The Governor General, Lieutenant General Sir Jerry Mateparae, says it's a different feeling returning home to Ratana Pa as the head of state.
It's 139 years on Wednesday since the birth of the founder of the Ratana church, Tahu Potiki Wiremu Ratana.
The Governor General who is part of the movement, was among hundreds who attended Ratana celebrations on Wednesday, on a marae near Whanganui.
He told Te Manukorihi it's unusual to receive an official welcome, at a place where he spent time growing up.
Sir Jerry said when he visited Ratana in the past he didn't think he would be one of the dignitaries being welcomed.
He says the whole atmosphere including the church services and waiata or hymns are all familiar.
A spokesperson for the church Waka Paama says it is the first time a Governor General has been officially welcomed to Ratana Pa.