Te Haahi Rātana registered as church

21 July 1925

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

Founded in 1918 by Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana (1873–1939), the religion that bore his name provided hope for many dispossessed Māori and later became a force in Māori politics.

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 power.

On 31 May 1925 Rātana declared the existence of a separate church, Te Haahi Rātana. It was formally registered on 21 July.

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

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