25 Jan 2013

Ainu-Maori exchanges support Ratana legacy

6:31 am on 25 January 2013

A senior Ratana Church member says he supports more cultural exchanges with the Ainu people from northern Japan because Asian cultures are becoming more prominent with more migrants settling in New Zealand.

A delegation of indigenous Ainu people from Hokkaido were led on to Ratana Pa near Whanganui this week by Maori Party MP, Te Ururoa Flavell.

Ruia Aperahama said the Church has a long association with Japan when the seed of unity was sown in 1924 after a visit there by the movement's founder, Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana.

In 1927 the Ratana Temepara or Temble was opened by Bishop Juji Nakata from Japan who was also of Ainu descent.

Mr Aperahama said Maori and Ainu share similar struggles as tangata whenua.

He said Maori must build a stronger relationship with the Ainu because both groups are on the same path of a language and culture renaissance.

Mr Ratana said T.W Ratana prophesied that following the collapse of the American economy, the Asian economy will rise and will become a major influence in the Pacific region.

He said Aotearoa needs to allow for the "Asian invasion" to occur and not feel threatened by it.

He said that as Maori and other New Zealanders start to embrace different Asian cultures it will break down any barriers of racial intolerance.

Meanwhile, hundreds more visitors are expected at Ratana Pa on Friday for the final day of anniversary celebrations commemorating the birth of Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana who was born on 25 January, 1873.