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Ed Sheeran

Party hats left at gate for prophet’s birthday
Photo: Radio Waatea Image Database.

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Labour Māori vice president Tane Phillips says the party will still be represented at this month’s Rātana commemoration, even if they are not wearing their party hats.

The church says the January 25 celebration of the birthday of founder Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana will be for church members only, and political parties aren’t invited.

This follows what it says was contradictory messaging from the local marae committee that there would only be a one-day hui because of COVID restrictions.

Mr Phillips says clearly the church has matters to discuss internally.

“A lot of our members are Rātana, so they will be present as church members, not as politicians,” he says.

Labour MPs who are morehu include Adrian Rurawhe, Rino Tirikatene, Louisa Wall and Kiritapu Allen, and Nanaia Mahuta has also always attended the hui.

“Our relationship with Rātana is strong. That date is not the only one we have contact with them,” Mr Phillips says.

“I always enjoy going there. It’s different to Waitangi, the people are so welcoming, but they need to do their own thing.”

Mr Rurawhe says the marae committee and the national executive of the church were unable to agree on the length of the hui.

That led to the decision not to extend invitations to outside organisations.

He says the hui will still take place for morehu.

“In saying that, people who have close associations with Ratana are welcome to attend for that one day,” he says.

Hareruia Aperahama, the chair of the church’s national executive, says the executive was responsible for organising annual celebrations and significant religious days, and he was disappointed by the actions of the local committee.

“We cannot expect to honour and respect our manuhiri when we obviously have matters which need to be addressed internally,” he says.

The hui would be use to “review, reflect and strengthen ourselves as a church and movement for the future”.

Church spokesperson Mita Ririnui, a former Labour MP, says the chance was disappointing.

“It would have been a great opportunity to acknowledge the new Government and the Prime Minister’s leadership particularly during 2020,” he says.

“It was a hard year for many with the arrival of the COVID virus. However we look forward to future events where we may come together with our whanaunga iwi and the Government. ”

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