Ara revives Māori sport in Canterbury - Te Wiki o Te Reo
Kī-ō-rahi, the traditional Māori ball sport, is a growing force in Canterbury (Waitaha) with most secondary schools
involved, and its regional revival can be attributed to Ara Institute of Canterbury.
“We’ve built up a bit of a buzz in establishing the game here. We’ve pretty much taught everybody in Canterbury who
knows how to play,” Heperi Harris, Manager of Te Puna Wānaka at Ara, says.
While studying at the University of Canterbury Harris based his Master’s research on examining how the combination of Te
Reo, Māori legend and fitness make kī-ō-rahi an effective teaching tool.
“The ultimate goal for me was to look at why people participate, and to use that to increase participation. The big
reasons were that it was fun, but also that there was an opportunity to practise Te Reo. That’s when a lightbulb went
off in my head.”
As a tutor at Ara Harris decided to introduce a Te Reo component into the Sports Training (TOA Sports) programme, in
addition to teaching students skills and rules of Māori games.
“My role was teaching the game to our TOA sports students, who then went out to schools and taught the kids the rules,
along with some sports terms in Te Reo. After the first year of doing that, a real demand developed in the schools for
us to come and share our knowledge.”
Harris saw another opportunity to pass his love of the sport onto the next generation and created the Canterbury
Secondary Schools Kī-ō-rahi Tournament, which was hosted at Ara.
For the first tournament in 2012 eight teams turned up to play, now it’s upwards of twenty teams, including Burnside
High School and Mariehau High School who both have permanent kī-ō-rahi fields. Due to tournament’s expansion, next year
it will be held at one of the participating schools.
In addition to teaching kids, Harris and his team run workshops for teachers on how they can add traditional Māori games
and Te Reo into their curriculum.
“There’s some rockstar teachers in the schools who are driving it, and now it’s not just Te Reo teachers, we have good
buy-in from the P.E. departments too. A couple of teachers have actually told me that it’s been a way to keep kids
engaged, and in school.”
Harris says the sport has been through quite a journey in recent years.
“Kī-ō-rahi started with families, and community groups….now there’s a lot more coaching and tactics involved and people
really want to win. We’ve seen a big development too in the types of player; a few kids are even national
representatives for different sports, like rugby, touch and volleyball.”
There is a fair bit of crossover between kī-ō-rahi and more familiar sports, such as handball, touch rugby and netball.
Kī-ō-rahi is played on a circular field, with a ‘kī’ (ball) which is passed swiftly and imaginatively to reach a bucket
or basket in the centre or players can also score by touching flags on the field perimeter.
As part of Ara’s events programme celebrating Māori Language Week (10-16 September 2018) students and staff can give
Kī-ō-rahi a go at the Woolston campus and Christchurch City Campus.
“There’s a role for everyone, as long as you can move well then you can participate in the game.”
Kī-ō-rahi and Kai is on 12th September 2018 12:00pm-1:00pm at Woolston Campus