Plans are underway to restore the mana and reputation of controversial Tūhoe prophet Rua Kēnana.
The descendants and remaining followers of Rua’s Israelite religion have spent the last year working with the Crown towards a Statutory Pardon for Rua. The focus of the pardon is on the 1916 invasion of Maungapōhatu where Rua and his followers were living. Rua and seven others were arrested, his son Toko and relation Te Maipi were shot dead and Rua was imprisoned for nearly two years.
“The injustices of Maungapōhatu have lingered in the Urewera and Tūhoe history for a very long time,” said Rua’s great grandson Tane Rua. “It’s important we settle these now while those of us, his grandchildren, are still alive.”
But Rua was a controversial figure, even amongst his own Tūhoe tribe.
“The stories about Rua are degrading and demeaning, and those stories are shared by his own people,” says Ngā Toenga o Ngā Tamariki a Iharaira member Poipoi Te Kaawa. “Those insults weigh heavily on us as survivors of the Church of Israelites.”
The Crown has already acknowledged their part in what happened at Maungapōhatu during the settlement of the Tūhoe Treaty claims in 2014.
Crown lawyer Toko Kapea told Native Affairs the process has been a year in the making and they are pushing for a Statutory Pardon to be delivered at Parliament in July.