News Story

New Zealand Couple Looks Back on 50 Years of Service

For New Zealand couple Hori Taylor Tarawhiti and Cairo Tarawhiti, faith in Jesus Christ is best demonstrated in the way you treat others and the legacy you leave behind.  They have been practicing that approach all of their lives.

The couple, who oversee the New Zealand Missionary Training Centre for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Auckland, recently shared some of their memories of experiences they have had at school, raising their family, in the work-place, and serving in the Church.

President and Sister Tarawhiti met as teenagers at Church College of New Zealand in the first class after the school opened. 

“At college he would sing continually and disturb me and others,” Sister Tarawhiti remembers fondly. “I would throw papers and other objects at him during class. After graduating from Church College, we were married.”

With two young children the couple accepted the call from Latter-day Saint leaders to serve as labour missionaries.  For several years they built chapels and other church buildings in Wellington and Temple View.

“For two and a half years we lived in a small flat and made $1.00 a week,” President Tarawhiti recalls. “The members in the wards [Latter-day Saint congregations] donated clothing and food to all of the labour missionaries.”

After their labour missionary service, they served as dormitory parents at Church College.  “I am a builder by trade but now I feel like a social worker looking after young boys.”  

President Tarawhiti has enjoyed many years of employment as a builder, workshop technology teacher, full-time seminary [religious education for youth] teacher, institute [religious education for young adults] director, house person of student housing, and vice-principal at Church College of New Zealand.

In their current roles, each day they oversee the teaching of young people who are about to begin missionary service in various parts of the South Pacific. Classes at the MTC focus on the gospel of Jesus Christ and how to help others understand and apply the teachings of Christ. 

“The average number of missionaries staying at the MTC is 53,” President Tarawhiti says. “During their 12 days stay, we hope they learn to know and feel the Spirit of God. Those learning foreign languages spend six weeks with us.”

The Tarawhitis’ day starts at 5:00 a.m. with scripture study.  Breakfast is at 7:00 with the missionaries, and classes begin at 9:00 a.m. and run until 9:00 p.m.  The missionaries have breaks for exercise, lunch and dinner.

Prior to this assignment, the couple presided over the Church’s mission in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.  They also served in the Church’s Papua New Guinea Service Centre, and as Seminary and Institute co-ordinators for a total of seven years volunteer service in Papua New Guinea.

The Tarawhitis have five children, 13 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Sister Tarawhiti is one of 16 children.  President Tarawhiti is one of seven children.  They are both of Maori descent. 

“We both love sport,” Sister Tarawhiti says.  “I love hockey and President Tarawhiti loves rugby.”

“As a young man playing rugby,” President Tarawhiti says, “I refused to play on the Sabbath and was still acknowledged as one of the team’s most valuable players.”

President Tarawhiti was born in Ngaruawahia, Waikato, and Sister Tarawhiti was born in Gisborne.


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