Spread­ing a truly kiwi game in Sel­wyn

Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook - - AUTOZONE - MATTHEW SAL­MONS

Based on a leg­end, made in New Zealand and in­cor­po­rat­ing a wide skill set, Ki o Rahi is a home grown ta¯karo (sport/game) that’s spread­ing through ru­ral Sel­wyn.

Sport Sel­wyn Trust phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity ac­ti­va­tor Jayde May­berry said she was hooked af­ter one game.

‘‘It’s such a cool game. It just en­com­passes so many skills to be suc­cess­ful.’’

Darfield High School (DHS) had played Ki o Rahi for three years. Some play­ers, along with May­berry, were vol­un­teer­ing their study breaks to teach the game to younger peers in the area’s pri­mary schools; Darfield Pri­mary School and Kir­wee Model School (KMS).

DHS pupil Haydn Rose said the game was com­plex for a begin­ner but was easy to learn while play­ing.

‘‘Once you’ve played it once or twice and you know the rules, it’s re­ally fun. It flows re­ally nicely.’’

Played on a large cir­cu­lar field be­tween two teams of seven, the ta¯karo ran over four quar­ters, teams al­ter­nat­ing be­tween kı¯oma (de­fence) and tani­wha (at­tack).

The field it­self had an outer ring of ten pou (poles) and a marked in­ner ring sur­round­ing a cen­tral bar­rel, the tupu. Kı¯oma play­ers scored by touch­ing the pou with the ball be­fore bring­ing it back into the cen­tre space, con­vert­ing each touch into a point. Tani­wha play­ers scored by hit­ting the tupu with the ball. The de­fend­ing team had two kaiti­aki (guardians) in the cen­tral area to stop the thrown ball hit­ting the tupu. To stop ei­ther side scor­ing, play­ers would stop their op­po­nants by ei­ther touch­ing them, tack­ling them or rip­ping tags of their belts. Af­ter a set num­ber of touches there was a turnover.

Rose said the DHS team went to two or three tour­na­ments a year. In the most re­cent tour­na­ment, held in Lin­coln, Darfield came fourth. He said the ta¯ karo had long been pop­u­lar in Ma¯ ori com­mu­ni­ties and city schools, but was spread­ing to ru­ral schools.

Rose said it was down to stu­dents and teach­ers to main­tain and grow the na­tive New Zealand sport as there was no ma­jor in­ter­na­tional fix­tures or tele­vised cov­er­age.

‘‘The minute they get started they’re into it ... hav­ing fun, which is kind of the whole point.’’

KMS sports co­or­di­na­tor Nigel Hall said kids who nor­mally shied away from sport­ing ac­tiv­ity were run­ning around laugh­ing and smil­ing while play­ing Ki o Rahi.

MATTHEW SAL­MONS/STUFF

Kir­wee Model School pupils play­ing their first game of Ki o Rahi.

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