Kids flock to play most Kiwi of sports
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.