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Good day at Ratana

Written By: - Date published: 6:21 pm, January 24th, 2011 - 40 comments
Categories: labour, Maori Issues - Tags:

A good day at Ratana today with the Labour party delegation led by Phil Goff and Annette King. For me personally, it was good to see and chat with many old friends. I and others also received a very warm welcome from Tariana Turia on the paepae.

Labour and Ratana go back a very long way. Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana was a remarkable prophet – he founded a church, then a movement, aiming for  the spiritual and material benefit of Maori. Harry  Holland was the first Labour leader to visit the marae in the 1920’s, and Ratana went to Parliament in 1936 to meet Michael Joseph Savage and establish a covenant with Labour symbolised by the gifts of a broken watch, a potato, and a huia feather, asking for support for establishing  the Treaty of Waitangi in legislation, resolution of land grievances and restoration of Maori mana.

While the relationship has had its ups and downs over the years Andre Meihana told our group today that Ratana wished to reconnect with Labour. The party has also indicated it too wishes to reconnect – it has selected four candidates with Ratana connections, one of whom, Rino Tirikatene,  is the grandson of the first Ratana Member of Parliament, Sir Eruera Tirikatene.

In his remarks, Phil Goff said that it was Labour ministers Matiu Rata and Koro Wetere who introduced legislation to establish the Waitangi Tribunal, and then allow grievances to be taken back to the date of the Treaty. Phil Goff also stressed Labour’s priorities – lift Maori employment, give all young people a head start in life, provide a decent after-tax income for families to put food on the table, and remove oppressive labour laws.

There certainly seems to be a shift in attitude among many in Maoridom; everyone I spoke to expressed this view. There will be much to discuss and straight talking will be the order of the day. I’m looking forward to it.

40 comments on “Good day at Ratana ”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    Good post Mike and sounds like a great day.

    Labour needs to reconnect with its base, face to face, just as Ratana intends to reconnect with Labour.

    Its going to be a big year for all, 2011.

  2. SHG 2

    Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana was a remarkable prophet

    So what were his prophecies? How many came true?

    Please, tell us more about this obviously mentally ill man and his schizophrenic delusions.

    [The word ‘prophet’ is more closely associated with the idea of a teacher or leader than simply ‘someone who foretells the future’. However your comment here, while I fully accept your opinion on religion and have no care to argue it, is gratuitously offensive to anyone who does hold to any form of faith. It also misappropriates mental illness in a wholly wrong and perogative manner. If not for Marty’s reasoned reply below I was going to moderate it out. …RL]

    • Marty G 2.1

      A prophet doesn’t just make prophecies. Ratana’s main contribution was the formation of a religious/political movement. You can learn more about his life here: http://healingandrevival.com/BioTWRatana.htm

      “On March 18, 1924 Ratana and his family visited Mt Taranaki and Parihaka where he heard a voice reminding him to take care of the land of his people . He felt called to a new mission, creating political equality for the Maori people….

      …He selected men to run for political offices and began to mobilize the Maori to claim their rights through the vote and political means. The Ratana church grew in political sophistication, eventually having a direct influence on the election of the Labour Party. After the 1935 election Ratana went to see Prime Minister Savage. He placed four items on the table in front of him. These were a potato, a broken watch, a tiki, and a huia feather. Ratana was asked 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. The votes of Maori members twice kept Labour Governments in power in the years 1946-49 and 1957-60. ”

      I’m not religious and I don’t believe Ratana really heard angels but the prophecy contained in that ‘message from God’ did come true – he did fulfill the mission that he believed had been given to him by God by uniting the Maori people and using that united power to exercise political power.

      I not interested in getting into a religious debate but by your standards everyone who has ever believed they had a religious experience is mad.

      • SHG 2.1.1

        He claimed that he saw a small cloud coming in from the sea toward his house. When the cloud ‘broke open’ he was overwhelmed by a presence and he rushed into the house declaring ‘Peace be unto you all, for I am the Holy Spirit that speaks to you all. Straighten yourselves. Repent’. He was told the Holy Spirit was looking for a people through whom God could be truly known and accepted. The Māori people had not forgotten Jehovah and so they had been chosen to become an example to the world…

        My apologies, upon re-examination it all sounds totally rational and not batshit crazy at all. In fact it is just this sort of thinking that the Maori people need to shake off the shackles of superstition and move forward into the 21st century…

        • Deadly_NZ

          “My apologies, upon re-examination it all sounds totally rational and not batshit crazy at all. In fact it is just this sort of thinking that the Maori people need to shake off the shackles of superstition and move forward into the 21st century…”

          Then on your own words quoted above . Any one who saw anything that was mistaken for a religious event is bat shit crazy?? Hmmmmm The List is long and Distinguished.

          Moses – climbed a mountain talked to a voice of someone he could not see, and came down with the rules of life, Yep must be Batshit Crazy

          Noah – Heard a voice from the air and was told to build a boat and save the animals and himself Yep Must be Batshit Crazy too

          I can carry on but you get the drift, and I was only just getting started to list one religion. And I don’t even know how many religions there are on this planet, And I’ll bet you they all have a similar storys of talking bushes, or Voices from the air etc etc. Yep All Batshit crazy too. Well welcome to religion, and as an Agnostic. Even I won’t call them batshit crazy, because I seen some weird things too.

          • SHG

            Moses… Noah -…

            Well to give Ratana his due, at least he’s not a fictional character in a book of fairy stories.

            • McFlock

              Captcha: “final”. As in what you sure hope death is. Of course, atheism is just as much a religious doctrine as any specific religion.

              And it takes a special character to piss off Christians AND Pagans in one sentence.

              • clandestino

                Atheists’ have no doctrine. I don’t have any guide other than my moral intuition and various social constructs centered around a largely secular state. In what way does this meet the definition of ‘religious’?

                Atheism, as I interpret the concept, is simply the satisfaction of not knowing until we know.

                Captcha: ‘Obscure’. As in which obscure cult’s flock are you a member of Mac?

                • Colonial Viper

                  Atheists’ have no doctrine.

                  Well this is wrong for starters. Unless of course you mean a doctrine in the form of a religious tome.

                • mcflock

                  Athiesm is the doctrine that there is no deity – i.e. a negative assertion, rather than a positive one.

                  Clandestino, I think you’re looking for the term “agnostic”.

                  FWIW, I’m an agnostic of the”Decent Bloke” sect – if there is an afterlife and some sort of justice dependent on choices made during our lives, I tend to hope the eternal judge(s) follow the “chur, bro – yeah near enough effort, mate” philosophy.

                  I also have the sneaking suspicion that if they’re as anal as some fundy folk suggest, I might actually want to choose option B out of general “don’t want to spend an eternity with those jerks anyway” principle. Although one might accuse me of being Milton-esque in that regard 😉

                  • clandestino

                    No I don’t mean agnostic. Are you suggesting that if an Atheist is presented with evidence of a ‘God’, they would continue believing there is no god?

                    Of course atheists are flexible in this regard. The difference between atheists and agnostics is a misleading one.

                    And Colonial, pray tell, what is this doctrine you speak of? Hitchens? Harris? Dawkins?

                    • mcflock

                      I would suggest that many atheists are just as likely to ignore any contrary evidence as many theists. Conceit is inter-denominational.


                      OED definition of “atheism”: “Disbelief in, or denial of, the existence of a God. Also, Disregard of duty to God, godlessness (practical atheism).”

                      OED “Agnostic: “One who holds that the existence of anything beyond and behind material phenomena is unknown and (so far as can be judged) unknowable, and especially that a First Cause and an unseen world are subjects of which we know nothing.”

                      You: “Atheism, as I interpret the concept, is simply the satisfaction of not knowing until we know.”

                      One of these things is not like the others, one ofthese things is not the same…

                      Excuse me for using the English language. When you feel like doing so, feel free. It might improve your communication skills.

                    • Ari

                      Actually, to be fair, this is a realm where common usage of language has made things a bit confusing.

                      Agnostic does NOT mean a fence sitter on the matter of religion in terms of its etymology or strict meaning, even though it’s picked up that meaning from common use. It means “without special or divine revelation.” That is to say, it decribes people- regardless of their other beliefs on religion- who do not believe in definite divine revelation of God, that is to say they’re open to debate and/or evidence and don’t regard things like the Bible as the literal word of God, or don’t believe that God talks to them. It’s a term that describes whether you’re SURE of your position on religion or not.

                      It’s certainly possible to be a gnostic atheist- in that you believe that the facts prima facie disprove a God or certain types of God, and that’s definite knowledge that you can share. Very few organised atheists believe in this kind of atheism. At best, I’ve heard from members of CFI who believe you can disprove things like intercessionary prayer, but that’s very different from being able to say there’s definitely no God, and plenty of rationalists or skeptics are quite open to deists and skeptical reformers.

                    • mcflock


                      Well in that case how does agnosticism differ from “faith”, i.e. a lack of knowledge but a belief? And then what technical (as opposed to “commonly understood”) term denotes a complete lack of belief, one way or the other?

                      Not actually trying to wind anyone up here – I studied a few philosphy papers (mostly political/ethics) at uni and am always game to kick something around. Hell, my original point was only that SHG was being a bit of a dick.

    • kriswgtn 2.2

      How disrespectful

      Youre the one that is what you claim him to be


  3. big bruv 3

    Ah yes…the ongoing abuse of the Maori vote by Labour.

    BTW..what have Maori achieved under Labour?

    • Nordy 3.1

      What have Maori achieved under Labour?
      For a start… the Treaty of Waitangi Act in 1975 and the setting up of the Waitangi Tribunal, the subsequent decision to backdate Treaty claims, the recognition of Te Reo as an official language in NZ, unwavering support for the continuation of the Maori seats in Parliament, a commitment to establish Maori seats on the Auckland Super-City Council (since overturned by Hide and Key)…

    • orange whip? 3.2

      The aqueduct?

    • Marty G 3.3

      Record low unemployment. Record wage rises. Those would be my first two. I note maori unemployment had more than doubled under national – I suppose you think they’re all lazy bludgers and should get a job

      • big bruv 3.3.1

        Record wage rises?

        3% in nine years…is that a record?

        Maori are still at the bottom of nearly every social indicator, and for all of that time most Maori have blindly voted Labour, where has that got them?

        Labour have always abused the Maori vote, always have and always will.

        • Lanthanide

          The 3% figure, btw, is from Key’s interview (!) on morning report this morning where he said, after inflation, wages rose 3% in 9 years under Labour, and that in the 2 years National has been in power “that figure has tripled”. I think he is using shonky stats, like average hourly wage or such-like, that discounts those who have been made unemployed as a result of the recession and National’s complete mis-management of the response to such.

          • Colonial Viper

            Key hasn’t figured out that this kind of BS boasting just makes him sound more out of touch. But the interviewer should have hauled him over the coals for it.

            • Lanthanide

              The problem is, the interviewers never will, because:
              1) they probably don’t know the difference between the statistics, nor care as they’re in the top 5% of income earners anyway
              2) the interviewer would have to know that he’s using shonky stats, and be able to confront him with the correct ones, which they’re highly unlikely to have on hand
              3) Key probably doesn’t know the difference between the stats either, just that the number that he’s been told to say by his minders can be backed up statistically
              4) the general audience doesn’t care or understand the differences or why it matters

              Unless an interviewer went out with the specific intent of showing Key is using shonky stats, it’ll never happen. Even then, Key’s stats are still mathematically correct, the question becomes what stats are most useful and most meaningful.

              Now, there is the potential to pull a corn-gate on him, where someone gathers up all of the shonky stats he’s gloated over and gets the ‘real stats’ and explains in depth why Key is shonky, and put him on the spot to answer why. But I’m sure Key’s managers would never approve of him being interviewed on such a subject.

              • Ari

                Well, technically they don’t, they COULD just say something like: “those statistics sound different from the ones the opposition is quoting, can you tell us how you came to that 3% figure?”

                But can you really imagine a journalist who looks into statistics in this country? Most of them would be unemployed in our vapid media environment.

      • George D 3.3.2

        In the MSD report on income inequality last year there was a graph showing Maori unemployment actually rose significantly again after 2004. That surprised me, but it’s undeniable. It wasn’t all pretty – hence a lot of the disconnect at the last election.

        Labour need to commit to FULL employment. Not structural neoliberal full employment, which handily leaves great sections of the population behind (who in NZ more often are Maori).

        I don’t think Labour’s going anywhere near where they need to go, and that gap means they’ll lose in both the short and long term. But good on them for trying to do something.

  4. Fisiani 4

    The lasting public memory of today at Ratana will be Te Reo speaking John Key and Pita Sharples joined at the hip.

    • Marty G 4.1

      God key’s accent in maori was worse than his one in english. I could barely follow him.

      But you’re right about the enduring image – it’s going to hurt the maori party, the base hates key.s policies

      • SHG 4.1.1

        So the Prime Minister and Leader of the National Party, the most popular NZ politician in living memory, is a loving father and husband and a self-made multimillionaire who grew up in a State house in the care of a solo immigrant mum on the DPB. And he’s being criticised for his accent when he speaks Maori.

        Bring the lulz.

        • felix

          And when he speaks English. He’s shit at that too.

          But he’s rich so it doesn’t matter, right?

        • Lanthanide

          Well, honestly, I think it’s a pretty fake and dishonest of him to try and give a speech in Te Reo if he isn’t really up to the task. Slightly insulting even – clearly he’s doing the speech in Te Reo for the image of it, not because he actually knows or personally values the language, but because it seems like a ‘good thing to do’.

          Better to be up-front and honest that you can’t speak it, than to make an attempt that falls short and makes you look try-hard, IMO.

          • Irascible

            The speech in Key massacred te reo was his “off the cuff” speech he was rehearsing on the plane bearing him to Ratana? Another crosby-textor prepared piece designed to create the image the media are delighted to present as it saves on analysis.

      • Lanthanide 4.1.2

        You can speak Te Reo, Marty?

        My sister’s boyfriend did 2 years of Te Reo I believe, but he’s at a fairly rudimentary level.

  5. ak 5

    God key’s accent in maori was worse than his one in english. Amene. All I caught was “key are coy”.

    But Fisi is right. The media piss the message, and tonight’s to the one-in-twelve target is Clever Key’s Cunning Lingo.

    The hatemongers that gave us Orewa One, Iwi/Kiwi and shat viciously on Closing the Gaps, now painted the homey, smiley, guiley, strokey, folksy, focus of a million previous advertising campaigns.

    But even Goldstein had a shelf-life. And the shat-upon never forget.

    • SHG 5.1

      “ki a koe” – “for you” or “to you”

      I guess “key are coy” is a close-enough phonetic English representation.

    • M 5.2

      ‘The hatemongers that gave us Orewa One, Iwi/Kiwi and shat viciously on Closing the Gaps, now painted the homey, smiley, guiley, strokey, folksy, focus of a million previous advertising campaigns.’

      LOL – ten out of ten.

  6. Sanctuary 6

    Serious historical question – whatever became of the potato, broken watch and Huia feather? In most countries, they (well at least the non-biological ones) would be important historical artifacts in a museum. I wonder if we even know where they are nowadays?

  7. The contents of Savage’s mausoleum have recently been examined for an exhibition at Te Papa. The broken watch found was thought to have been Ratana’s for a time until a photo identified it as Savage’s grandfathers watch. i agree The watch should have been preserved, along with the greenstone tiki and the Ratana symbol and the huia feathers he was given. I’m confident nature took care of the potato

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