RATANA - TAHUPOTIKI - WIREMU - TE- UREWERA - NZ - 1873 --- 1924
edmondsallan - Hello -Much has been written about this religious founder whose teachings are still followed today .What I have brought together is a summary taken from the many documents that others have collatted about him . Why ? Many in NZ have knowledge of the " Ratana faith followers " Only some may not . Many of our over- seas members who follow he journals may not . Some of them as well as the rest of NZ may have relatives who are proud to be part of this very old Maori Religion . I hope it will assist somebody , some how , some where .
Ngati Apa and Nga Rauru; faith healer, religious founder, political leader --- Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana was the founder of a Maori religious movement which, in the late 1920s, also became a major political movement. He was the latest in a line of prophetic descent which included Te Ua Haumene, Tawhiao Te Wherowhero, Tohu Kakahi, Te Whiti-o-Rongomai, Titokowaru, Te Kooti Arikirangi, Paora Te Potangaroa and Mere Rikiriki.
Ratana is widely believed to have been born on 25 January 1873 at Te Kawau, near Bulls. His father was Wiremu Ratana, also known as Wiremu Kowhai or Urukohai, and his mother was Ihipera Koria Erina. Through his grandfather, Ratana Ngahina, he was connected to Ngati Apa, Nga Wairiki, Nga Rauru and Ngati Hine. The family also had connections with Ngati Ruanui, Taranaki and Ngati Raukawa, but in official documents they usually described themselves as Ngati Apa.
Ratana Ngahina inherited and bought land on which he developed a prosperous sheep and cattle station at Awahou. An Anglican, pro-government loyalist, Ratana Ngahina was respected as a chief and generous benefactor of the community. After the 1918 influenza epidemic Tahupotiki Ratana was his only male heir. Ratana's mother was Methodist; his senior kinswoman, Mere Rikiriki, a faith healer and dispenser of herbal medicine, had been at Parihaka with Te Whiti and Tohu and had later established her own Church of the Holy Spirit at Parewanui. She taught Ratana her beliefs and skills. He was thus exposed to strong but diverse religious and political influences from his childhood.
Ratana, who had many younger siblings, was brought up by an adoptive mother, Ria Hamuera, at Te Kawau, attending a village school at Awahuri. He later said that he learned little at school. Ratana worked on the family property and other farms; he was keen on rugby and race-horses, and was a champion ploughman and wheat stacker. He took part in the social life of the district centred on the Turakina hotel and later stated that before his enlightenment he sometimes drank to excess.
Towards the turn of the century Ratana married Te Urumanaao Ngapaki, also known as Ngauta Urumanao Baker, of Nga Rauru and Ngati Hine, in the Methodist Church at Parewanui. They had four sons: Haami Tokouru, Matiu, Arepa (Alpha) and Omeka (Omega); and three daughters: Rawinia, Maata and Piki. All would play important roles in the Ratana church and political movement.
Although Mere Rikiriki had prophesied in 1912 that Ratana would become a spiritual leader, he showed little sign of his potential until 1918. That year, events occurred which were later interpreted as omens of significance. During one of these, on 8 November, he saw a strange cloud like a whirlwind approach. As he ran towards his house he experienced a vision of all the world's roads stretching towards him and felt a heavy but invisible weight descend upon his shoulders. His family saw that he looked strange. He had been struck dumb, but the Holy Spirit spoke through him to his family: 'May peace be upon you; I am the Holy Spirit who is speaking to you; wash yourselves clean, make yourselves ready.' Ratana was regarded as the Mangai (mouthpiece) of the Holy Spirit, and in later years this day was celebrated as the anniversary of his maramatanga (revelation).
Through the next few weeks Ratana's family believed him mad. At times he spoke with the voices of the Holy Spirit or the archangels Gabriel or Michael. He cleared out his house and took his family for night walks over rugged farm land. He put all the clothes and belongings of some members of his family in piles and said they belonged to the dead; all of their owners died in the influenza epidemic then raging throughout New Zealand. Those who had followed his advice to leave their homes survived. As his strange behaviour continued, Te Urumanaao and other family members came to believe that he was not mad but divinely inspired.
Ratana began to show an ability to heal through prayer. The first healing was that of Omeka, who had become ill in October when a needle became lodged behind his knee. A planned operation at Wanganui Hospital did not eventuate because the needle could not be located. Omeka was brought home; it was predicted that he would die. After a week of intensive prayer the needle emerged from Omeka's thigh. Word spread, and at a hui tangihanga for all those who had lost family members in the influenza epidemic, the Whanganui chief Te Kahupukoro brought his bedridden daughter to see Ratana. After asking the girl whether she believed in the power of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Ratana told her to rise; she recovered to lead a normal life. This was the second of many healings, and by the end of 1918 a growing number of visitors came to Ratana's farm.
The three years following saw the rapid rise of Ratana's reputation throughout New Zealand and, after his first cures of Europeans, further afield. During 1919 and 1920 the train disgorged from 20 to 100 visitors at Ratana station daily; in these early years they were all entertained at his expense. A makeshift village began to develop at what was beginning to be called Ratana pa. Requests to the government were made (but refused) for free railway passes for patients to visit the pa. Many articles, pamphlets and books were published about Ratana; one called him 'the Maori Miracle Man'.
His calling legitimated through cures, Ratana also led a sweeping religious revival, mainly among Maori. In 1921 and 1922 he travelled throughout the North and South Islands with dozens of supporters; marquees were erected to shelter them and some meetings were attended by thousands. His motorcade between Napier and Tauranga was estimated to have cost 1,300. All of these visits produced numerous conversions to his teachings; in some places more than half the Maori population agreed to become part of the morehu (survivors), the name for Ratana's followers.
Ratana continued to use tribal institutions to host his tours and allowed his followers at Ratana to organise themselves tribally; initially, he also encouraged them to continue as members of their own churches, and some of his most enthusiastic followers were Anglican and Methodist clergymen. Mass conversions meant that several other locally based Maori churches ceased to exist. In places visited by Ratana the cures witnessed lent weight to his prophetic sayings, which were treasured afterwards. As part of his campaign against traditional Maori religion and tohunga he deliberately desecrated places of ancient tapu.
Ratana was physically unremarkable save for his piercing eyes. His voice and manner were quiet and gentle; he adopted no histrionics and did not touch his patients. His method was to question them about their illness and their faith in the healing powers of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and the Faithful Angels. If the answers were satisfactory he would command them to rise, or set aside their crutches. He worked mainly with the lame, the blind or the paralysed. He did not always aim for instant healing, often commanding cripples to give up their props over a number of days. A growing pile of crutches, walking-sticks and wheelchairs at Ratana pa testified to his success.
In these early years Ratana regarded himself as a Presbyterian layman and did not preach during services, even in the church, Piki-te-ora, he had built on his property in 1920. His teaching and healing was done at night in the meeting house. There he also signed the letters prepared by his secretaries in response to the many written pleas for help. He did not allow journalists to photograph or even to interview him, and in his travels hid among his followers. Because of the press of the curious, bodyguards surrounded him.
From the beginning of his public mission, Ratana was criticised. Eyewitnesses who attended his meetings said they had seen no cures, and the reports of miracles were often second-hand, many being described to journalists by Pita Moko, Ratana's secretary. Even the famous cure by letter of Fanny Lammas was said to be through auto-suggestion. Accusations were made that sick followers were refusing to visit doctors. Orthodox Christians claimed Ratana was worshipping angels. Reweti T. Kohere conducted a campaign against him in Maori newspapers, claiming he was a tohunga similar to Rua Kenana, Te Wereta and Hikapuhi a potentially damaging charge. Ratana was defended by the superintendent of the Anglican Maori mission, the Reverend W. G. Williams, and by Arthur F. Williams in Te Toa Takitini. They claimed he preached a simple biblical faith, and that his revivalism and work against 'tohungaism' were invaluable. Nevertheless, in 1921 Ratana sent newspapers a defence of his activities, saying that criticism was so frequent and antagonistic that, although he had received more than 70,000 letters from New Zealand and other countries, he would in future work only with Maori.
Through the early 1920s Ratana's movement became gradually more institutionalised and politicised. In 1920 he set up an office at Ratana, and as the costs of his meetings increased, gifts of food and money were canvassed from other Maori settlements. The King movement leader, Tupu Taingakawa, was among those who challenged him in 1920 to care for the sicknesses of the land as well as those of the body. Ratana's response was that first it was necessary to unite the people in the worship of Jehovah. Convinced of his divine mission, Ratana and his staff were confused and upset when an attempt to draw the Maori King Te Rata and his people into the movement in 1922 was rejected by King movement leaders as an affront. Ratana made later attempts to heal the breach but was never successful. Throughout 1922 he and his staff denied any interest in politics. The press labelled various followers of Ratana, including his son Haami Tokouru, as official Ratana electoral candidates. Ratana continued to say publicly that voters should follow their conscience. But the movement was growing beyond his own aims. The rise of other strong leaders within the movement with their own agenda of Maori nationalism was lessening Ratana's control over its direction.
By 1923 the first Ratana federation, the United Maori Welfare League of the Northern, Southern and Chatham Islands, had been formally set up. Football, haka and poi dancing teams were organised; apostles (Ratana ministers) had been appointed and sent to travel the country seeking converts; awhina (sisters) and akonga (lay readers) were being instituted; the first two Ratana churches had been built by Ngati Maniapoto and Ngati Whatua; and Ratana choirs and bands had been trained, dressing in their distinctive purple, white and gold uniforms. A schoolhouse had been opened at Ratana pa.
In a speech at Christmas 1923, Ratana publicly committed himself to a partly political programme: on a planned journey to Britain he would take both the Bible and the Treaty of Waitangi, symbolic of the spiritual and political sides of his mission. While Pita Moko obtained passports from a reluctant government, on 18 March 1924 Ratana and his family visited Mt Taranaki and Parihaka. Beside a stream on the mountain he heard a voice repeating words of Titokowaru, and encountered at Parihaka sayings left by Te Whiti and Tohu that foretold that he must take his spiritual message to the wider world.
Before leaving, Ratana endorsed a new formal organisation of his federation and its banking operations. They were announced in the Ratana newspaper, Te Whetu Marama o Te Kotahitanga, the first issue of which appeared on 15 March 1924. An executive council of the federation was appointed, as was an interim management committee.
Till we meet again - Regards - edmondsallan