Dr Ihirangi Heke (PhD)

WiPCE 2014


Presentation at WiPC:E 2014

Pre-European Maori Physical Activity: Educating in the Environment

Currently, a comprehensive Maori perspective of physical education is non-existent.  A large proportion of physical educators, Maori educators included are perpetuating colonisation of Maori communities by teaching physical activity from a non-Maori perspective.  Many of these physical educators are unaware of over 80 environmentally linked guardians, a further 30 animal related guardians and some 20 spiritual protectors that Maori identify as being the model from which pre-European Maori physical activity processes were obtained.  In addition, there is little awareness of the opportunity to reinterpret pre-European Maori physical activity into a format acceptable to contemporary Maori and especially via contemporary physical activity modalities.  

He Kinaki Korero

Dr Heke is also a consultant to the New Zealand Academy of Sport delivering to several national sporting bodies including; Motorsport New Zealand, Cycling New Zealand, Motorcycling New Zealand and New Zealand Swimming Federation.  Dr. Heke believes it is time we reassessed outdoor education processes to include a much higher level of Māori related information.  Currently, the messages and strategies used to inform physical activity and health providers is based in non-indigenous paradigms that fail to inform recipients of the dual importance of Māori perspectives.


A continued focus on non-Māori engagement alone has not and will not be enough to recognise the huge range of Māori-information connected to the physical activity and health.  The rationale for reworking the current national physical activity curriculum for the wharekura sector will utilise among other things; Atuatanga (environmentally based information), Kaitiakitanga (indigenous role models) and Tipua (esoteric knowledge).

Dr. Justin Ihirangi Heke is currently a Māori health & physical activity consultant involved in a number of projects ranging from community based initiatives funded by the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health to working in applied roles with elite athletes as both a sport psychologist and strength/conditioner.  Previously he has held lecturing roles in the School of Physical Education at the University of Otago, the University of Hawaii at Hilo and the Wānanga o Raukawa.

Physical Activity Consultant | Atuatanga | Waikato Tainui