Four hundred secondary school ki o rahi players have descended on Gisborne for day one of the eighth national competition since its conception in 2010.
Twenty three teams from all over New Zealand have come to compete.
"This game is awesome. For our team it really brings out our competitive spirit and brings out our Māoritanga, especially because when we attend a Pākehā school," says Anastacia Joseph of Cullinane College Whanganui.
The traditional Māori game of ki o rahi is played in a circle and consists of four quarters. It's high intensity and is proving popular with people from all different codes.
"From what I see it has a lot of transferrable skills. The kids are all used to playing rugby, league and touch, so it's a game that is a mixture of all of those skills," says organiser Kerry-Ann Matahiki.
The competition is the biggest secondary school tournament outside of Auckland and had its beginnings in Uawa 2010.
"The most important thing is that it's growing, ultimately [we would like] to be able to take it overseas and to show the world and other countries and especially other indigenous cultures around the world that we as Māori have this indigenous game," says organiser Whetū Rangihaeata.
Gisborne Boys High School will be the scene of finals day tomorrow with last years winners Ngā Tapuwae looking to defend their title.