Mormon temple reopens in Hamilton

By Herewini Waikato

The Mormon Temple in Hamilton has been reopened after three years of rebuilding and repairs in between Covid lockdowns.

And today, many of the faith’s 116,000 Aotearoa followers made their way back to Hamilton to the temple, which opened so the public could take a look inside for the first time.

Rawiri Thompson, a leader, life member and one of the many kaumātua of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who is part of the church in Rāhui Pōkeka has come to be part of this historic day

“Yes, my heart is very excited because our House of God has been reopened, not just for our members but for all people. This is a historic day for Māori because we make up 47% of the 116,000 followers,” he said.

The Ratana Hāhi (Ratana Church) took the opportunity to visit the temple, standing on its hill in the Tuikaramea region of Hamilton.

Ratana visitors

Kereama Pene, the leader of the Hāhi Ratana in Tāmaki Makaurau said he was thankful to be able to bring his congregation and leaders in the Ratana Hāhi to the temple, to connect with the Mormon whānau, share in their love for God and to tour the temple.

“The sacred throne in this house was amazing and beautiful. A real sense of the spirit. And those who built it, wow, amazing. The picture of Jesus, the sacred rooms, very strong in the spirit, this place,” he said.

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Ivy Matenga was excited to be entering the temple  She was excited to see just how much has changed from the rebuild and overwhelmed that the powers that be allowed the public to enter inside the sacred house of God,

“I feel excited and ready to go in. We have waited so long for this and it is a blessing just to be finally able to open it up and for people to come have a look,” Matenga said.

 Holding to the covenant

Another rangatahi who is part of the church, Marahia Roberts, who grew up in the Mormon faith, said she and her family had waited three years to return to the temple.

“My hope is that we continue to be Māori in this whakapono (faith) but also to hold to the covenant we made inside this temple,” Roberts said.

The Hamilton New Zealand Temple was the first temple built in the southern hemisphere and the second built in Polynesia, following the Laie Hawaii Temple (1919).

The Hamilton Temple was initially named the New Zealand Temple and is a sister building to the Bern Switzerland Temple.

The church will be re-dedicated On October 16.