This weekend [23-24 May] members and guests of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [Mormons] in French Polynesia will celebrate the 170th anniversary of the arrival of the faith’s first missionaries in the South Pacific.
Three Mormon missionaries arrived in Tubuai, French Polynesia on 30 April 1844. Addison Pratt, Noah Rogers and Benjamin Grouard had journeyed for close to a year by land and sea from the Church’s headquarters in Nauvoo, Illinois. A fourth missionary, Knowlton F. Hanks, passed away during the trip after a month of being at sea. On 15 May 1844 Elders Rogers and Grouard arrived in Tahiti while Elder Pratt remained in Tubuai.
The faith’s first congregation was established on Tubuai soon after the missionaries’ arrival. 170 years on, there are close to half a million Latter-day Saints in the South Pacific.