News Story

'Dream Big, Pray Hard, and Remember Life is not a Rehearsal'

Senior New Zealand Politician Speaks to Latter-day Saint Young Adults

Leader of the Opposition in New Zealand’s Parliament, Mr David Cunliffe, spoke to young members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently in a devotional meeting at the faith’s Robertson Road, Mangere meetinghouse.

Mr Cunliffe shared experiences and insights from his childhood, youth and career on the themes of choice and accountability, developing talents, and making a positive difference in our communities and nation.

He spoke about the importance of staying focused on personal goals regardless of our circumstances.  He said, “If we are clear about our goals, we can reach them, one step at a time.”  He shared his own personal story and some of the choices he made along the way that led him to a life in politics. 

The son of an Anglican minister, Mr Cunliffe said he grew up with many of the same values shared by Latter-day Saints, such as the need to love and care for each other, and the importance of working together.  He said he felt strongly that we are created equal and are all precious in the sight of God. 

While he and his wife were caring for a small baby born into a family situation marred by addiction and violence, Mr Cunliffe said, “It became clear that life is not fair, some have so little, and some have so much.”  He said we need to apply Christianity to ensure each child gets the best possible start in life.

As he worked in various jobs in his early years he realized he “had to make opportunities happen. They did not fall in one’s lap.” 

As a teenager he earned a scholarship to the United World College of the Atlantic in Wales.  He studied politics at Otago University and economics at Massey University.  After working several years as a diplomat, he received a PhD scholarship to study economics at Harvard University. 

Encouraging the young adults present at the devotional last night to set goals and work hard, Mr Cunliffe said, “Don’t let your life be one of ‘What ifs.’”

Mr Cunliffe was accompanied by Members of Parliament Su’a William Sio, Jacinda Ardern, Louisa Wall and Carol Beaumont.  Others guests included Jenny Salesa, Lydia Sosene and Jerome Mika.

Elder Paul R. Coward, Area Seventy in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, hosted Mr Cunliffe and his fellow guests.

In closing remarks, Elder Coward thanked Mr Cunliffe for his address. To emphasize the values highlighted by Mr Cunliffe in his address, Elder Coward recited three of the Latter-day Saints’ Articles of Faith.  These articles outline some of the basic beliefs held by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Likening religion in society to salt, Elder Coward said, “The salt of religion seasons the interactions between strangers and preserves common interests.”

“People of faith make their towns and neighbourhoods better places to live.  Living in and enjoying society is a two-way street.  Living the ‘golden rule’ is the moral basis of civility.”

Elder Coward added, “We must live and actively be involved in our religion so as not to lose the savour of the ‘salt.’”  He encouraged those in attendance “to be the spiritual seasoning in our societies, to preserve what is right, stand for truth, obey all of God’s commandments, and be a witness at all times for our Saviour Jesus Christ.”

Elder Coward presented Mr Cunliffe with a framed copy of The Family: A Proclamation to the World.  The document outlines the Church’s beliefs on marriage and family. It includes an invitation to government officials and others to fortify families. 

“We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”

Church leaders sometimes invite community leaders to attend devotional and other meetings, to share insights on topics such as faith, strengthening families, community service and education.

In a statement on political neutrality on Mormon Newsroom, it states: “The Church’s mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, not to elect politicians. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is neutral in matters of party politics. This applies in all of the many nations in which it is established.”













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