The annual Rātana celebrations took place on Monday, following a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
By Regan Paranihi, Ethan Oneroa
A mix of church and iwi leaders converged onto Rātana Pā to celebrate the first day of the event, which signifies the birth of the faith’s founder, Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana.
It has also been known to be one of the first public engagements of the year for politicians, and although most of them are not due to arrive in Rātana until Tuesday, former deputy Prime Minister and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, alongside his party arrived early, sending a message of caution to Rātana leaders.
“You know what’s going to happen tomorrow. All those politicians will be turning up and they’ll be making you promises.
“They’ll promise you a bridge where there is no river,” he remarked, while the audience responded with laughter.
Spokesperson for the Rātana church Kamaka Manuel hopes politicians can come together to celebrate the occasion with mōrehu (followers of the faith).
“Ētahi wā ka haramai rātou anō nei ki te kawe i o rātou taupatupatu kōrero ki runga i a tātou, inā anō hoki ka tū te pōti i te mutunga o tēnei tau (Sometimes they bring along with them their disputes and challenges here to our event, considering it is also an election year as well).”
Celebrations are set to continue until Wednesday.