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Stick games Tī rākau


After the separation of Ranginui, the Sky Father and Papatūānuku, the Earth Mother there was light, space and freedom for their children.

The children breathed the fresh air and began to plan their new world. Tāne Mahuta, guardian of the forest, looked on at the beauty of his mother, Papatūānuku and he set about clothing her. Papatūānuku was dressed in trees, fine ferns, vines and flowers, which were his own children to keep her warm. Tāne Mahuta made birds and insects to cheer her up with their song.

Tāne Mahuta was the father of a great family. Four of his many children were Toetoe, the sedge grass, child of Ngāore, Mānuka, the tea tree, child of Hurimaitea, Harakeke, the flax, child of Pakoti and Raupō, the native bulrush who was the child of Hine i te Repo.

Papatūānuku looked beautiful clothed in a sea of green, however still Tāne felt his work was not done.

Tāne Mahuta with the help of his brothers and sisters went on to create the first living woman, Hine-ahu-one. Her descendants are mankind as we know it today.

The mānuka, the flower stalks of the toetoe, raupō and harakeke were collected by mankind to make tī rākau. Today the tī rākau is mainly made from doweling and decorated, but the beauty and the strength of its message still lives on.

Jump Rope for Heart, section 12–2


Tī rākau was 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 treex

Learning experiences

Stick games Tī rākau/Tira (Dance 2–4, Music 2–4)