News Story

Beloved Mormon Leader, Elder Glen L. Rudd, Returns to New Zealand

Wearing a feather Korowai (traditional Maori cloak), Elder Glen L. Rudd arrived at a Powhiri held in his honour at the Latter-day Saints’ Temple View Chapel in Hamilton on Saturday [8 February].  A large group of people waited anxiously to greet him.  In the welcoming speeches he was called Elder Rudd, President Rudd and Tumuaki, a title of honour reserved for dignitaries. 

A Maori performing group of 25 sang songs of welcome as he entered the building.  Members of the group were largely children or grandchildren of people who had personally interacted with Elder Rudd during the many times he had visited the country on previous assignments and missions.  Elder Rudd smiled and sang along with the Maori performing group, and many in his party shed tears during the performance.  

Elder Rudd first came to New Zealand in 1938 as a young missionary.  Later he was an advisor on the Labour Missionary Project that built the Hamilton New Zealand Temple and Church College of New Zealand. 

He returned to New Zealand as a mission president, a temple president, and was the Pacific Area President for the Church. 

Elder Rudd and his family were welcomed to New Zealand by Elder James J. Hamula on behalf of the Church's Pacific Area Presidency.

Accompanying Elder Rudd at the Powhiri and devotional meetings was his son, Charles, and Charles’ wife Annette.  Charles Rudd is the president of the Church’s Hamilton, New Zealand Mission.  Elder Rudd’s daughter Susan Taylor and her husband Michael were also present.  They are currently serving as missionaries in Taranaki.  

Son, Lee Rudd, who served a mission from 1962-1964 in the New Zealand South Mission, made the return trip with his father.  Lee had not visited New Zealand since he returned to the United States after his mission so this was a special trip for him.  And son David Rudd and wife Aimee also accompanied Elder Rudd.

At the Powhiri, Elder Rudd said he had learned to love this country over 75 years ago.  He said over the many years he has served here he has visited almost every town from the top of this country to the bottom.  He said he rode his bicycle for countless miles and walked on roads in every part of New Zealand and that his experience with the people here had enlarged his testimony.  He told the Maori performing group that he when he looked at them he saw their fathers and their mothers.  He said he knew all of their grandparents and great grandparents and that he loved every single one of them.

The same family group attended a devotional meeting held the following evening [Sunday 10 February] in Temple View.  The chapel was full as the choir sang Kotou ka toa ra, a Maori hymn sung during the time of Elder Matthew Cowley. 

In his talk, Ralph Hamon, a longtime friend of Elder Rudd, shared how one could not talk about Elder Rudd without mentioning Matthew Cowley, and conversely, one could not talk about Matthew Cowley without mentioning Elder Glenn Rudd.

Later, Elder Rudd shared how he first met Matthew Cowley.  When Elder Rudd arrived in New Zealand as a brand new missionary President Cowley came to meet the ship.  He boarded and called out in a loud voice, “Are there any Mormons on this ship?” Elder Rudd and the other missionaries quickly made their way to the voice and made the acquaintance of their new mission president. 

Charles Rudd spoke of growing up in Salt Lake City with “large crowds of New Zealanders” showing up on their door steps, often without previous notice.  Elder Rudd’s children got used to vacating their beds for unannounced visitors and came to love New Zealand through the friendships they formed and the stories their father told them. 

Charles Rudd said his father had visited New Zealand 27 times over the years and every time he left it was like he was leaving home to come home.  Elder Glenn Rudd said this would be his last trip to New Zealand but that in the next life he would be spending his time amongst his beloved Maori people.

The following comments were made by individuals who came to the Powhiri and the devotional with Elder Rudd.

Tom Murray said that in his capacity as temple president, Elder Rudd called him and his wife on their first mission to the Hamilton New Zealand Temple in 1986 and that he wouldn’t have missed attending the meetings for the world.

Moana Benevides, one of the dancers in the Maori performing group spoke of hearing her grandparents speak of Elder Rudd with such love because he served in Korongata for quite a while.  She believed Elder Rudd had a soft spot for her Pop, Tori Reid.

Manu Elkington remembers that Elder Rudd served a mission on the East Coast when she was only six or seven.  Over the years Elder Rudd remained in close contact with her parents and her siblings.  His personal demonstration of love for her family over generations was why she wanted to come from Papakura to be in attendance.

George Elkington told the story of Elder Rudd and Elder Cowley visiting his ancestral home of D’Urville Island, south of Nelson in the South Island.  To make the journey the men had to travel part way by ship.  At a designated point in the middle of the ocean the ship stopped as small boats lit by kerosene lanterns drew beside it.  The ship’s crew let down rope ladders and held them steady as the missionaries climbed down into the waiting crafts.  George Elkington likes to remember that it was his uncles who would have manned the small boats awaiting the arrival of their church leaders.  They would have been the ones to grasp Elder Rudd and Elder Cowley’s hands to help them into their boats and then steer their precious cargo safely towards land.

Elder Rudd is one of 1.3 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have served as missionaries throughout the world since the Church was organized in 1830. In addition to his many other achievements, Elder Rudd was a leader in the Church’s welfare program for many years.


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