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No. 65 (December 1968)
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Members of several Ratanma bands, many of them teenagers, join to display their talents in a massed march

Fiftieth Anniversary of the
Ratana Church

A special hui to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Ratana faith was held at Ratana Pa on 8 and 9 November.

Many followers gathered from all over New Zealand, including a large group from Northland.

As the various groups arrived they were led on to the marae by the Ratana brass band. One special guest was the newly-consecrated Bishop of Aotearoa, the Rt Rev. Manu Bennett, who came with his wife and a party from Hastings. After the speeches of welcome the visitors were given refreshments while the people gathered in their robes ready for the commemorative service.

The band then led the people to the gates of the temple, and continued playing while church members and visitors filed in reverently for the service.

There, Bishop Bennett spoke; He said that during the war and in his work as a prison chaplain he had often ministered to Ratana members — that in prison there were members of all churches. He was glad to have the opportunity to get back to the roots and see where the boys came from. He said that young people were ‘stuck with the modern world’ and that to be successful they had to get their priorities right — they should ‘seek first the kingdom of God’.

He said the same advice could be given to the older people present. Speaking of the conflict between body and spirit, Bishop Bennett said, ‘Seek the thing that doesn't die, and all the things your body needs will be added.’

On the Saturday, Wanganui marching

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In one of his first visits since his consecration, Bishop Bennett, accompanied by his wife, enters the Ratana marae

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The people file reverently into the temple for the service at which Bishop Bennett spoke

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Three young visitors discuss the greenstone articles in one of the display cases in the Ratana museum. In the background are walking sticks and crutches discarded by Ratana's followers

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Mr Henry K. Edmonds, Vice-President of the church, crowns Miss Joyce Nikora of Rotorua ‘Miss 50th Anniversary’ as the other finalists look on

girls joined the bands who came from several areas, and entertained the visitors. Three teams from the Pioneer Club, two from Aramoho, and the River City Midgets marched first by themselves, and then gave a massed display, delighting the onlookers.

In the evening the ‘Girl of the Year’ Ball was held. Five branches of the Ratana Youth Organization had held local contests to find their ‘Miss Ratana Star’, and during the evening the finalists spoke briefly to the guests and presented themselves to the judges, Mr H. K. Edmonds, Vice-President of the Church, Mrs Ema Otene, Mrs Meretiane Smith and Mr Nakata Taiaroa. Miss Joyce Nikora, of Rotorua, ‘Miss Ratana Star of the East’, was the winner. Her prize was a trip to Australia.

For the younger visitors the ball was the highlight of the anniversary celebrations, but for the older people the renewing of old friendships and the recalling of earlier days together gave a sense of quiet satisfaction.