Rua Kēnana, of Ngāi Tūhoe, was born in 1868 or 1869. When Te Kooti died in 1893 he claimed to be the successor named Hepetipa (Hephzibah) whom Te Kooti had prophesied would complete his work by regaining the land.
His claims divided the Ringatū Church founded by Te Kooti. Many Tūhoe saw Rua as a symbol of a new era in which their lost lands would be returned and kept in their name. In 1907 he built a new religious community at the foot of Maungapōhatu, the mountain sacred to Tūhoe.