Huia Come Home hatched by a giant chicken

Huia Come Home takes flight on Saturday, November 18 at 1.50pm with a book launch at Poihakena Marae by local author Jay Ruka.

The book had been brewing for a while and a dream by wife Erin about a giant chicken was the catalyst for Jay to capture New Zealand’s church history, from both a positive and a negative light and to look to a way forward, not just for Christianity, but for Aotearoa.

“Erin had a dream about a chicken three-storey’s high and then she heard the word huia,” he says.

And while the dream sounds comical, and Erin said she woke up and had a giggle about it, the couple realised the significance for Jay in the telling of Huia Come Home.

Jay says the chicken represents the imported dominant world-view of western thinking and the Huia, an extinct native bird, the indigenous Māori perspective.

In the first half of the book he explores the positive interactions between Māori and the first missionaries prior to the signing of the Treaty followed by the exchanges that would have far-reaching negative impacts on Māori post Treaty.

“The early missionaries had a respectful relationship with Māori – they learnt the language and spent time with the people,” Jay says.

Jay says Christianity ‘s agenda changed from helping Māori navigate the wider world to one of assimilation to the English way of life with the second wave of missionaries.

What was to follow was the degradation of Māori way of life – from the loss of language and tikanga (protocols) and ultimately, the loss of land ownership and ability to be economically viable.

“The new settler government came up with deceptive ways to legislate land off Māori and used Christianity to justify it.”

In the second half of the book, Jay attempts to align Christianity with Te Ao Māori – the indigenous Māori way of viewing the world.

He believes we can still hold a shining light to the Treaty document as a way to incorporate the Māori world-view into New Zealand’s economic and political structures.

“We’ve had 177 years of doing it wrong, doesn’t mean we can’t get it right in the future.”

Jay and Erin found themselves in Raglan 18 months ago, partly to immerse themselves in the celebrated Ataarangi te reo classes held at Poihakena Marae but soon realised that Raglan was the place to be to finally realise their dream of publishing Huia Come Home.

Jay also spent time researching his Raglan whakapapa; his great-great grandmother Raima Kahui was Ngāti Koata from Te Akau.

Visit to purchase the book online, also on sale at Zinnia in Raglan and the Raglan Book and Gift Centre.

Janine Jackson