Mormon and Māori

When missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints arrived in New Zealand in the 1850's, they came with a message for all.  It was one of God's love for all of His children, of restored New Testament Christianity, of revelation, and of additional scripture testifying of Jesus Christ.  

After some years of mixed success among the general population, the early Mormon missionaries began to dedicate more of their time to reaching out specifically to Māori individuals and communities.  As many Māori believed in modern-day prophecy and were open to Mormon teachings, Latter-day Saint congregations were established in several parts of the country throughout the second half of the 19th Century.  Mormon missionaries lived in Māori communities, learned the language and became intimately acquainted with Māoritanga (culture).

Even though strong connections between Mormons and Māori continued into the 20th Century, the ethnic diversification of New Zealand over recent decades and the Mormon desire to reach out to all people resulted in the Church becoming more multicultural.

Mormonism in New Zealand has been enriched in significant ways over the past century and a half by its Māori members.  Tens of thousands have unified and edified Mormon congregations with their faith, energy, dedication and many other talents and contributions.  

The Māori Agricultural College in Hastings (1912-1931), as one example, was not only an educational institution, it also brought whole families and communities together as the fledgling faith became more entrenched in New Zealand society.  A quarter of a century later, Māori Latter-day Saints helped build the Church’s temple and Church College in Temple View, Hamilton.  These labour missionaries, as they are called, with their faith forged in service and sacrifice, are stalwarts to this day.  Māori Latter-day Saint staff and students brought vibrancy, creativity and faith into the Church College of New Zealand community for over 50 years. 

Spend time in any Latter-day Saint congregation throughout New Zealand — and in some congregations in the United States, Australia and other countries — and you will see Māori Mormons leading, teaching, serving and assisting others.  The Church, its people and our broader communities continue to be lifted and blessed by Māori Mormons wherever they are found. 

The New Zealand Church History Museum in Temple View, Hamilton, provides a window into the past, knitting Māori and Mormon together through photographs, journal entries, letters and other historical treasures. This year’s 125th anniversary of the first Māori translation of The Book of Mormon (Ko Te Pukapuka a Moromona) creates another linguistic and historical bridge between early and present day Māori Latter-day Saints, and Mormons generally. 

Moving forward, Paul's epistle to the Ephesians is instructive to New Zealand Mormons of all ethnicities.  

"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22).

Mormonism in New Zealand is a rich tapestry, with many beautiful threads provided by generations of humble, faithful Māori Latter-day Saints.  In addition, Samoan, South African, Chilean, French, Filipino and dozens of other cultural threads are being woven into the Church.  Overlaying the countless positive cultural and individual contributions being made to Mormon congregations, is an overarching theme and desire to become one with God, with our fellow Latter-day Saints, and with our neighbours and friends of other faiths. 

Visit a Mormon worship service one Sunday and you will see and feel this firsthand.  











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