Ki o Rahi - Taonga Tākaro (Traditional Māori Game)

Game Whakapapa/Atuatanga

Based on the Purakau (legend) of Rahitutakahina and the rescue of his wife Tiarakurapakewai. The tākaro is a reflection of Tupuna story telling at its best, as well as provides an insight into the way in which they would explain and design Tākaro to reflect their unique "world view". The Papa Tākaro (field) layout of Ki o Rahi and the way the Tākaro is played is a perfect example of this.

Game description

A large team game played between 2 teams, kioma and taniwha on a large circular field. Played for 4 quarters or 2 halves of a set time, teams alternate roles of Kīoma and Taniwha at half or quarter time.

Kīoma score by touching Pou/s with the Kī (for potential points) then running the Kī through Te Roto and placing it down in Pawero to convert pou touches into points. Kīoma stop the other team, Taniwha.

Taniwha score by hitting the Tupu with the Kī. Kīoma will have Kaitiaki (guardians) around the Tupu to stop Taniwha from hitting the Tupu. Depending on which variation is being played, Taniwha must stop Kīoma from scoring by either touching, 2 handed touch, ripping the tag or tackling them in the appropriate area.

Number of players required

14 People minimum (7 a side)

Space required

A good size field/area will be needed to play. click the link below for a sample of a field layout:


Ki o Rahi is played on a circular field with concentric circles.

The size of the field varies depending on the amount of players, level of fitness and the type of rules being played.

Team zones

Kioma can go into Te Marama, Te Ao, Pawero zones. Te Ara is for the Kaitiaki/guardians to get in and out of Pawero to help attack or defend the Tupu. Te Roto can only be used by Kīomawhen running through to covert Pou touches into points.

Taniwha can go into Te Roto and Te Ao zones only.

Game benefits

A wide range of skills will be learnt and improved while playing Kīo Rahi.

Running, sidestepping, being evasive with a Kī

One handed and two handed accurate passing and catching

Flag/tag ripping skills

Jump shots and accurate shooting/throwing


Communication and team work

Equipment needed

1 tupu (central target) approx 40 gallon drum or rubbish bin.

7 pou.

Ki, woven flax ball, normal ball, rocks, rolled up jersey or anything.

Field marking.

Team ID.


Play is started from te Marama, with Kioma throw or kick the ki to a team mate in Pawero area.

They attempt to pass the ki to team mate who touches a pou (for a potential point) then can touch more pou to accumulate more potential points or run it through te roto  then place the ki on or over the Pawero line to convert all pou touches into points on the board. (this is the only time they can enter te roto).

Kioma can not go through or over te ara to score.

If a kioma player is “tagged” in te roto while trying to score it is a hand over, if they run into te roto and run or pass the ki back out with out being touch they retain possession but the pou touches are recounted.

Kioma scores and play restarts with a kick off from te marama.

Out of bounds, last team in possession hand over to other team.

Taniwha scores by hitting the tupu with the ki and play carries on.

Jump shots may be allowed if the taniwha player jumps from te roto and releases the ki before landing in Pawero, they must leave immediattely and not affect play or Kioma gain possession.

Players in possession must be moving or they have 3-5 seconds to pass or shot or hand it over.

Players can not enter te ara, unless they are kioma moving between pawero and te ao.

Players may get the ki from other zones as long as part of their body stays in their legal zone, Taniwha may take jump shots at the tupu as long as the ball is released before they touch the ground. (some Iwi play no entering other zones or penalties may occur) This is called the Turangawaewae rule.

We have attached a couple of variations of how it can be played. Keep an eye out on this site for video instructions!


Nonoke (tackle)       

Full contact version, which is also the traditional method of play. Tatū (negotiation of rules and conduct) is an important part and necessary process of Nonoke. Teams negotiate what's acceptable in the way of contact i.e. no head high tackles, no shoulder charges, substitutions etc. Tatū also governs and negotiates how teams will conduct themselves on and off the Papa Tākaro (Field)            

Nonoke                     click here for basic rules

Ripper version  If attacking player gets ripped they have 3-5 seconds to pass the ki.

Touch version  Touched with the ki, 3-5 seconds to pass, some Iwi play handover if touched with the ki.

Tupu Tangata  2 or 3 players in the pawero are the tupu, so taniwha try to hit them to score, kioma / tupu  try to karo / avoid being hit.


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