Entrepreneurial young missionary William Puckey and Matilda Davis, the second daughter of Rev. Richard Davis were the first European couple to be married in New Zealand when they tied the knot at Waimate on 11 October 1831.
Puckey had been a great help to his artisan missionary father and showed great enthusiasm in engaging with Māori.
He had contributed significantly to translating parts of the Bible and the Common Prayer Book and everyone seemed to appreciate his sense of inventiveness and humour. In late 1834, not long after he and his new wife had settled at Kaitaia, he became the first European to travel up the Ninety Mile Beach to the northernmost tip of Cape Reinga, considered sacred to the Māori.
The historic journey was made in the company of old Chief Paerata, an early convert to Christianity. They met with several tribes and talked about the things of God late into the night with a chief at ‘Kahokawa’ at the far northern end of Ninety Mile Beach commenting, ‘it will be well for us to pay attention to these things, we can keep the Sabbath if we can do nothing else’.
Puckey can be said to have built New Zealand's first land yacht, as he apparently rigged a canvas to his dray, which he then 'sailed' back down Ninety Mile Beach after his explorations, letting the horse have an easy run home. On 14th January, 1835, the party was met at Houhora by a gathering of different tribes stirred up by a rumour that the two men had gone to Cape Reinga to damage the aka or ladder down to the sea, where they believed the spirits of the dead climbed down to depart for the mythical Hawaiiki, the ancient land of origin.
Many angry speeches were made. Someinclined toward the Christian teaching said, ‘and what of it, if the ladder is cut away; it is a thing of lies, and the spirits never went there’. On being given the response: ‘What, are you afraid of having no place of torment to go to?’ some of the old men said ‘It is very well for you to go to the Rangi (Heaven), but leave us our old road to the Reinga, and let us have something to hold on by, as we descend, or we shall break our necks over the precipice’. Various chiefs explained that it was ‘a very wicked thing to cut away their ladder to the Reinga, and nothing but right that Paerata's property should be taken as a payment’.
Paerata was given the chance to explain and took two hours to do so, expounding on his new belief in great detail, while the antagonists formed a circle and paid great attention. He hardly missed a detail of all the exchanges that had taken place along the way and shared his own ideas on why departed souls would choose Reinga, concluding ‘there is another Hell which I am afraid of, the one which burns with fire and brimstone’. He satisfied them by confirming that Reinga had not been disturbed. The people were so disarmed by his speech that they dispersed in peace and no-one was able to say an angry word against him or Puckey.
 Based on Puckey’s journals some of which were co-authoured with Rev Joseph Matthews plus reports and letters to the CMS. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Gilbert_Puckey