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Te Haahi Rātana established as church

21 July 1925

Rātana Temple, c. 1930
Rātana Temple, c. 1930 (Alexander Turnbull Library, 1/2-018648-G)

Founded in 1918 by Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana (1873–1939), the religious movement that bore his name gave hope to many dispossessed Māori and later became a political force.

A prominent spiritual and faith healer, Rātana challenged the government and the British Crown to honour the Treaty of Waitangi. During the 1920s he established Rātana Pā, south-east of Whanganui, attracting a large pan-tribal following who bore witness to Rātana’s healing powers.

The constitution of the Rātana Church was accepted by the Registrar-General on 21 July 1925. The names of 38 Rātana ‘apostles’ (ministers) who were authorised to conduct marriages were published in the New Zealand Gazette.

The church embraced several Christian denominations and expressed tolerance towards other faiths. While the Bible is central to its rites, the Blue Book, written in Māori and containing prayers and hymns (many composed by Rātana himself), is also used in church services.

Today, the church continues to provide faith and guidance for many Māori across the country and overseas. In 2013, the Rātana Church had more than 40,000 adherents. Rātanā Pā attracts political leaders to its annual celebrations in late January.

How to cite this page

Te Haahi Rātana established as church, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated