24 Jan 2018

Ardern gifted a name for her baby at Rātana

6:32 pm on 24 January 2018

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been gifted a name for her baby from the Rātana movement.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern being welcomed at Rātana.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is welcomed at Rātana. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

The name Waru is short for Te Waru o Noema, meaning the 8th of November - the date when the movement's leader T.W Ratana had the vision to bring the people together.

This year is the 100th commemoration of Tahupōtiki Wiremu Ratana's vision, which will be celebrated by the church in November.

The Labour leader arrived on a bus with other MPs from Labour and the Green Party this morning. They, and MPs from NZ First, were welcomed on to Rātana pā along with her fellow cabinet ministers, coalition partners and party members.

She was led onto the marae by the reo, the name for Rātana brass bands as hundreds of Rātana faith followers waited to welcome her.

Ms Ardern said she wanted a government that brought back manaakitanga - the process of showing respect for others.

Ratana speaker Andre Mason congratulated Ms Ardern on her pregnancy, before suggesting she give the baby the middle name Waru.

"That's a gift from us," he said to applause and laughter.

Ms Ardern joked the name was not the first suggested to her - before listing the names of some of her colleagues. She said many people had suggested naming the baby after Winston Peters and some had even suggested him as godfather.

"I pointed out he already was," she said.

National leader Bill English and his team were also invited onto the marae this afternoon.

Mr English has cautioned the Ratana church not to let the new government undermine Māori self-determination and independence.

"You have a government that many Māori voted for - obviously - but be careful it's not a step back.

"That you don't become believers again in government and its cash and the lure of its influence, when what we have seen flourishing is rangatiratanga."

He said it could be harder to deal with the new Labour-led government because "they're family".

"There are a lot of relatives," he said. "It's all intertwined."

Speaking on behalf of the Kingitanga, Rahui Papa - a former Māori Party candidate - commended Mr English on returning to the pā as opposition leader.

"Those with lesser mettle might have hidden away," he said.

He called on Mr English to be an advocate for te reo Māori, saying it belongs to everybody.

"It's not good enough to just get up and say kia ora and tēnā koutou.

"Actually there has been a commitment throughout the years and we implore you to continue."

Mr English paid tribute to the "steadfastness" of the Rātana church.

"You have a government that many Māori voted for - obviously - but be careful that it's not a step back."

The Māori king, Kiingi Tuheitia, who arrived at Rātana pā yesterday, is also there for the pōwhiri.

Mita Ririnui was the first speaker to stand to welcome Ms Ardern and said the Tumuaki (leader) of the church was unwell but "heard you the Prime Minister was coming and suddenly got better".

He also said Rātana had a strong relationship with the Labour Party.

The pōwhiri at Rātana.

The pōwhiri at Rātana. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

It's Ms Ardern's first visit to the event as prime minister and Labour leader.

Ms Ardern was led onto the marae by a brass band as hundreds of Rātana faith followers waited to welcome her.

Ms Ardern discussed the church's historical ties with Labour and the ways the government and Rātana could work together on their shared goals.

Green Party leader James Shaw spoke of the Treaty of Waitangi and its significance.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said discussion about the fact that Jacinda Ardern would speak on the marae at Waitangi in the coming weeks was premature.

He said he would wait to see exactly what the protocols would be.

"Because we haven't seen exactly how that's going to be laid out, I think they're all being premature, but more importantly, cultures that don't adapt, die. That's a fact and Maoridom should come to grips with it."