Church leaders welcomed on to Kaikohe Marae in New Zealand

Maori leaders in Kaikohe, New Zealand, welcomed Elder O. Vincent Haleck, a General Authority Seventy and president of the Church's Pacific Area, as he arrived in the area to preside over a local stake conference.

A marae is the focal point and meeting grounds for Maori tribes throughout New Zealand. They are typically used for celebrations, meetings and important tribal events. The ceremony to welcome Church leaders to the region is called a powhiri.

Elder Haleck was accompanied by his wife, Sister Peggy Haleck, and Elder Allistair B. Odgers, an Area Seventy from Christchurch, and President James Walker and Sister Harumi Walker of the New Zealand Auckland Mission.

According to Shane Wikaira, a counselor in the Kaikohe New Zealand Stake presidency, the powhiri ceremony is "reserved for distinguished visitors forging an eternal connection to the people of the land."

The maori have a long history of a relationship with the Church. Missionaries who arrived in New Zealand in 1850 soon found the native tribes to be receptive to their teachings. Maori already believed in modern-day revelation and prophecy, and congegrations were established throughout the country during the 19th century.

Following the events at the marae, Elder Haleck spoke at a conference at the Kaikohe New Zealand Stake Center on May 26-27.

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