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No. 51 (June 1965)
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A number of people belonging to other religious denominations were present at the meeting. Among them was Arapeta Awatere; seen here speaking to a group beside the river.

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Mrs Iriaka Ratana, Member of Parliament for Western Maori since 1949, addressing the gathering. Mrs Ratana is the first woman to represent the Maori people in Parliament.

Ratana Pilgrimage to Te Rere a

Te rere a kapuni is a waterfall on the southern slopes of Mt. Egmont. It is known to the Pakeha as Victoria Falls, above the Dawson Falls.

Inspired Many Great Tohungas

It is said that many great tohungas formerly received their inspiration and strength from this waterfall. From 1919 until 1939, the year of his death, T. W. Ratana, founder of the Ratana Church, made frequent visits to Te Rere a Kapuni to meditate there and renew his powers. According to one account Ratana ‘plugged up’ the waterfall, turning to a new purpose the spiritual powers which had previously strengthened the tohungas to whom he was opposed.

Forty years ago Ratana prophesied that the marae at Opunake, south of Egmont, would be ‘over-run by people’ in the Easter of 1965. To fulfil the prophecy, a huge Ratana meeting took place this Easter at Opunake. Organised by the Ratana Youth Clubs of New Zealand, it was attended by 4,000 people from all over the country.

A Series of Services

Since it would not have been possible for the entire gathering to have been on the mountain at the same time, a series of church services were held there during the week-end, with busloads of people continually coming and going from the marae as they made their pilgrimage.

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Throughout the week-end groups of people made the pilgrimage up the mountain to the sacred waterfall Te Rere a Kapuni, where church services were held.

A 15 acre ‘mushroom village’ of tents and caravans housed the gathering at Opunake. As well as church services there were many other activities, including a march past of sports teams, marching girls, football, hockey and basketball teams of all grades, dances, brass band contests, a talent quest, Maori cultural competitions, and sports competitions.

Many of those present also visited Parihaka, another of the most revered places in Maori history.

Earlier Visit by Church Leaders

The pilgrimage followed a visit to Te Rere a Kapuni made last December by a group of church leaders led by Mrs Puhi-o-Aotea Ratahi, president of the church. After this they visited Ratana groups throughout the country, in the first national tour made by a president of the church since the time of T. W. Ratana.