Country Profile

Cook Islands

The first missionaries arrived in 1899, but failed to gain converts. Elder Osborne J.P. Widtsoe and a companion, Elder Mervin Davis, arrived in Rarotonga 23 May 1899, becoming the first Church missionaries in the Cook Islands.

During World War II, Matthew Cowley, then president of the New Zealand Mission, assigned Fritz Kruger, a New Zealand baker who owned a business at Avarua, Rarotonga, to help establish the Church on the Cook Islands. He and his family subsequently moved to Rarotonga, and their first convert was Samuel Glassie and his family.

In 1946, a couple, Elder and Sister Trevor Hamon, and later Elders Donlon DeLaMare and John L. Sorenson were sent to Avarua. By 1949, 160 Cook Islanders had joined the Church. During the next decades, the Cook Islands were transferred to several missions in an attempt to maintain better communication with the remote location. The islands were part of the Samoan Mission (1954), New Zealand North Mission (1966), Fiji Mission (1971), and the Tahiti Papeete Mission (1975). The Islands are now part of the New Zealand Auckland Mission.

President David O. McKay visited in 1955. A Rarotonga Mission was created 20 November 1960, but later became part of the New Zealand Mission. In the early 1960s, the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ was translated into Cook Island Maori. In 1979, there were 718 members in 10 branches (small congregations) in the Cook Islands. President Spencer W. Kimball visited Rarotonga in February 1981 during a trip to the South Pacific and held a short service with members there in an airport hangar.

In 1990, the government issued a series of stamps featuring the first missionaries to the Cook Islands of various denominations. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stamp featured a painting of Elder Widtsoe in the foreground and a drawing of a Church building in the background. On 4-7 September 1996, Church members celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Church in the Cook Islands. During the four-day celebration, members participated in dances, exhibits, sporting events, district conference, and other gatherings.

For Journalist Use Only

Richard Hunter
New Zealand
Phone:  64(9)488-5572
Mobile: 64-21-240-7804


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