A Northland sports club has been invited to represent New Zealand at the 'Olympics of indigenous games'.

The first World Indigenous Games will be held in Palmas, Brazil, in late October. They are being organised by Brazil's Indigenous Tribal Council and Ministry of Sport, with 24 Brazilian ethnic groups and people from 22 countries expected to take part.

Events will include archery, spear toss, tug-of-war, traditional canoeing, a 100m 'rustic race', wrestling and a native American ball game, xikunahati.

The organisers invited Bay of Islands man Harko Brown to help them shape the games' content, format and rules at a gathering in Brasilia which ends this weekend.


Mr Brown, an expert in traditional Maori games, founded the sports club Ki-o-rahi Akotanga Iho, which in 2010, along with All Black legend Buck Shelford, embarked on the world's first international tour with tests and demonstration games in the UK, France and Italy.

Before his departure for Brasilia Mr Brown said he had been asked to advise on how traditional Maori games were run in New Zealand. A crucial part of the preparation was the tatu, whereby competing tribes met beforehand to come up with an agreed set of rules.

The club had also been asked to send a delegation to Palmas for the October 20-November 1 games, where they would demonstrate 11 traditional Maori games, including ki-o-rahi, ti-uru (a ball game played on a court), hupara (high jump using stumps) and wera-te-paatu (a test of balance on a rock wall).

So far 14 club members had put up their hands to take part in a great chance to link up with traditional sports players from around the world.

"This is huge. This is the Olympics of traditional games," Mr Brown said.

Tane Waetford (Ngatiwai/Ngati Hine), who is now the deputy Head of Mission at the New Zealand Embassy in Brasilia, said the games organisers had reached out to a number of countries, including New Zealand, to attend the technical meeting.

"Through the Brazilian Embassy in Wellington they were able to identify Harko, given his experience in traditional games. We'll be pleased to have him here to provide input into the games from a New Zealand and Maori perspective," Mr Waetford said.

New Zealand's role in the games, which would begin with a three-day cultural festival, would be clearer after the meeting, he added.