Boston Aiturau – Kī o Rahi Tāmaki Makaurau | Faces of Auckland Sport and Recreation Volunteers
What do you get when you combine elements of rugby, basketball, netball and tag into one sport? Something like Kī o Rahi, a traditional Māori sport which is growing in popularity across Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.
The puurakau (story) behind Kī o Rahi demonstrates that this sport is much more than a game, though. Stemming from the legend of Rahitutakahina and Tiarakurapakewai (which you can read more about here), Kī o Rahi was originally played to settle differences or further relationships between groups.
Now, thanks to the efforts of volunteers like Boston Aiturau, Kī o Rahi is increasing in popularity, and bringing people from across Auckland together to learn the game.
Boston was first introduced to Kī o Rahi while a student at Te Kura Māori o Nga Tapuwae in Mangere. “My PE teacher, Danny Maera, taught us Kī o Rahi, and ever since then I’ve been hooked,” he says. “I've been playing for about 10 years now, and I've gone on to coach and referee too.”
While the rules of Kī o Rahi can differ from region to region, it generally involves two teams of eight players facing off on a large, circular field over two halves or four quarters. The teams alternate between the roles of ‘kī oma’ (defenders) and ‘taniwha’ (attackers) at half or quarter time.
Boston says: “The goal is for one team to touch the pou with the ball, and then hit a barrel in the middle of the field to score points. The pou and barrel are guarded by members of the other team. There's no one sport that you can compare Kī o Rahi to because it’s a mixture of sports combined into one. It takes a bit to explain to people and to try and get them to understand it.”
If this sounds confusing, Boston says you’re not alone. He describes taking on his role as a coach as “a learning curve. Not everyone gets Kī o Rahi on the first go because of how many rules there are. That's what I love about volunteering - explaining things, and trying to make it a bit simpler for people to understand.”
The chance to put these skills to use saw Boston chosen as coach of Mount Albert Grammar’s Kī o Rahi team in 2020 - an experience he says he'll “never forget”, and another opportunity to share his love of Kī o Rahi.
“Helping other people, that was a real driving factor for me to volunteer,” says Boston. “I love teaching the game, and playing the game as well. When people start out playing Kī o Rahi they’re confused, but when I start explaining it and start putting it in terms that they will understand, then they all start clicking.”
“I enjoy seeing them smile as they think 'okay, I can figure this out.' And then when they start feeling more confident, the whole mentality of how everyone plays comes out, as they try to outsmart each other. It gets really competitive and I love it - it's the beauty of the game.”
With Kī o Rahi’s popularity growing, Boston says volunteering gives him the opportunity to interact with different groups of people across Auckland.
“I love traveling around to different environments and seeing and learning about them. When I go into areas that I'm not very familiar with, I try and learn about the environment so I can understand how I'm going to teach. Even though I'm teaching, I learn as much as I teach. That’s what I love about volunteering – there's always something to learn.”