Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Did David O. McKay speak to the Maori people in their own language?

1989 Ensign Article

BYU Article on Maori Talk

One of the spiritual highlights of pre-World War II Church history in the Pacific was Elder David O. McKay’s visit to the missions of that vast area. And one of the most important events of that tour occurred during the Hui Tau of 23–25 April, 1921. Elder McKay spoke at least seven times during the three days of meetings, but as he began his first talk he said: “O, how I wish I could speak to you in your own language to tell you what is in my heart, but since I cannot, I am going to pray that while I speak in my own tongue you may have the gift of interpretation and discernment. While you may not understand my words, the Spirit of the Lord will bear witness to you of my words that I give to you under the inspiration of the Lord.” Gordon C. Young, one of the missionaries who was there, later described what happened as Elder McKay continued to talk:
“He spoke several sentences and then Stuart [Meha] would interpret into Maori. Then he’d make another statement in English and Stuart would interpret. All at once everything was quiet, and all over the congregation the Maoris … called out, ‘Stuart, sit down, don’t interpret, we can understand what the Apostle is saying.’ They didn’t [all] speak English, and they didn’t understand anything President McKay was saying before, but now they were calling out to Stuart to sit down. He was rather disconcerted. … Stuart didn’t know what to do, so he started to interpret again. The calls came again, ‘Stuart, sit down. Don’t interpret.’ So Stuart just sat down, and President McKay went on and gave one of the most beautiful talks I have ever heard in my life, and those people all understood what he was saying.”5