Wiki Hā: Mau Rākau in the spirit of sportsmanship and teamwork

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Māori immersion high schools from around the country are battling it out with traditional Māori weaponry at Wiki Hā, a week-long bi-annual event which brings the students together to compete across a range of sports in the spirit of fair play and camaraderie.

Hēmi Tai Tin of The School of Māori Weaponry says there is a misconception about Māori Martial Arts.

"The School of Māori Weaponry is to protect, so what better than games to debunk that myth."

A 17-year-old student at a Māori emersion high school Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Kōtuku, Tāwhirimātea Ashby (Ngāti Whātua, NgāPuhi) says, "Let's say it's a game but with the spirit of war and thoughts of battle, the idea is to protect and survive so this game proves your ability to support."

He says there are many benefits to educational experience beyond the classroom.

"To have experiences in the environment, the world our ancestors lived in, to socialise and take up the challenge to be champions for our tribes."

The games saw students take up arms in four areas that relate to traditional battlegrounds such as the forest, the river, the cliff and the blockade. 

Hēmi Tai Tin says, "To connect with ancestorstors, what better way than to enter into these contexts."

He explains Māori Martial Arts as a means of building resilience amongst youth and combatting suicide. 

"First and foremost the principles of the warrior, to endure despite troubles, to move forward."

He wants to see Māori Martial Arts continue to grow and flourish.

"So that we can revive the culture of Māori Weaponry and it's language, it's tradition, it's protocols pertaining to each community, family, each tribe."

Hēmi Tai Tin hopes the Māori emersion high school students develop a desire to take up arms in Schools of Māori Weaponry.