Rev Thomas Buddle

Shipwrecks couldn't stop this missionary

In August, 1839, Rev Thomas Buddle married Miss Sarah Dixon, daughter of Mr. William Dixon, of Barnard Castle in County Durham, England. In September of the same year they embarked for New Zealand with several other missionaries on the schooner Triton.

After an eventful voyage of eight months they arrived at Hokianga, in May, 1840.

Buddle was first stationed at Whaingaroa (Raglan Harbour), but a few months later was dispatched to Porirua; his vessel was wrecked at Kawhia, and Buddle returned to Whaingaroa.

In December 1840 he was appointed to Waipa (West) with his station was at Te Kopua, Waipa, and his work was exclusively among the Māori.

In 1844 he moved to Auckland, where he ministered to both colonists and natives, and had under his charge a training institution for Māori students, many of whom became missionaries to their own people.

In the early 1860s Buddle's knowledge of the Maori increasingly drew him into political affairs. He edited the Te Reo Māori newspaper Te Haeata, which was published from 1859 to 1862. The newspaper was religious, but also contained some political content.

He also served as one of the Wesleyan representatives on the Māori Bible Revision Committee.

In May 1860 Thomas Buddle, Donald McLean, John Williamson, Bishop G. A. Selwyn and other missionaries attended a large King movement meeting at Ngaruawahia. Buddle's attitude to the movement was expressed in his pamphlet of that year, The Maori King movement in New Zealand. “He regarded it as an attempt to repudiate the sovereignty of the Crown, and claimed that Māori possession of large tracts of uncultivated land retarded their progress towards civilisation, fostered covetousness and indolence, and led to intertribal squabbling and wars; he added, somewhat incongruously, that the Treaty of Waitangi should nevertheless be kept in good faith.” – Te Ara

By 1864 Māori saw the Wesleyans as having supported the Land Wars, and as a result the growth of the church in Waikato had a setback.

While in Auckland Buddle held the office of general secretary to the Polynesian Missionary Society. Here he finished his public ministry and retired from active work in 1882, after forty-two years of devoted and self-denying labour in New Zealand.

He lived a short time to enjoy his rest, as he died suddenly on the 26 June, 1883.

Mr. Buddle filled the highest offices in connection with the Methodist Church in New Zealand; he was president of the first New Zealand Conference in 1874, and was also president of the Australasian General Conference in 1863.

Mrs. Buddle survived her husband only a few months. They had a family of ten children, five sons and five daughters, all of whom married and settled in New Zealand.

  • <p>The grave of Rev Thomas Buddle and his wife Sarah, 'who laboured with him for 50 years,' is right under Grafton Bridge on the Wesleyan side of the cemetery.</p>
  • <p>Thomas Buddle, headmaster of Wesley College 1845-1849, date unknown. <em>Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-2671-2.</em></p>

Aerial photo location

Where is the grave?

Directly under the Grafton Bridge on the Hobson Walk.