by NZ CATHOLIC staff
Not since the death of Bishop Takuira Max Māriu has there been a Catholic Bishop present
for the annual Rātana hui.
This year at the invitation of kuia Raana (Biddy) Mareikura, Bishop Charles Drennan
of Palmerston North diocese was accompanied onto the marae by the Maungārongo Māori Catholic community of Ōhakune, and Whanganui iwi, including the Tira Hoe Waka.
Deacon Danny Karatea-Goddard commented that this was of great significance for the Catholic community of Aotearoa as the Rātana movement has a strong influence not just in Māori history but in contemporary society. He noted it was the faith dimension, and the wairua, that the Rātana people wanted to share with everyone.
Bishop Charles commented that: “The prophet Rātana had a number of Catholic friends and ever since the movement’s inception there has been a strong bond between Catholics and members of the Rātana religion as both share a deepseated desire to see faith shape our civil society including politics.”
He added that “for New Zealanders the image of Scripture in one hand and in the other the Tiriti o Waitangi, is a powerful impetus to strengthen our bicultural heart”.
In a moving moment prior to going onto the marae, kui Raana Mareikura entrusted Bishop Charles with Bishop Mariu’s tokotoko for the occasion.
“Te Manu Tāwhiorangi” (bird of the spirit) representing the Wairua Tapu, had always been carried by Bishop Mariu on such occasions. Deacon Karatea-Goddard explained that it had been brought from Taumarunui down the Whanganui River on a waka during the annual Whanganui Iwi Tira Hoe (canoe pilgrimage) for the commemorations for T. W. Rātana at Rātana Pā.