Ngā Tākaro Māori – Māori games

Ki-o-Rahi is the original Māori ball game. If you’re keen to give Ki-o-Rahi a go (or even stand on the side line and cheer) you can make your way down to The Commons Hub on Sunday October 18th for demonstrations and workshops.

Cover of Nga Taonga Takaro Cover of Games and Pastimes of the Maori Cover of Papers to conference

Find tākaro books and CDs in our collection.

Ki-o-Rahi has been revived over the past 50 years throughout Aotearoa. This game, it is said, is based on the legend of Rahitutakahina and the rescue of his wife, Tiarakurapakewa. The game tactics involve courage, stealth and ingenuity.

The game is fast-paced and played on a circular field with concentric circles. It involves two teams (each with a minimum of seven players), a central target and a small round woven ball known as a ‘ki’. Ki-o-Rahi involves running, sidestepping, being evasive with the ki, jump shots and blocking. Not to mention strategic thinking, communication and team work.

It is being taught and enjoyed by men, women and children in France, America and Europe. Māori games are definitely making a comeback. This is a powerful testament to the strength of Māori and the will to surmount the effects of colonisation.

Personally I’ve never played Ki-o-Rahi. The closest I’ve come to running fast in a team was as a teenager playing indoor basketball for Avondale College. Māori games we played included:

  • Whai – played with a long loop of flax strip, twisted and pulled to create designs,
  • Ti rakau – the use of flax flower stems that were both thrown and caught,
  • Patu ihu – a game of cards, involving a sore nose for the loser
  • and of course Kaukau Taniwha – rolling over, diving off, scrambling aboard a log that came in and out of a Piha swimming lagoon.

Just thinking about playing games makes me feel like getting out there and being active. I suppose I could play with the cats while I’m gardening after work this afternoon.

Games are part of the Māori psyche. They promote dexterity, problem solving, team work, flexibility, hand and eye coordination. We learn to think quickly and to be strong and swift in our movements. Masterfully woven into the fabric of tākaro Māori are the unique world views and oral traditions of our tupuna.

More about Tākaro Māori

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