New POIFIT fitness a hit in Rotorua

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

POIFIT is Rotorua's new and unique fusion of cultural fitness that blends poi skills with an upper and lower body workout. The once-a-week class is proving popular attracting up to 50 participants of both haka performers and beginners.

With precision skill, Stevee Ray Raureti wields her poi.

“I want people to feel like they've done something a little bit different outside of their comfort zone because it's not always easy to get into haka practice or into some style of haka unless you are in a haka rōpū, which only comes around once a year,” said Raureti. “For some, it only comes around once every two years.

The former gymnast has turned her passion for poi into a fun fitness alternative for both the skilled and novice.

“Firstly it improves your health, secondly it improves your poi skills, thirdly it brings our families together for both men and women, adults and children,” said Te Mihiroa Wright (Ngāruahine, Te Arawa).

Callie Raureti (Ngāti Rangitihi, Te Arawa ) said, “It teaches discipline. It conditions us kaihaka for the stage. It conditions our bodies and keeps us fresh and active.”

Poi was originally used by men to strengthen their wrists for battle. Today it's used predominantly by women in contemporary Māori performing arts and now POIFIT.

“I decided what better way to do fitness then to do something that I actually like because I hate going to the gym,” said Raureti.

The motivated school teacher-by-day hopes to take the fitness to a world stage.

“Aww, you'll see me in Hawaii,” said Raureti. “One day I'm going to own a studio and it'll say POIFIT and when you walk in to interview me there, you'll see my mirrors on the wall and you'll see our jerseys on my back.”

Raureti plans to train other POIFIT instructors.