Maori Prophecy and Zion

Parehaka Pa (Binney - Ancestral Voices)

Maori Prophets

"The missionaries despaired over many of the Maori's responses to the Christian teachings.
But it was the scriptures which provided the model for a new dimension to Maori spirituality." (Elsmore - Mana from Heaven)

"All the prophets tried to establish a common identity for the Maori as Israelites, cutting across the tribal divisions while still accepting them historically. They drew on traditional Maori concepts of the cosmology, and particularly on the intervening role of the aria, the spirits of the ancestors, who may appear to the living in many forms. The ancestors were and are believed to speak with the mouth of the gods, and to be able to remember what has not yet happened. These Maori concepts of cyclic history were brought into the framework of the Judaeo-Christian faiths, and created the new religions. The prophets believed, like the Israelites, that God moved with people through time." (Binney - Ancestral Voices)

Te Kooti unverified (Elsmore)

Major Reference Works:

Short Vignettes:

Te Whiti and Parihaka

The Taranaki is one of the worst examples of Pakeha appropriation of Maori land. In southern Taranaki a new Maori prophet, Te Whiti, held up settlement. He foretold that the day would come when the Pakeha would all go and leave New Zealand for the Maori. Te Whiti opposed drinking alcohol and the prayer meetings he conducted in his village at Parihaka attracted many followers. Te Whiti believed that his tribe had been promised reserves when the government had taken their land. These had not been given. To the Maoris, of course, it was their land, not government land.

Te Whiti's followers began to resist the European occupation of the confiscated land. They pulled out survey pegs and ploughed up nearby European farms in a peaceful protest. What scared the government was that a leader of the ploughing parties was the famous guerilla fighter Titokowaru. In 1881 the Native Minister, John Bryce, led an expedition of the militia to occupy Parihaka, where they were met by a couple of hundred children, singing and dancing. One of our early poets, Jessie Mackay, wrote a parody of "The Charge of the Light Brigade" to celebrate the victory of the militia. Te Whiti and another leader, Tohu, were arrested and locked up for a year.

When they went back Te Whiti built a model village with piped water and electricity. This was a new effort to lead his people to a successful life in the world of the Pakeha.

Rua (Scott)

Rua's New Jerusalem

As Te Kooti lay dying he said, "in twice seven years a man shall arise in the mountains to succeed me. He shall be the new prophet of the people." Rua Kenana said that he was that man. He called himself Te Mihaia Hou, the new Messiah. As Te Kooti had done, Rua used the sufferings of the Jews to explain the present suffering of the Tuhoe people. His followers called themselves Nga Iharaira (the Israelites), and his settlement at Maungapohatu, in the Ureweras, was called New Jerusalem. Rua promised the Tuhoe that their lands would be returned and that Pakeha rule would come to an end. At its peak, Rua's New Jerusalem attracted over a thousand people, mostly from the Tuhoe and Whakatohea tribes. Maungapohatu was very isolated and few Pakehas had ever been there. Strange stories were told by people who knew nothing about Rua and who were afraid of Maori prophets. During the First World War Pakeha fears began to centre upon Rua's attitude to the war. He told his followers that the time for fighting was past. They should not fight in the Pakehas' war. It was a short step from that to the Pakehas believing that Rua was on Germany's side. People began to call Rua "the Maori Kaiser" and to talk about the New Jerusalem as Rua's "stronghold". The government decided to arrest him.

Children playing on the mud slide outside the school at Maungapohatu (Basset et. al.)

In March 1916 the invasion of Maungapohatu was planned. Seventy police were sent in three groups. There were a large number of mounted police, some of whom had been at Waihi in 1912. Because Rua's village was so remote, the police had to take a lot of gear and camp on the way. They moved like a small army with waggons and pack- horses. They were convinced that when they reached Maungapohatu there would be a fight. In fact there was no resistance. Rua came to meet them with his two eldest sons, Whatu and Toko. But when the police moved suddenly to seize Rua there was a scuffle and a gun went off. No one knows whose. Immediately there was panic. The police had been expecting an ambush and thought this was it. Toko Rua ran for his gun and wounded four policemen before he was shot and killed. Toko's best friend, Te Maipi, was also killed. Rua, Whatu, and four others were arrested. Rua was charged with sedition (a kind of treason). His trial in the Auckland High Court lasted forty-seven days. It was the longest trial in New Zealand history until 1977. None of the charges against Rua based on the events of 2 April could be made to stick, but he was found guilty of a lesser offence - being unwilling to be arrested at Te Waiiti on 12 February. The judge sentenced him to twelve months' hard labour and eighteen months' imprisonment, a very heavy sentence. Eight members of the jury signed a petition protesting at the harsh treatment of Rua.

Maungapohatu today (O'Connor and Melbourne)

The cost of defending themselves at the trials that followed the raid on Maungapohatu, and the cost of the raid itself, which the Maoris had to pay, almost ruined Rua's people. They had to sell much of their land and all their animals. Pleas for help were met with indifference. "No anxiety need be felt as to Rua's wives or children starving. Natives always help one another and if ever they become short of food they will either go back to their own people, or get married to other Natives," reported an official sent to look into their desperate plight. When Rua returned to his followers in 1918 he found them much poorer. Many people had left the settlement, but others stayed with him until his death on 20 February 1937. Some still believe that he will return to them, as he promised.

Ratana (Basset et. al.)

Tahupotiki Ratana and the Ratana religion

Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana was the founder of a Maori religious movement which, in the late 1920s, also became a major political movement. His prophetic descent included Te Ua Haumene, Tawhiao Te Wherowhero, Tohu Kakahi, Te Whiti-o-Rongomai, Titokowaru, Te Kooti Arikirangi, Paora Te Potangaroa and Mere Rikiriki. Through his grandfather, Ratana Ngahina, he was connected to Ngati Apa, Nga Wairiki, Nga Rauru and Ngati Hine. Ratana Ngahina was respected as a chief and generous benefactor of the community. Ratanas mother was Methodist; his senior kinswoman, Mere Rikiriki, a faith healer and dispenser of herbal medicine, had been at Parihaka with Te Whiti and Tohu and had later established her own Church of the Holy Spirit at Parewanui. She taught Ratana her beliefs and skills. He was exposed to strong but diverse religious and political influences.

Although Mere Rikiriki had prophesied in 1912 that Ratana would become a spiritual leader, he showed little sign of his potential until 1918. That year, events occurred which were later interpreted as omens of significance. On 8 November, he saw a strange cloud like a whirlwind approach. As he ran towards his house he experienced a vision of all the worlds roads stretching towards him and felt a heavy but invisible weight descend upon his shoulders. His family saw that he looked strange. He had been struck dumb, but the Holy Spirit spoke through him to his family: May peace be upon you; I am the Holy Spirit who is speaking to you; wash yourselves clean, make yourselves ready. Ratana was regarded as the Mangai (mouthpiece) of the Holy Spirit, and in later years this day was celebrated as the anniversary of his maramatanga (revelation).

Through the next few weeks Ratanas family believed him mad. At times he spoke with the voices of the Holy Spirit or the archangels Gabriel or Michael. He cleared out his house and took his family for night walks over rugged farm land. He put all the clothes and belongings of some members of his family in piles and said they belonged to the dead; all of their owners died in the influenza epidemic then raging throughout New Zealand. Those who had followed his advice to leave their homes survived. As his strange behaviour continued, Te Urumanaao and other family members came to believe that he was not mad but divinely inspired.

Ratana began to show an ability to heal through prayer. The first healing was that of his son Omeka, who had become ill in October when a needle became lodged behind his knee. A planned operation at Wanganui Hospital did not eventuate because the needle could not be located. Omeka was brought home; it was predicted that he would die. After a week of intensive prayer the needle emerged from Omekas thigh. Word spread, and at a hui tangihanga for all those who had lost family members in the influenza epidemic, the Whanganui chief Te Kahupukoro brought his bedridden daughter to see Ratana. After asking the girl whether she believed in the power of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Ratana told her to rise; she recovered to lead a normal life. This was the second of many healings, and by the end of 1918 a growing number of visitors came to Ratanas farm. The three years following saw the rapid rise of Ratanas reputation throughout New Zealand and, after his first cures of Europeans, further afield. He had 20 to 100 visitors daily; articles called him the Maori Miracle Man.

Ratana also led a sweeping religious revival, mainly among Maori. In 1921 and 1922 he travelled throughout the North and South Islands with dozens of supporters; marquees were erected to shelter them and some meetings were attended by thousands. His motorcade between Napier and Tauranga was estimated to have cost 1,300. All of these visits produced numerous conversions to his teachings; in some places more than half the Maori population agreed to become part of the morehu (survivors), the name for Ratanas followers. In places visited by Ratana the cures witnessed lent weight to his prophetic sayings, which were treasured afterwards. As part of his campaign against traditional Maori religion and tohunga he deliberately desecrated places of ancient tapu.

Ratana was physically unremarkable save for his piercing eyes. His voice and manner were quiet and gentle; he adopted no histrionics and did not touch his patients. His method was to question them about their illness and their faith in the healing powers of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and the Faithful Angels. If the answers were satisfactory he would command them to rise, or set aside their crutches. He worked mainly with the lame, the blind or the paralysed. He did not always aim for instant healing. A growing pile of crutches, walking-sticks and wheelchairs at Ratana pa testified to his success.

From the beginning of his public mission, Ratana was criticised. Eyewitnesses who attended his meetings said they had seen no cures, and the reports of miracles were often second-hand. Even the famous cure by letter of Fanny Lammas was said to be through auto-suggestion. Accusations were made that sick followers were refusing to visit doctors. Orthodox Christians claimed Ratana was worshipping angels.

The King movement leader, Tupu Taingakawa, was among those who challenged him in 1920 to care for the sicknesses of the land as well as those of the body. Ratanas response was that first it was necessary to unite the people in the worship of Jehovah.

On 18 March 1924 Ratana and his family visited Mt Taranaki and Parihaka. Beside a stream on the mountain he heard a voice repeating words of Titokowaru, and encountered at Parihaka sayings left by Te Whiti and Tohu that foretold that he must take his spiritual message to the wider world.

Ratana Church at Mangamuka Left and right towers are Arepa and Omeka (Morrison 22). Note the crescent moon and star on each tower. Ratana believed the Maori and the Japanese were lost tribes of Israel. (see below) Mormons likewise believe the Amerindians are a lost tribe. Ratana visited the Japanese their peoples were formally married there. Much later during World War II, Jews were welcomed into Japan where the Makuyo sect still claims a relationship with Judaism. A 'Davidic star' appears on the Ise shrine. (Jones 143).

A breach with orthodox religions developed over the years, provoking intense theological debates at Ratana pa. Initially, Ratana had discouraged attempts to deify him, but within two years the Ratana formula for the godhead included the Mangai, as well as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Ratana began to refer to other churches as introduced to New Zealand by gentiles, and therefore not fit for his people. In the early 1920s the Mangai had often prayed publicly in the name of Jesus; in the 1930s this practice was dropped and the Mangai himself was sometimes regarded as the kaiwhakaora (saviour). Both his sons Arepa (Alpha) and Omeka (Omega), always regarded as imbued with spiritual forces, died early in the 1930s, and not long afterwards the Mangai began to encourage his followers to regard them as Ratana saints or mediators.The final straw for the orthodox was that Ratana abandoned monogamy. In 1925, encouraged by Te Urumanaao, he took a second, much younger, wife to protect him against the infatuation of thousands of admiring women; this was Iriaka Te Rio, one of the dance troupe of girls who had travelled with Ratana. He had two children by her. Te Urumanaao was known from this time by the title, Te Whaea o te Katoa (the mother of all).

"On his first overseas trip Ratana had returned via Japan, visiting a Japanese Christian bishop. Relations with the Japanese had been very good; it was the highlight of the trip. Ratana thought that both Maori and Japanese were among the lost tribes of Israel. A marriage between two of his party took place in Japan, the ceremony presided over by a Japanese bishop" (Ballara).

"The idea grew that Ratana had married the Maori race to the Japanese race, had enlisted their support for Maori grievances and had prophesied the coming of worldwide war between the non-white and white races. He was accused of brandishing a Japanese Dagger and flying the Japanese flag at Ratana pa. Eyewitnesses denied these stories, and Ratana himself gave a speech describing his familys loyalty to the Crown, but some Maori leaders grew concerned and reported their fears to the government. When Pita Moko issued an official denial and published the text of Ratanas new covenant to demonstrate that the church was not disloyal, some morehu were disappointed at what they regarded as a betrayal and withdrew from the movement. Ratanas healing power, as he had predicted, was deserted him, although Pita Moko continued to report some cures" (Ballara).

In 1928 he decided that four of his followers should stand for Parliament. He could see that government money was spent to help Pakeha New Zealanders and he wanted a strong voice for ordinary Maoris in Parliament. The first Ratana Member of Parliament was Eruera Tirikatene, who won Southern Maori in a by-election in 1932. When Labour won the 1935 election Ratana went to see the Prime Minister, "Micky" Savage, at Parliament Buildings. He placed on the table, a potato, a broken gold watch, a greenstone tiki, and a huia feather. Savage looked at these things and asked Ratana to explain what they meant. The potato was the ordinary Maori who needed his land because "a potato cannot grow without soil". The watch was broken, like the law which protected Maori land; the law of the new government must repair the broken law of the old one. The tiki stood for the spirit of the Maori. If Savage protected the Maori people he would earn the right to wear the huia feather, which was the sign of a chief. Since Ratana's visit to Savage most Maoris have supported the Labour Party, and all four seats have been Labour since 1943. The votes of Maori members twice kept Labour Governments in power, 1946-49 and 1957-60. Ratana died on 18 September 1939. His message to his people was that they could survive in a Pakeha world - even in the cities. The angels would strengthen those who believed. The Ratana religion gave them confidence and Ratana's practical advice helped them to manage in the modern world.

from: Bronwyn Elsmore Mana from Heaven 381

The mission of T.W. Ratana had two aspects - these having been pointed to in the first sign of the beaching of the two whales. The first was the spiritual aspect. This was symbolized in two ways - by the whale which lay still on the sand and represented the soul, and by Arepa (Alpha) one of the twin sons of the Mangai. In 1928, the running of the church was handed over to the committee which had been set up. Ratana announced that from then on his spiritual mission was completed and his material works were to begin. Arepa who was a young man of eighteen recognized that his life was over, and after a long illness died in the last minutes of the year 1930. The second aspect, the material work, was symbolized by Omeka (Omega) the other twin son; and also by the second whale which had thrashed around for some time before dying and therefore represented the body and "the conflicts between the Movement and the rest of society. Ratana saw this part of his function centred mainly on the promotion of recognition of the promises included in the Treaty of Waitangi. This included a long campaign to have Ratana candidates elected to the four Maori seats in Parliament. The first was elected in a by-election in 1932, a second in 1935, and by 1943 all four seats were held by Ratana members, a state that continued for twenty years until 1963. When Eruera Tirikatene succeeded to the House he took Omeka into the debating chamber in order to show that the material aim was now accomplished. The second twin's purpose was then completed - he went to bed and died that November.

The Mangai himself died on 18 September 1939 having passed on the responsibility of continuing his spiritual and material works to his eldest son Tokouru and others of his family.