24 Jan 2014

Ratana Church focus is on youth

2:48 pm on 24 January 2014

The Ratana Church says the focus of its annual celebrations must not stray from the birth of its founder to politics.

Members of the Ratana Brass Band.

Members of the Ratana Brass Band. Photo: RNZ

Politicians make their annual appearance at Ratana Pa near Whanganui on Friday at celebrations marking the birth of Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana.

Thousands of people including Ratana followers, iwi leaders and church dignitaries from around the country will attend the celebrations, where sports tournaments, talent quests, discos and youth workshops take place.

The leaders of the Labour, National, Green and Maori parties will arrive throughout Friday and use the opportunity to vie for the Maori vote.

Ratana Church executive committee chair Waka Palmer says the church gives all manuhiri (guests) a right to say their piece.

However he says the event is not about politics, rather it is about young people coming together to celebrate the founder's birthday, enjoy themselves and take part in church services.