Stannard, George
1803-1888; e.m. 1843

WM missionary in New Zealand, born on 13 March 1803 into an Irish Methodist family living in Yorkshire. He spent his early years in Cork, where his family originated, and was converted at the age of 15. After completing his apprenticeship as a cabinet-maker and upholsterer he moved to London when he was 23, worked there for four years and became a local preacher. He and his wife left England in 1841 with a group of emigrants, to establish a settlement on the Kaipara Harbour in North Island. His wife and child left the ship at Sydney and he, with a friend, disembarked from the Sophia Pate at Thames and walked to Hokianga to consult with John Hobbs. They thus escaped the disastrous shipwreck at the entrance to to the Kaipara Harbour in which nearly all his fellow immigrants lost their lives. He then became involved in a lay capacity with the mission stations at Kaipara and Mangungu. His value was quickly recognized and by the end of 1843 he was appointed Assistant Missionary with responsibility for the Pakanae station near the entrance to the Hokianga Harbour.

After four years at Pakanae he was moved to the Native (later known as the Three Kings) Institution at Grafton, in Auckland, where he acted as assistant to the Principal, Thomas Buddle, and taught English, arithmetic and writing for a year. In 1848 it was agreed that the Wanganui/Taupo region be occupied and in October Stannard, with his wife and daughter, settled at Waitotara, remaining in that region for ten years. For some reason it was not until 1852 that his status as a full missionary was officially recognized. When William Woon at Patea retired through ill-health in 1853, Stannard's responsibilities stretched along forty miles of coastline and rugged bush country. He further pursued his interest in education through the establishment that year of a farm school at Kai Lwi, about halfway between Waiotara and Wanganui.

In 1857 he was sent south to Port Chalmers and his ministry there saw the end of twenty years of missionary work among the Maori of Otago. Population movements led to the mission's base being moved nearer the town of Dunedin, and in addition to his Maori work he had unofficial oversight of the small but growing societies of English Methodists at Port Chalmers and Dunedin. After two years he moved back to Auckland and was Principal of the Three Kings Institution until 1862. After three further years back in the mission field at Hokianga and Aotea, he retired in 1865 to Wanganui, where he died on 8 December 1888.

Stannard was described as not being 'cast in a common mould, having marked idiosyncracies, and not accustomed to hide his thoughts'. He was a well-read man, but, according to another source, was theologically disputatious. His overriding interest was in the education of Maori women and children, and he had a considerable reputation in the field of Maori etymology.

  • W. Morley, History of New Zealand Methodism (Wellington, 1900), passim
  • G.I. Laurenson, Te Hahi Weteriana: Three Half Centuries of the Methodist Maori Mission 1822-1972 (Auckland, 1972), passim
  • New Zealand Methodist, 15 December 1888; 5 January 1889