And then there were two! After 13 weeks of intense and enthralling competition, it’s north against south as two teams of young Māori men and women face off in the grand finale of Māori Television’s indigenous martial arts competition, ARIKI, screening on Tuesday 7 December 2021 at 4.00 PM – on Māori Television.

Puketotara or Jonkers Farm is the spectacular backdrop for the fierce fighting with rākau (sticks) in the second season of ARIKI produced by West Auckland’s Mahi Tahi Media.

A fast-paced sport based upon the ancestral art form, mau rākau, 'Hopu i te Ariki' or ‘Catch the Chief’ was conceived by the prestigious National School for Ancient Māori Weaponry, Te Whare Tū Taua o Aotearoa.

Eight teams with five warriors – including one Ariki or Chief per team – have been competing in this year’s tournament.

The last team standing will win the coveted title of ARIKI champions by one of two ways: either eliminating all members of the opposing team or by striking the Ariki once, thus eliminating the entire tribe. Five umpires and two judges are the adjudicators.

Ngā Hua o Tū from Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) are a team of three females and two males. ‘Ariki’ Pūnehu Wilson is confident of a win. “We've only just recently met each other; however, I believe we will succeed.”

Representing Te Waipounamu (South Island), Ngā Niho Tipua o Kahukura has two female and three male members. ‘Ariki’ Rawiri Pomare says his team will fight until the end no matter what.

“Of course, we want to win but the biggest outcome for us will be in the experience that we will gain,” says Rawiri.

Mahi Tahi Media’s Jade Maipi (Waikato), who created the show, says there is growing interest from rangatahi, whānau and kura keen to see the game introduced to more schools.

The grand finale episode of ARIKI screens on Tuesday 7 December 2021 at 4.00 PM on Māori Television.