Manawatū schools play kī-o-rahi fast and fierce
Manawatū kī-o-rahi players have earned a reputation for playing a fast exciting game, a teacher of the traditional Māori sport says.
The region's primary and intermediate schools invitational tournament was held on Thursday at Ongley Park, Palmerston North, where 16 teams from nine schools fought it out.
Despite thick mud underfoot in some places, and the mild chill, young cheeks were flushed, eyes sparkled and competition was fierce.
Nutrition and physical activities co-ordinator Ray Rolfe said kī-o-rahi has an ancient history, but today each region has its own adaptations.
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"We like to incorporate a few different rules to other places around New Zealand to get the kids more engaged – a bit like the sevens rugby from 15s. It's much more intense.
"In Manawatū, we're action packed. I encourage all the kids to go faster, go harder."
Visiting teams from other regions learn the local rules and play by them while they're here, he said.
Remy Early, 13, and Khaleb Burton, 12, from Kimbolton School and Monrad Intermediate, clasped hands after fighting out a tough match.
The Kimbolton team was more experienced, even though one of the Monrad teams won the competition last year, Khaleb said.
"We went alright I reckon. It was a fair game. We were sharing the ball well and making power plays well, but they won," he said.
"They had a lot of fast people and were powerful, but we scored a lot of goals and had good defence as well," Remy said.
Playing kī-o-rahi was fun and challenging, but also special because it was a New Zealand sport, he said.
"It's good because it brings in New Zealand culture. We use words like pau for the posts and kī is the ball."
Rahera Skipper, 11, from Te Kura ā iwi o Ngāti Kauwhata, said knowing te reo meant her school could call out game play without the other teams knowing what they planned.
"It's cool. I like all of the running. It's competitive. The teams are pretty good."