A Far North club, which has created New Zealand's first playing field dedicated to the traditional Maori sport ki-o-rahi, has been named the district's top community group for 2013.

Ki-o-Rahi Akotanga Iho won the supreme award in the 2013 TrustPower Far North Community Awards held last night in Kaikohe's Castle Duo Cinema. The Bay of Islands-based sporting and cultural club beat 50 other groups vying for the title.

Ki-o-rahi is a fast-moving, full-contact ball game played on a round field with a central target. In recent years it has undergone a revival, due in no small part to Ki-o-Rahi Akotanga Iho and coach Harko Brown of Kerikeri.

Earlier this year the club opened New Zealand's first fully carved ki-o-rahi field on land gifted by the Waitangi National Trust. Called Te Atarauarangihaeata, the club's "field of dreams" was built by volunteers, schoolchildren and kaumatua from all over Northland. The field's boundaries are marked by carved posts decorated by pupils of seven schools.


TrustPower spokeswoman Suzi Luff said Ki-o-Rahi Akotanga Iho had given iwi around the country a template for building their own ki-o-rahi fields. "And, most excitingly, it will encourage cultural sports tourism as a genuine prospect for development. This community group and its voluntary efforts has meant that Te Atarauarangihaeata is a gift to the nation and legacy for future generations," she said.

The club wins $1500 and will travel to Southland in March to represent the Far North at the national awards. In 2010 the club took part in the first international ki-o-rahi tour in France and the UK.

See the Advocate in coming days for full award results.