The Ratana Church has been building its numbers of followers in Australia over the past 20 years. Eru Grace is an apostle based in the Brisbane area who says he has had to overcome many challenges as an apostle on foreign soil.
Although far from home, this young Ratana apostle holds fast to his teachings.
"The greatest obstacles over there is not having a marae where we can take our tūpāpaku and it's always at the homes. But the beauty about our people, they make do with what they do," Grace says.
For seven years, Grace has upheld his role as an āpotoro wairua. Today he was ordained an āpotoro rēhita and will now take up his new role as a senior apostle.
"I'm very nervous and new challenges are ahead and going into a new role. It's all about the people and our Mōrehu over in Australia."
Because the Ratana Church is not a recognised church in Australia, its constitution prohibits Grace from performing some aspects of his role.
"Because I live in Australia, I won't be able to do any mārena (marriages) and that's because of the laws of the land that prohibit me from doing that."
One of the important roles of an āpotoro rēhita is to christen its newest members. Today Ngāhuia Eru of Ngāti Tuwharetoa had 12 of her grandchildren christened.
"Very proud to all be together today to celebrate our matua's 25th every year, but this year is extra special with all my mokopuna being iriiri this morning," Eru says.
Kayne Haira is another young Ratana apostle based in Melbourne and is hopeful that more will take up positions within the church.
"That is what I am hoping is that more rangatahi get involved. That they start in a position of the church and begin a new journey in life," Haira says.
Grace says his new role brings great responsibility with it.
"Shepherding our Mōrehu, awhi in the community and the wider community and te iwi Māori in Piripane. And so yeah, I'm playing an elevated role among the community."
Today marks the 137th birthday of Wiremu Ratana and Grace intends to continue building his Brisbane parish for however long it takes.