National | Māori

Rātana hui reflects choice of mōrehu not a split in ranks

Factions of the Rātana church are holding separate hui on January 25 to celebrate the birth of religious leader, Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana.

The birth of the founder of the largest Māori church in the country will be celebrated at three different hui this month.

The six parishes of Muriwhenua in Northland will host a ceremony from January 23–25 at Te Kao.

In a social media post, Auckland Āpōtoro Kereama Pene urged mōrehu or Rātana followers to “push the reset button at Te Kao and see the North arise.” The hui is also expected to discuss arrangements for an overseas trip recreating Rātana’s world tour of 1924.

Bay of Plenty parishes from Tauranga, Rotorua, Te Puke and Whakatane are also holding their own celebration on January 25 at Mangatawa in Tauranga, near Tamapahore marae.

Kīngi Tuheitia is expected to travel to Rātana Pā near Marton for the annual commemoration of Rātana’s birthday, where he’ll present the response of a national hui of unity he is hosting next week. Politicians from the National-led coalition government and the opposition are also expected to attend the event.

The Northland and Rātana Pā hui reflect a split in the movement, which resulted in two leaders or Tumuaki, last year.

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Manuao Tamou was appointed by members based at Rātana Pā near Whanganui, and Andre Meihana was elected by Te Rohe o Piriwiritua, made up of 16 parishes affiliated to the church.

Both men are descendants of Tahupotiki Wiremu Rātana, who predicted the leadership split in a prophecy made around 90 years ago, saying ‘There shall rise two Tumuaki from among the ranks of the people”.

But an online Rātana Church newsletter from Te Tari o Te Haahi, said the “separate hui are not in competition with commemorations at Rātana Pā”, and reflected the choice of church members “to celebrate in their own unique ways in their own rohe (area).”

The newsletter stated in previous years, hui celebrating Rātana’s birthday and Te Waru o Noema—the anniversary of Rātana’s holy vision on November 8—have also taken place outside of Rātana.

According to the 2018 Census data, there are 43,281 mōrehu or followers of the Rātana church.