While many eyes will be turned to the sea today as the Tuia 250 flotilla sails into the Bay of Islands, at Mangamuka attention will instead be focused on a historic church and marae.

November 8 is one of the most important days on the Rātana calendar with this year marking the 101st anniversary of an event that led to the founding of the church.

Followers believe the Holy Spirit came to TW Rātana with a maramatanga (revelation) while he stood on his veranda at Rātana Pā on November 8, 1918.

Event organiser Polly Tana said the celebrations at Mangamuka's Rātana Church, Te Rito o Te Temepara o Te Haahi Rātana Mangamuka, would also pay tribute to the late Apotoro Takiwa (Area Apostle) Oneroa Pihema who served the church for 50 years and the Taumata for Mangamuka Marae for 30 years.

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Celebrations started on Thursday afternoon with the presentation of a Heritage New Zealand conservation report to Mangamuka Marae, providing a detailed plan to preserve the historic building.

Construction of the marae began in 1943 and was completed five years later in time for Anzac Day 1948. The whare tupuna is one of the few traditionally carved buildings in Northland.

Today's celebrations start with breakfast at 9am followed by kids games at 10am, a hākari (feast) at noon, TW Rātana commemorations at 2pm, and kōrero from 3pm.