In a bid to keep the support of the Ratana Church Labour leader David Shearer will break with tradition by staying on at the church's anniversary celebrations an extra day - a day usually zealously reserved for worship rather than politics.

Along with other political leaders, including Prime Minister John Key, Mr Shearer will go up to the Ratana Pa, near Wanganui, today to mark the anniversary of the birth in 1873 of the church's founder, Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana.

However, in a symbolic gesture he will also return tomorrow - the actual date of the anniversary.

Usually politicians steer clear on that day, which is reserved for a church service and worship rather than politics.


Mr Shearer pledged last year to meet regularly with the Ratana movement.

Since then, he has hosted the church elders at Parliament and met them several times.

"So I am going up for the church service on Friday - for me that is the most significant day and it's the day when people commemorate it."

He said this week that Labour were also now in discussions with Ratana about whether it would become an affiliate of the party.

That would give it some influence over candidate selections and voting power in future leadership elections.