Arohanui: Letters from Shoghi Effendi to New Zealand

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • Bahá’í Publishing Trust of Suva, Fiji Islands, 1982 edition
  • Pages:
  • 104
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Pages 93-94

Appendix: Notes

90 91 92 93

Note 1. (Letter No. 1)

Margaret Stevenson, the first New Zealand Bahá’í was born on November 30th, 1865. Her first intimation of the Bahá’í Faith was through reading “The Christian Commonwealth” and she admitted later that “she did not think any more about it”. She received this journal from her sister who was in London studying music and had heard ‘Abdu’l-Bahá address the congregation of St. John’s, Westminster at the invitation of Canon Wilberforce. She was so impressed that when another discourse given by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at City Temple, London was printed in “The Christian Commonwealth” dated March 27th, 1911, she sent a copy of the journal to Margaret in New Zealand. In 1912, Miss Dorothea Spinney arrived in Auckland from London and stayed with Margaret at her home, “Clunie”, 3, Cowie Street, Parnell where she talked about the Bahá’í Cause and her own meeting with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. To quote Margaret’s own words: “As a child, I used to wish I had lived when Christ was on earth. As Miss Spinney spoke, I remembered my childhood wish, and the thought came to me that I too might have denied Him as so many others had done. It was this secret thought that made me seriously think of what I heard from Miss Spinney, and through God’s grace and mercy I was enabled to grasp and believe in Bahá’u’lláh and His Message”. 1 Margaret spoke to others of her belief and obtained literature from America, becoming a subscriber to “Star of the West”. Eventually a study group was formed in Auckland and for ten years, Margaret’s home was a venue for these classes. It was here that the first Bahá’í Feast in New Zealand took place in January, 1923.
In 1925, Margaret was one of a small group who journeyed from New Zealand to the Holy Land on pilgrimage, and after an inspiring nineteen days in Haifa, travelled on to England where she met with the English Bahá’í community. The pilgrims arrived back in Auckland in December, 1925, bringing with them some dust from the Tomb of Bahá’u’lláh which was placed in New Zealand soil at the Stevenson’s home in a ceremony held on February 14th, 1926.
In such a geographically remote country, the early New Zealand believers had scant knowledge of Bahá’í administration and erroneously called themselves an Assembly as early as 1924. This was corrected with 94 the receipt of a booklet on the subject and the first properly constituted Bahá’í Assembly in New Zealand was formed on April 21st, 1926, with Margaret Stevenson as its Secretary. A steadfast worker, Margaret was a member of the first National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Australia and New Zealand which was elected in 1934, and served the Bahá’í Cause with faithfulness and efficiency until her passing to the Abhá Kingdom on February 11th, 1941.
1. “The Bahá’í World, Vol. IX, 1940–1944”, pp. 600–602. Bahá’í Publishing Committee, Wilmette, Illinois, 1945   [ Back To Reference]