News Release

Australian Author Receives Award for 'Mormon and Maori'

Australian Latter-day Saint historian Marjorie Newton was awarded the Best International Book Award at the Mormon History Association conference last month for her book Mormon and Maori.

This is the second time Marjorie has won this award.  Her chronological history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in New Zealand, Tiki and Temple: The Mormon Mission in New Zealand, won the Best International Book Award two years ago. 

After her youngest child started school, Marjorie completed her high school education by correspondence and won a mature-age scholarship to the University of Sydney in 1967. She subsequently earned her BA (1976), MA Honours (1988) and PhD (1998). Both her MA and PhD theses won the Reese Award from the Mormon History Association for the best thesis or dissertation on Mormon history, making her the only historian to win the Reese Award twice.

Her MA Honours thesis was published by the Institute for Polynesian Studies at BYU Hawaii as Southern Cross Saints: The Mormons in Australia, in 1991. Her doctoral dissertation (updated) provided the subject matter for her two most recent books.  She has also published articles in scholarly journals and Church publications.

Marjorie’s interest in Latter-day Saint history in New Zealand was influenced by stories she heard as a young teenager when Church leader Matthew Cowley visited Australia. However, it didn’t occur to her to write about it until after her MA thesis was published and she was told there was a need for a more detailed account of the history of Mormonism in New Zealand.

Tiki and Temple recounts the success of Mormon missionaries proselytising among the Maori in the 1880s, leading to the dedication of the Hamilton New Zealand Temple and the opening of the Church College of New Zealand in 1958.

Mormon and Maori discusses several topics illustrating the impact of both Mormon doctrine and American culture on the Maori Latter-day Saints from the 1880s to the present day. The book deals with cultural/national accommodation, resistance, assimilation and compromise. 

She said, “In many ways, Maori culture resonated with the teachings of the Mormon missionaries, which is why so many of them accepted Mormonism in the 1880s. However, some aspects didn’t match and some American mission presidents and Maori Saints struggled with these. Mormon and Maori recognises that our national culture is such an integral part of us that it takes time and co-operation, understanding and goodwill between leaders and members to achieve a truly gospel culture.”

Marjorie is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She currently serves as family history consultant at the Hobart Family History Centre.

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