Wiramu Karaka (Wi Clark) uses his priesthood to save his orchards and home
This is an excerpt from the missionary journal of Elder Glen L. Rudd, who served his early mission in New Zealand among the Maori people.
On Friday, October 27, 1940, I was up at Tokomaru Bay with my companion. We stayed at Aspinall’s. We went to Gladys Kopua’s and visited with them. Then
my companion and I left to go to Gisborne. After we left Tokomaru Bay, we got about halfway to Tolaga Bay, and we stopped at a place called THREE BRIDGES. We stopped there because there was a wonderful fine Latter-day Saint man and family living there. As far as I know, there is no branch of the Church, but they went to the closest branches they could go to. They were 100% Latter-day Saint people. I had heard about this man. His name was Wiramu Karaka – in other words, Wi Clark. It rained pretty hard during the day, but we got under the trees until the rain blew over. Then we finished our way down to Gisborne; however, back at Wi Clark’s home, I got to meet this great man. I don’t think he was a high priest, but he was a worthy elder. He was the big man in that area. Wiramu Karaka – Wi Clark – lived in a nice Maori house and had a fairly good farm. He lived up by the side of a mountain, and behind his house was a little creek that came down to the valley. He wanted to tell me about that valley and his farm.
About five years before I got there, he had planted a really fine orchard of beautiful little trees. They were about 4-5 feet high when I saw them. He said to me, “Some time ago, we had a heavy rain. I knew it was worse than normal. So, I came out into the yard and looked up into the valley. I could see very dark clouds and I could hear thunder and lightning. I pretty well figured out that we were in for a bad rainstorm. Sure enough it rained. Then I heard terrible thunder, then a bad noise
which meant that the dam way up in the top had broken. Behind the dam was a large body of water, which immediately came running down through the valley directly to my house and farm.” Brother Karaka could tell what was happening, and as he stood there, he saw a great body of water coming down through this narrow canyon. It looked like it was going to bypass his house, but it was headed directly for this little orchard which was now beginning to be of some value. As
the water got closer, he stood up in front – facing the water – raised his arm to the square and by virtue of the holy priesthood commanded that flood of water to go one way or the other to pass his trees and not ruin his farm. An interesting thing is that there was no fence. The only fence around the trees was one or two strands of barbed wire to keep the animals away. When the water reached the barbed wire, it immediately stopped. Some of the water went to the right and some to the left until it completely passed the orchard and left all of the trees completely as they were. The heavy rain kept up and went on its way.
I remember the day Brother Karaka told this story of how the priesthood had been used to save his orchard and part of his farm. I haven’t thought about this for years, but in reading my journal, this actually happened on October 27th , 1940.
Elder Rudd also had the following story concerning Wi Clark recorded in his journal.
In 1939 and 1940 there was no church in the little village of Three Bridges, but there were a lot of members of the Church of England and their fine old chapel. It was quite run down, but at one time had been very beautiful. The minister of the church didn’t have very many coming out to church, but he was a good friend of Wi Clark. Wi went over to him one day and said, “I wonder what we can do to make your building and the yard around the chapel look better. There are some members of my church that live within 10-15 miles of here, and I think, if it is okay with you, we could come over and spend a day or two just kind of polishing up your place.”
The minister thanked him and said, “Wi, my people won’t do it. They just won’t come out to work. We don’t get many out to church anyway. There is no reason for them to be grateful to have this building. It is in bad shape. The fences need repairing and the weeds in the yard need to be cleaned up. Some flowers need to be planted and there is a little painting to be done here and there.” So the minister said, “If you would be willing to help, it will be wonderful. In a month from now we are having a big general convention here for the Church of England in this part of New Zealand. One of the head officials of the Church of England is coming to preside over the conference, and I have been worried about the condition of our building because it really is in pretty poor shape.” Brother Clark said, “We’ll fix it, if you let us.” So he gathered men, and during the next month they spent several days over on the Church of England property repairing things, cleaning it up, planting flowers, and making it beautiful. When the big event came, three or four hundred people came from all over to enjoy the Church of England convention. The head of the church was very complimentary to the minister and the people because of the condition of the building, which was now quite beautiful and in good shape. When he got through congratulating the members of his church, the old minister stood up and said, “We don’t deserve any credit. We can’t even take care of it ourselves, but we have a good Latter-day Saint who lives across the street by the name of Wi Clark. He came over and talked to me and gathered a group of his people to come for a work project. Those Latter-day Saint people came several days and weekends and refurbished the building, painted quite a few places, took care of the grounds, planted some flowers, and repaired the fence. Today it is beautiful because of what the Mormons did. They are called Latter-day Saints. These Mormons are friends of ours, and they are not fortunate enough to have a chapel anywhere near them, but we have been blessed by them.”