Rua was born shortly before his father died. He was sent by his mother as a baby to be raised by his father's people. He returned home when he was nine but was soon sent away again and never lived with his mother for any length of time.
About 1904 he began to have visions and soon became recognized by a large segment of the Tuhoe tribe of New Zealand's North Island as the messiah who would secure the return of land illegally confiscated by the European-dominated government. The movement culminated in the building of a peaceful model settlement at Maungapohatu in the Urewera mountains, which was destroyed in 1916 in one of the most shameful actions of white New Zealanders against the Maori.
His influence waned after his arrest, trial and imprisonment, and he died almost alone in 1937, although there are probably a few adherents of his religion still living.
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