Apr 21, 2021


Maori News & Indigenous Views

Dave Gallaher School Attracts Ancient Maori Sport

3 min read

The Dave Gallaher International Summer School will feature the first Ki-o-Rahi tournament ever held in Ireland. The ancient sport of the New Zealand Maori people is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world and is sure to bring some South Seas colour and culture to Ramelton from July 23rd 27th.

kiorahi2013Ki-o-Rahi has its origins in Maori legend involving Maori Chief Tutakahina Rahi’s hunt for his kidnapped wife. Project Director Kevin Shields says that there is incredible support for the initiative on the other side of the world. News of the tournament has spread like wildfire throughout the Maori community in New Zealand and many iwi (tribes) are mobilising their teams to make the 12,000 mile journey to Ireland. We are proud to be the first to bring Ki-o-Rahi to Ireland and welcome teams from New Zealand, France, England, and Holland – with Spain and Italy also possible participants.

Harko Brown, the New Zealand Ki-o-Rahi organiser, and President of Ki-o-Rahi Akotanga Iho (“The Ambassadors of Ki-o-Rahi”), explains the importance of the event to the Maori people. “To have our traditional ball game grace the shores of the Emerald Isle; to be a part of The Gathering in Donegal and to be associated with the Dave Gallaher International School in Ramelton is an immense honour for Maori and in fact, for all New Zealanders. International cultural initiatives such as this, inclusive of the Ki-o-Rahi legacy, are a powerful acknowledgement of our tupuna (ancestors) and pay homage to the 28th Maori Battalion who spread the game in Europe during WW2. This is a cultural exchange of the highest order and a credit to the great vision of the Irish organisers. Harko also confirmed that the New Zealand Minister of Maori Affairs, Pita Sharples, has been asked to lead the sporting and cultural delegation to Donegal in July.

Donegal Gathering Chairperson, Paddy Harte, enthusiastically welcomed news. This is a fantastic boost to Donegals Gathering, and Ramelton with its long and proud sporting heritage is the perfect place for a sports tournament. The fact that representatives from the Maori community will be travelling 12,000 miles to attend is just fabulous news. The Ramelton organisers are to be congratulated for pulling off this great and unique coup.

Kevin Shields says that the sport incorporates some skills similar to Australian Rules football, GAA football, rugby union, netball and touch/tag. It is a fast-paced sport with lots of action using two teams of seven players playing on a circular field divided into zones. Points are scored by touching boundary markers and hitting a central target. One team uses a ball (traditionally made of flax) to hit a drum in the centre of the circular field. The other team’s aim is to defend the drum and to score tries. The game can be configured for all ages and played using tag, touch or tackle modes.

The Dave Gallaher International Summer School organisers are seeking support from groups that wish to learn how to play Ki-o-Rahi and have issued a countywide challenge to Donegal sports organisations. We would like to see teams from the GAA, Hockey, Rugby, Soccer, Athletics and other disciplines challenge the Maoris at their own sport. says Kevin Shields.

Visit theKi-o-Rahi pageto find out more about the sport and view instructional videos.


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