Love and sacrifice have always marked temple building, but the New Zealand Temple involved more of those elements than most modern temples.
Dedicated on 20 April 1958 by President David O. McKay, this seventy-five room, three-story edifice cost a million dollars, its labor—all of it—donated by work missionaries. Some of them lived in tents on the site with their families during the construction.
When President McKay came in 1955 to choose the temple site near the college, he asked local leaders if they thought they could find twenty men who would accept a call to be building missionaries. By the time they had canvassed half the districts of New Zealand they had 120. Over 1,500 had been called by the time the project was finished.
It’s a story of second-mile service. Some, after their missions, came back to work on the temple again. As the dedication deadline neared, they doubled their efforts. Brother Wendell B. Mendenhall, who was in charge of Church building and education in New Zealand, reports coming to the temple about a month before the dedication at 4 A.M. and seeing “a group of young men kneeling in prayer … Australians, Maori, Pakiha [white], Tongans, Samoans, … and I heard the voice say, ‘O God, our Eternal Father, bless us that we will have the power and the strength and the health to finish this project on time and cause that we can go without sleep and rest and even food, that we can build this Temple and have it ready for the Prophet of God.’”
The temple, designed by Church Architect Edward O. Anderson, is constructed of structural steel and reinforced concrete blocks made at the site, painted white. The thirteenth temple built in this dispensation, it covers 38,000 square feet of floor space.
Sources: Wealtha S. Mendenhall, “The Temple in New Zealand,” Relief Society Magazine 45 (August 1958):492–99; Wendell B. Mendenhall, “Dedication proceedings, New Zealand Temple, April 20–23, 1958,” Church Historical Department.
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