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Mormon Newsroom Pacific
Local LDS Church leaders with Tauranga Deputy Mayor Kelvin Clout, front right, next to Elder S. Gifford Neilsen at the Matthew Cowley Monument dedication.

A historic marker now rests in the same grove where an LDS apostle once learned a foreign language and served as a 17-year-old missionary.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints dedicated a monument to the late apostle Matthew Cowley last week in Matiu Kauri Grove, the place where he often came to fast, ponder and pray while studying the Māori language and serving as a missionary in New Zealand from 1914 to 1919, according to Mormonnewsroom.org.nz.

The grove's name, "Matiu Kauri" is Cowley's Māori name, the article said.

Elder O. Vincent Haleck, a General Authority Seventy and President of the Pacific Area, gave some remarks before dedicating the monument.

"In his early years in New Zealand, Matiu Kauri came here often to study and learn the Māori language, meditate and commune with Heavenly Father," Elder Haleck said. "It was the peaceful surroundings of this grove that blessed and helped give voice to his Māori language and love for the Māori people. We are honored that the City Council and leaders of this community have chosen to name this grove the Matiu Kauri Grove."

In the dedicatory prayer, Elder Haleck prayed the grove would be "a place of peace and tranquility" for visitors, protected from the elements.

"Let all those who visit here see of the beauty of this grove and feel of its special spirit as thy servant Matiu Kauri did. He was drawn here because its surroundings brought his spirit close to thee," Elder Haleck said. "Preserve this grove for the enjoyment of thy children who have come in generations past and those yet to come in the future. Let all who come find the peace and sweet spirit that Matiu Kauri experienced."

Among those in attendance at the dedication were Kelvin Clout, deputy mayor of Tauganga, New Zealand; Elder Steven E. Snow, a General Authority Seventy and Church Historian and Recorder; and Elder S. Gifford Nielsen, a General Authority Seventy and First Counselor of the Pacific Area Presidency.

The event was threatened by Cyclone Cook but the skies were clear in time for the dedication, the article said.

"It was supposed to be a weekend of terrible weather, but look at it, the sun is shining," Elder Nielsen said. "That is appropriate as we celebrate the missionary work and priesthood service of a man of miracles."

Elder Cowley, born in Preston, Idaho, served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from 1945 until his death in 1953. During his missionary service in New Zealand, he assisted in translating the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price into the Māori language. He later served as a mission president in New Zealand.

Read the rest of the article here.