Ratana prophet’s descendants continue Tūpuna legacy

By Tema Hemi

A direct descendant of Wiremu Ratana, and grandson of the current haahi president Harerangi Meihana, Hawea Meihana strives to inspire the next generation, "We can have all the conversations in the world of what the future of our māramatanga is going to look like but unless the future is a part of that conversation, he moumou taima [a waste of time]."

"If we were to go back and listen to the kōrero of our dad, Tahu Potiki Wiremu Ratana he even spoke about it, "I don't want you to celebrate my birthday, but what I want you to celebrate is Rangatahi.”

The Ratana Faith celebrated its first 100 years in 2018 since the visitation of the Holy Spirit upon its founder, Tahu Potiki Wiremu Ratana. The followers of the faith, known as 'Mōrehu' are celebrating the 137th birthday of Wiremu Ratana and the church has its sights set on the next 100 years. Its youth are at the forefront, leading the way into the future.  

Youth members of The Ratana Pā brass band 'Te Reo o Te Arepa', are enjoying their roles within the haahi. Meihana adds the voice of its rangatahi play an integral role to the survival of their faith.

"I like playing my instrument, the kettle drum and I like marching with the reo,” 13 year old Teina Phillips says.

Veteran Apōtoro Rehita Anaru Ratapu says through developing the church, in dance, kapa haka, sports, music and Te Reo Māori, a sustainable future can be forged.

Ratapu says, "If not for our youth our movement will surely die. Then it will be left in the hands of our Heavenly Father. If we don’t do our part, and nurture our youth in the teachings of this māramatanga."

Justin Gush, another descendant of Ratana, has been a driving force behind rangatahi initiatives during the annual celebrations. 

Gush says, "I think our rangatahi voice is very powerful. That’s our future leaders, our next generation coming through."

Meihana says, "Its heart warming, and I say, heart-warming in the sense of the future of our māramatanga is in good hands."