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Both a religion and a political force, the Ratana movement was founded by T. W. Ratana (1873 - 1939) in the early 20th century.

T.W. Ratana rose to fame as a faith healer and spiritual leader in the years after World War One. In 1925 his followers formed the Ratana Church and formally split from the established churches.

In the 1930s Ratana aligned with the New Zealand Labour Party for the mutual benefit of both sides. Ratana/Labour candidates dominated the Maori seats in parliament until the 1990s and remain a political force to be reckoned with.