Celebrations marking the 150th year of Te Hāhi Ringatū continued yesterday in Gisborne.

But members are worried about the state of the church and are looking for ways to increase its membership.

Iwi leader and staunch Ringatū member Te Kahautu Maxwell says the changing world is part of the reason the membership is dwindling.

“Kua kore te noho a te Ringatū, kua kore tērā noho Māori, te noho ki runga pā, ki runga marae. Ā, nā kua mārara, kua manene ngā Ringatū ki te whenua.”

According to statistics, the number of members has dropped. Member Whitiaua Ropitini says there is a concern in this the 150th year since its founder Te Kooti established the church.

“Ko te whakatūpato, kai noho rawa tātou i roto i ngā tikanga o te ao kōhatu, mate atu i te ao kōhatu. Ki te kore tātou e titiro ki te ao o tātou pākeke, kua kore tātou e titiro whakamua, e titiro ki te pae tawhiti he mate kei te haere.”

Maxwell also says they are now thinking of the next generation.

“Me tahuri ki ngā hangarau, me tahuri ki te ipurangi - ērā mea katoa. Nā Paora Kingi ngā tapu i horahora no reira ko tā te hāhi he nanao atu ki ngā rakau a te Pākehā hei oranga mo te hāhi.”

The leader of the church, Wirangi Pera, agrees.

“He maha ngā take kei mua i a tātou mō te hāhi hei whaihanga i roto i te ao Māori he maha ngā mahi koirā rā ngā mea hei whāinga mā tātou.”

A distant goal which the hāhi will no doubt pursue.

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