Traditional Māori weaponry becomes a gateway for knowledge at Te Whare Tu Taua o Aotearoa

By D'Angelo Martin, The Hui

For more than four decades, Te Whare Tu Taua o Aotearoa has been teaching the art of Māori weaponry.

Former Cabinet minister Sir Pita Sharples founded the school at Hoani Waititi marae in west Auckland to share ancestral knowledge of mau rakau - a traditional Māori martial art.

He said he noticed rangatahi waving the rākau about, but not really knowing what to do with it.

"We saw people wielding the rākau, but being clueless to what they were actually doing," he remembered.

Sir Pita and his son Paora discovered that students from the school of traditional Māori weaponry were initially attracted by learning how to fight, however, mau rakau became a gateway for them to the whole of te ao Māori.

He said students wanted to know more about Māori language, culture and customs.

"We begin to naturally teach them our reo, protocols, genealogy, oratory skills."

Forty years on, the students are not only Māori but also Samoan, Chinese and Americans who've also become enthralled by the kaupapa.

This story is told in te reo Māori and subtitled in English.

Made with help from Te Mangai Pāho and New Zealand On Air.