Canadian tribe learn to play traditional Maori ball game

By Peter de Graaf

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GREETING: Musqueam elder Larry Grant addresses the Canadian tribe's Northland hosts. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
GREETING: Musqueam elder Larry Grant addresses the Canadian tribe's Northland hosts. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

A 21-strong delegation from the Musqueam tribe of Vancouver, Canada, has been learning about the traditional Maori ball game ki-o-rahi.

The group visited Waitangi to see New Zealand's first carved ki-o-rahi field, Te Atarauarangihaeata, where they were hosted by Northland sports club Ki-o-rahi Akotanga Iho as part of a cultural exchange.

Ki-o-rahi Akotanga Iho chairman Harko Brown, of Kerikeri, led the mihi whakatau with speeches of welcome from other club members and Bay of Islands leaders. Verbina Kopa led the waiata with her junior players Sophie Wilkinson, Yves Brown, Manaia Webb and Billie Brown in support.

Mr Brown taught the Musqueam how to weave the traditional ki (flax ball) then explained the game's history and the significance of the field. Club members Joshua Rewha, Haratua Tane and Waylon Rewha then taught the visitors how to play.

Musqueam leader Terry Point said his people had very few native speakers left.

"Visiting your traditional ki-o-rahi field, which is an educational mecca, gives us the thoughts of promoting our own traditional games to uplift our language."

Among those welcoming the First Nation guests was Far North Deputy Mayor Tania McInnes, who said the district led New Zealand in cultural sports innovation.

"Ki-o-rahi is a fantastic Maori game and it's bringing people together from all corners of the world to share in their cultures, stories and aspirations."

The Musqueam group also visited a number of Northland schools.

Te Atarauarangihaeata was formally opened by Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia in December. Children from seven local schools helped to build the field and decorate its seven carved pou.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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