Rua Kenana and the founding of an authentic Maori religious movement
Rua Kenana (1869-1937) was a Maori prophet, religious leader, and self-proclaimed ‘New Messiah’. He augmented Biblical teachings with his own prophesies, and by 1905, had established a religious community at Maungapohatu, in New Zealand’s central North Island, which grew to around 1,000 followers. Despite almost a century of Protestant and Catholic evangelisation in New Zealand, many Maori were attracted to Rua’s sect on the basis that his religious message resonated with their own experiences as a colonised people on the brink of extinction. Drawing on oral histories as well as archival material, this paper will explore the doctrinal basis for Rua Kenana’s religious movement being regarded as ‘authentic’ by his followers, and will examine the paradox of an indigenous people abandoning much of their traditional spiritual beliefs and finding an authentic religious experience based on a modified version of the religion of the coloniser.
The religion Rua Kenana developed was based on an earlier fusion sect – Ringatu – led by Te Kooti, a Maori prophet from a previous generation. The derivative nature of Rua Kenana’s religious movement further complicates the claims of authenticity which he preached, and which was believed by his followers.
Rua Kenana promised to come back to life after his death, but his failure to do so saw his religious movement collapse, and drained it of the authenticity with which his followers once perceived it.
Finding Authenticity through the Inauthentic: Radio Nostalgia and the Interplay between Past, Present and Future
The interplay between nostalgia for a golden age that has passed and the eschatological hope for a better – even, in apocalyptic terms, for a dramatic and cataclysmic – future lies at the core of much cross-disciplinary research. Even when the binary is expressed without an apocalyptic strain, as when within British cinema history Andrew Higson writes of the ‘longed-for’ and ‘imagined’ past vs. the present which is construed as being characterized by ‘moral disintegration, deterioration and degeneration’ (1995), what stands out in these accounts is the need to (re-)connect with authenticity. From Higson’s language of ‘purity, truth and fullness’ to the way within biblical studies the New Jerusalem encapsulates the notion of a longing for a prelapsarian past as being a pointer to the fulfilment of messianic hopes and dreams, as well as how the Christmas festival draws on images of an innocent childhood past in order to supply a model of human perfection, transformation and redemption, authenticity is a key driver in eschatological discourse. This paper will focus on the way in which nostalgia-orientated radio programmes are a pivotal, but largely overlooked in scholarly discourse, site of authenticity, in the way that they enable listeners to negotiate their relationship with their real or imagined pasts, in programmes like BBC Radio 2’s Sounds of the 50s/60s/70s/80s or Pick of the Pops, and in so doing recover, reclaim and recapture a sense of personal integrity and fulfilment. This notion of finding authenticity through often trivial, kitsch and ostensibly ‘inauthentic’ forms will form the edifice of this paper which will draw on specific radio testimony from a range of national, regional and local BBC stations, as well as a number of scholarly positions on nostalgia, including Svetlana Boym, Susan Stewart and Clay Routledge.