Remembering William Yate

The Rev William Yate

The Rev William Yate


Lunchtime treat Tuesday; I got a quick walk on the beach – the benefits of oversight of the Ministry Team in Bream Bay. I walked up a sandhill and that had me reflecting on General Synod ahead – slightly daunting and it is certain that there will be some steps when we just seem to go nowhere and slip backwards instead. I found myself praying for our Archbishops – Philip, Winston, Brown and our General Secretary, who will try and assist them. It will be a heck of a prospect for them at this stage – presiding over some long and (perhaps) difficult discussion. I am also thinking about The Reverend William Yate.


Tomorrow the Pakeha Bishops will gather at the historic Te Waimate Mission Station to spend some time in prayer and a bit of conversation before the General Synod really begins. The Mission Station was founded by The Reverend Yate. He had the vision for the Mission, negotiated the purchase of the land, built the famous Mission House, and was summarily removed from ministry because he was homosexual. His belongings were burned and his horse shot and he was sent back to England.


In the 1830’s the idea of a homosexual Christian was truly scandalous but the response to Yate was violent and vindictive – frighteningly so. While we have changed our attitude somewhat today, GLBT clergy that I speak with are worried about how the church will treat them and what place there will be for them at the close of General Synod. I ask for your prayers for all of us at General Synod/ Te Hinota Whanui and especially for those with most at stake.



  1. Jim,

    Thank you for your heartfelt reflection.

    You and all clergy and congregations have all our love and prayers at General Synod; especially those with the most at stake.

    In Christ,


  2. Was Yate was sent home on the basis of an idea that he was homosexual or on account of actually having sexual relationships with people under his pastoral oversight?

    1. Rhys,
      Good question. Thank you. I am sorry i have been away from the internet for a few days.
      You are more of an historian than I am, so you would know that we can’t really know the answer to it. Judith Binney judges that the accusations against Yate came from enough credible sources that he had had sexual relationships with some Maori. However, Yate himself always protested his innocence in the matter – even until his death and he was never given a trial, which he wanted. It is also true that at least some Maori were surprised by the vehemence of the reaction of Marsden et al. So, it is hard to judge give an answer to your question in that respect.
      It is also hard to answer the question in the sense that at that time, would the question you asked have made any sense? In other words, in 1830’s Missionary world, would they have made such a distinction? You might know the answer to this and can cite evidence for it??

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