Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa Go to Te Ao Hou homepage
No. 40 (September 1962)
– 55 –

Sport

Maoris Play

In the last issue I suggested that for Maoris, taking part in summer sports is, in general, influenced by their personal and racial habits, by their living in the country, and by a number of other factors that don't usually apply to Pakehas.

In this issue I want to throw a whole lot of ideas into the melting pot and let them stew. Perhaps you will have the answers immediately, perhaps not—the aim being a better appreciation of Maoris in sport—or should one say, of sport in Maori life.

Not Organisation Men

There are few available and accessible sports that Maoris haven't had a go at. But the important point, I feel, is the manner and degree of participation. How many Maoris are active members of tramping clubs for instance, or deer stalkers' associations, or skin diving organisations? The answer, of course, is practically nil. When you are talking about things Maori, the very use of the words ‘organisation’ and ‘association’ seem out of place. This is particularly so in the sphere of sport.

On the whole, Maoris have not yet developed into individuals, in the sense in which Pakehas might be called ‘individual sporting men’. Maoris usually play not so much for the sake of the sport, or for their own sakes, as because it is the fashionable thing to do at the time—which means conformity to a group activity. For example, when a Maori kills a deer or pig during a hunting expedition, he sees to it that nothing is wasted, but that all edible food—which is just about everything—is brought back home.

‘Maori Rules’ Apply

Does he do this for himself, and his own personal glory? Personally, I don't think so. According to the Maori rules of the game, the proper

Picture icon

The famous Maori wrestler Keita Meretana is back in New Zealand again, after wrestling professionally in Honolulu, America, Great Britain, Australia and India. Dressed in Maori costume, and giving a vigorous haka before each contest, Keita was a top-line wrestler on British television programmes.

thing is that gains should be shared. So when this sport is played according to ‘Maori rules’, it is similar to top-line sport in that ‘fun’ is not so evident as seriousness, and rigid rules and codes.

The same principle applies in fishing and the other food gathering activities which are sporting and social parts of Maori life.

This is why, is a Maori doesn't turn up to rugby regularly every Saturday, his lack of attendance depends upon various factors that his Pakeha colleagues sometimes can't understand. He may have felt tired or wanted to play billiards or see a movie or go to a hui on that particular Saturday. The fact that he should have given notice of his pending absence doesn't seem very important. His attitude towards the game as a game is more relaxed; the significance of his participation depends on his feeling himself part of the social group concerned.

– 56 –