Tokoroa and their love for Ki o Rahi
We recently caught up with Curacao Kaea, an ex-student at Tokoroa High School who has played at the NZ Secondary School Ki o Rahi Nationals for her school before - she is now helping out her beloved school on their way to the 2019 Ki o Rahi Nationals in Hastings this April!
We wanted to find out a little bit more about Tokoroa and their love for the game of Ki o Rahi as well as to gain some insight into their experiences at the NZ Secondary School Nationals over the years!
Thank you to Curacao and the Tokoroa High School Ki o Rahi team for taking the time out to answer our questions!
How many years have Tokoroa been playing Ki o Rahi and what years have Tokoroa attended Ki o Rahi Nationals?
Tokoroa have been playing Ki o Rahi at a national level only since 2014. We attended the 2014 Wellington Nationals, the 2015 Gisborne Nationals and the 2016 Nationals when it was held in our very own town, Tokoroa.
The first time Tokoroa went to Ki o Rahi Nationals, how did the team go and how was the experience?
The first time Tokoroa went to Nationals, we didn’t know what to expect. We ended up in the top 8 and that was something we were extremely proud about. The experience was like no other, but the weather was terrible. Windy Wellington was definitely living up to its name.
What has been the highlight of Tokoroa High School’s Ki o Rahi journey so far?
I think one of the biggest highlights for us would of most definitely been in hosting the 2016 Nationals. That was something that we as a community were very honoured with. Also being able to link up with so many different people was a bonus.
Who are the teams you enjoy playing against and why?
The teams we enjoy playing against would be Ritana and the Wellington lot. The skill and respect from the two teams are beyond and we always experience new things from them.
What does preparation look like for Tokoroa in the lead up to Nationals?
Because we’re such a small school, the lead up to nationals is always hard, due to other commitments and trainings, but we know that when it’s time to train, it’s time to train and focus. We haven't been able to do much fundraising or anything yet but we’re slowly getting there.
If you could describe the style of Taniwha Tokoroa High play in one word what would it be?
I would say different. We play a lot of different styles of Taniwha.
If you could describe the style of Ki oma Tokoroa High play in one word what would it be?
Freestyle. We love to just jam and give it a go to be very honest. We don't often have anything planned, we just freestyle.
What do you/the team enjoy about Ki o Rahi?
We enjoy the game because It allows you to travel around the country and to meet a lot of people.
What other sports do the team play? And how does that contribute to the team?
There’s a mixture of sports involved in our team, soccer, touch, rugby, league, netball and there’s a few more to name. When everyone brings their own skills from other sports into this game, it raises the bar of talent in so many ways. Netball helps majorly with our girls when it comes to defending and sticking with their partners and touch for our boys when we’re on Ki Oma because a lot of them use their touch skills to step and get around their players to score.
Who are the main drivers of Ki o Rahi in your area and how have they helped make Ki o Rahi as popular as it is?
Two of the main drivers of KI o Rahi in our area would be Kacey Maaka and the students. Kacey Maaka is one of the main reasons Tokoroa first made Nationals and why we are passionate about the sport. She would go into many of the schools and teach it. She was always supporting us everywhere we went.
The students also have a lot of passion for the game, and I believe that when you have a lot of passion for something, your love for it only grows and grows.
What visions do you/the team have for Ki o Rahi in the future?
To not only help the game grow but to help the language grow too. Using Maori words a lot more instead of just saying ‘1 point, 2 points’ etc. It would be so cool to see the game being played in Australia too.