News Story

850 New Zealand Mormon Teens Attend Youth Conference

Week of Activities Help Prepare Youth for Life's Opportunities

Devotionals, games, dance etiquette and a variety show were all part of a five-day youth conference held this week for 850 energetic youth from across New Zealand.

Many of the youth, ages 14 to 17, travelled by plane, bus and automobile to attend the activity.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints conference was held from 6 to 10 January at King’s College in Auckland, New Zealand.

The youth represented 20 Latter-day Saint stakes (similar to dioceses) and 120 wards and branches (congregations), from South Auckland to the South Island.

Guest speakers at Friday morning’s [10 January 2014] devotional were Elder O. Vincent Haleck, of the Pacific Area Presidency, and his wife, Sister Peggy Haleck.

Sister Haleck taught the young people, “We are not alone here on earth.  We have families here and ancestors that care for us, who are looking over us and pulling for us to achieve.  When we stand with our families, we stand on holy ground.”  

Elder Haleck said, “This conference will soon be but a memory to you.  Take notes, write down your feelings, what you learned and want to remember.  It will prepare you for the days ahead.”

“These are the days that matter the most to you,” Elder Haleck continued,” You are preparing to be the future leaders of tomorrow.”  He then quoted a favourite thought of former president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, David O. McKay, “What ‘ere thou art, act well thy part.”

Commenting about the messages of Elder and Sister Haleck, William Te Tomo said, “You can tell they speak from their hearts because it touches mine.”

Neli Tuala added, “I have learned that families are holy places in our lives and I should show more gratitude and respect for my family.”

Paula Ball ― who is coordinating the event alongside her husband Richard ― told the youth, “You can all live a wonderful life. Just do your best each day to make the right decisions.  Make decisions beforehand so that when a difficult time comes, you will know that you have already made the decision to choose the right.”

A committee of seven including young single adults Kimberly Farthing and Alex Swain covered every detail making the conference a huge success. “Our preparations began in June,” said Paula Ball.  “We have had many months of work but today we can experience the results.” 

There were 109 young single adult leaders from stakes in Auckland and Hamilton that helped to make sure all the events ran smoothly.

One of the single adult leaders, Adelaide Tehei, said, “We are now running on zero energy, but somehow we make it happen.”

Another, Ilisapesi Uluave from Hamilton, said, “I wish I was a youth again. This is so fun.”

The success of the conference is evident by the comments of many of the youth.

“During our teaching and sharing experiences, I really felt the Spirit,” said Chance Tibble from Hamilton.

Celine Aporo, from Upper Hutt, said, “My favourite part of conference is meeting new people and making lifelong friends.”

“You really feel the spirit strong and the devotionals help strengthen my testimony,” said Grace Flood from Hamilton.

Dunedin teen, Jesse Hughes, who became a Latter-day Saint just six months ago, said, “I have had so much fun meeting such nice people who have helped me so much. This is everything I wanted to do and I have loved being here very much!”

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