Rātana celebrations hit high note

Annual celebrations took place at Rātana Pa recently, 151 years since the birth of Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana.

Published: Rāmere, 26 Kohitātea, 2024 | Friday, 26 January 2024

Celebrations kicked off at Rātana Pa earlier this week, 151 years since the birth of Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana.

2024 is a special year for the Rātana Church. It marks 100 years since Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana and his followers toured the world in 1924, hoping to present their petition on the Treaty of Waitangi and land confiscations to King George V in London.

While the group were not allowed to present their petition to the King, they were able to help persuade the New Zealand government to set up a commission of inquiry into Māori land confiscations.

Acting Deputy Secretary Regional Partnerships and Operations Anaru Matthews (Te Āti Haunui a Pāpārangi te iwi, Ngā Paerangi tō hapu) has a strong whānau connection to Rātana and visited this year’s celebrations along with other Te Puni Kōkiri kaimahi.

“My nanna is of the Mōrehu faith and was born at Rātana so the celebrations on 25 January have always played a big part in my life - from nappies to now suits,” Anaru said.

“As a kid, 24 January was always an exciting day as it was the sports day; I have so many great memories of haka, fierce competition and Deep Heat for the muscles afterwards.”

“It was a surreal experience attending Rātana for mahi this year, because the world looks slightly different from behind the marching band being welcomed on rather than seeing the band from the front, sitting in the marquee, waiting for the manuhiri to arrive.”

Rātana celebrations are also an important event in the political calendar, with members of various political parties in attendance. This year, Minister of Māori Development, Tama Potaka, took the opportunity to undertake a range of visits across Te Tai Hauāuru as well as attending Rātana with Prime Minister Christopher Luxon.

There were respectful wero presented by the Kīngitanga and whaikōrero alike, which was met by cheers from the crowd.

“I saw Te Puni Kōkiri playing a key role in supporting the government’s priorities and I’m excited to see how we as Te Puni Kōkiri rise to the wero of supporting those priorities.”

“I left the Pa with a proud sense of being a public servant, who is Māori. I left the Pa thinking of ways to do better in my job to drive better outcomes for whānau within my realm of influence. And, I also left the Pa without any sore muscles after a rugby game!”

Last year’s Rātana celebrations marked the 150th birthday of Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana. Read our coverage at last year’s event, Rātana Rangatahi – Our Āpōpō, on tpk.govt.nz.