News Release

New Zealand Latter-day Saints Join Waitangi Day Commemorations

New Zealand Governor-General, Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae and his wife, Lady Janine Mateparae, led Waitangi Day commemorations at Government House, Wellington on Friday 6 February.

The Governor-General and Lady Janine hosted a citizenship ceremony at Government House followed by the annual Bledisloe Garden Reception. 

Governor-General Mateparae is the personal representative of New Zealand's Head of State, Queen Elizabeth II of New Zealand.

The Bledisloe Garden Reception was attended by a wide range of community and government guests, including members of the diplomatic corps and faith leaders. This year members of the public were invited to place their names into a ballot to attend the reception. 

Elder S. Gifford Nielsen, a member of the Pacific Area Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with other Latter-day Saint representatives, Elder David Thomson, President Peter Thomson and Sister Karen Thomson were among the invited guests.

During his Waitangi Day address, the Governor-General welcomed new citizens and acknowledged the vibrant mix of peoples of many cultures who call New Zealand their home. 

He called for people to “reflect on the responsibilities and obligations of citizenship – in addition to the rights and privileges we enjoy.”

Waitangi Day is an annual public holiday that commemorates the signing of New Zealand’s founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi.  2015 marks the 175th anniversary of this event.

Elder S. Gifford Nielsen said he was honoured to represent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with his companions, at the Garden Reception.

“We are grateful for the Governor-General and Lady Janine, for their gracious and principled leadership,” he said. “New Zealand is a beautiful land and its people have a rich heritage. Latter-day Saints who call New Zealand home are grateful for the blessings, freedoms and opportunities afforded us in this special country. We hope to add to the building of the nation through our contributions in our homes, congregations and communities. As followers of Jesus Christ we strive to be good citizens and neighbours, working with our friends in other faiths to relieve suffering of the poor and the needy, and to strengthen families and communities.”

In other parts of New Zealand, Latter-day Saints participated in other events to commemorate Waitangi Day. Youth from an Auckland Mormon congregation were among those who celebrated Waitangi Day. They held a commemorative service at Hamilton’s Camp Tuhikaramea, a new recreational facility opened by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last month.

Elder Nielsen continued: “As we commemorate the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi this year, Latter-day Saint New Zealanders, as well as Church members in Australia and the islands of the South Pacific are also celebrating the 175th anniversary of the arrival of the first Mormon missionary to this part of the world.”

17-year-old Englishman and Latter-day Saint missionary, William Barratt, arrived in Adelaide, Australia on 16 November 1840.





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