Tī rākau — Activity collectionStick games

Tagged with:

  • Physical activity
  • Movement concepts and motor skills
  • Hauora
  • Years 1–4
  • Years 5–8

Play tī rākau and explore their whakapapa and tikanga.

Exploring te ao kori

Exploring te ao kori activity collections.

Read background information View te ao kori collections
A girl with a rākau.

Include hapū, iwi, and mana whenua

Techniques, tikanga, and popular waiata for tī rākau vary between hapū and iwi. Acknowledging mana whenua and the tikanga for tī rākau in your area can begin with conversations and partnerships with ākonga and whānau who bring expertise to the classroom. If you have no Māori whānau, or hapū or iwi connections, within your school, seek introductions to Māori communities through Kāhui ako/school networks, or talk to the strategic advisor Māori at your regional Ministry of Education office.


Long, long ago before time began there was no light in the world, only darkness all around. This was the time of Io the creator, the guardian of the world.

In the quiet of the dark lay Ranginui, the Sky Father holding the Earth Mother, Papatūānuku, tightly in his arms. Crushed between them in the darkness were their children, all longing for light, space and freedom.

One of the children was Tāne Mahuta, the guardian and father of the forests. Tāne was big and strong. At last he could bear to be crowded no longer and Tāne rose up between his parents and used his great strength to separate them. He thrust Ranginui high, high above Papatūānuku – making sky and earth. Light and air filled the great space between them.

Tāne Mahuta became the father of a great whānau. Two of his children were Harakeke the flax, child of Pakoti and Raupō, the native bulrush, who was the child of Repo the swamp. Together, Harakeke and Raupō created Poi.

And that is, how the first poi was made from the strong leaves of the harakeke flax wrapped tenderly around the soft down of the native bulrush. Today the poi is made of materials of our time, but the story of the poi and its beauty and grace still lives on.

Copyright © The National Heart Foundation of New Zealand 1998.


Tī rākau was traditionally viewed not only as a game and useful exercise for young men, but it was also practised by girls. Young women found that its use was beneficial because it made them active, supple and improved their agility for performing kapa haka.

Te reo Māori vocabulary

  • Ki raro – down
  • Ki runga – up
  • Ki te taha – to the side
  • Ki waenganui – between
  • Kuru(a) – throw
  • Matau – right
  • Mauī – left
  • Me pēnei – like this
  • Rau – leaf
  • Raupō – bulrush; Typha angustifolia
  • Rito – centre shoot or heart of plants, such as flax and cabbage tree




Learner levels

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