Lytton High wins Ki o Rahi

Gisborne’s Lytton High realised their five-year vision when they won the NZ Secondary Schools Ki o Rahi Championship on Saturday.

Gisborne’s Lytton High realised their five-year vision when they won the NZ Secondary Schools Ki o Rahi Championship on Saturday.

Ki o Rahi Secondary School Champs Final - Turanga Wahine Turanga Tane v Ritana -

RITANA (Lytton High) realised a five-year-old vision when they won the NZ Secondary Schools Ki o Rahi Championship in Gisborne on Saturday.

Ritana defeated Turanga Wahine Turanga Tane (Gisborne Girls’ High/Gisborne Boys’ High) 16-13 in the championship final at the Rectory.

It was the culmination of a vision from the first time they competed at the nationals.

“It’s the best feeling in the whole wide world,” an elated Ritana coach Tania Bartlett said of their victory.

Bartlett said they went into that tournament six years ago, knowing little about the tactical side of the sport, and won the bottom section.

She and several of the players made it their mission to develop their team into champions.

Two of those players, captains Ihipera Mackey and Treigh Akuhata-Christy, were among the Ritana team on Saturday. They came from behind to beat their local rivals Turanga Wahine Turanga Tane in front of a vocal crowd of fellow students, teachers, supporters and whanau.

“The three of us got together and decided this was going to be our year,” Bartlett said.

Ki o rahi is a high-intensity traditional Maori game played on a large circular field divided into zones. Teams score by touching boundary markers called pou and hitting a central tupu or target protected by opposition players.

It incorporates elements of other sports such as basketball, rugby, netball and touch.

“But with all of these skills, there also has to be a team element,” said coach Bartlett.

“We had to put aside time together as a team . . . to make them one.”

There were no shining lights. It was about everyone playing their part for the team, and according to the coach it absolutely worked out.

Ritana defeated defending champions Te Wharekura o Rakaumanga (Waikato) 24-16 in the semifinals, and Turanga Wahine Turanga Tane knocked out Hamilton Boys’ and Girls’ High 13-10.

There were early nerves for Ritana in the final against a side who were looking to go one better than their runners-up finish last year.

Ritana struggled with the ball. They were used to the heavier, used ball, but the one for the final was new, light, full of air and with a shiny coating that made handling more difficult.

“We were dropping it in the first half,” Bartlett said.

“It was going all over the place but we managed to adjust.”

That they were able to step up mentally and come back under pressure was testament to the character of the side, she said.

“I couldn’t be more proud of their commitment, tenacity, drive, and respect and loyalty to the school.”

Their championship win was capped by a Most Valuable Player of the tournament double. Akuata-Christy won the boys’ MVP and Te Mai Ora Olsen the girls’.

Players from both finalists were also named in the New Zealand secondary schools team, coached by Turanga Wahine-Turanga Tane coach Rapiata Ria, and the NZ Maori schools team.

Bartlett thanked parents, the school, principal Wiremu Elliott and Lytton’s board of trustees chaired by Albie Gibson.

“It was so good to have them right behind us,” she said.

Special mention was also made of Shane Luke and his tournament organising team from Turanga Health.

“Big ups to Shane for his work and perserverance.”

Luke said he couldn’t be more happy with how it went.

“It was a great tournament, with a high level of play and good spirit from the kids.”

Twenty teams from the far north to Wellington regions took part including Uawa and Rerekohu.

Rakaumanga will host the 2016 champs.

RITANA (Lytton High) realised a five-year-old vision on Saturday, winning the NZ Seconday Schools Ki o Rahi Championship in Gisborne.

Ritana defeated Turanga Wahine Turanga Tane (Gisborne Girls’ High/Gisborne Boys’ High) 16-13 in the championship final at the Rectory.

“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Ritana coach Tania Bartlett said of their victory. It was the culmination of a vision from the first time they competed at the nationals.

Bartlett said they went into that tournament, six years ago, knowing little about the tactical side of the sport, and won the bottom section.

She and several of the players made it their mission to develop their team into champions.

Two of those players, captains Ihipera Mackey and Treigh Akuhata-Christy, were among the Ritana team on Saturday.

“We got together and decided this was going to be our year,” said Bartlett.

Ki o rahi is a high-intensity traditional Maori game played on a large circular field divided into zones. Teams score by touching boundary markers called pou and hitting a central tupu or target protected by opposition players.

It incorporates elements of other sports such as basketball, rugby, netball and touch.

“But with all of these skills, there also has to be a team element,” said coach Bartlett.

“We had to put aside time together as a team . . . to make them one.”

There were no shining lights. It was about everyone playing their part for the team, and according to the coach it absolutely worked out.

Ritana defeated defending champions Te Wharekura o Rakaumanga (Waikato) 24-16 in the semifinals, and Turanga Wahine Turanga Tane knocked out Hamilton Boys’ and Girls’ High 13-10.

“We were dropping it in the first half,” Bartlett said.

“It was going all over the place but we managed to adjust.”

That they were able to step up mentally and come back under pressure was testament to the character of the side, she said.

Their championship win was capped by a Most Valuable Player of the tournament double. Akuata-Christy won the boys’ MVP and Te Mai Ora Olsen the girls’.

Players from both finalists were also named in the New Zealand secondary schools team, coached by Turanga Wahine-Turanga Tane coach Rapiata Ria, and the NZ Maori schools team.

Twenty teams from the far north to Wellington regions took part including Uawa and Rerekohu.

Rakaumanga will host the 2016 champs.

“I couldn’t be more proud of their commitment, tenacity, drive, and respect and loyalty to the school,” Coach Bartlett said.

Ki o rahi is a high-intensity traditional Maori game played on a large circular field divided into zones, with a ball called a “ki”. Teams score by touching boundary markers called pou and hitting a central tupu or target protected by opposition players. It incorporates elements and skills of other sports such as basketball, rugby, netball and touch.

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