25 Jan 2009

Thousands at Ratana service

4:07 pm on 25 January 2009

About 3000 faithful have gathered at Ratana's main temple south of Wanganui to celebrate the birth of the church's founder.

Ratana's followers filled the temple while hundreds more sought shade nearby for this year's service, on the 136th anniversary of Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana's birth.

The kawenata, a message drawn from the teachings left by Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana, this year told the followers to hold steadfast to the church and not be distracted by other movements.

Among the dignitaries in attendance are the Maori King, Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples and the head of Tuwharetoa, Tumu te Heuheu.

Ministers of other denominations including Catholic, Presbyterian and Anglican are also at the gathering.

The leaders of both major political parties pledged their continued support to the movement during the three-day annual celebration.