Last modified: 2009-02-28 by jonathan dixon
Keywords: new zealand | stars: southern cross | stars: 4 | star: 5 points (fimbriated) | star (sectored) | crescent: points up (blue) | ratana | ngati tuwharetoa | maori |
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This the flag of Ngati Tuwharetoa, one of New Zealandís biggest and most important Maori Iwi (tribes), seen on last nightís news during coverage of the funeral of Tuwharetoa Paramount Chief Sir Hepi Te Heuheu. The flag is an unusual one ó it contains a scene which (from the brief three or four seconds or so during which it was shown) appears to show a Maori warrior standing in front of a marae (tribal village centre), against a background of forest. This is placed on a pale blue background containing the four stars of the New Zealand flag. At the hoist, there is a broad band which appeared to be either dark blue or black (this may have just been the shadow of the flagpole on the fabric of the flag, but I donít think so). This band was covered by part of the village scene.
Two points about this image:
Pronunciation of Ngati Tuwharetoa:
This is the emblem of the Ratana faith, a Christian sect peculiar to New Zealand and particularly to the Maori people. It has been prominent in the news here in the last few days, due to the recent death of one of the leading figures in both Maoridom and Ratana, former politician and campaigner for Maori rights Matiu Rata. (NB: the colour which I have represented as purple may, in fact, be black. I have based my picture on a few TV news reports, in none of which the colour appeared definitely one or the other. Also, I have seen the crescent in other colours, notably white). Here is what the New Zealand Book of Events (B. Fraser ed., Reed Methuen books, 1986) has to say about Ratana (pronounced with similar vowel sounds to the word "gardener"):
Seriously ill with influenza, on Nov. 8, 1918, Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana saw visions of clouds rising from the sea and heard a voice appointing him as mangai (mouthpiece of God) with a mission to unite the Maori people. He began his ministry as a healer and oracle. A Christian sect grew around him. By December 1920, a temple had been built at Ratana Pa, near Wanganui, and the Ratana Church as an organised church came into formal existence on May 31st (Pentecost) 1925. A God more powerful that Maori atua (traditional gods) was being worshipped, and Maori tapu (taboo) was banned. Within a few years, his church had 22,000 adherents. November 8 is celebrated as an annual feast in the Ratana faith.
James Dignan, 28 July 1997