Dear Family & Friends: We are having so many new and exciting adventures to tell you about. We get up around 5:45am and go as fast as we can until bedtime, learning our new responsibilities and having a peek at this BEAUTIFUL country. We hope in this blog we can express how blessed we are to testify of Jesus Christ and serve Him in this amazing corner of the world! HAERE MAI* to our blog, we're glad you are visiting us!.....(*This means 'WELCOME' in the Maori language)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key


I have been so blessed on this mission, and a prayer has certainly been answered.  Years ago I met a retired photographer who was on a 'photography mission'.  There really wasn't such a thing, but when he made his wishes known to a church authority, doors were opened and for over 8 years he has been able to use his photography skills to document important events, building and remodeling projects and other milestones of church growth.  I thought at that time, wouldn't it be great to do that.  And now years later, not only am I doing exactly that as part of my missionary experiences, but I'm doing it in the beautiful Pacific Islands.   Before coming, I debated as to whether to bring all my camera equipment, and I'm so glad I did!  I am taking photos, both for assignment and pleasure, every week.

This past week has been amazing.  Early in the week we were in Christchurch where I was able to photograph Mayor Bob Parker at the kick-off ceremony of a project where FamilySearch is partnering with Archives NZ to digitize all probate records so they will be safe from earthquakes and all other disasters.  (See story several posts ago.) 

And then Sunday night, the Prime Minister of New Zealand spoke at a special youth fireside with about 2000 in attendance.  I was the official photographer.  (No pressure there!)  Below is the first of several articles which will appear on the website, with newspaper articles coming later.  (Following the article are a few of the photos I took that evening.) 


Rt Hon John Key and Elder James J. Hamula meet young members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Auckland last night

AUCKLAND, New Zealand —In a special gathering for young members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last night, Rt Hon John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand, stressed the importance of having a positive attitude. He told the nearly 2,000 who were in attendance, that the single most important factor in determining a successful life is not ability, rather it is attitude and determination.
He went on to emphasize the importance of learning, saying that "the power of education is absolutely remarkable."

Elder James J. Hamula, Pacific Area President for the Church, echoed this counsel, and then told the youth that missionary service, education and marriage in the temple are "three pillars to a great life."

Elder F. Michael Watson, of the Pacific Area Presidency, told the youth to be the best they can be, and to "make the sacrifice, do the service, and the Lord will bless you."

Prior to the meeting, the Prime Minister and other special guests met and visited individually with a small group of youth from across Auckland.

He told the teens that despite what some may say, the overwhelming majority of New Zealand's youth are "doing great."

The meeting was held in the Latter-day Saints' Pah Rd. chapel in the Auckland suburb of Mt. Roskill.

There are over 100,000 Latter-day Saints in New Zealand, part of a worldwide membership of over 14 million.

 At the appointed time, the Prime Minister arrived with his security people and attending police to the back entrance of the chapel where he was greeted by members of the Area Presidency and Area Seventy.

He was ushered into the RS room where a small reception took place.  He met and visited with about 20 pre selected outstanding youth from the Auckland area.  He took time to shake their hands and visit briefly with each one.

Here is a group photo of the The Right Honourable John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand, surrounded by youth from the Auckland area as well as Church Priesthood leaders.

Here he is posing with Elder Hamula, President of the Pacific Area, counselor Elder Watson, and area Seventy, Elder Roberts.

He was presented with an extensive Family History album......

....and a framed Family Tree.

He graciously accepted and jokingly said he "hoped we didn't find any convicts in there", and if we did, he apologized.

Listening to a youth speaker in the general meeting attended by around 2000 youth and guests.

After joking about the rugby games since this was held during the Rugby World Cup, he told the youth that the single determining factor as to whether they will be successful in life which is more important than ability, is attitude and determination.  He also urged them to get as much education as possible, and that education is critical. 

Several youth choirs sang impressively.

A quick wave goodbye as he was whisked out the side door.

 Our Public Affairs people did a wonderful job preparing and executing this event which came off 'without a hitch'.   I came home that night and breathed a sigh of relief as I downloaded my photos and confirmed that I got some decent shots and didn't do something stupid, like forgetting to put a media card in my camera! I stayed up until 1:30 am editing and uploading (I narrowed it down to 61 out of several hundred shots), so they would be available for viewing the next day, at which time I received emails from both Elder Hamula and Elder Watson thanking me for the great job!  It has certainly been a week to remember!   


  1. Congrats for doing the photography. Great pics and story.

  2. I"m so glad that your mission includes doing those things that are dearest and nearest to your heart. Your talents seem so natural but I'm sure they take great practice and skill. Every picture posted is just perfect.

  3. This is so neat! You get to rub shoulders with all these great people in the islands. Fabulous photos too. Very professional. Enjoy your time there!