A tohunga of the Urewera, Rua Kenana came to believe that he was the reincarnation of John the Baptist and on occasions, the Holy Ghost.
Building what he called the new Jerusalem at remote Maungapohatu, he was frequently at odds with the Crown, placing himself apart from the law. Charges of sly-grogging against him led to a series of events involving contempt of court charges and the subsequent ‘invasion’ of Maungapohatu by armed and mounted police on April 12, 1916. As police moved in to arrest Rua, his supporters in the scrub opened fire. The gun battle lasted half an hour. Two Maori, including a son of Rua, were killed. Several more Maori were wounded as were four police.
Rua was sentenced to prison for a year for resisting the police, but the jury could not agree on charges of counselling to murder and bodily harm. Rua remains a distinguished prophet of the Ringatu church and has been the subject of study for a number of books.