This post is about a couple who have worked on a project passionately for the past 26 years but with no intention to profit from it.
Last week I was lucky enough to catch up with some family and friends living in Hamilton, New Zealand. One particular couple I really enjoyed meeting up with was Vic and Rangi Parker of Temple View, Hamilton.. I first met Aunty Rangi and Uncle Vic whilst holidaying with my late wife in Sydney Australia back in 1981.
They hosted us at their home, where I met their lovely children who at that stage were mainly teenagers. Over the years we have caught up with each other at family gatherings or opportune visits.
For much of this time I was only vaguely aware of a project that Aunty Rangi and Uncle Vic were working on, but on this recent visit, they shared a lot of what they were working on with me and I was truly inspired by their dedication to this project which has meant so much to so many people.
Aunty Rangi is of Maori decent and Uncle Vic is Pakeha and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Over the past 26 years they have made it their mission to collect and make available to people, information collected by Amercan Missionaries who visited New Zealand over the last century or so to spread the gospel to New Zealanders. These early missionaries often lived with church members and worked among the families and communities which of course included many of the local Maori.
The missionaries kept journals and some were lucky enough to have cameras and film projectors, which they used to record visits with local members, important ceremonies such as Hui Tau's (Church Conferences) and gatherings.
Aunty Rangi and Uncle Vic have between them, made twenty two trips to the USA, Aunty twenty one, and Uncle Vic ten. They have had help from the "Kia Ngawari Trust" which they set up, and very special dear family and friends, who supported their vision, to collect and record interviews, with many of these former missionaries, some of whom have been in their nineties. They were very keen to share their memories with this Kiwi couple. Many have donated memorabilia including taonga or special gifts, photos, films and old journals.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are now in the process of building a purpose built museum at their Temple View site in Hamilton New Zealand, to house and display all of the collection so that members of the church and the general public can view it. It is one of the largest collection of historical information pertaining to Maori from around the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Aunty Rangi and Uncle Vic have had visits over the past 20 years from the National Turnball Library and other curators who have been very interested in obtaining the collection, but have declined as they wish for this information to be freely available for all.
They have made many sacrifices over the years in order to work on this project, but say that the rewards they have received, on seeing their work come to fruition, and made available to the posterity and descendants of these people who the missionaries met so many years ago, is all the reward they seek.
Aunty Rangi and Uncle Vic love the Maori Proverb, "He aha te me nui o Te Ao, Ma ku e Ki atu He Tangata He Tangata He Tangata".
("What is the most important thing in this world, I say to you, It is People It is People It is People")
One other expression they love and have hanging in their home and office is. Matthew Cowley's famous saying, " Kia Ngawari " Be Kind Be, Gentle, Be Loving, Be Humble, Love Everybody. "
Aunty Rangi and Uncle Vic stated that a tribute must be paid to a wonderful and special man, Elder Glen L Rudd who has been a support to them over the past 26 years. They love him dearly and in his 98th year still keeps in touch with them. Elder Rudd was close to Matthew Cowley for many years from the 1930s until Matthew Cowley passed away in 1953.
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