George Clarke jnr

1823-06-29, Parramata, Sydney to 1913-03-10, Hobart, Tasmania

George Clarke Jnr. was born at Parramata during his parent's short stay there, whilst awaiting passage to N.Z., arriving in Kerikeri in 1824.

In 1830, Mr. Yate had to go to Sydney, about carrying some translations through the press, and kindly took me with him.' (Quoted from his booklet 'Early life in N.Z.') At that time hundreds of black fellows could be seen in the streets of Sydney, and one could see at a glance that they were a lower race than the Māoris by many degrees. I was a little over six and stayed with Mr. Marsden and Mr. Hassall for six months, having a very good time of it, and then returned home.

In 1832 Mr Yate again took me to Sydney and after a short stay there I was sent on to Hobart by a wretched little schooner called the 'Admiral Gifford.' It was a long and tedious voyage. We were half starved and when I landed, on a Sunday in January 1833, I came to the house in Patrick St., now occupied by Mr Charles Watch, miserably weak and ill after the voyage. Where he lived with Henry Hopkins, a Congregationalist and a Merchant, and attended Robt. Giblin's Academy at Newtown. (Later to become 'Summerhome')

Just a word of explanation as to how this came about. My dear mother, and my wife's dear mother, were closer friend's than most sisters are. Mrs Hopkins could not bear the thought of her friend's child being brought up through all his boyhood with no better surroundings than those of early missionary life in NZ, and she affectionately pressed upon my mother the duty of sending me away. She promised, and most sacredly kept her promise, that she would be a mother to me if I could only come for three or four years and be educated with her own children, and thus, through her importunity, I got my first introduction to Tasmania.'

George Jnr. left Hobart on 4 August 1836, after attending school in Van Diemen's Land, returning to Waimate North in early 1837, now nearly 14 years old. George junior received a Classical education from William Williams at Waimate and Turanga (Gisborne), and was fluent in Māori. He continued his studies of Greek and Latin classics encouraged by his tutor, Mr. William Williams, later Bishop of Waiapu. He accompanied Mr Williams to Poverty Bay in 1839, also visiting Waiapu, while travelling among the Māori Tribes learned much of the language, customs and law. He was still at Turanga, when the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840. He was 17. In 1840 his father was appointed chief protector of the Māoris. Returning to the Bay of Islands he joined the native departments at the Civil Service as Probation Clerk Jan 41. He became clerk to his father (Protector to the Protectorate). May 1842: Subprotector at Wellington, then Protector, Wellington District November 1842, despite father's protestations that he was too young. He became a clear and careful interpreter and was chosen before many older men as the interpreter in the trial Maketu for the murder of Europeans in Feb 1842.




George Clarke Jnr. Then a young man recognized as a able interpreter, gave interesting sidelights in his account of the same event:

'In November, 1841, news came of an atrocious murder committed by a young Chief in one of the islets of Kororareka, in the Bay of Islands. The name of the murderer was Maketu and his victims were a Mrs Robertson, her children, and a little half cast in the house. The plea which Maketu made in excuse for his atrocity was that the woman cheated him, swore at him, and exasperated him with treat and insults. Even so, it was a barbarous and terrible revenge .

There was a madness in Maketu's family of a homicidal character. His brother and sister were both deranged, and an aunt strangled herself in a paroxysm of range, and his father Ruhe, was subject to fits of frenzy, that made it dangerous for his best friends to go near him. Ruhe for instance, had always a great reverence for my mother, and, in ordinary circumstances, would do almost anything she would tell him. But one day he burst into the room where she was with a loaded pistol, and with impulse he could not repress, he determined to shoot her, but with the pistol at full cock pointed across the table to her breast, my brave little mother did not flinch (I don't think she ever screamed in her life,) but with a few low and quiet words she said: 'Ruhe, put down that ugly thing. I am only a woman (he wahine au). God is looking at you, and you must put it away.' Twice he presented the weapon and dropped it at her calm and steadfast look, and then he withdrew. When the fit of madness was over, he was full of remorse. He was Chief of a village about three miles from the house, and ever after when my mother passed his place, he was eager to ask her to his house and to show her every kind of attention and respect that he could think of; putting all he had at her disposal, and a hint the was delighted to serve her.

No doubt there was the same mad strain in Ruhe's son, though I do not mean to represent it as bad enough to make Maketu irresponsible for the dreadful crime he committed. Maketu made no secret of the murder when he did it and question of arresting him was a very serious matter to a Government hardly yet established and with no soldiers to support its authority or enforce its law. 'It was Maketu's father who came forward and gave him up. A meeting of chiefs was called at Paihia, and Waka, Nene, Heke, Tawhai, Patuone, and Pomare, all leading Chiefs of the Ngapuhi tribe, discussed the situation. Heke was furious at the surrender: he would not in the least have minded the Māoris shooting the murderer, but to give over the who of the adjudication to the British Government, was, he thought, to give up his independence. But the others insisted that the youth man should be tried according to the law that by the treaty they had accepted, and sent a letter to Hobson, expressing their loyalty to the Queen and their confidence in British justice.

The trial was fixed for February 1842, and it was the first Criminal Sitting of the Supreme Court in New Zealand under Chief Justice Martin, who had recently arrived from England. I do not know why, but out of some dozen capable men at hand, the Government chose me, though the youngest of them all, to act as Interpreter, on this most critical occasion. It was for the Government itself a question of Life and death. The greatest care was necessary to make everything clear to the Māoris, and it was an anxious task to make them understand the meaning of our antique forms of law.

There were many natives in court, who of course had never seen our way of procedure; they listened with intense interest, as in the presence of Māori scholars who could have corrected any mistake, though they never once had occasion to do so. I explained the principle that the law assumed the man to be innocent until he was proved guilty. I told them, under the Judge's direction, the functions of the Jury and of the counsel on either side, and made them understand what was meant by the technical plea of 'not guilty.' and such forms of oath as 'you shall truly try,' or ' the evidence you shall give, shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth'.
The contrast was so great between the deliberation of the trial and the passionate way in which the Māoris were accustomed to settle matters among themselves, that they were struck with admiration and awe at the formality and patience of the proceedings, and, anxious as the crisis was, it was a new revelation of our ways, and went far to inspire them with confidence in the desire, at least, of the Supreme Court to be scrupulously just in administration of the law, already confessed, and greatly impressed with the personal demeanor of the Judge and solemnity which I tried to put into the rendering of his words. Maketu was hanged and his body buried in precincts of the goal. It would be never have done to give it to his friends just then, though a year or two afterwards the remains were handed over.'

From June to December 1844 George Jnr accompanied the New Zealand Company surveying party to Otago as Māori advocate, and prepared the deed, which conveyed the land for the future settlement of Dunedin. In 1845 he acted, and took part in negotiation between the government and the friendly chiefs during the Hone Heke war; later in the war he was Governor Grey's interpreter. He was later simply called 'Māori Advocate' and also protector of the natives throughout the territory claimed by the NZ Land Company, the young man became the victim of constant public vilification. Nevertheless, he probably achieved as much as anybody else could have in the position.

Despite prospects of a rewarding career in the civil service, Clarke resigned in 1846 to realise a long-held ambition to join the ministry. Although qualified for his position he was not happy in it. His activities on behalf of the Māori, earned him the intense dislike of the New Zealand Co. and in many was clashed with Governor Grey; like his father, he was suspected by non-missionary groups. Further reading of his booklet reveals the influence he was able to exert until the combination of the strain on his health and disillusionment with the policies being pursued by the Governor led him to resign. His brother Henry succeeded to his post and became a trusted judge. Sailed for Auckland September 1846 to Australia, went to Hobart to live with Mr Hopkins.

George jnr. Sailed to England 1847 on the ship 'Wellington' and entered Highbury College. In 1851 he was ordained at the Union chapel, Islington and returned to Hobart to become minister of the Congregational Chapel near Collins Street and then to the new Church in Davey Street, which was built in 1856, and continued there for 52 years.

On 16 January 1853 married Martha Hopkins, born at Hobart 30 Jan 1883 (being the daughter of a great friend of Martha Blomfield Clarke, and Mr. Henry Hopkins Congregational merchant of Tasmania).

Not so adventurously employed in later years he nevertheless played an important role in Hobart society, particularly through his moral and intellectual influence on young people, many of them teachers in his well- attended Sunday schools. Though absent-minded in personal habits, he was able and practical in public affairs, most notably in education. He was one of the most persuasive spokesmen for secular public education in the early 1870s, writing mainly for the Tasmanian Independent, but also publishing letters in the Mercury.

He lived at 'Summerhome' 2 Hopkins Street Moonah, and Lottah which he called the country holiday home. Family members still continue to live in these homes. Summerhome had previously been the Giblin's Academy.

In 1878 he joined the Tasmanian Council of Education and was its president and chief examiner in 1880-81. He helped in the establishment of the University of Tasmania and when the university was instituted in 1890 he became its first vice-chancellor, and was chancellor from 1898 to 1907. He was a long time member of the Royal Society of Tasmania and a promoter of the Hobart Debating and Literary Association. Over a dozen sermons and addresses were published in Hobart between 1854 and 1899. His other works included a pamphlet, Objections to the Policy of Perpetuating State Aid to Religion (1867), a biographical preface to J.B. Walker's Early Tasmania (1902) and his personal reminiscences, Notes on Early Life in New Zealand (1903).

Of their eight children, two sons and four daughters survived them. A liberal church man, out standing in Tasmania, he was loved and respected for his common sense and patriarchal wisdom, as wall as for his dedicated services to public education which he believed came under his pastoral care. They had eight children, Alice, Sarah, Henry, Martha, Grace, George, Amy and Arthur. George Jnr. died at Hobart, Tasmania on the 10th March 1913.

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