Ki-O-Rahi tournament draws diverse school teams

Ki-O-Rahi tournament draws diverse school teams

CPIT’s Ki-O-Rahi revival has engaged a wide range of Christchurch secondary schools in the traditional Māori sport, says organiser Heperi Harris.

Ten schools will compete in the Ki-O-Rahi tournament tomorrow at Pioneer Stadium, followed by an Institute of Origin match in which CPIT will look to maintain their winning streak over the University of Canterbury team.

The tournament has proven a catalyst for broadening students’ understanding of Māori culture. “A lot of schools are involved that don’t usually engage with Māori events. I’d say that has been one of the main successes,” Heperi said.

Heperi and his team from CPIT’s Certificate in Sport Training and Indigenous Culture (also called TOA Sports) have visited schools and held workshops in the lead up to the tournament to teach students the game. Heperi describes Ki-O-Rahi as a cross between handball, touch rugby and netball. He was introduced to Ki-O-Rahi in 2009 and has been playing it with friends ever since.


Ki-O-Rahi is played on a circular field, with a ‘ki’ (ball) which is passed swiftly and imaginatively to reach a bucket or basket in the centre or players can also score by touching flags on the field perimeter. Traditional aspects of the game have been retained wherever possible, but the CPIT team has also made some unique interpretations and students who have played Ki-O-Rahi are apparently appreciating the faster pace of play.

“Traditionally the game was preceded by days of negotiations. There were different adaptations of the game so each tribe would try to establish rules that would benefit their team. We negotiate too, but only for a few minutes,” Heperi said.  

Heperi initiated a revival of the sport, which is played in the US, France and Italy, in April last year. Support from He Oranga Pounamu has allowed the team to buy gear, visit more schools and offer the Nga Toa Kaupapa trophy to the best Ki-O-Rahi secondary school team each year.