Rātana Church issues stern warning to Jacinda Ardern's Government

Jacinda Ardern and her Māori MPs have been given a stern warning from followers of the politically influential Rātana Church: do not take our support for granted.

It was a very long 10 minutes as Ms Ardern and Simon Bridges waited awkwardly to be welcomed. Relief came when the first notes rang out from the band, signalling they could get moving.

Thursday marks 100 years since prophet Tahupotiki Wiremu Rātana had a vision marking the start of the influential political and religious movement, and sparking the alliance between Labour and Rātana.

"I have heard stories of how he travelled up and down the country," Ms Ardern told the crowd. "In one hand he held the Bible. In the other, the Treaty of Waitangi."

She came bearing those same gifts.

"This was the Bible given to me by my mother, and has my handwritten notes throughout. You will see I was a very diligent student."

As well as the Bible and treaty, the Prime Minister also brough eight flax after Rātana gifted her the name Waru, 'eight', for her baby daughter. Neve wasn't present at Rātana, as her mother reasoned the congregation "did not want a teething baby here today".

Some Rātana followers are worried Labour is taking advantage of the church's political support.

"After we've aligned to them in their good favour, they then drop us like a hot pancake," one woman told Newshub.

There was also criticism the Māori caucus isn't doing enough to justify the seven Māori seats it won at the last election.

"We've heard nothing from them," one man says.

Ms Ardern was adamant she's not taking the Rātana relationship for granted. Her Government was applauded for giving Rātana $2 million funding to build houses on their land.

But there's been an almost total lack of targeted funding for Māori under this Government.

As the Prime Minister celebrates the low unemployment rate out on Wednesday - below the 4 percent target set by the Government - she's still unwilling to set a target for Māori unemployment, which is still disproportionately high.

The fanfare surrounding Ms Ardern didn't quite extend to Mr Bridges, but he also used his speech to praise the prophet Rātana, admiring his resilience.

"I can tell you in the last few weeks, that message got a little resonance for me," he said to laughs.

With the latest bizarre twist in the Jami-Lee Ross saga, he may need it yet.