JP.   

 Check back with us often as we develop our story of Kendall and tell about our 200 years’ service to New Zealand.

Members' Login

Need Help?