News Story

Temple View Prepares to Shine

For 28 years lights have been part of the Christmas tradition in the Hamilton, New Zealand suburb of Temple View.  

Early in 1985, Elder Glen Rudd, who was then serving as the president of the Hamilton New Zealand Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, wrote home to his son in Salt Lake City, Utah to ask friends, family and neighbours if they would be willing to donate their Christmas lights so they could be sent to New Zealand.

His son, Charles Rudd, now serving as the president of the New Zealand Hamilton Mission of the Church, collected and sent about 10,000 lights to his father to be used for the first temple grounds lighting in 1985.

Arthur Bedford was given the assignment to organize, design and then string the lights in the bushes and trees.  Signs and posters were painted by volunteers at the Visitors’ Centre featuring the Nativity story from the book of Luke.

In the early years incandescent lights were used, but they were unreliable and expensive to run.  Now LED lights are used, that give greater light, are relatively trouble free and run on significantly less power.   This year the light display will include approximately 200,000 lights.

Preparing for the temple grounds Christmas lights display begins in July.  Unpacking, testing lights, ordering new lights, and testing the permanent power boxes located throughout the grounds and trimming bushes, are all necessary tasks before placing any lights in the trees and bushes.  The lower fronds of the palm trees that line the road in front of the temple need to be trimmed, removing the old fronds so that there will be no gaps created when the lights are placed in the trees.

Temple engineers and gardeners work together to find spare time during their day to place lights in trees and bushes.   Volunteers from the area also help with the project. This year, along with the regular crew, full-time missionaries are helping with the decorating.   

Missionaries, Sister Holmes and Sister Au Quin, both agree the greatest challenge is dealing with the spiders in the bushes.

But notwithstanding the creatures they meet, they both feel “grateful to be part of this tradition, it brings people together, especially families.  We are grateful to add to the rich history of Temple View.”

Over 500 volunteers from local Mormon congregations are trained and organized to serve as security supervisors, safety officials, first aid assistants, traffic management, parking attendants,  and  set up and clean-up crews.

Records kept by Elder Glen Rudd indicate that there were 5,000 visitors the first year.   His records show that the number of visitors more than doubled each year for the next two years.  Today there are approximately 150,000 visitors that come and enjoy the lights each Christmas season.

The work continues for many weeks after the lights are turned off.  Lights are carefully removed, tested again, wound, wrapped or folded, and placed in labelled boxes for use next year.  

President Charles Rudd said, “It is thrilling to have been a part of the beginning of ‘Lights’ and to now have first-hand experience in fulfilling my father’s dream.”

Lights are turned on nightly from the 13th to 31st of December from 7:30pm to midnight.

The display takes place on the grounds of the Latter-day Saint temple at 509 Tuhikaramea Road, Temple View, Hamilton.  All are welcome.

Similar lighting displays take place in Salt Lake City and Sydney each Christmas season.

Read about Latter-day Saints’ beliefs regarding Jesus Christ.


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