“My Place Is at Church,” Ensign, June 1997, 68
Polly Wineera Tarawhiti is a Maori Church member who has long been an example of gospel pioneering in Takupuwahia, a Maori community near New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington.
Though she passed through the hard times of the Great Depression and World War II, Polly has always been active in the gospel. “My mother, Paeroa, had a strong view on what was right and wrong,” she recalls. “She had good values, and this was instilled in us children by her example. My dad was quiet, but he was a strong-willed man. He grew to love the scriptures, and later in his life he became a branch president.”
Among the many missionaries she remembers in Takupuwahia during her youth was Elder Matthew Cowley, who later became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
A widow, Sister Tarawhiti has served in many capacities in the Church, including as a full-time missionary in Quezon City, Philippines, from 1987 to 1989. At 76 years of age, she spends much time and energy working on family history and serving as Relief Society president in the Wellington New Zealand Stake. Before retiring, she worked for the New Zealand government.
“My place is at church,” Sister Tarawhiti says. “I am proud of my Maori side, but I have chosen the Church above everything else. Also, the rewards and blessings that the Lord gives us far outweigh the fleeting things of the world.”—Michele Parata Hamblin, Phoenix, Arizona