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Volunteers take part in a Ki O Rahi game at Downsview Park in Toronto. The traditional Maori game was being demonstrated at the Masters Indigenous Games. (Rhiannon Johnson/CBC)

A small group from New Zealand is at the Masters Indigenous Games in Toronto this weekend showcasing their traditional sport, Ki O Rahi.

"As Indigenous Peoples, we face similar albeit different struggles, share similar histories," said Kerry Callaghan.

"Sport unites us in friendly competition; takes barriers down."

When Callaghan attended a meeting with the organizers of the second World Indigenous Games in Edmonton, he struck up a friendship with Keir Johnston of the Aboriginal Sports and Wellness Council of Ontario.

Johnston invited Callaghan to get together a group to participate in the upcoming Masters Indigenous Games.

"The people of Turtle Island, especially Indigenous folk, are absolutely amazing hospitable caring and warm," said Callaghan.

"It’s what draws me back." Demonstration games

Callaghan brings with him his daughter, Maraea Waipouri-Callaghan, and Roera Hartley who are from the Ngāti Tūwharetoa Maori tribe. Together they are offering daily demonstrations of Ki O Rahi. Maraea Waipouri-Callaghan, Kerry Callaghan and Roera Hartley travelled from New Zealand to attend the Masters Indigenous Games in Toronto and showcase their traditional Maori game Ki O Rahi. (Rhiannon Johnson/CBC) Ki O Rahi is a traditional Maori game played on a large circular field defined by "pou," or boundary markers. The teams pass around a small ball called a "kī" and score points by hitting the pou or a central target called a "tupu."

Since there are only three of them from New Zealand and it takes two teams of seven to play, they invite volunteers to participate in the demonstration.

"Ki o Rahi probably the biggest traditional sport back home in New Zealand," said Callaghan.

There is also rich history of Ki O Rahi play in Europe.

"It was a sport that was taken to the battlefields of World War I and II," said Callaghan.

"It was soldier to soldier and taken as a pastime with the local people getting involved during downtime when the soldiers weren’t fighting."

The connection to Ki O Rahi remains strong in France and Italy today.

Callaghan said he hopes the game catches on in Canada and in other Indigenous communities across the world.

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