The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Mormon Temples

Nuku'alofa Tonga

Nuku’alofa Tonga Temple

On a Pacific island blanketed by lush vegetation and dotted with small villages, the Nuku’alofa Tonga Temple occupies 1.2 tropically landscaped acres. It is the 23rd temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the fourth in the Pacific, serving Church members belonging to stakes (similar to dioceses) in the Kingdom of Tonga.

Designed by Church architect Emil B. Fetzer, the Nuku’alofa Tonga Temple bears aesthetic similarities to other Pacific temples he designed, such as the Sydney Australia Temple and the Papeete Tahiti Temple. A single spire graces the Nuku’alofa Tonga Temple’s symmetrical structure and is topped by a life-sized statue of angel Moroni, an ancient prophet whose teachings are recorded in the Book of Mormon. The temple originally contained 14,000 square feet but now has 21,000. Inside the temple are instruction rooms; sealing rooms, where weddings take place; a baptistry; and a celestial room, which represents heaven on earth.

Temples play a significant part in Latter-day Saint worship, and Latter-day Saints living on Tonga’s northernmost island demonstrate the importance of temple worship in their faith by regularly traveling up to 200 miles, sometimes over rough seas, to visit the temple in Nuku’alofa.

The Nuku’alofa Tonga Temple was dedicated in seven sessions on August 9–11, 1983, almost a century after the 1891 arrival of the first Mormons in Tonga. In his dedicatory prayer, President Gordon B. Hinckley mentioned these missionaries and others when he said, “We are grateful for the strength of Thy work in these friendly islands. We thank Thee for the missionaries who for many years have come here to bring the glad tidings of the restored gospel.”1

By the time the temple was renovated and rededicated in 2006, Latter-day Saints had grown to include over 40 percent of the country’s population, making Tonga the nation with the highest percentage of Mormons per capita in the world. Today there are over 61,000 members of the Church in Tonga.

In the weeks leading up to the temple’s rededication, doors opened to the public for tours, and there were 40,000 visitors, or nearly 40 percent of the country’s population. Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles then rededicated the Nuku’alofa Tonga Temple on November 4, 2007. In his dedicatory prayer he said, “We thank Thee for the growth of Thy work here, for the many wonderful and devoted Latter-day Saints who comprise the membership of Thy Church, for their faithfulness, their leadership, and their love for Thee and for Thy Beloved Son.”2

Outside the temple, a wide banner spanning the street conveyed Church members’ devotion, declaring in bold letters: “Let’s rededicate ourselves.”

Tonga’s deeply spiritual people have a long history of religious dedication, partly rooted in local legend. In 1839, King George Tupou I dedicated his country and its people to God, throwing soil into the sky to signify giving his land to heaven. To this day, Tongans credit God for allowing them to retain independence from Western colonizers; Tonga is the only Pacific nation to have done so. Their national motto conveys their continued faith: “God and Tonga Are My Inheritance.”

Tongan Latter-day Saints consider the Nuku’alofa Tonga Temple to be part of their inheritance. It provided a tranquil place of respite and a reverent atmosphere where they can rededicate themselves to God.

 

1 “Nuku'alofa Tonga Temple: We Thank Thee for Thy Many Sons and Daughters of Tonga Who Have Similarly Served with Great Devotion,” Church News, Aug. 14, 1983.

2 “Nuku'alofa Tonga: ‘Smile upon It,’” Church News, Nov. 4, 2007.

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