Ringatu faith commemorates 150 years

Special commemoration day to be held on Tuesday.

Special commemoration day to be held on Tuesday.

THE CHURCH SEAL: The Ringatu faith, which was founded by Te Kooti in 1868.
Picture supplied by Alexander Turnbull Library.
THE FUTURE OF RINGATU: The whanau of Eria Raukura, a staunch Ringatu member, with the flag they created for the Toi Haahi Ringatu programme. From left, Drummond Raroa, Isla Puia-Te Hei and Raumati Puia-Te Hei. Picture by Liam Clayton
The Rifleman. Picture courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library
Te Kooti. Picture courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library

Next week marks 150 years of Te Haahi Ringatu — the Ringatu Faith. The Gisborne Herald’s Shaan Te Kani gains an insight into how the event is being commemorated, and also looks back at research presented to the Waitangi Tribunal about the events surrounding the origins of the church . . .

Ringatu, the upraising of the right hand. A symbol of the faith.

Next week marks the 150th anniversary of that upraising, the founding of the Maori religious movement by the prophet Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki in 1868.

A special commemoration day, a ‘Ra Whakamaumahara’ of Te Haahi Ringatu will be held on Tuesday at Rangiwaho Marae just south of Gisborne near the area commonly known as Bartletts.

Hundreds are expected to attend including Ringatu parishes, descendants of the early followers, iwi representatives from the Kiingitanga, Ngati Maniapoto, Parihaka, and other Haahi Maori, such as Ratana and Mihinare churches.

The anniversary also marks 150 years since Te Kooti and 298 men, women and children escaped from Wharekauri (Chatham Islands) and landed at Whareongaonga, 20km south of Gisborne on July 9.

Known as The Whakarau (exiles or unhomed), they were imprisoned by the Crown without trial and exiled to Wharekauri after the Siege of Waerenga a Hika Pa, Turanga in 1865.

In early July 1868, the prisoners seized a schooner, the Rifleman, which was visiting Wharekauri. In all, 163 men, 64 women and 71 children escaped on the ship and made the return to the district.

Pou tikanga of the Ringatu church Wirangi Pera said the return of The Whakarau marked the beginning of the church.

“On arrival they performed karakia at Whareongaonga. At that time, that was the first karakia that was communicated by these people. We took that as the beginning of our Haahi.”

But the seeds of the newly-established faith had been sown in Wharekauri, as stated in the Turanga Tangata, Turanga Whenua (2004) Waitangi Tribunal report.

“One prisoner who fell ill was a Rongowhakaata man, Te Kooti Rikirangi,” the report states. Following his illness, Te Kooti advised his fellow prisoners that he had received a series of divine visions.

“He studied the Bible and built up the tenets of a new faith, which offered salvation to the prisoners: God would deliver them from oppression as he had once saved the Israelites in the Old Testament. Te Kooti planned their escape.”

The faith was founded during some of the most turbulent years in New Zealand history, the time of the New Zealand Land Wars.

Time to move forward

Mr Pera says despite the challenges and stigma that came with being a follower of Te Kooti at that time, the wairua is what has carried the faith through.

“Back then, you had two choices. You were either seen as a ‘rebel’ or a ‘loyalist’. There was no in between. We don’t understand the pressures that were on our people at that time. We need to believe that our tipuna were doing things for the purpose of survival in that time. Aside from the politics of that time, Te Haahi Ringatu was a wairua movement, and still is.

“Now is a time to move forward. One thing to also understand, is that even before Pakeha came here, we already had an understanding of wairua. Our rivers had a wairua, our land had a mauri, that was passed down to us from our elders. When Christianity arrived we already understood there was a God. We knew these things.”

A way of moving forward is through the number of activities that have been held locally in the build up to the Ra Whakamaumahara. One way that the Haahi has done this, is by engaging local schools and early childhood centres in an activity called Toi Haahi Ringatu 2018.

Organiser Karen Pewhairangi said the idea came from Haahi Ringatu parish members who were discussing ways to promote the 150 year commemorations to rangatahi of today.

“We knew that Te Haahi Ringatu and Te Kooti Arikirangi stories needed to be told in Te Tairawhiti. So, we organised Toi Haahi Ringatu for tamariki and mokopuna to learn about Te Haahi Ringatu. We ran a competition where tamariki created artwork and flags, wrote radio jingles, essays and poems to celebrate 150 years of Te Haahi Ringatu.

“Toi Haahi Ringatu is a great acheivement on many levels. It shows how far we have come, what knowledge is valued and what learning centres believe are important for their tamariki to learn. For us, we get the opportunity to set the record straight and tell the story from the our perspective.

“It’s exciting and exhilarating because through Toi Haahi Ringatu our tamariki and mokopuna have opportunities to learn about the history of Te Haahi Ringatu. We were impressed with the effort and creativity that tamariki put into their mahi, nga mihi nui.

“We developed a pool of learning resources for teachers and tamariki to use. We gathered and collated learning resources and made them easily accessible. We promoted Te Haahi Ringatu.”

The local pariha, or parishes of Te Tairawhiti are marae-based from Tuahuru Marae, Rongomaiwahine, Ngai Tamanuhiri, Rongowhakaata, Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Tokomaru Bay, Waiparapara Marae and Ruatorea, Te Aowera Marae.

They will welcome visiting pariha from throughout the country — Nga Pariha o Te Motu — to Muriwai Marae on Monday.

They include Tuhoe, Ngati Awa, Whakatohea, Waioeka and Te Whanau a Apanui.

Also at Muriwai, there will be a Ringatu Service, known as the 12th, which will be held on Wednesday and Thursday.

During the Ra Whakamaumahara at Rangiwaho Marae there will be a kawemate — a service to mourn The Whakarau.

There will be a re-dedication of the 1968 Te Unga Mai ‘Return of Te Kooti and the Whakarau’ memorial stone at Rangiwaho Marae, as well as the book launch of ‘U ana ki Whareongaonga’ by Professor Taiarahia Black, which tells the story of the people that came back from Wharekauri.

The Hon Meka Whaitiri will speak as a representative of the Crown, Judge Layne Harvey will deliver a historical context of

Turanga from 1840 to 1900, and Te Kahautu Maxwell — a Pou of the Haahi Ringatu — will be sharing korero on the future of the Haahi Ringatu.

Rangiwaho Marae trustee and Ringatu member Kay Robin said the marae whanau are looking forward to the occasion.

“Planning started years ago with our Nannys for our recently-opened wharenui and wharekai in preparation for this kaupapa, as we, and they were staunch Ringatu.

“We are the closest pa to Whareongaonga and the kohatu (stone) is here. This is a really big deal for us. We have had amazing support and koha from iwi and marae of Turanga, Tairawhiti and Te Mahia, for the preparations.

“It is recognition from them, that this is a really big kaupapa and they want to support it, which is wonderful for our Haahi and its future. There is a lot to prepare behind the scenes and we are expecting a lot of people to attend. Due to space we ask that whanau park up at Muriwai Marae and there will be shuttle buses to transport you to Rangiwaho.”

Whanau from Tairawhiti Haka roopu have been attending powhiri practices at Muriwai in recent weeks, in preparation for Tuesday’s mass powhiri.

Turanga FM is providing live coverage of the event. The last powhiri practice is tomorrow at Rangiwaho Marae at 1pm.

Also among the commemoration activities is the exhibition, Pouwhare: A Pillar of Strength currently on display at Tairawhiti Museum. It is a tribute exhibition to Te Kooti featuring new works from 12 Tairawhiti artists. Also at the museum, there will be a public presentation on Monday at 5.30pm by Peter Moeau, the author of a soon-to-be released book called Te Whakarere i a Wharekauri: Te Kooti Rikirangi me Te Whakarau.

Rongowhakaata iwi will host a commemoration of The Whakarau on Monday morning, travelling by boat on the MV Takitimu from Gisborne Port to Whareongaonga for a karakia and rememberance service. This will be followed by a breakfast and memorial service at Whakato Marae, Manutuke, with guest speakers; a representative of Nga Uri o Te Kooti, and Jody Wyllie.

A historical korero will also be delivered by Max Matenga at HB Williams Library on Monday from 12pm-1pm. The library is also running a quiz in relation to this kaupapa.​

Next week marks 150 years of Te Haahi Ringatu — the Ringatu Faith. The Gisborne Herald’s Shaan Te Kani gains an insight into how the event is being commemorated, and also looks back at research presented to the Waitangi Tribunal about the events surrounding the origins of the church . . .

Ringatu, the upraising of the right hand. A symbol of the faith.

Next week marks the 150th anniversary of that upraising, the founding of the Maori religious movement by the prophet Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki in 1868.

A special commemoration day, a ‘Ra Whakamaumahara’ of Te Haahi Ringatu will be held on Tuesday at Rangiwaho Marae just south of Gisborne near the area commonly known as Bartletts.

Hundreds are expected to attend including Ringatu parishes, descendants of the early followers, iwi representatives from the Kiingitanga, Ngati Maniapoto, Parihaka, and other Haahi Maori, such as Ratana and Mihinare churches.

The anniversary also marks 150 years since Te Kooti and 298 men, women and children escaped from Wharekauri (Chatham Islands) and landed at Whareongaonga, 20km south of Gisborne on July 9.

Known as The Whakarau (exiles or unhomed), they were imprisoned by the Crown without trial and exiled to Wharekauri after the Siege of Waerenga a Hika Pa, Turanga in 1865.

In early July 1868, the prisoners seized a schooner, the Rifleman, which was visiting Wharekauri. In all, 163 men, 64 women and 71 children escaped on the ship and made the return to the district.

Pou tikanga of the Ringatu church Wirangi Pera said the return of The Whakarau marked the beginning of the church.

“On arrival they performed karakia at Whareongaonga. At that time, that was the first karakia that was communicated by these people. We took that as the beginning of our Haahi.”

But the seeds of the newly-established faith had been sown in Wharekauri, as stated in the Turanga Tangata, Turanga Whenua (2004) Waitangi Tribunal report.

“One prisoner who fell ill was a Rongowhakaata man, Te Kooti Rikirangi,” the report states. Following his illness, Te Kooti advised his fellow prisoners that he had received a series of divine visions.

“He studied the Bible and built up the tenets of a new faith, which offered salvation to the prisoners: God would deliver them from oppression as he had once saved the Israelites in the Old Testament. Te Kooti planned their escape.”

The faith was founded during some of the most turbulent years in New Zealand history, the time of the New Zealand Land Wars.

Time to move forward

Mr Pera says despite the challenges and stigma that came with being a follower of Te Kooti at that time, the wairua is what has carried the faith through.

“Back then, you had two choices. You were either seen as a ‘rebel’ or a ‘loyalist’. There was no in between. We don’t understand the pressures that were on our people at that time. We need to believe that our tipuna were doing things for the purpose of survival in that time. Aside from the politics of that time, Te Haahi Ringatu was a wairua movement, and still is.

“Now is a time to move forward. One thing to also understand, is that even before Pakeha came here, we already had an understanding of wairua. Our rivers had a wairua, our land had a mauri, that was passed down to us from our elders. When Christianity arrived we already understood there was a God. We knew these things.”

A way of moving forward is through the number of activities that have been held locally in the build up to the Ra Whakamaumahara. One way that the Haahi has done this, is by engaging local schools and early childhood centres in an activity called Toi Haahi Ringatu 2018.

Organiser Karen Pewhairangi said the idea came from Haahi Ringatu parish members who were discussing ways to promote the 150 year commemorations to rangatahi of today.

“We knew that Te Haahi Ringatu and Te Kooti Arikirangi stories needed to be told in Te Tairawhiti. So, we organised Toi Haahi Ringatu for tamariki and mokopuna to learn about Te Haahi Ringatu. We ran a competition where tamariki created artwork and flags, wrote radio jingles, essays and poems to celebrate 150 years of Te Haahi Ringatu.

“Toi Haahi Ringatu is a great acheivement on many levels. It shows how far we have come, what knowledge is valued and what learning centres believe are important for their tamariki to learn. For us, we get the opportunity to set the record straight and tell the story from the our perspective.

“It’s exciting and exhilarating because through Toi Haahi Ringatu our tamariki and mokopuna have opportunities to learn about the history of Te Haahi Ringatu. We were impressed with the effort and creativity that tamariki put into their mahi, nga mihi nui.

“We developed a pool of learning resources for teachers and tamariki to use. We gathered and collated learning resources and made them easily accessible. We promoted Te Haahi Ringatu.”

The local pariha, or parishes of Te Tairawhiti are marae-based from Tuahuru Marae, Rongomaiwahine, Ngai Tamanuhiri, Rongowhakaata, Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Tokomaru Bay, Waiparapara Marae and Ruatorea, Te Aowera Marae.

They will welcome visiting pariha from throughout the country — Nga Pariha o Te Motu — to Muriwai Marae on Monday.

They include Tuhoe, Ngati Awa, Whakatohea, Waioeka and Te Whanau a Apanui.

Also at Muriwai, there will be a Ringatu Service, known as the 12th, which will be held on Wednesday and Thursday.

During the Ra Whakamaumahara at Rangiwaho Marae there will be a kawemate — a service to mourn The Whakarau.

There will be a re-dedication of the 1968 Te Unga Mai ‘Return of Te Kooti and the Whakarau’ memorial stone at Rangiwaho Marae, as well as the book launch of ‘U ana ki Whareongaonga’ by Professor Taiarahia Black, which tells the story of the people that came back from Wharekauri.

The Hon Meka Whaitiri will speak as a representative of the Crown, Judge Layne Harvey will deliver a historical context of

Turanga from 1840 to 1900, and Te Kahautu Maxwell — a Pou of the Haahi Ringatu — will be sharing korero on the future of the Haahi Ringatu.

Rangiwaho Marae trustee and Ringatu member Kay Robin said the marae whanau are looking forward to the occasion.

“Planning started years ago with our Nannys for our recently-opened wharenui and wharekai in preparation for this kaupapa, as we, and they were staunch Ringatu.

“We are the closest pa to Whareongaonga and the kohatu (stone) is here. This is a really big deal for us. We have had amazing support and koha from iwi and marae of Turanga, Tairawhiti and Te Mahia, for the preparations.

“It is recognition from them, that this is a really big kaupapa and they want to support it, which is wonderful for our Haahi and its future. There is a lot to prepare behind the scenes and we are expecting a lot of people to attend. Due to space we ask that whanau park up at Muriwai Marae and there will be shuttle buses to transport you to Rangiwaho.”

Whanau from Tairawhiti Haka roopu have been attending powhiri practices at Muriwai in recent weeks, in preparation for Tuesday’s mass powhiri.

Turanga FM is providing live coverage of the event. The last powhiri practice is tomorrow at Rangiwaho Marae at 1pm.

Also among the commemoration activities is the exhibition, Pouwhare: A Pillar of Strength currently on display at Tairawhiti Museum. It is a tribute exhibition to Te Kooti featuring new works from 12 Tairawhiti artists. Also at the museum, there will be a public presentation on Monday at 5.30pm by Peter Moeau, the author of a soon-to-be released book called Te Whakarere i a Wharekauri: Te Kooti Rikirangi me Te Whakarau.

Rongowhakaata iwi will host a commemoration of The Whakarau on Monday morning, travelling by boat on the MV Takitimu from Gisborne Port to Whareongaonga for a karakia and rememberance service. This will be followed by a breakfast and memorial service at Whakato Marae, Manutuke, with guest speakers; a representative of Nga Uri o Te Kooti, and Jody Wyllie.

A historical korero will also be delivered by Max Matenga at HB Williams Library on Monday from 12pm-1pm. The library is also running a quiz in relation to this kaupapa.​

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