News | 15 November 2021

Taonga tākaro tuku iho: Play the Māori way

It’s Play Week (15-21 November) and we’re on a mission to promote wellbeing through play, an essential part of childhood development. Play Week is a great time to explore and celebrate how Māori have used games and play for generations.

A birds eye view of the large yellow and purple Ki-O-Rahi pitch in the middle of a green grass field at Pukehuia Park in Newlands, with children playing.

We’ve teamed up with Wellington-based organisations Nuku Ora and Tū Mātau Ora to explore the benefits of play and the ways in which our tamariki (children) and rangatahi (young people) play. 

It might surprise you to discover that you may have already played some traditional games such as knuckle bones, hoops, skipping ropes, poi and spinning tops.

Revitalisation of these traditions is invaluable in a time where play and whānau are so vital to our collective wellbeing.   

Māori have always looked to the past to inform ways to move into the future. Pūrākau for example hold a wealth of mātauranga, of traditional practices and frameworks that sustained our whānau in times of challenge and prosperity.” - Voices of Māori Play Report, Ihi Aotearoa 


Two children wearing high-vis orange vests throwing a yellow soccer ball between them on a purple, yellow and green pitch at a sports field.

Māori, like nearly all Kiwis for that matter, have an intrinsic connection with our environments.  Be it the bush, beach, mountains, rivers or seas, Aotearoa provides unlimited opportunities to ‘play with the environment’.  People often feel an intangible connection when in a natural environment, like the feeling of bare feet on sand or in water. Dr Ihirangi Heke describes this connection for Māori, as whakapapa - a direct link to tīpuna (ancestors) and Atua (Gods).

Much like the resurgence of Te Reo Māori, there is a growing movement to revitalise ngā Taonga Tākaro (Māori games and pastimes). Many Māori are building on this movement by embedding mātauranga Māori in contemporary settings.

Kia kawea tātou e te tākaro
“Let us be taken by the spirit of play” 

To read the full article written by Pita Noanoa and Vanessa Mill from Tū Mātau Ora, you can find it here on the Nuku Ora website.

This article was developed in partnership between Wellington City Council, Tū Mātau Ora and Nuku Ora. All three organisations aim to promote the importance of play, engage tamariki in a diverse range of play experiences and opportunities, connect whānau to safe places and space to play and enable parents and caregivers to play more, every day!