Ratana festivities

Ratana Church members will receive more visitors on Thursday including the Maori King Tuheitia and other dignitaries.

More than 500 guests are expected at Ratana Pa near Whanganui on Thursday to celebrate the birth of the church's founder, Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana.

Among the visitors on Wednesday - a group of indigenous Ainu people from Japan were escorted on to the pa by Maori Party MP, Te Ururoa Flavell.

He said the group's attendance rekindles the links made by Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana when he visited Japan more than 80 years ago.

Mr Flavell said the Ainu delegation will continue their tour of New Zealand and learn about the Maori language and customs.

He said the group will spend three weeks in the country, visiting the national kapa haka competition, Te Matatini, next month as well as the national museum, Te Papa and Parihaka in Taranaki.

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