Te Whare Tū Tauā o Aotearoa want the art of Māori challenges to be better practised in modern day society. This comes after footage from 1988 re-emerged on social media of a northern war party being challenged at the welcoming ceremony of the Aotearoa Traditional Maori Performing Arts Festival in Whangarei.
True or false, is this type of challenge still valid today?
Te Whare Tū Tauā o Aotearoa exponent Paraone Tai Tin says it is valid, “If you are protecting your livelihood, you will do whatever you can to protect that.”
The flick of the coat to bring down the opponent. That's from this video, which has resurfaced on the internet and gone viral. At the 1988 Aotearoa Traditional Māori Performing Arts Festival, the importance of these customs became clear to these veterans of Te Whare Tū Tauā o Aotearoa.
“I felt sorry for our uncle. I gave him my favourite jacket, an Auckland Rugby League one to help him because his clothes were wet with rain and blood,” says Paraone.
Aperehama Karauti was the man who challenged the Ngāpuhi party on that day. Despite the harsh words he has received, Te Whare Tū Tauā o Aotearoa say he's a staunch proponent of the teachings of peace and war.
Hemi Tai Tin who is also a member of Te Whare Tū Tauā o Aotearoa remembers back to that moment, “What he wanted to do was to challenge the challenger. This was in 1975. One of the people there at that time was a pillar of Te Rōpū Manutaki.”
It seems to be prevalent in previous years.
“Those are the teachings of our leader. If someone challenges us, attack. There isn't a better way to describe it. Attack that person. Do not let our warrior be touched,” says Hemi Tai Tin.
A barrage of attacks. Therein lies the impetus to continue the teachings of Tū.
Hemi says, “It's evident that a lot more work needs to be done to make people aware of these teachings.”
The biggest message is not to let the ramblings of the internet shape views.
“The time has come for us to do away with technologies of the new world and return to the technologies of old such as speaking face-to-face,” says Paraone
Whether or not this will occur again at the Te Matatini in Ngāti Kahungunu next February remains to be seen.