The first waves of visitors were welcomed to Rātana Pā near Whanganui today for the church's annual commemorations.

The Church Secretary, Piriwiritua Rurawhe, says the church faithful faithfully keep on returning every year.

“I te tatūnga mai o te iwi Mōrehu ki konei ki Rātana, ki te whakanui i tēnei, i tō tātou hāhi, ngā akoranga katoa o tō tātou māramatanga. Hoki atu ngā mahara ki te tatūnga mai o te Wairua Tapu ki runga i tō tātou pāpā. Koinā te mea nui, ko te tatūnga mai o te Mōrehu ki konei, ki te pā.”

Taranaki and Whanganui iwi also arrived. Ruakere Hond says there's a link between Parihaka and Rātana.

“Kei runga anō i te āhua o te rapu i te māramatanga. Anā, tērā i te wā o Te Tohu rāua ko Te Whiti ko te taimahatanga i tērā wā ko te muru me te raupatu tae noa ki te wā mate anō a Tohu rāua ko Te Whiti, ko Merikiriki, Merikiriki ka tau anō te māramatanga, te Whetū Māramatanga ki runga i a Rātana.”

This is a significant year because in November it will be 100 years since T.W Ratana saw the vision of the Holy Spirit and Rurawhe says it’ll be an important centenary for all.

“Ahakoa tēnei ko te rautau o te tatūnga mai o te Wairua Tapu, te māramatanga, ko te mea nui ka noho tahi te iwi Mōrehu me te iwi Māori whānui o te motu, te ao katoa, i raro i te whakaaro kotahi. Koinā te mea nui o te kōrero a te Wairua Tapu ki tō tātou pāpā kia noho kotahi ki raro i a Ihowa o Ngā Mano.”

Hond, a descendant of Parihaka understands the importance of the centenary.

“Ko te māramatanga tonu tēnei. Te nuinga anō o ngā rohe i reira anō ngā tāngata arataki nei i te tangata i roto i te taimahatanga. He pērā anō a Rātana. A Rātana i tērā wā, ko tāna, ko te whetū mārama. Arā ko ngā tohu i tau mai te māramatanga ki runga i a ia me te arataki i tōna iwi i roto i ērā taimahatanga kia puta kia ora.”

The majority of the church’s followers are young people, Rurawhe says those numbers are climbing every year.

“Ki runga i a mātou o te tari o te hāhi, āe kua piki ake i te iwa tekau mano te maha o ngā Mōrehu kua rēhitatia i roto i te tari o te hāhi, i roto i ngā whare o Pōneke e 500,000 pea. Ki a mātou o te hāhi, maha o te iwi i rēhitatia ki roto i tō tātou hāhi.”

For the church faithful, the temple is their main focus as they celebrate the birthday of T.W Ratana.

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