Ratana take the t-shirts off the backs of their people – and all because of a political joke

Those of you who bothered taking much notice (if any) of the politicians who flocked to the Ratana Church birthday bash a week or so ago probably missed it.

Alf most certainly can’t remember the media drawing attention to it, and they always pounce like vultures when they see this sort of thing.

The chance they missed -we now find – was a prime ministerial blue.

Yep. The Boss blundered.

Personally, Alf reckons he blundered simply by turning up there to pay homage to a bloke who claimed a century or so ago to have seen a vision.

Moreover he regarded this vision as divinely inspired,and he likened himself to Christ.

A sign that he, like Christ, had been called to be a ‘fisher of men’ (evangelist) came when two whales stranded while Rātana was fishing with his family at Whangaehu

But The Boss did go to pay homage, and in so doing he observed the blue t-shirts being worn by some of the people at the function.

He made a joke – he said they were wearing National’s colours.

Obviously it was a joke because Ratana followers are renowned for being Labour supporters.

That’s another reason for giving the birthday bash a big bypass in Alf’s book.

Another is that Ratana people are seriously lacking in the humour department.

They have responded to the joke by halting the sale of blue t-shirts.

And they are complaining of The Boss being disrespectful.


Bloody hell. He went out of his way to join the other politicians trying to curry favour with these people.

Alf must confess he finds it astonishing and unbelievable that sales of blue shirts have been halted, but it was reported by Radio New Zealand and so perhaps there is a skerrick of truth about it.

Ratana Church’s young people say they have stopped selling blue t-shirts after a comment made by the Prime Minister John Key at last year’s annual celebration commemorating its founding.

They say Mr Key was disrespectful by commenting on the number of people wearing that colour of t-shirt and saying that blue stands for National.

They said it was rude to do so on their marae.

He couldn’t have made the joke on some other marae, of course, because the people on some other marae probably would not be wearing blue t-shirts in quite the same way as at Ratana.

That’s because of the colour’s significance.

Church member Georgia Peke said the colour represented their whetu mārama (Ratana Church symbol of the star and the moon crescent) and not the National Party.

Ms Peke said for them the colour represented the church and had nothing to do with politics.

“And having John Key having a say and that the blue stands for national, it’s sort of like I find it disrespectful, because it isn’t what the colours are.”

Fair to say, no colour discrimination is involved.

We can say this with confidence because:

Mr Peke said the rangatahi have now also stopped selling red ones in case they were seen as being linked to the Labour Party.

This remark is a crock because they are linked to the bloody Labour Party – or have been over the years.

Rātana harnessed the support of ngā mōrehu to gain representation in Parliament for his koata e whā (the four quarters of his body – symbolic of the four Māori Parliamentary seats). In 1932 Eruera Tirikātene was the first Rātana MP. He was joined in 1935 by Rātana’s son, Tokouru. In 1936 the Rātana movement and the Labour party forged an alliance: the Rātana Church pledged itself to Labour, in return for Labour backing Rātana electoral candidates. By 1943 Rātana had captured all of the Māori seats, a stronghold only broken by the New Zealand First party 50 years later.

As for the colour ban on t-shirts, Alf would like to know if green, black or yellow ones are permissible?

And if they are not, what colours are allowed – or do Ratana followers have to forego the wearning of t-shirts.

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