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Anzac Day and Ki-O-Rahi

Ki-o-rahi was played by the 28th Māori Battalion during the World War II Italian campaign, where it's now called Palla Māori. It seems fitting to learn the pūrākau and the game at this time.

He hono tāngata e kore e motu; kā pā he taura waka, e motu.

Unlike a canoe rope, a human bond cannot be severed.

- From Aroha, Hinemoa Elder

Firstly, the science...

Learning about our personal and cultural history can provide a sense of connection to our ancestors and whakapapa and a stronger understanding of our place in the world. It also supports us to understand resilience and perspective by knowing about the adversity and triumphs of those who came before us. This also develops our empathy. 

Understanding our history supports us to feel more connected, resilient, empathetic, and intellectually engaged - all of which contribute to our overall sense of wellbeing.

Why this activity?

Because ki o rahi continues our Māori traditions and culture, it’s challenging and as we learn it, it’s fun!

You'll need

To learn the pūrākau, and the game. The links below provide an equipment list too.

What to do

To explain why we're offering ki o rahi as an Anzac Day activity -  during the Italian campaign, the 28th (Māori) Battalion taught the locals a traditional Māori game called Ki O Rahi. The 28th Battalion were particularly popular in the Cervia area because of their heroism - 14 of their corp lost their lives resisting a Germany attack while villages fled to safety.


As we understand it, it wasn’t until many years later that it was discovered ki or rahi was still being played in Italy where it's called Palla Māori. Ka rawe! How good is that!


Ki o rahi is going through a super revival here in Aotearoa including a national tournament proposed for 2024 in Ōtautahi. 

So this Anzac Day we have a wee challenge, a really special challenge! If you’re familiar with ki o rahi, head off for a game after revisiting the pūrākau (below), and if not, then this is a great time to learn!


If ki o rahi is new to you, it’s likely it won’t be new for some of your tamariki and we all know how helpful that is!


Before you head to the field, ki o rahi has an important pūrākau in Te Ao Māori which we’re asked to retell and acknowledge. A shout out to ki o rahi an advocate organisation who offer us this pūrākau

We love this video if you’re learning from Sport Waitakere but if you have tamariki who know the game ask them to teach anyone who’s unfamiliar.


Meg from our team and who works across Sport Bay of Plenty has helpfully pointed us to the Movewell resource - ki o rahi features on Page 58. We also love the video and information provided by Rangitahi tu Rangatira.

More ideas for Anzac Day

  • Use ki o rahi as an inquiry topic.

  • Consider ki o rahi in terms of how it contributed positively to the war - before, during and after.

    Draw, paint, write poems or try some instructional writing connected to learning about, or playing, Ki-o-rahi.

    Reflect and pay tribute take a moment for gratitude with this special playlist of waiata curated by Waiata Anthems.

  • Take a still moment in the day for whakawhetai - gratitude. It could be a linked into one of your ki-o-rahi kemu, “While you are playing today, I want you to notice things that you really like or feel grateful for, we will share these at the end of our game”

Whānau engagement

This could  also be a great opportunity to connect and kōrero with whānau and local iwi to see what else you can discover about ki o rahi locally. We bet there are some legendary players in your community!

And to add to this...

Learning about our culture and history can be so fun while also engaging, an awesome activity to continue this learning is Embracing Te Reo Māori with Te Whare Tapa Whā

Curriculum links

Health and PE Curriculum   

Personal health and physical development: A2 Regular physical activity

Movement concepts and motor skills: B1 Movement skills,

Social Sciences

Identity, Culture, and Organisation, Continuity and Change

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