23 Jan 2014

Horomia whanau welcomed at Ratana

10:29 pm on 23 January 2014

The whanau of the late Maori Affairs Minister, Parekura Horomia, has been welcomed onto Ratana Pa for its annual celebrations.

The Ratana Brass Band leaves the church.

The Ratana Brass Band leaves the church. Photo: RNZ

The Horomia whanau and Te Tairawhiti was one of the last manuhiri (guests) to be welcomed on on Thursday, following Ratana Church members (morehu) from Te Taitokerau, and Whanganui.

Mr Horomia represented the Ikaroa-Rawhiti electorate and died in April last year. The 62-year-old had been an MP since 1999 and served as a minister, including the under the previous Labour-led government.

The annual celebration marks the anniversary of the birth of the founding member of the Ratana Church, Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana, and is a significant event which marks the beginning of the Maori and political calendars.

About 3000 beds have been set up to host kaumatua, iwi leaders, church dignitaries and the kingitanga and hundreds of people have pitched tents on the grounds for the week long event.

The Maori church was officially established in the 1920s along with its pan-tribal political movement, which has had a long history with the Labour Party.

Among those on the attendance list are the Maori King, Tuheitia, who has been on leave from his duties due to illness, a number of iwi and political leaders.

The first of many sports tournaments started on Thursday - and this year's celebration also features a Maori Information and Communication Technology gathering and interactive workshops for young people.

The Mana Party arrived at Ratana on Thursday morning. Other political parties will be there on Friday.