Ko wai ahau?
Ko Maori, ko Pakeha ko Tuahine o Te Atua
By Kahurangi Stone
I come from a family of 4 brothers and one younger sister. I was raised in Japan, Nagoya and returned home to New Zealand at the age of 9 with my father a less active member of the Church along with my mother who was not a member of the church. They raised us in Papakura, South Auckland. Here, my siblings and I attended the local Primary School and Intermediate School. I have very vivid childhood memories of the church. We had very faithful and dedicated Home Teachers and Visiting teachers who were constantly at our house. I had no idea who these visitors were so used to think that my parents were so popular because of all their visitors. Now I laugh about it because we could have had President Monson visit my home for all I knew and I would have had no idea! Invites were always left in our mail box and left behind by these men and women who visited my home; invites to the “ward sports night”, “linger longers” and “youth camps”. My family being quite the sports finads were always very keen on attending the sports events.
We must have had over 100 missionaries visit us during my childhood. The “Watene” family was your typical part member, less active family missionaries would see in the area book. I would LOVE to see what our teaching record looked like. We must have been given all the lessons at least 20 times each. New missionaries coming to us every time a transferred happened.
In 2009 two elders came around (as per usual) Elder Segmilla and Elder Willoughby and later Elder Hayden – Smith. For some reason because of their persistent way but also sincere demeanor we took a liking to them. A liking enough to take the lessons all over again (surprise, surprise) only this time we stuck with them. Our family had a very intense full on schedule. Both parents worked, they also both ran a small side business seasonally during the night. They had all us kids attend school then race off to different sporting teams we were participating in. Every single night of the week we would get home after 830pm.
You know as a missionary you have a rule to be at home by 9pm unless teaching a lesson, then it is 930pm. I’m so grateful that these elders would come by our home at the late time of 845pm knowing exactly that that’s when we would be due to be home. They knew that my father is very strict on welcoming manuhiri into our home so knew that, that was their way in. They were obedient enough to come in, touch base with us, bring their spirit into our home and leave us in time to be home by curfew. After some time, Elders Segmillar and Willoughby invited us to be baptised…. August 2008 my mother, brother, sister and I were lucky enough to be baptised into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
I asked my father what it was about this time around why he allowed us to go through with the lessons and eventually be baptised. He shared how my sister, Maia Jean had asked my father when she was 11 when she would be getting baptised. A random question, considering we didn’t have much knowledge about church or covenants made. A short time after that conversation the elders came to the door, that was the wake up call for him to be active again and get his family back in line with our Father in Heaven.
In 2011 I attended Brigham Young University where I was fully immersed in the Gospel. I was able to witness, people who were from all around the world, with different backgrounds and different views yet all had the same goal in mind that was to return back to Heavenly Father again with their families. I loved it! It is here that I was fully converted and it is here that I gained a true desire to become a full time servant of the Lord and serve a full time mission.
Some of Kahu’s mates at BYUH
I did all that I could do over in Hawaii, with the support of a loving Bishop, Bishop Akina who I knew was called of God just because I knew he knew my potential. Any RM can tell you how hard the preparation is to get out on a mission. And I wasn’t any different; trials definitely came that wobbled my foundation. Obstacles got in my way (as they do everyone else) that slowed my application process and I had to do extra work to see if I could even serve a mission. All the time I kept thinking about Joseph Smith’s experiences and I knew, like Joseph Smith that I had prayed to God and he had told me specifically that I was needed and he was expecting me to serve a mission.
December 2013 I received my call to serve in Melbourne, Australia English speaking. I returned home with honour 2014 struggled through adjusting, had all the emotions of being grateful I was home but felt purposeless and finally met, fell in love and was fortunate enough to marry the man so perfect for me not even my dreams could have imagined him. We were sealed for time and eternity in March 2015.
Australia Melbourne Missionaries, Elder Maifala, Elder Afele, Sister Kahurangi and her companion Sister Williams, bless their beautiful hearts
The Bridal Party, outside Hamilton, NZ Temple
This year, I am learning to speak Maori more fluently and formally. It is another challenge for me because it’s an immersion course and thus I can’t speak as much as I usually do. Through language, songs and whakatauki I’m learning so much about my people – our history, aspirations, roles and the way our society and families are organized.
What I love about the Gospel is that it truly is good news. It is good news that our Saviour came into this world thus allowing us to see our loved ones again; it’s good news to us that we are destined with an eternal purpose; it is good news that we are Maori, Pacific Island women in these last days
It is good news that we are women with Maori, Pacific Island heritage. This heritage allows us to understand and investigate where our ancestors came from and why they chose the path they did and how it came for us to be here.
I love learning about Maori tikanga and way of life because as I learn, I come to understand more that our ancestors knew of our Saviour and knew his way. One example is how Maori believe our ancestors looked out for spirits and that they are constantly around us. As a member of His gospel this makes sense to me because we understand that the Spirit World is in fact around us. In the scriptures we are told that Jesus Christ goes and visits “other sheep” (3Nephi16:1-2) I have no doubt that our Maori and Pacific Island ancestors knew these doctrines. We know because of the Apostasy that these precious truths were changed.
Sometimes, it seems that the pathway of Maori and the pathway of the Gospel are running parallel. Then I will come across something that tells me that the pathways also intersect, and I get so excited! I have much to learn about the Gospel and Tikanga Maori. Some people say, “the more you learn, the more you need to learn,” and that is true for me. Despite my excitement when finding these truths and the connections between my Maori culture and the Gospel I know it is also important to ALWAYS remember The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is and will always be my first culture.
I know the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are fully aligned with the teachings of our Saviour. I know as we continue to search diligently about our Saviour, He will manifest himself to us. I know this to be true also with our whakapapa. I know I was destined to be a Maori women in these Latter Days and because of Heavenly Fathers perfect work I am now able to be a Maori, Latter Day Saint Women in these Last Day. What good news this is! J
Beautiful, Hearty and a Proud Maori, representing her heritage at Polynesian Cultural Center, Hawaii
Ko wai ahau? – Who am I?
Ko Maori, ko Pakeha, ko Tuahine o Te Atua – I am Maori, Pakeha, a daughter of God
Manuhiri – visitor
Whakapapa – genealogy
Whakatauki – proverbs
Tikanaga – customs
Featured Image above: The newly married Stone’s