10 Feb 2015

Ringatu explore problems within church

8:55 am on 10 February 2015

The religious movement founded by Maori prophet Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki is exploring how it can entice followers back to church and increase the expertise of its tohunga (ministers).

About 30 Ringatu followers and tohunga went to a wananga at the University of Waikato over the weekend, where falling church attendance and the abilities of the clergy of tohunga were examined.

A guest speaker at the hui, Pou Temara, said follwoers wanted to find ways to help make the church popular, which included changing the role of tohunga.

He said more than 200 of the 300 people who live in the Bay of Plenty settlement of Ruataahuna are Ringatu but only 13 actively attended church.

Professor Temara, who is Ringatu but not a minister, said there was a new generation of tohunga making up the clergy.

In the past, all tohunga were mentored by experienced tohunga who were knowledgeable and wise but today the did not have access to people like that.

The professor of Maori language and culture coins the tohunga role today as karakia-heads. He said all they did was intone karakia (prayers) and there was no intellectual, debate, discussion or research - elements that used to be done by tohunga in the past.