IMPORTANT EVENTS IN NEW ZEALAND CHURCH HISTORY 1880-1919 1881 January-William Bromely arrives as Australasian Mission president, with mission headquarters in New Zealand. 1881 March-Paora Potangaroa's prophecy is given. 1881 October-Ngataki, the first Maori to join the Church in New Zealand, is baptized. 1889 March-The Book of Mormon is published in Maori. 1898 January-Australasian Mission is divided into the New Zealand Mission and the Australian Mission. 1909 January-Early Queen Street Chapel in Auckland is dedicated. 1911 November-Construction of the Maori Agricultural College (MAC) begins under the direction of President George Bowles. 1913 April-MAC is dedicated. 1919-Elder Matthew Cowley retranslates the Book of Mormon. NEW ZEALAND IN THE AUSTRALASIAN MISSION In the early days, missionary work was sporadic in New Zealand. Due to slow communications, ecclesiastical oversight was practically nonexistent. Under these conditions, the few missionaries there were in New Zealand labored to spread the gospel. Initially, the work in New Zealand was under the direction of the Australasian Mission, located in Sydney, Australia. In 1879, due to the absence of missionaries laboring in Australia, the Australasian Mission headquarters were moved to Auckland, New Zealand. The relocation of the Australasian Mission, Paora Potangaroa's prophecy of the coming of the true church, and the first preaching of the gospel to the Maori all happened at about the same proximate time. Since that time, missionary work in New Zealand has been continuous. In 1898, the Australasian Mission was divided into the Australia Mission and the New Zealand Mission. Ezra F. Richards, who had presided over the Australasian Mission for about a year, was called to serve as the first president of the New Zealand Mission. At this time, Church membership in New Zealand numbered about four thousand, 90 percent of whom were Maori. MAORI AGRICULTURAL COLLEGE As early as 1904, the idea was proposed of building a school for the instruction and development of young Maori church members. Several mission presidents championed the idea and, eventually, the First Presidency approved the proposal. Construction on the Maori Agricultural College (MAC) began in 1911, and the college and its five buildings were dedicated in 1913. At the time of dedication, the mission of the MAC was stated as follows: "The specific aims of the college are to teach Maoris the principles of agriculture that they may better utilize their valuable land holdings; to instruct them in the manual arts that they may build their own houses, barns, bridges, etc; to train them in the secular branches of education that they may cope successfully with their associates in the commercial and social world, and to furnish them an opportunity to possess themselves of that education that will imbue them with a better understanding of the obligations of life and a higher appreciation of its opportunities." In his book "Unto the Islands of the Sea, A History of the Latter-day Saints in the Pacific," R. Lanier Britsch makes this observation of the MAC: "The MAC's place in the history of the Church in New Zealand, important as it was, is difficult to access. On the one hand the school seems to have been a failure if numbers of graduates are considered important. On the other hand, there is evidence that the graduates of the MAC have done much to build the Church in New Zealand and have contributed to the strength of their communities." ("Unto the Islands," p. 289) (The MAC campus was devastated by a series of severe earthquakes in February 1931. Because school was not in session, there were no injuries, but the buildings were declared unsafe and the MAC never reopened.) BOOK OF MORMON TRANSLATED INTO MAORI In late 1885 or early 1886, the first attempt to translate the Book of Mormon into Maori began. The project was discontinued on 23 February 1886 because missionaries lacked knowledge of the Maori language. In March 1887, President Paxman asked the Maori priesthood whether they would support, both financially and spiritually, another attempt at translating the Book of Mormon. The response from the brethren was overwhelmingly positive. The first draft was completed on 24 November 1887, and printed copies were available for distribution a year and a half later. In 1919, a young missionary named Matthew Cowley was assigned by Mission President James N. Lambert to retranslate the Book of Mormon. Britsch says: "Elder Cowley had perfected his knowledge of the Maori language to an unusual degree. Those people who knew him while he served his first mission said he spoke like an educated native." ("Unto the Islands," p. 289) After completing the Book of Mormon retranslation, which was published in 1918, Elder Cowley translated the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price into Maori; they were published in 1919. NEXT WEEK: Part 4: 1920-54: Continued Growth, President Matthew Cowley, World War II ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ CultureGrams, a division of MSTAR.NET, sponsors GEMS Worldwide Saint messages. CultureGrams publishes concise, reliable cultural reports on more than 175 countries. For more information on CultureGrams, visit http://www.culturegrams.com. GEMS is grateful to R. Lanier Britsch for his support and contribution to this series. Brother Britsch's book, "Unto the Islands of the Sea, A History of the Latter-day Saints in the Pacific," (Deseret Book, 1986) is available on Deseret Book's electronic reference library, "GospeLink 2001." You can buy "GospeLink 2001" on-line at http://deseretbook.com/ldsworld.tcl?sku=4028853. Elder Glen L. Rudd's "Short Collection of Items of History," available through the New Zealand Missionary Society, was a helpful resource in compiling this message. If you served a mission in New Zealand, you belong to the New Zealand Missionary Society. To receive society mailings, send your contact information to P.O. Box 12841, Ogden, UT 84414. For more information, see http://www.mission.net/new-zealand/. ------------------------------------------------- Copyright 2001, Millennial Star Network. 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