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Maunga Moria, Homewood

Church of the Seven Rules of Jehovah

The Church of the Seven Rules of Jehovah sits on a little hill beside the Homewood Road. at Okautete, Homewood.

It was built by Te Hahi o te Ruri Tuawhitu o Ihowa, the Church of the Seven Rules of Jehovah, a Māori Christian sect which was active in the Wairarapa between 1900 and 1930.

Opening of the church circa 1900
There are a number of flags flying in the foreground, including one that appears to be the Potangaroa flag.
Haimona Patete PAColl-5549-3

The church was founded by Haimona Patete of Ngata Kuia and Ngata Koata. In the 1890s he had a vision and founded the church to minister to the needs of Maori and unite all tribes in one flock.  The Church had strong links with the Church of England, and many of the services were similar, except for the Holy Communion, as they could not reconcile eating the body and blood with their idea of a divine figure.

Taiawhio Te Tau, a prominent Māori within the Wairarapa, was also very involved with setting up the church and was its first Bishop.  The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Volume III, notes:

In 1901 Taiawhio became interested in Te Hahi o te Ruri Tuawhitu o Ihowa (also called the Church of the Seven Rules of Jehovah), which originally developed in Marlborough. Within a short period he became heavily involved in its activities as it took root within Wairarapa Maori society. As one of the proprietors of the Maori newspaper Matuhi, Taiawhio appears to have played a major role in the development of the church’s theological tenets and in promoting its cause. He bought a printing press for the paper, and installed his wife as editor. The paper was published regularly between 1903 and 1906.
The church’s teachings were based on the multitude of uses of the number seven in the Bible, and on a belief in the Kingdom of God being brought about in a series of stages. Its dogma included the divine descent – in seven stages – of the English and Maori Kings. Later, a descent line of Maori prophetic authority was added. This carried a Wairarapa bias and featured Paora Te Potangaroa and H. P. Tunuiarangi, Taiawhio’s half-brother. Taiawhio was a keen student of the prophecies of Te Potangaroa, and he subsequently linked the church’s origin and development to him.
In 1910 Taiawhio was elected to the office of district bishop within the Church of the Seven Rules of Jehovah. Later that year he was created the principal bishop of the whole church, retaining this position until 1925. He regularly led the church in large gatherings to celebrate Christmas and other important events, such as the coronation of King George V in 1911 and the opening of Nukutaimemeha meeting house in 1918. Taiawhio also helped to co-ordinate a large meeting at Te Ore Ore, near Masterton, to analyse Paora Te Potangaroa’s prophecies. In 1921 he arranged the erection of a memorial in Masterton Park (Queen Elizabeth Park) to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Te Potangaroa’s utterance of his main prophecies.

The church had seven guiding principles: Life, Goodness, Love, Knowledge, Strength, Truth and Authority, together with sayings for each day of the week.

Monday: If the feet sin look to Life
Tuesday: If the hands sin look to Goodness
Wednesday: If the mouth sins look to Love
Thursday: If the eyes sin look to Knowledge
Friday: If the ears sin look to Strength
Saturday: If the heart sins look to Truth
Sunday: If the body sins look to Authority

The church reached its zenith in 1915, but declined in the 1920s, with the death of Haimona Patete and the rise of the Ratana Church, with many transferring to the Ratana Church in the 1920s.  The 1945 census recorded only 15 adherents, and the 1966 census, only one.

 A 1984 photo of the church by Ewen Belliss 05-39/P-C-6-1

A 1999 photo of the church 99-172

The church building was used for a time by the Anglican Parish of Tinui for services at Homewood, although it was in a very dilapidated condition. This 1999 photo by Gareth Winter shows the church prior to restoration in 2000.

The name 'maunga' is the Māori word for mountain or peak. 'Moria' appears to be a reference to the mount in the land of Moria where Isaac sacrifices his son (Genesis 22).

Sources: Gareth Winter, Wairarapa Archive
Te Ara Hou: the new society, John Mitchell and Hilary Mitchell, 1997
Alexander Turnbull Library
Te Ara


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