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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 6 (October 2, 1933)

The Mana of Rua

The Mana of Rua.

My correspondent describes the remarkable ascendancy of the prophet of the Rocky Mountains over the minds of his people: “The Maoris seem really to love their chief, but there is a good deal of fear mingled with it. The children tell me that Rua made the world, the trees and everything; that he is God, and able to heal all manner of diseases. To ‘tell Rua’ seems to be one of the most effective threats they have. The people have been seen filing past the prophet with bows, clasped hands, and obeisance to their Ariki, but this is stopped as soon as any of the pakehas here are seen approaching. Several times we have inadvertently stopped most elaborate ceremonies by appearing when we were not expected.

“Rua suffers badly at times from gout and rheumatism, and he lies in bed on his verandah or lawn, surrounded by some of his devout disciples. This last time he was in here hours were spent every night learning karakia (prayers), the Ringatu religious chants, and haka songs. Often when we visited the village we found men in odd corners with huge volumes busily writing, or droning karakia. All the people lived close around Rua then, and their own homes were shut up.

“The prophet certainly has an orderly way of managing things; he supervises his people closely. He buys all the clothes (out at the township) for his household, and now and again we saw him distributing the new articles. When he is here the people are kept clean. He insists on them bathing in the river every night. When he is away they are not so particular.”