The Maori Mormon Prophecies & Apostasy

By: hawkgrrrl
January 29, 2013

I must admit, before my trip to New Zealand over the holidays I had never heard of the Mormon Maori prophecies.  I knew that there are many Polynesian church members.  I was aware that the most popular religion in the island of Molokai (the spiritual center of Hawaii) is Mormonism, and that there are many Samoan and Tongan church members.

As for the Maori, I knew that they were Pacific Islanders and that their dances and clothing bore some resemblance to other Pacific Island cultures but a little warmer due to climate.  I knew the men danced the haka and the women danced with poi balls.  I knew that they once practiced cannibalism (practice makes perfect!) and were considered fierce by early European seafarers who visited the islands.  I knew that one of their greetings (touching foreheads and sharing a breath) is similar to the Eskimos (rubbing noses).

So I was not a complete noob.  And yet, I had no idea that many Maori converted to Mormonism in the 1880s.  In the early days, 90% of the membership in New Zealand were Maori.  Even as recently as the mid-90s, 60% of church members in New Zealand were Maori.  We attended church twice when we were there; in Hamilton I would estimate 60-70% of the ward were Maori.  The Queenstown Branch had only six members in attendance, two of whom were Maori.

What are the Maori Mormon prophecies?

Maoris Greeting Performed by Maori and a Visitor, at the Mormon-Sponsored Polynesian Culture Center Premium Photographic PrintHere’s a quick primer on the Maori prophecies for my fellow novices.  Maori families are patriarchal and elder members of the extended families are often considered to be prophets.  While many Maori had converted to Christian sects as a result of European missionary efforts, some were unsatisfied with their standing in these new religious communities.

  • Potangaroa was a Maori prophet.  In March 1881, he spoke in a gathering of several thousand Maori family members.  When he was asked what the right church was for the Maori, he fasted and prayed for three days.  Then he returned and said:  “You will recognize it when it comes. Its missionaries will travel in pairs. They will come from the rising sun. They will visit with us in our homes. They will learn our language and teach us the gospel in our own tongue. When they pray they will raise their right hands.”
  • Tawhiao was a Maori king, leader of the Waikato tribes who died in 1894.  In the 1880s, a newspaper quoted Tāwhiao as claiming a belief in Mormonism: “I was some time ago converted to a belief in the Mormon faith, and I now altogether hold to it. My people in the North are believers also in Mormonism, and it is my wish that all the Maori should be of that faith.”  While it’s recorded that he met with LDS missionaries along with other Maori leaders, the church has no record of Tāwhiao being baptized.  Other Māori joined the Church based on a prophecy they claimed Tāwhiao made in the 1860s—that messengers of God would come from over the Sea of Kiwa (the Pacific Ocean), traveling in pairs and teaching the Māori people in their own language. When some who heard Tāwhiao’s prophecy observed pairs of Mormon missionaries from the US teaching in the Maori language, they immediately accepted Mormonism.  It was also claimed by some Māori converts that Tāwhiao accurately predicted the site of the Church’s Hamilton New Zealand temple, built in 1958. 
  • In 1830, a patriarch named Arama Toiroa told his extended family: “‘There will come to you a true form of worship; it will be brought from the east, even from beyond the heavens. It will be brought across the great ocean and you will hear of it coming to Poneke (Wellington) and afterwards its representatives will come to Te Mahia. They will then go northward to Waiapu but will return to Te Mahia.  When this Karakia (religion), is introduced amongst you, you will know it, for one shall stand and raise both hands to heaven.  When you see this sign, enter into that church. Many of you will join the church and afterwards one will go from amongst you the same way that the ministers came even unto the land from afar off.”  In 1884, two missionaries followed the path that Arama Toiroa had described.  According to Brother Whaanga: “In journeying northward they reached … Korongata, where many of us were assembled on the Sabbath day. Amongst the people who were there was a grandson of Arama Toiroa whose name was Te Teira Marutu. The meeting was conducted by Elder Stewart and his friends. The services were opened with singing and prayer, and a Gospel address was delivered, after which they sang again, and Brother Stewart arose to dismiss with prayer. In doing so he raised both hands and invoked God’s blessing upon the people.  As soon as the grandson of Arama Toiroa saw this he arose and declared that this was the church of which his forefather prophesied which would surely be firmly established amongst the Maori people.”

Before we get too excited about the uniqueness of these prophecies, Wikipedia also notes that Maori converts to other faiths also joined due to familial prophecies.  These faiths include the Ratana church, founded by Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana; the Ringatu church, founded by Te Kooti; and the Church of the Seven Rules of Jehovah, founded by Simon Patete.

Where Have All the Maori Gone?

Ex-Mormon discussion boards point out that many Maori have fallen away from the LDS church, although based on my own experience, there are still more Maori overall than Pakeha (white) members in New Zealand.  Apparently, many Maori converts came to believe they were descendents of Hagoth’s people in the Book of Mormon.  Is there any reason to believe the Polynesians or Maori are descendents from Hagoth or from Israel?  Gina Colvin of Patheos discusses the origin of this idea in her post “What Ever Happened to Hagoth?”:

The Mormon’s [sic] weren’t the first people to  come up with this idea of a semitic origin for Māori.  Samuel Marsden, the first CMS missionary to New Zealand was touting it back in 1814.  This idea of being ancestrally related to an oppressed class of Israelites roaming landless in the wilderness was a compelling one,  particularly when settlers began appropriating Māori land through legislative violation in the 19th century.  Māori adaptations of the Christian/biblical tradition were extraordinary and are worth studying in their own right.  But the Mormons bought their own brand of relevance to their 19th century Christian preachings.  Not to be outdone by the Anglicans, Methodists,  Ratana  and Ringatu,  the missionaries adapted the story of the Book of Mormon to give  it some compelling local relevance.  In doing so they hit on the story of Hagoth.  A 55BC ship builder who sailed off the coast of America never to be heard of again.

She concludes that the DNA, culture, and linguistics don’t point to Israel:

So I grew up feeling somewhat proud of Native American connections and studied Thor Heyerdahl  and those of his ilk religiously in my 20’s.  Yet this active pursuit of an understanding as to the ancestral origins of Māori has not over the intervening years lead me to Israel or South America at all, rather it has lead me to the Lapita culture of the Bismark Archipelago, to Melanesia, a West- East migration from Asia (including Taiwan) to  Fiji, Samoa and Tonga. And an eventual migration from Eastern Polynesia where the roots of the typically Māori material and linguistic culture began to take hold.

See full size imageLikewise, the migratory timelines are an obvious mismatch for New Zealand specifically as the Maori only populated the islands 800 years ago, about 1250 years too late for Hagoth, but just in time to conquer the people who were there before them, of whom we know little (well, our taxi driver in Rotorua claimed to know a little).  There are many Polynesian members who see themselves as descendents of the Book of Mormon people, and there are statements from prominent church leaders promoting the same claim.  These statements are taken very seriously by converts who see themselves in the stories of the church.  When science doesn’t support the claim, some leave.  On the other hand, apologists claim the science is complex.  And we also have the Malay theory of the Book of Mormon that has been discussed here, here and here.  If the Book of Mormon took place in an Asian setting, the Polynesian connection is restored (as well as resolving issues of geography, steel, horses, and elephants).

Marjorie Newton provides an in-depth look at the history of the LDS church in New Zealand in her book “Tiki and Temple: The Mormon Mission in New Zealand, 1854–1958.”  Her book points out that these prophecies were not universally accepted as referring to the Mormon faith.  She also notes that many Maori converts were unwilling to forsake their own healing traditions for the laying on of hands done by the Pakeha elders.  She also reveals that much success was owing to Hirini Whaanga, a Maori convert and immigrant to Utah in the 1890s who returned to New Zealand to preach to his native people.  Other Maori cultural practices caused new members to feel conflicted between loyalty to their heritage and their new faith, including the practice of facial tatoos:

These tattoos had hereditary meaning for the Maori and signaled their rank and status within the community. Mormon missionaries, however, believed that they violated the Word of Wisdom and sought to discipline any member who received the tattoos after baptism or augmented already existing ones. The frequency with which such transgressions occurred, however, forced missionaries to treat the tattoos cautiously. One woman whom a local Maori branch leader had excommunicated had her sentence remitted to a simple act of public confession.

Louis Midgley describes his experiences teaching Maori during his New Zealand mission in the 1950s, and in specific how they responded to the Book of Mormon:

The Maori read the Book of Mormon differently than I did. I was anxious to find proof texts and was busy harmonizing its teachings with what I understood to be correct doctrinal teaching back in Utah. The Maori, in contrast, saw it as a tragic story of families in conflict and subtribes and tribes quarreling with each other and bent on revenge for personal insults and factional quarrels. They looked more at the larger patterns of events and less at what might be construed from particular verses. They saw stories of ambitious rivals to traditional authority trying to carve out positions of power and territory for themselves. They perceived how ambition led to quarrels within families and between extended families and tribes. They understood the atonement as an exchange of gifts between our Heavenly Father and his children, somewhat in the way their own relationships were marked by reciprocal acts of hospitality as manifestations of love.

He elaborates that in teaching Maori families, many of whom did not convert (although nearly all were welcoming and inviting), they gave their reasons for not committing to the new faith:

They explained that their problems were not with our message but with sin. I was stunned by their candor. They explained in painful detail that they were too weak, too addicted to beer or other vices, to join the church. They pointed out that they were very much like the people described in the Book of Mormon; they lacked the spiritual strength to stay on a righteous path for long. In fact, they saw the Nephite book as a description of their own situation, and they saw themselves as, at least partially and in some way, descendants of Lehi’s colony in America.

What do you think?

  • Are the Maori of Israelite descent, or was this wishful thinking and proof texting on the part of early converts and zealous missionaries?
  • Does DNA evidence disprove the historicity of the Book of Mormon or are there alternate workable explanations?  Were church leaders’ statements just cultural artifacts based on their own understanding or were they prophetic pronouncements?
  • Were the Maori prophecies messages from God about the truth of the Mormon church or did the Maori imagine the connections to Mormonism to be stronger than they were?  Were the prophecies so vague as to be meaningless?
  • Is this an example of why signs and “proof” are not good methods of conversion and ultimately fail to change hearts?  Or is God’s hand evident in the Maori prophecies, and while the spirit is willing the flesh is weak?
  • Did cultural factors – heritage vs. new faith – cause Maori to leave the LDS church?  Does the church still need to be more culturally sensitive to the traditions of converts or have we learned this lesson the hard way?

Discuss.

*Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords is of Maori descent (his mother was Maori).  He is not a Mormon.  Incidentally, if you go to the Rotorua Museum and see the introductory film (which is so frequently unintentionally hilarious that I began to question if it was intentional) that’s Bret McKenzie in the role of volcano victim Edward Bainbridge.  That dude is everywhere in New Zealand!  (He is also FIGWIT in LOTR).

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32 Responses to The Maori Mormon Prophecies & Apostasy

  1. Mike S on January 29, 2013 at 8:27 AM

    Great post. Your questions:

    Are the Maori of Israelite descent, or was this wishful thinking and proof texting on the part of early converts and zealous missionaries?

    I don’t know. I think all religions have a lot of proof-texting going on. And this is perhaps most evident in missionary work. I know I would cling to any scrap of anything on my mission.

    Does DNA evidence disprove the historicity of the Book of Mormon or are there alternate workable explanations? Were church leaders’ statements just cultural artifacts based on their own understanding or were they prophetic pronouncements?

    Scientific “proofs” of Book of Mormon historicity need to be approached carefully. We can’t trumpet the ones that support an a priori conclusion, yet discount the ones that don’t. We either need to accept scientific findings as they are – even when they might contradict long-standing teachings about the Book of Mormon – or else simply take it as a book based on faith. We can’t have our cake and eat it too.

    Were the Maori prophecies messages from God about the truth of the Mormon church or did the Maori imagine the connections to Mormonism to be stronger than they were? Were the prophecies so vague as to be meaningless?

    The latter.

    Is this an example of why signs and “proof” are not good methods of conversion and ultimately fail to change hearts? Or is God’s hand evident in the Maori prophecies, and while the spirit is willing the flesh is weak?

    The problem is not knowing the denominator. If there were only 3 prophesies and they all came “true”, then it would be stronger. But if there were hundreds of traditions and stories, and only these few “came to pass”, that means there were hundreds that were “false”. I worry about selection-bias, or maybe I am just too skeptical.

    Did cultural factors – heritage vs. new faith – cause Maori to leave the LDS church? Does the church still need to be more culturally sensitive to the traditions of converts or have we learned this lesson the hard way?

    Cultural factors are still a major problem in the Church. We worry about facial hair and tattoos and color of shirts and numbers of earrings, as if those had any eternal significance. We worry about one-piece vs two-piece swimming suits. We worry about how long a girl’s shorts are at girls’ camp. We institutionalized the historical role of women in the United States into practices of who prays in General Conference. We have a long way to go before cultural preferences are separated from gospel truths.

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  2. GBSmith on January 29, 2013 at 9:38 AM

    During the 9 months I worked in New Zealand about 5 years ago I didn’t see cultural issues as a problem. Family sizes were smaller so children weren’t staying to work family farms and were migrating to Australia for work or to Auckland or Wellington for school or jobs if they could find them. We were in Northland that has a preponderance of maori and the stake and wards seemed to be well functioning and mainly staffed by maori. In our little branch there were some activation efforts by a missionary couple but no actual missionary work and I only saw elders one time. The youth had a hard time because of the drugs, alcohol and sex that was accepted as part of being a teenager, maori or pakeha.

    I never heard anything about the maori prophecies or people associating themselves with Book of Mormon peoples and have my own opinion about that.

    As an aside it’s my understanding that there were no indigenous people in NZ prior to the maori but only successive migrations after the intial in about 1250-3000 AD.

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  3. Bonnie on January 29, 2013 at 9:48 AM

    This was fascinating, and timely for me. Thank you. My son’s mission papers are in and so my thoughts are directed to the worldwide missions. Where might the Lord send him? I pulled up a list of missions and was immediately led to the Papua New Guinea mission. Who knows, but I’ve been dead curious about that whole area for a week, reading all I could. Perhaps I will someday serve a mission there!

    It seems unlikely that the Maori are all descendants of Hagoth, because migration is the one consistent element of human life on this planet. Perhaps there were some of Hagoth’s people who survived, but merely being in an area doesn’t require any of us to be related to the people who first landed there.

    The prophecies are quite intriguing. Of course none of us are converted, truly converted, by a thing like that. They seem to provide only the signposts along the way. But how interesting that the signposts were there.

    Cultural sensitivity is always important, but we have to recognize that the lifestyle of the “traditions of our fathers” are a real and continual source of either difficulty or ease. A woman I knew years ago, commenting on the recent baptism of her husband, said, “It’s easier when you have less to give up.” That has always stuck with me.

    Great post. My son has mentioned Australia, I keep running across stuff about New Zealand, and I can’t stop thinking about Swiss Family Robinson. Can’t wait to hear where he gets sent. Probably Seattle.

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  4. Bin on January 29, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    I figured, once I saw this post, that it was only a matter of time before the “traditions of our fathers” idea popped up.

    One big concern I have with church is our inability to accept other cultures, other ideas of living, dressing or otherwise adorning ourselves. Whether it was white LDS missionaries popping up in a Maori culture and telling them their facial tattoos are an affront to God and banned henceforth and forever more, or similar parallels today. We are so quick to export white, Utah dominated LDS culture under the guise of doing away with the traditions of their fathers while ignoring the traditions of our fathers.

    That bugs me. A lot. And it’s echoed in Bonnie’s statement, above. For the LDS, it would seem, it’s always the traditions of other peoples that are wrong and never our own traditions. And that’s very unfortunate.

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  5. Bonnie on January 29, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    Whatever Bin. Don’t look for offense when it’s not there. Drinking and premarital sex are a whole lot different from dress and tattoos.

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  6. Bin on January 29, 2013 at 4:18 PM

    Simmer down, Bonnie.

    I’m responding to the article and this specific portion:

    Mormon missionaries, however, believed that they violated the Word of Wisdom and sought to discipline any member who received the tattoos after baptism or augmented already existing ones. The frequency with which such transgressions occurred, however, forced missionaries to treat the tattoos cautiously. One woman whom a local Maori branch leader had excommunicated had her sentence remitted to a simple act of public confession.

    People were excommunicated and summarily punished for tattoos. Regardless of your opinion, people were punished for their traditions simply because they didn’t mesh with some missionary who more than likely grew up in a predominately white culture that frowned on tattoos.

    I find that utterly inexcusable and ridiculous. To lump that in with the word of wisdom is even more inexcusable.

    You should remember that the understanding of the Word of Wisdom of the late 1800s is entirely different that our understanding today and, frankly, drinking/alcohol wasn’t prohibited.

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  7. Bonnie on January 29, 2013 at 4:24 PM

    As I said, whatever. The whole sum total of a tradition can and does often get in the way, as referenced by Louis Midgley’s reports of the Maori’s own lack of confidence to embrace the gospel. “Simmer down”? Please. Mama Bear is scary. This isn’t even an eyebrow raise.

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  8. FireTag on January 29, 2013 at 4:45 PM

    Curious about the connection of tattoos to the WoW. Isn’t there a reference to the Lamanites painting themselves in the BofM that would be a more likely source of Mormon prohibition?

    In any event, we’d be better off, even in holding to an historical interpretation of the BofM, if we limited Nephite prophets’ criticisms to the actual Lamanites they met, and not simply offend people who have no connection (like African Americans or Maori) other than a single word “black” or “tattoo”) with the Lamanites.

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  9. Mike S on January 29, 2013 at 5:10 PM

    Perhaps the Maori have it right. We consider our bodies to be temples. And on the “grand-daddy” of temples, we have symbols of things engraved into it that all mean something.

    The Salt Lake temple has moon stones, sun stones, star stones. There are clasped hands engraved into the temple. There are words engraved into the temple. Etc. All of these things have meaning.

    If our bodies are “temples”, perhaps the Maori people have it “right”. Perhaps, like temples, we should actually HAVE symbols that remind us of meanings on our bodies. Perhaps the tradition we have against tattoos is purely cultural.

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  10. hawkgrrrl on January 29, 2013 at 6:18 PM

    The Maori facial tattoos are traditionally a symbol of spiritual achievement, which I think is significant. Not just anyone could get them. They weren’t celebrating a rock band, club affiliation, or their devotion to a soon-to-be-ex-lover (the way tats are often used today). This is especially interesting because one of the reasons the Maori were disaffected from the Pakeha churches (many who converted to Mormonism were already Christian converts before Mormons showed up) was because they were treated like savages being civilized rather than their own traditions being respected. The Mormons treated them more equally – speaking their language, coming into their homes, and calling them brother and sister. This was a big upgrade. But then a few dumb Mormons made mountains out of molehills. Bravo, us.

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  11. graceforgrace on January 29, 2013 at 7:29 PM

    Bonnie,

    If your son is sent to Seattle, let me know and I’ll look out for him up here. Watch out though because people who move here never leave…the beauty of the area and the awesome football team (go Seahawks!!) keep them here! : )

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  12. Frank Pellett on January 29, 2013 at 7:39 PM

    And those of us who are forced to leave Seattle tend to anxiously await the day we can return. ;)

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  13. Hedgehog on January 30, 2013 at 1:14 AM

    #9 Mike,
    I was having a related conversation with my brother only a week or so ago (probably stemmed from a discussion on body piercings – I have none btw – not even one set of earrings, so am not personally invested, but have no objection to the choices others make).

    Anyway, he was supposing the strictures we have possibly stemmed from some heavenly ideal. I said, the only possible explanation I could see, would be ‘the body is temple’, but that adornment of temples is a very cultural thing. Certainly, the presentation I attended when the Preston temple was in the planning stages, they went to great lengths to tell us how they’d visited British stately homes, and particularly cathedrals in order to find inspiration and create a culturally appropriate building. The point therefore, would be why these things were done, as opposed to what they were. I also said I hoped there’d be room for variety in heaven, not just a rather tedious blandness.

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  14. Hedgehog on January 30, 2013 at 1:30 AM

    Hawkgrrrl,
    I recall seeing a black and white video clip about the maori prophecies. I think it must be on one of the church history dvd compilations we have.
    The questions:
    1. I don’t know, I would imagine it would be pretty dilute by now, if so. It be silly to imagine there was no inter-marriage with other peoples encountered.
    2. I’ve read discussions that go either way. All dependent on the whether of intermarriage, which DNA (mitochondrial or Y chromozone), comparisons of jewish population DNA and so on. Doesn’t seem depserately clear cut.
    3&4. I think human beings like to see patterns and connections, and the stories get retold, so who knows at this point. I suppose a sign might be helpful initially, but would only be recognised if you wanted to see it (kind of like in ‘The Silver Chair’ by CS Lewis, there’s a whole discussion of whether this really is the sign, or just the ‘words’ of the sign).
    5. I hope the LDS church has learned the lesson, but on the other hand I’m still not so sure, when things like beards are prohibited in temple workers – what is all that about?

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  15. Hedgehog on January 30, 2013 at 1:33 AM

    Bonnie, I have a nephew heading for the NZ MTC shortly. He’ll be going to Sydney after, but since he’s leaving from Perth, not so far for him.

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  16. Jeff Spector on January 30, 2013 at 11:04 AM

    I cannot understand the sacrosanct reverence for cultural practice as though they are 1) all good and 2) not to be tampered with or objected to.

    Is the cultural practice of cannibalism acceptable? How about ritual female circumcision? Binding of feet?, beheading?, marrying of underage girls?

    All are part or were part of culture practice. Should missionaries and society in general give them a pass because of it.

    Who is to say facial tattoos are acceptable to God because of cultural practice?

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  17. Hedgehog on January 31, 2013 at 1:29 AM

    #16 Jeff,
    “Is the cultural practice of cannibalism acceptable? How about ritual female circumcision? Binding of feet?, beheading?, marrying of underage girls?”

    Well, I’d say not acceptable to all of those, because they cause harm. But what harm is a beard causing in the temple? If multiple piercings are harmful, then surely one set is also harmful. There seems to be no logic to those strictures. I don’t personally know anything about tattoos to comment on harm or not, which may depend as much on the pigments used, and hygiene of application as anything else.

    In a similar vein, what about male circumcision? The subject of controversy only last year (in Germany particularly http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19072761). Not a procedure generally carried out in Britain/Europe outside of religious communities, though apparently common in the US. Arguments about harm v. benefits seem to go both ways on that one.

    Sure, some cultural practices are harmful, but I think that on the whole, there needs to be far more care taken in where we draw the lines, in recognising what is actually down to our own cultures as opposed to required religious practice, and not be quite so quick to condemn cultural practices we don’t understand, where there is no actual harm. Adornment of temples has tended to be down to matters of culture and taste.

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  18. Hedgehog on January 31, 2013 at 1:31 AM

    #17, the link should be:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19072761
    Got caught in the punctuation, sorry.

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  19. Jeff Spector on January 31, 2013 at 7:30 AM

    Hedgehog,

    “Well, I’d say not acceptable to all of those, because they cause harm.”

    Well, of course, you are identifying physical harm eqauted to those examples I used. There are other forms of harm including spiritual harm or perhaps eternal harm.

    As a long time beard wearer, we are in a cultural period where beards appear to be unacceptable in the Temple for Temple workers. It wasn’t always so. I don’t agree with it, but what makes it any less an acceptable cultural norm than facial tattoos among the Maori people?

    In other words, it comes down bascially a matter of opinion and what we find personally acceptable. As the saying goes, perhaps they are all wrong.

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  20. Hedgehog on January 31, 2013 at 8:10 AM

    #19 Jeff,
    Well of course I agree there is such a thing as spiritual harm. I’m not quite sure what point you are trying to make, but that may just be my head cold getting in the way.

    I’m not so sure we agree on the causes of spiritual harm in these cases. I certainly don’t suppose beards or the lack are less acceptable cultural norms than facial tattoos for instance. But, why would a *world-wide* church be in the business of pushing cultural norms, is my concern. Particularly US cultural norms. In my opinion that increases the potential for spiritual harm, by making demands about things that in and of themselves, are not important, but which are in fact, going to upset some members. It does signal a certain arrogance and lack of respect for other cultural notms and practices, which do not cause harm.

    I don’t have a personal position on facial tattoos. I was trying to make a wider point. Personally, I don’t like beards, for instance, but I do understand some people do, and my father has had one on and off throughout his life. And I’m not going to tell someone they shouldn’t have one, if they want one.

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  21. Bin on January 31, 2013 at 10:43 AM

    Jeff:

    “Well, of course, you are identifying physical harm eqauted [sic] to those examples I used. There are other forms of harm including spiritual harm or perhaps eternal harm.

    You raised a straw man argument, only to beat it down to make your point. Referencing cannibalism, ritual female circumcision, binding of feet, beheading and marrying of underage girls, only to come back to some inane point on beards once Hedgehog responded is laughable. If you, or I, or anyone else can’t see the difference between your initial comment and the one on beards and facial tattoos then, well, this conversation is fruitless.

    I draw the line at doing harm to others. Cannibalism, female circumcision or mutilation, beheadings and the like are all directed at someone else, forcing someone else to go along with your form of morality and obedience.

    We, unfortunately, are too uncomfortable with ambiguity. Because of this we want to make sure that everyone, everywhere, is playing by the same rules. We want the McDonald’s of religions – food that is regurgitated and created in a laboratory in order to taste the same from SLC to India and Indonesia.

    Nevermind that 99% of the rules we play by have no spiritual component whatsoever (i.e. beards, tattoos, earrings, white shirts, jello, funeral potatoes, ties, dresses, prayers in GC, etc.), we just want to dictate what the masses do in order to mask some the true illness.

    Do tattoos do harm to anyone?? Especially if they, in Maori tradition, are only available to those who reach a certain spiritual echelon and, then, only if they choose to do so? Do beards harm anyone? Does my having 2 sets of earrings harm anyone? What about me refusing to wear a white shirt? Or what about me wanting to wear pants to church instead of a dress? Or…

    The only harm comes thanks to another party – someone who doesn’t like it gets offended by it (it’s scary, unbecoming, unkempt, unsightly, unclean, etc.) and issues a decree that it’s against the word of wisdom, or that God disapproves of it and your spiritual standing is in jeopardy unless you fix it.

    It’s that whole take the beam out of your eye before finding fault with someone else taken to levels we simply don’t want to see or discuss.

    Bonnie:

    Classy.

    Hedgehog:

    But, why would a *world-wide* church be in the business of pushing cultural norms, is my concern. Particularly US cultural norms. In my opinion that increases the potential for spiritual harm, by making demands about things that in and of themselves, are not important, but which are in fact, going to upset some members. It does signal a certain arrogance and lack of respect for other cultural notms and practices, which do not cause harm.

    Amen.

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  22. Jeff Spector on January 31, 2013 at 11:23 AM

    I do certainly agree that the Church should not be pushing US cultural norms outside the US. the sight of Pacific Islanders with Lava-lavas and white shirts and ties is a good example of that.

    However, I don’t think that one can make a blanket statement about what cultural things are harmful or harmless, except for bodily harm.

    It depends on the perspective.

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  23. [...] simply a huge number of fascinating scholarly pieces this past week! Topics include LDS History: Mormon prophecies, the three witnesses, women of Deseret, Oliver Cowdery’s Rod (Perhaps like Joseph [...]

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  24. Maria on March 2, 2013 at 8:04 PM

    I am Maori, and I learned about the prophecies of the Maori Chiefs several years after I had joined the Church. I believed them straight away; not merely because I wanted them to be true but because I received a powerful witness of the Spirit confirming thus.
    I also read the words of President Joseph F. Smith stating that the people of New Zealand were descended from the people of Hagoth. The prophet of the Lord had spoken, and that was enough evidence for me.

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  25. Hillsz on May 31, 2013 at 12:07 AM

    I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, also of Maori descent.
    I know of the Maori prophecies given by our forefathers and Maori Chiefs and I also know the whakapapa or (Genealogy) that shows the connection of New Zealand to the Pacific Islands of Polynesia and Hawaii, Melanesia, Micronesia to South America with Hagoth.
    The Maori people, mainly had oral traditions passed on from generation to generation in chants & stories or legends. The main tribes connect to a “waka, ” (canoe, great big canoes double hulled) from the Great Migration. A common theme in oral tradition is “Hawaiki-Nui, Hawaiki Roa, Hawaiki Pamamao” the place that Maori travelled from, or their Homeland. I had it explained to me once describing the navigation or journey from Hawaiki. “Big Hawaiki, Long Hawaiki the beating waters of Hawaiki.” Here is the interesting part the Maori name for Hagoth is Hawaikiroa. So describing the Journey of Hagoth. This is in line with the two waka namely “Takitimu” & “Horouta”. Another interesting point to South America namely Peru, is the word “Pamamao” sounds similar to “Panama”. As well as the the story of how the ancestors on the great migration brought the sweet potato with them from Peru in South America, where similar Maori words are found i.e “Titikaka” for Lake Titikaka South America’s biggest lake or volume of water. The Maori words for “Titi” & “Kaka” are names of birds “Titi” are Muttonbirds found in the South Island of New Zealand and are a Maori delicacy, and “Kaka” is the name of the NZ Green parrot.
    Something else that is well known is with the Great Migration to Aotearoa (New Zealand), is that every waka had A captain or Chief and a High Priest (tohunga). Just like in the Book of Mormon. The Maori People that were on the waka were already members of the church before they arrived to New Zealand. In fact a lot of the ancient traditions kept by tohunga were lost and are restored with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
    So in essence my culture now is “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints”.

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  26. Hillsz on May 31, 2013 at 12:12 AM

    oops that should be Lake Titicaca. Sounds Maori being an oral language sounds the same. The Maori word for sweet potatoe is Kumara.

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  27. Erina on July 26, 2013 at 8:02 PM

    The Maori People know to whom they descend from, and why shouldn’t they? Passed down through the generations from their ancient Israelite Ancestors through the Oral Traditions by Word Of Mouth, via “Sacred Texts” etc…God is also revealing today to many of their Israelite Lineages with absolute confirmation, I should know, because I am one of them who talks with God Almighty (God of Israel). Who are other races, to say where Maori come from? especially if it is not the same as the Maori versions? Do Maori say, that such and such a race of people come from so and so place, when it is not the same as the knowledge of the people concerned? No they don’t
    .

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  28. Joseph DeMers on December 7, 2013 at 8:30 AM

    I am an ex-Mormon (though not at all a hostile one) and one of the reasons for my leaving was the total lack of respect shown for my culture. You see, I’m a Native American. In my small branch, outward conformity of clothing, etc., wasn’t a big issue. However, when I moved to AZ it became a for-real problem. Pressure was brought to bear on me to cut my hair and wear a suit and tie to church. I was told I shouldn’t wear Native jewelry. I was told I shouldn’t attend powwows except in a missionary capacity. I was told to shave my chin- beard and mustache if I ever wanted to “get any where” in the priesthood. Other Native converts from tribes other than mine (most were Navajo) had similar experiences. I would see these guys with long hair prior to completing conversion classes, and the next time i saw them they were looking like dark-skinned white guys. I was once criticized for wearing a shirt to church that wasn’t white (if memory serves, I think it was light blue.)

    I’m not saying any of this out of bitterness, and I mean that with all my heart; I’m simply stating my experience. I visited stakes/wards all over the West and Southwest and the reactions were always the same. Dialogues would go something like this: “Welcome! Have you ever attended an LDS church before?” Me: “Yes, I’m a member.” (Raised eyebrows) “Oh, my.” (Mind you, I wasn’t attending in full powwow regalia! I wore clean black pants (not jeans), some sort of Aztec-print or dark solid-colored shirt, no tie. I had a mustache, small chin-beard, and hair to the middle of my back, tied in a pony-tail.) This attire would have been more-than-acceptable in any other church, but not in the LDS church.

    In my home ward I was refused membership in the choir because of my appearance—”You need to get a hair-cut, then we’ll talk.” I was told explicitly by the bishop, his counselors, and several members of my priesthood quorum that advancement would be difficult unless I changed my personal dress-code. This attitude of cultural insensitivity eventually led me to question other aspects of the Mormon faith, and after two years of membership I finally left.

    As an ex-Mormon who actually wishes the LDS church well, I think it would behoove the leadership to re-examine the role of cultural conformity in the church. If the church has an unofficial dress-code (which it certainly does, especially for men) then this should be made clear to potential converts. If it does not (which it shouldn’t), men should not be held back from advancement because they have any of the following: beard, mustache, long hair. Nor should they be held back for not wearing a suit/tie/white shirt to church. How many of the prophets had beards? Quite a few, if memory serves. How many had longer hair? Ditto. Were they any less worthy because of it? I doubt it. My guess is that Brigham Young would have given a ear-full to anyone who told him that he wasn’t temple-worthy or worthy of holding the church presidency because he had a beard. People should bear in mind that the current business suit is of modern origin.

    This obsession with cultural conformity verges on a form of idolatry. While I agree that one should be dressed cleanly and neatly for church services, those are pretty wide parameters. How many people who might otherwise convert to Mormonism resist doing so through fear that they won’t fit in? Many men hate the very idea of wearing a suit, yet would be more than willing to attend otherwise neatly dressed. How many men who prefer to wear a beard or longer hair fail to explore the LDS church because all the men look like they were stamped out of the same mold? These issues become increasingly problematical when cultural differences are thrown into the mix.

    Joseph

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  29. hawkgrrrl on December 7, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    Joseph: Thanks for sharing your story. That is heartbreaking to me, but unfortunately, it may not be as rare as I would like to think. It is exactly the sort of thing that the early Maori converts faced. Some cultures got through this more or less intact, but others did not. I suspect Native Americans, surrounded by so many members, really took a hit for cultural differences. Tongans and Samoans were more able to interate their inherited culture with their new faith. Still, I find it very heartbreaking when people want to force conformity instead of multi-cultural diversity. We lose so much.

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  30. Tarefic-Wheaties Nominations 2 | Wheat and Tares on December 23, 2013 at 8:11 PM

    […] Hawkgrrrl, Wheat & Tares:  ”Mormon Maori Prophecies and Apostasy“ […]

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  31. Wheaties-Tarefic Update | Wheat and Tares on December 30, 2013 at 1:03 AM

    […] Hawkgrrrl, Wheat & Tares:  ”Mormon Maori Prophecies and Apostasy“ […]

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  32. […] Hawkgrrrl, Wheat & Tares:  ”Mormon Maori Prophecies and Apostasy“ […]

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