Kids flock to play most Kiwi of sports

Taranaki Daily News - - News - JU­LIAN LEE

Imag­ine a com­bi­na­tion of rugby, dodge­ball, tag and live-ac­tion role play in­volv­ing two games be­ing played at the same time – and it’s a game na­tive to New Zealand.

To the unini­ti­ated, it looks pretty com­pli­cated. It’s a ball game most Pa¯keha¯ and even many Ma¯ ori haven’t heard of – kı¯-o-rahi.

It’s not just any ball game, but one based on a colour­ful pu¯ ra¯ kau (leg­end) of a man called Rahi­tu­takahina res­cu­ing his wife, Tiaraku­ra­pake­wai, af­ter over­com­ing sev­eral ob­sta­cles in­volv­ing a tani­wha, a lake and an ice bridge.

Some Ma¯ ori com­mu­ni­ties have been aware of the game since at least World War II, but the ori­gins are un­clear.

Ara In­sti­tute has been hold­ing rounds of kı¯-o-rahi on Mon­day nights and now a bunch of ea­ger Christchurch kids are tak­ing it on.

Yald­hurst Model School, a pri­mary school on the out­skirts of Christchurch, is test­ing kı¯-o-rahi with its stu­dents. Five other schools are fol­low­ing suit.

Sport Can­ter­bury learnt kı¯o-rahi from TOA Sports at Ara In­sti­tute and thought it would be a good sport for pri­mary schools to try.

The Yald­hurst stu­dent body also thought it was a good idea and, along­side Sport Can­ter­bury, taught the sport to five other schools.

Sport Can­ter­bury com­mu­nity sport ad­viser Rob­bie Har­low said the process was quick and pupils were keen to learn the game.

‘‘We went through the whole game with my­self and some­one else from Sport Can­ter­bury and they then brought in five other schools to learn in a day.

‘‘They’ve then taken that back to their schools and prac­tised and that’s re­sult­ing in a clus­ter tour­na­ment.’’

The chil­dren at Yald­hurst in­sist it is not com­pli­cated once you get the hang of it, so here are the rules, ac­cord­ing to Ran­gatira Tu Ran­gatira (and there are many vari­a­tions):

Two teams, the kı¯oma and the tani­wha, play on a large cir­cu­lar field. Like bas­ket­ball it has four quar­ters and teams ro­tate at half time.

Kı¯oma score by touch­ing the pou (pil­lars) with the kı¯ (ball) then run­ning the kı¯ through Te Roto (the lake) and plac­ing it down in pawero to con­vert pou touches into points. Like a rugby try.

Tani­wha have to hit the tupu in the mid­dle with the kı¯. Kı¯oma have kaiti­aki (guardians) around the tupu to stop the tani­wha from hit­ting the tupu. In turn the tani­wha must stop the kı¯oma from scor­ing.


Yald­hurst School is one of six Christchurch schools learn­ing to play k¯ı-o-rahi.

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