News Release

Church Dedicates New Zealand Recreational Facility

Leader says Camp Tuhikaramea will strengthen youth, singles and families

Members and guests of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered at the Church’s Camp Tuhikaramea recreational facility on Saturday (1 August) to take part in a special dedication service.

The camping grounds, which covers 45 acres, was constructed to provide opportunities for wholesome recreational activities for youth, young adults, singles and families. It is located in the Waikato region, a few minutes’ drive from the Church’s Hamilton New Zealand Temple. 

Leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints attending the service included Elder Kevin W. Pearson, Elder O. Vincent Haleck and Elder S. Gifford Nielsen — of the Pacific Area Presidency; and Bishop Dean M. Davies of the Church’s Presiding Bishopric.

New Zealand Latter-day Saint leaders, Elders Paul R. Coward and David J. Thomson, of the Seventy, also attended.

The Church leaders were accompanied by their wives: June Pearson, Peggy Haleck, Wendy Nielsen, Darla Davies, Julie Coward and Susan Thomson.

Several local governmental, community and Māori leaders also attended the dedication service.

In the dedicatory prayer, Elder Kevin W. Pearson said Camp Tuhikaramea would be a special blessing to youth over the years ahead.

“To the tens of thousands of young men and young women who in time will come to this camp, Father in Heaven, bless it, that it will become the sacred place to them the way it has become a sacred place to those who created it.

“We pray, Father in Heaven, that as families come here, that their marriages will be strengthened, that parents will have a greater love for children, and children for parents. That wholesome recreation in a sacred spot will bring their families closer together.”

Elder Pearson continued: “We pray, Father in Heaven, as we dedicate this camp, that from experiences gained at this camp, young men and women of faith and conviction and testimony will come from this camp. That as generations go by, they will look back upon experiences they had either serving here or enjoying this camp together, and that those experiences will build faith and testimony in every heart and mind.”

Elder S. Gifford Nielson, Second Counsellor in the Pacific Area Presidency, expressed in his remarks the great importance the camp will be to all who visit there.

“This will be a place of great growth and meditation,” he said. 

Elder Nielsen encouraged Church members to extend invitations to others to use the camping facilities. “I’m hoping that the culture of this facility will always be one to invite our friends to come and participate. When we have something this beautiful and this abundant it is up to us to extend a hand of fellowship to those around us. We know when that happens the end result will be to build strong young men and strong young women which ultimately will strengthen families.”

Before Camp Tuhikaramea was developed over the last two years, the area was cared for — over many years — by local Latter-day Saint, Roger Hamon.

Prior to offering the dedicatory prayer, Elder Pearson recognized Roger Hamon’s contribution to the building of Camp Tuhikaramea and the vision and difference one person can make. 

“We wouldn’t be here today if he [Roger Hamon] didn’t see a vision in his own mind and been inspired to spend countless hours and effort to create a spot that could blossom and develop into something—I don’t suppose he ever dreamed it could be—to be enjoyed, over time, by hundreds of thousands of people he never thought would visit this spot. It’s a tribute to what one person can do and the difference one person can make,” Elder Pearson said.

He encouraged those attending to consider their own contribution to others. “I hope when you leave today you will consider, in your own life, the difference you are making or the difference you can make in the life of other people.” 

Local Church leader, Thomas Sutcliffe, said Roger Hamon’s example of service has proven to be a catalyst for good at Camp Tuhikaramea. “There have been tens of thousands of hours of voluntary service given by Latter-day Saints from all over the country at the camp over the last couple of years.

“When we give that kind of service,” President Sutcliffe said, “we take ownership and look after it, and it becomes a part of us. It becomes a hallowed place. The camp brings out the best in people. It ignites a lot of excitement. This place is creating so many wonderful friendships and unions between people, and memories.”

In honour of Roger Hamon and his years of selfless service on the property, members of his family were invited to plant a tree in the grounds on Saturday. The tree had been nurtured by Hamon himself, from a sapling. It was planted in a spot overlooking the Hamilton New Zealand Temple and the grove of trees lovingly referred to by locals as “Hamon’s Bush.” 

Over 4,000 people have enjoyed the camp since it opened in January.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.