Games of the past, better health for the future

For the last three months our Movement and Sports team, in collaboration with Community Leisure Management (CLM), has been taking the Village Games prototype to four primary schools in Ōtara – Bairds Mainfreight, Rongomai, Wymondley, and Flat Bush.

The Village Games highlights the importance of Pacific and Māori games and sports and how these traditional forms of movement are key to getting our people active as well as highlighting the importance of passing on the traditional games and knowledge for future generations. It promotes traditional games and sports as well as nurturing an understanding of how incorporating culture and language compels Pacific people to move and achieve good health and wellbeing.

“One of the perks of sharing the Village Games with our tamariki is seeing the joy and enthusiasm they bring to the games. Each week they are learning new games, building connections as a class as well as fostering a sense of cultural pride,” says Ashlynn Ale, Systems Innovator.

“It’s incredible to witness the positive impact these traditional activities have on the students’ physical and mental well-being.”

The Village Games, initially launched in 2020, has evolved beyond a mere platform for physical activity. In the midst of the lively gameplay, tamariki are exposed to indigenous knowledge, traditions, language and cultural movement from generations before them. 

According to Maine Terangi, a teacher at Rongomai, “From the very first session, the children were actively engaged and included. There was no one standing on the sideline or feeling left out. Everyone is present and just having fun by learning the games we as children played back home on our islands.”

As the Village Games initiative continues to gain momentum, the Movement and Sports team is actively exploring partnerships with other schools and community organisations to expand its reach. 

One of the key focuses for the team is to help shift resource flow away from mainstream physical activations to prototypes like the Village Games. By shifting resources to support this initiative, educational institutions can foster cultural sensitivity and awareness among tamariki. 

Mainstream sports and movement can sometimes create an environment of intense competition, placing significant pressure on students to perform at high levels. The Village Games prototype, with its emphasis on enjoyment, collaboration, and cultural exploration, provides a more relaxed and supportive atmosphere. Shifting resources to this model contributes to a positive mental health environment, reducing stress and performance-related pressure on tamariki.

“The long-term goal is to ensure more investment to include the Village Games prototype into the educational curriculum. Investment reflects a commitment to reshaping cultural and physical education paradigms, not only at the level of individual schools but within the broader educational and sporting systems.

Continual collaboration, communication, and policy advocacy are critical for sustaining and expanding the impact of the Village Games over time,” says Lead Systems Innovator, Pita Alatini.

Check out some of the previous video series on the Village Games on our Facebook page.