Julian, Ronald, and Camilla Karehana of Kawerau, New Zealand

Julian, Ronald, and Camilla Karehana of Kawerau, New Zealand

New Zealand is a beautiful country and is often called Aotearoa (Land of the Long White Cloud) by its people. The country consists of three main islands—the North Island, the South Island, and Stewart Island—and several smaller islands. The Karehana family—Joseph (father), Alma (mother), Daniel (15), Mona (14), Whetu (12), Ronald (9), Julian (9), Camilla (5), Mitchell (3), and Todd (2) live on the North Island, in the town of Kawerau.

Camilla, Ronald, and Julian have a rich family heritage. The story is often told that hundreds of years ago the Maoris traveled in a fleet of canoes from the Polynesian Islands to become the first settlers in New Zealand. The Karehana children are proud to be descendants of the Ngati Awa and Matwatua Canoe tribes. The Matwatua Canoe tribe can be traced back to the first canoes that came to New Zealand. In time many pakehas (white men) settled in this country. Today only about 9 percent of the population is Maori.

Latter-day Saint missionary work began in New Zealand in 1854. Missionary work was slow until 1883, when the Maori people began to join the Church in large numbers. The Lord had prepared them for the gospel. Several Maori tohungas (priests) had prophesied concerning the true Church before the missionaries taught the people. One priest had told his people to wait and not join a church until missionaries came in pairs, visited their homes, and spoke to them in their native language. Many other prophecies were given to the Maoris that were fulfilled by the missionaries.

Today the Karehana family is active in the Kawerau Branch, Rotorua New Zealand Stake. Primary is an important part of the children’s lives. Julian and Ronald enjoy keeping a class journal in their Valiant A class. Camilla likes to draw and color pictures in her Star A class.

One of Camilla’s favorite things to do is to attend school. She always has fun at recess, playing on the adventure playground. Gluing leaves together on paper is a favorite craft. At home, making her bed is one of her chores. Camilla enjoys playing games, especially tag, and going swimming.

Being twins, Julian and Ronald have many things in common. The boys have the same chores—cleaning their room, making their beds, and bringing in the dry clothes off the line. They enjoy going to town to shop or to swim in the public swimming pool. Both are learning to play the guitar. At school they enjoy being outdoors at playtime and in fitness class. Indoors, their favorite subject is math.

Ronald and Julian have different interests too. Ronald loves skateboarding and can do a “rock to fakie” trick. He hopes to be a professional skateboarder. Julian likes cycling and writing stories. He wants to be a scientist.

Whenever Julian, Ronald, and Camilla go to a hui (a large gathering) at the marae (an area set apart as a Maori tribal or family social center), they are reminded of their heritage. Funerals, weddings, family reunions, and other celebrations are held at their tribe’s marae. On the marae is an ancestral meetinghouse. Beautiful wood carvings are on the outside as well as the inside of the meetinghouse. The ancestral history of the tribe is portrayed in the wood carvings and woven panels inside. There is a separate building for preparing and serving food.

As a family, the Karehanas enjoy visiting the marae, playing games together, and swimming at Ohope Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in New Zealand. They also like to prepare a hangi (earth oven) in their backyard. A large pit is dug, heated stones are put into it, and water is poured on them to make steam. The food is put into baskets, placed on the stones, then covered with soil. Some of the things they cook in a hangi are potatoes, kumaras (sweet potatoes), pumpkins, eel, chicken, and pork. What’s Julian’s, Ronald’s, and Camilla’s favorite food at an outdoor oven dinner? It’s pudding (dessert), no matter what else is served!

[photos] Still life photos by Peggy Jellinghausen

[photo] New Zealanders are often called Kiwis, after the kiwi bird

[photo] A carved Maori memorial

[photos] Photos by Janet Thomas

[photo] Camilla at the adventure playground

[photo] Ronald, Camilla, and Julian at their marae

[photo] The Karehana children and their father

[photo] Ronald (left) and Julian