Indigenous | Ratana Paa

The sound from the 12th heaven guides visitors on to Ratana Pā

If you've ever wondered why the Ratana Band, Ngā Reo o Ratana, guides people on to the Pā, it's because the music they make resembles that of Tikitiki-o-rangi, the sound from the 12th heaven.

"They (Ngā Reo o Ratana) have the same mahi and responsibility as a kaiwero. The job of the brass bands is to clear the way for our manuhiri so that the marae ātea is a safe space to engage," says Ratana Pā's Lequan Meihana.

The Ratana Church's followers come together each year to commemorate the birth of Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana, the church's founder.

"The celebration is the first event on the Morehu calender for the year and has been running for generations. This year was the 150th birthday celebration," says Meihana.

Leon Parata, bandleader of Ngā Reo o Ratana, claims that his connection to the group spans generations and is a whānau affair.

"My whole family does it, I've always just wanted to be in it. I came in when I was six, my father did it before me, my father's brothers, aunties and uncles. Just a natural progression," says Parata.

"Within the movement there's seven reo, we have four that came from the time of Papa Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana, Te Reo o Te Arepa, Te Reo o Te Omeka, Te Reo o Piriwiritua, Te Reo o Hamuera," he says.

Ratana Church researcher Arahi Hagger says that the colours are represent the gardens belonging to Ihoa o Ngā Māno and are well known by the morehu.

"Each of the reo have a symbolic colour; the royal blue which is Te Arepa of course is the beginning and Te Omeka which is also the darker blue which is the ending," says Hagger.

"Hamuera it's almost a turquoise red which is a symbol for the gateway Hamuera Te Taatau and then you see green with Piriwiritua even though it's spritual they still have a phycial element to it because they can dwell within both worlds," he says.

"All those colours you will know what they are, and you know what they represent that's the code, the morehu code and morehu know how to read it."

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