Below is the article that will be published in Professor John Nauright Book. He is the Founding Director of the Academy of International Sports.
Ki-o-Rahi: 21st Century
The Waitangi National Trust states that some 50,000 people play ki-o-rahi regularly in New Zealand. The game is also played in Europe and the U.S. It is especially popular in Hawaii and Pennsylvania where the work of visionary educators such as Greg Baney sees the game taught annually to several hundred children in the Shikillamy School District as part of their multi-cultural units. Furthermore, in 2005, the U.S. Curriculum Directors introduced ki-o-rahi into 31,000 elementary schools as part of their ‘Passport to Play’ physical activity program.
From 2006 a successful lobby group of Maori leaders, headed by Dr Ihirangi Heke, petitioned government institutions to nationally support ki-o-rahi because of its successful dissemination by enterprising U.S. educators; societies in Europe were continuing to treasure the game; NZ research had confirmed its health giving properties; Maori Battalion survivors and their families were calling for a halt to ‘racist’ opposition to its promotion and a Treaty of Waitangi claim was being prepared which cited its continued suppression.
The large scale adoption of ki-o-rahi in New Zealand society has come about only recently because of a general acceptance, amongst major funders and legislators, that ki-o-rahi is beneficial in sports, education and health programs. The recent support from Maori Health Organizations, the Sport and Recreation Commission (SPARC), via their He Oranga Poutama division, and Physical Education New Zealand (PENZ) has dramatically increased the opportunities for New Zealanders to play ki-o-rahi and to be immersed in its tikanga and kawa.
The leading facilitators and health promoters of ki-o-rahi are Dr Ihirangi Heke (University of Otago / Ngati Porou Hauora), Wiremu Mato (Sport Waitakere), Paora Johanson (Whakapai Hauora), Paulette Lewis (Te Oranga), Te Ngaeha Wanikau (Kaha Mai Tuwharetoa), Whetu Rangihaeata (NZ Secondary Schools nationals), Theresa O’Brien (Sport Hawkes Bay), Veronica Thompson (Maori Advisor, SPARC) and a Maori Party Member of Parliament, the Honourable Tariana Turia, who commissioned the national ‘Rangatahi Tu Rangatira’ traditional games initiative.
Ki-o-rahi is the most popular Maori game on the world stage and is played as much by Pakeha (European descendants) as it is by Maori which has assisted its mainstream popularity in NZ and overseas.