Ki-o-Rahi revival underway in the South Waikato
On March 12th over 14 schools gathered at the Tokoroa Oval to battle it out at the Waikato Regional Schools Ki-o-Rahi Tournament. This annual fixture is in its fifth year and has grown substantially since its first tournament hosted in Waikato. The tournament is organised by an association of Hauraki, Waikato, Maniapoto and Raukawa organisations who have come together to promote the traditional sport and advance its growth throughout the wider Waikato region. Members include the Raukawa Charitable Trust, Sport Waikato, Ngā Miro Health, Te Korowai o Hauraki and Te Wharekura Māori o Rakaumangamanga. Teams played 12 rounds, with the finals seeing recent newcomer Cambridge High School play against reigning national title holders Rakaumanga. After an action packed game, victory went to Rakaumanga by a small margin (16-12). One of the Raukawa organisers of the event, KC Maaka, said that
“….it was a great day for our rangatahi and for the revival of our traditional sport. The collaboration of our organising members really added to the success of the day and the grounds were superb for this type of tournament. Cambridge High School did exceptionally well given that they are in their third year of being involved with Ki-o-Rahi, compared to the national title holders Rakaumanga who have 10 years plus of experience.”
The organising association is still relatively new; nonetheless, their shared commitment and passion for Ki-o-Rahi and the promotion of healthy living is what drives their collaboration to bring about this annual tournament for our rangatahi. With half of the schools coming from the Raukawa rohe, the sport’s recent revival shows no limits. KC also commented that “…it’s a great sport that everyone can join, I am really looking forward to next year’s tournament and I would like to thank all participating schools, coaches, and also the South Waikato District Council for ensuring that the 2014 event was a major success.”
What is Ki-o-Rahi
Ki-o-Rahi is the modern term for ancient forms of ball play on fields with central tupu and boundary pou. Ki-o-Rahi as a modern sport is drawn from traditional pre-European Māori ball games where two teams of eight players play on a circular field divided into zones, and score points by touching the ‘pou’ (boundary markers) and hitting a central ‘tupu’ or target. It‘s a fast paced contact sport that requires sharp offensive and defensive tactics, and involves imaginative handling and swift inter passing of a “ki” (ball). When watching for the first time, one could say that the traditional game shares skill sets similar to Australian Rules, rugby union, touch and netball.
In times of old, an iwi or hapū which had especially strong and fit ball players could sometimes be solicited for help by another tribe preparing for war. A messenger would present a “ki” or “poi” to the Rangatira, which would represent an invitation to join the iwi or hapū in battle. The game itself spread to continental Europe during World War II when Māori soldiers, many from the 28th Māori Battalion, played the traditional game on foreign soil and beaches. Both Italian and French soldiers and citizens shared in the knowledge of the game and some French soldiers from the Seine-Maritime region took the game home with them. Many of their descendants continue to play the traditional game. Today, the game is enjoying a strong comeback, and can be found in many high schools around the country. It has also made significant traction in the United States and United Kingdom.
How to get involved
If you’re interested in learning more about Ki-o-Rahi, or would like to get your child or moko into the sport, then call us to talk more with KC Maaka our Health Promotion, Nutrition, and Physical Activity Co-ordinator. For the past three years KC has been reviving the sport in our rohe with regular Ki-o-Rahi modules and tournaments. For those in year 9 & 10 who are new to the sport, be sure to join us for the Waikato Y9 & Y10 Ki-o-Rahi Tournament on Nov 12 at the Tokoroa Oval. For more info on the event and how to get involved contact us on 0800 Raukawa.