Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

24 April 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: The Temple Of Ratana At Ratana

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.

This unique building is the main temple of the Ratana religion centred upon the village of Ratana in the Manawatu-Wanganui District of the North Island. I've always been intrigued by the faith which was born of a vision experienced by Bill Ratana in November 1918. Without going into detail, from the vision of this simple man a serious new fragment of Christianity became established which is now of sufficient importance to influence the politics of New Zealand. 
My point of interest was simply the striking architecture and its symbols (e.g. Arepa and Omeka are Maorified Greek alpha and omega and also the names of Ratana's sons; and the stars and crescents on each dome are those of the star of Bethlehem and the constellations that guided Polynesian Pacific voyagers).

When I visited Ratana on this day in 1987 I saw nobody; the town appeared empty, and yet I could feel eyes upon me.


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By Don Donovan