Revitalising te reo through mau rākau
14 September 2018

Hopu i te Ariki, or 'Catch the Ariki' is a game that is helping promote te reo Māori through the art of war.

A battle is going down for Te Reo Maori and the aim of the game is in the name.

One group attempts to capture the others Ariki, or leader.

At the forefront of the game is te reo.

One of the major rules of the game is no English is allowed.  If caught, that player would be eliminated.

Hemi Tai Tin, one of the organisers of today's event says it is essential for the ariki to stick to that rule.

Another rule is when an ariki is caught, their whole tribe is eliminated, so if one was to be caught uttering an English word, that would spell the end of the entire team.

Wharekura from around Auckland gathered at Manukau's Hayman Park to partake in the game.  It was one of the activities involved in Māori Language Week celebrations.

Tai Tin says the intention was that participants in the hīkoi would see and hear te reo Māori flowing outside of a classroom setting, disproving the notion that te reo is spoken between 9am and 3pm, when suddenly everyone reverts back to English.

The game's origins lie with members of the weaponry school Te Whare Tū Taua o Aotearoa who says they grew bored with continually going through the motions of sparring, and decided they needed to create an environment where they could practice their skills within the context of battle.

As a result, the game of Hopu i te Ariki, can be played in the bush, at the beach, in the water, on sand dunes, on river banks, or indeed anywhere where the concept of battle can be imagined.

This game is not only providing a space for te reo as a whole to flourish, but also to reinvigorate a particular aspect of it, the culture of weaponry.

Tai Tin says the domain of Tūmātauenga (the god of warcraft) has its own culture, language, customs and practices.  However, those customs of Tū's are one and the same with Rongo (the god of peace). They cannot be separated.

With the return of traditional weaponry to the hands, maybe one day the language can be returned to the tongue.