By Kahumako Rameka, Te Rito journalism cadet.
A traditional practice is finally being introduced into the school curriculum.
Teachers of Mau Rākau have provided free education for years motivated by dedication to the kaupapa but now Sport NZ Ihi Aotearoa has announced a partnership with Te Whare Tū Taua o Aotearoa, School of Māori weaponry, which will provide funding to deliver a Māori weaponry curriculum across the country for the next three years.
Te Whare Tū Taua Māori weaponry exponent Hemi Tai Tin (Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Hāmoa) says, "We already know the proverb that says, children who break the calabash, lead them to the source of life, the source of knowledge, the source of peace.
He says, “To me, the most treasured gift is knowing who you are and where you come from. That's why I say people and taiaha are one."
Tai Tin says having Māori in organisations like Sport NZ Ihi Aotearoa has made this possible.
Not driven by money
"Māori are strategists. This partnership came about by reaching out to family within these organisations.
"That's what Te Ihi has done. It's taking notice, so I thank it for its humility, and for its support," he says.
While funding is now available, Tai Tin says he does not want the teaching to be driven by money.
"We will not allow money to become a god for us. Our gods are Tū and Rongo."
Wiremu Tai Tin (Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Hāmoa) and his partner Chrissy Hiraani Hilton (Ngāti Kahungunu, Tauranga Moana, Te Arawa), both teachers from Te Whare Tū Tauā o Aotearoa, believe Mau Rākau will benefit rangatahi physically, mentally, and spiritually.
"What I love most about the kaupapa is the ability for people to be able to empower themselves within traditional Māori art forms such as Mau Rākau, being able to find and attain all the mātauranga that the discipline has to offer and how it can help benefit us within Te Ao Hurihuri these days," Hilton says.
"The main goal for me personally is to build good people and to show them that a bit of rough times is worth it because you come out the other side a better man or a better person by understanding those types of obstacles, understanding those types of challenges," Tai Tin says. "Without those challenges, we're not going to be helping ourselves."
"We hope that this initiative will pave the way for funding to be directed toward more Māori organisations for the benefit of our rangatahi.