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'Kia ora whanau': Taiwan welcomes Maori athletes to Indigenous Games

New Zealanders to participate in hunting, woodcutting, alongside Indigenous Taiwanese

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The Māori team participates in a woodcutting event. (Council of Indigenous Peoples photo)

The Māori team participates in a woodcutting event. (Council of Indigenous Peoples photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The 2023 Taiwan National Indigenous Games will open on Friday (March 24) with 17 Indigenous Taiwanese groups attending alongside a delegation of New Zealand Maori athletes, who will join the competition for the first time this year.

Chairman of the Council for Indigenous Peoples (CIP), Icyang Parod (夷將·拔路兒), said this is the first time a team from New Zealand has sent a delegation to participate, and that a type of Maori music and dance performance called Kapa haka will be featured. The sporting event aims to deepen exchanges between Austronesian peoples of Taiwan and the wider Pacific region, the CIP said on Thursday (March 23).

The Maori team has 37 members, and has been in Taiwan since March 12, participating in CIP funded training in the basics of Taiwanese Indigenous hunting, woodcutting, and other techniques so that they can participate in the games. Icyang said that despite the Maori team’s short training time, they would prove to be formidable competition.

“They only trained for one day in the woodcutting event, and they completed it in just over 19 minutes,” which is about 30 minutes faster than previous years’ teams, he said. “This year’s field competition between the teams ought to be exciting.”

Taiwan’s Austronesian links have been promoted by the central government in recent years, as the country seeks to deepen connections in the Pacific region under the New Southbound Policy. Taiwan’s Austronesian connection with Melanesian, Micronesian, and Polynesian peoples was first popularized in the 1980s, when scholars presented a theory suggesting an initial wave of migration of people to Southeast Asia and the Pacific originated from Taiwan in around 1000 BCE.

"Kia ora" is a Maori greeting that has also become a common part of New Zealand English. "Whanau" is the Maori word for "family."