Much to learn in taiaha workshop

SUSAN STRONGMAN
Last updated 05:00 17/12/2013
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Charlotte Curd
Paul Ruakere ran a taiaha workshop with members of the deaf community yesterday.

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The taiaha is traditionally a weapon but it can also be used as a tool to exercise both body and mind.

At a Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand-run workshop yesterday, Paul Ruakere taught participants how to use the taiaha, a staff-like Maori weapon.

"We are combining sport and cultural fitness," Mr Ruakere said.

"We will start with a karakia, then a warm-up walk along the beach."

The Puniho-born trainer taught participants about the history and usage of the taiaha and gave an introductory lesson on the basic movements of the Taranaki pukeko style, which he learnt at Parihaka.

The style mimics the movements of the red-beaked, blue-feathered swamp hen.

"It's a good workout for the body and mind," he said.

Mr Ruakere said he used meditative exercises, such as tai chi, to calm his mind, helping to reduce anxiety.

In the half-day workshop Mr Ruakere, working with sign language communicator Tania Stuart, told the story of how Maui slowed the sun and the workshop finished with the group painting a large sun mural.

Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand community relations officer Nicki Jenkinson said it was the first time the organisation had held the free taiaha workshop.

"I read Paul's story in a Progress to Health publication and thought it would be great for him to teach taiaha to members of the deaf community."

Ms Jenkinson said yesterday's event was about the 12th workshop she had co-ordinated this year for the organisation.

Other workshops put on had been on health, literacy and technology - including internet safety.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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