Mahuika: Applying the Atua of Fire’s Pūrākau in Fitness

Mahuika: Applying the Atua of Fire’s Pūrākau in Fitness

By Te Rua Munro

Te Rua Munro presents his research findings at The Toi Tangata Hui ā Tau 2020

My project for the six-week internship at Toi Tangata was to research and apply the Atua Matua framework in an everyday setting. I based my project around Mahuika, the atua and goddess of fire. My ideas were drawn from the pūrakau of Maui and Mahuika, where Maui destroys Mahuika’s fire fingers and where Mahuika then stores some of her remains in different trees such as Pukatea, Patete, Tōtara, Māhoe and Kaikomako. I used these trees and applied different fitness components to them based on the structure, the type and motions of the trees.

The internship at Toi Tangata gave me an opportunity to expand my knowledge and understanding of applying kaupapa Māori to physical activity. I valued the guidance from the staff and in particular,  the time I spent with Dr Ihirangi Heke in Kaikohe where I received more in-depth guidance through the Atua Matua framework and how it can be applied. I also learnt about co-design from the team at The Cause Collective and the process of building a project.

I was also able to see how Toi Tangata implements projects within communities and the depth of the work involved in developing projects that are effective and align with the tikanga of Te Ao Māori.

At the end of the internship, I was fortunate to be able to present my research project to health professionals at the annual Toi Tangata Hui-ā-Tau. I received positive feedback around the utilisation of Mahuika’s rakau as poū for physical activity and exercise. They also liked the huahuatau and whakapapa connection of Mahuika and her sisters Hine-nui-te-pō and Hine-i-tapeka and how this can be applied to smoking.

Overall, the learning I took away over the three-day hui were valuable and provided a variety of opportunities that I can apply into my future aspirations and goals.