April 1, 2022, 8:07 p.m.
The Ngāti Kahu Sharks have been training hard this pre-season to build a stronger, coherent team. Yet rather than only improving the physical side of the sport, the Sharks have taken a new approach, with an emphasis on whanaungatanga and the club values.
Billy Harrison (Kaiāwhina, Player - Ngāti Kahu Sharks), has long been acknowledged for his skill and knowledge of te ao Māori. Coming to the pre-season wānanga allowed him the opportunity to utilise certain tools such as 'Te Whare Tapa Whā' to give the boys new perspective on whānau, health and life.
“We just went over it at our wānanga, and we just built a better understanding around each pillar of 'Whare Tapa Whā', with our boys, a lot of them didnt even know what it means or what it is. It’s not something we touch on every day, but in our wānanga we definitely touched on those four things.”
'Te Whare Tapa Whā' is a Māori hauora concept. Representing a strong wharenui, our overall hauora is divided into four sections; taha tinana (physical health), taha wairua (spiritual health), taha whānau (family health) and taha hinengaro (mental health). All pillars form the four walls that keep us in unity and balance. When one side collapses, the whare will fall.
Utilising this tool, the Ngāti Kahu Sharks have been able to build a brotherhood of like minded tāne, combining to better themselves and the community around them. Joel Hone Bristow (Player - Ngāti Kahu Sharks) like many of the team, understands the importance of carrying the title of Ngāti Kahu and responsibility. Joining the team in its early stages, Joel has seen the teams rise throughout the years and encourages the idea of tāne building stronger connections within the team and within themselves.
“Ngāti Kahu have really taken me in, so carrying the iwi name and the values of an iwi, right into a sports team, specifically the Ngāti Kahu Sharks, those are things men really dont engage with these days.”
“Men socialising, has been a non-masculine way that we haven’t really allowed ourselves to really consider, our role and our place in the modern day as a man, as a Māori man, and the way we want to stand as a Pou Hakawhirinaki. Someone who is responsible within our whānau, hapū and iwi.”
These are the fathers, sons and uncles of Ngāti Kahu. Intent on a great season this year, the team are tackling some of their greatest challenges yet.