Editor's note: This is an excerpt from "Women of Faith in the Latter Days, Vol. 3: 1846-1870," edited by Richard E. Turley Jr. and Brittany A. Chapman about Mere Mete Whaanga (1848–1944), written by Marjorie Newton, and the chapter is titled “Her Very Presence Is a Sermon.”


On Oct. 9, 1895, Hirini and Mere Whaanga were endowed and sealed for time and all eternity. From that time forward, Mere and Hirini and his sister-in-law Apikara, who immigrated from New Zealand with them, spent most of their time in the Salt Lake Temple and were very happy in performing ordinances for their ancestors and the ancestors of Maori Saints still in New Zealand.

Full of gratitude for temple blessings, Hirini wrote a letter to the New Zealand Mission encouraging the Maori members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to remain faithful and testifying of the blessings he and Mere and their family had received since gathering to Zion. His letter was read to the Maori Saints all over the mission during subsequent conferences and was listened to with great interest.

Soon after settling in the Forest Dale Ward, Mere learned to write. Years later, she described how she had “prayed to God to send me just a little light and knowledge to enable me to write to my children, parents, and loved ones, also tell them of my love for them … I struggled very hard (and) I at last completed my first letter home. But I knew that I did not accomplish this big thing on my own. The Lord heard my heart crying for help to enable me to contact my children and parents and I received what I had asked for. … My heart was filled with happiness and joy.”