23 Jan 2015

Ratana elders limit time with politicians

7:27 am on 23 January 2015

Ratana Church has limited the amount of time politicians can speak on the Marae when they make their annual visit to the Pā near Whanganui this year.

Today, hundreds of more visitors including various political parties, church denominations and international guests will be given a pōwhiri as they come to commemorate the birth of church's founder, Tahu Potiki Wiremu Ratana.

Te Tai Hauāuru MP, Adrian Rurawhe, who is also a Ratana Church member, said the church has decided to put the focus back on what the celebration is really about.

He said it was not until 1996 that all political parties started visiting the Pā. Before then it was only the Labour Party, to which T.W. Ratana aligned himself and the church, that made the annual pilgrimage.

Mr Rurawhe said church elders have decided to shorten the amount of time dedicated to politics and instead of having a separate pōwhiri for each political party there will now only be two official welcomes for groups of politicians.

The Ngāti Apa man said this means the event would not be dominated by politics and there would be more time to acknowledge T.W. Ratana.