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The Ringatu church is a Christian denomination in New Zealand that was founded in 1868 by a Maori man named Te Kooti Rikirangi based on his understanding of the Bible. Today there are approximately 6,000 adherents[1]. The symbol for the movement is an upraised hand, or "Ringa Tu" in Māori.


Te Kooti was one of a number of Māori who were detained at the Chatham Islands without trial in relation to some land disturbances on the East Coast in the 1860's. During his captivity, Te Kooti studied the Bible and conducted religious services based particularly on the Old Testament. His understanding of the Bible led many other detainees to convert.

In June 1868, Te Kooti's followers seized a vessel and sailed back to the North Island of New Zealand. From the next four years Te Kooti and his followers fought a series of battles with Government forces and Te Kooti was pursued until his pardon in 1883. During this time, his personal popularity and following in Ringatu continued to grow.

In 1926, Robert (Rapata) Biddle, a Minister and Secretary of this faith, designed the Ringatu seal (crest). The seal consists of the Old and New Testaments in the centre, surrounded by the words 'Te Ture A Te Atua Me Te Whakapono O Ihu' meaning 'The Law of God and the Truth of Jesus'. There are also two upraised hands (one on either side of the inner design) and an eagle perched atop the centre ring. In reference to Deuteronomy 32:11-12

As an eagle that stirs up her nest, that flutters over her young, he spread abroad his wings, he took them, he bore them on his feathers. Yahweh alone led him. There was no foreign god with him.

Ringatu today

Ringatu services are generally held at a tribal meeting houses and the church leaders include a poutikanga and a tohunga, an expert in church law. Church members read and memorise Sscripture, and hymns are sung.

Many members of the Ringatu Church live in the Bay of Plenty region.




Return to Christianity -> Places -> Pacific -> New Zealand -> Denominations in New Zealand Index


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