TIDES OF CHANGE

Irene was adopted by the locals
NZ’s most remote school teacher

No, not on an offshore island, NZ’s most remote school was at a small Māori settlement called Maungapohatu, which was established in the Urewera wilderness by a Māori named Rua Kenena, a prophet of the Ringatu faith, earlier established in 1885 by Te Kooti. He called himself Te Mihaia Hou, the New Messiah.

As Rua Kenana became more active in the early 1900’s he became concerned by the threat of European land takeover, which prompted his band of followers to start developing a recreation of the biblical city of Jerusalem during 1907-1908. Carefully planned and laid out, the settlement attracted 500600 followers who referred to themselves as Iharaira, the Israelites. However, the numbers declined as the followers found the lack of income and harsh living environment unfavourable.

A police raid in 1916 put their leader in prison for two years. In his absence a Presbyterian mission led by Rev John Laughton took over and remained there until 1926. This prompted Rue’s revival. Into this scene the first ever schoolteacher arrived at Maungapohatu to open the government funded school in 1925.

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