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Ka moemoeā o koutou kaumatua...

Founded by the spiritual leader and prophet Te Kooti Te Turuki Arikirangi, the Ringatū faith came into existence in the 1870s during a very turbulent time for Māori. Struggling for survival many Māori tribes and communities accepted the teachings of Te Kooti and the principles of the Ringatū church as a means of maintaining their independence, beliefs and culture. A truly syncretic religion, the Ringatū church combines traditional Māori customs and beliefs with Christian scriptures forming a religious institution that fits within Christian doctrine while maintaining many important Māori philosophies. Throughout the latter stages of the 19th century and into the 20th century the Ringatū faith found fertile soil in many regions and grew in popularity and strength. Areas like the Bay of Plenty and sections of the East Coast became strongholds of the church and to this present day the Ringatū faith still functions within these areas. Therefore it is not surprising that Ruatāhuna, a small and isolated community located in the centre of Te Urewera has been part of the Ringatū movement since its inception. This community sheltered Te Kooti while he was being hunted by government forces, and the people became devout followers of the Ringatū faith. Therefore the proficies of Te Kooti and the principles of the church have become central in the identity and cultural practises of Tūhoe and the community of Ruatāhuna. For generations the Ringatū church has been the main spiritual institution within Ruatāhuna, with its gatherings being attended by the vast majority of the community. Its influence has permeated throughout every facet of Ruatāhuna life including spirituality, politics, social controls and even cultural practise. However in the past 30 years there has been a significant decline in the influence and popularity of the Ringatū church, and its tenants are now maintained by just a few families. This decline is most evident during the monthly gatherings of the Ringatū community in Ruatāhuna on the 12 of each month, ‘tekau-mā-rua’, where there are now only about 20 regular attendees. This thesis explores the Ringatū faith within Ruatāhuna from its origin, its development through the decades and current position. It examines the changing dynamics of the church in recent times in order to understand why its popularity and influence has shifted. Finally this study seeks a path forward for the Ringatū church in a modern world, looking at how the faith can respond to the needs of a new generation and to find a purpose in a new age.
Type of thesis
Whitiaua, R. (2015). Ka moemoeā o koutou kaumatua... (Thesis, Master of Arts (MA)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9525
University of Waikato
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