it's more than just lifting a rock..


Well for starters, it is lifting. a. rock. from the ground to your shoulder as fast as you can. Which is pretty badass.. but it’s so much more than that as well. I get hit up quite a lot what the whole rock lifting is all about, why I do it, how I got into it…

So a basic overview is, five years ago I went to Tahiti with Te Papa Tākaro o Te Arawa a.k.a. Team Aotearoa a.k.a Team Te Arawa a.k.a Team Aotearoa…. lol its a joke, if you get it you get it.. anyway, we were invited to participate in Tū’aro Mā’ohi - the Tahitian Ancestral Games. Alongside whanaunga from Hawaii, Rarotonga, Rapanui and of course our haukainga, the hosts of the event, our Tahitian brothers and sisters.

Since we, Te Arawa, can trace our direct whakapapa (genealogy) to Ra’iatea (one of the islands near Tahiti), participating in the games was the gateway to connecting with the lands and waters our tupuna once frequented. Or in other words,

dreams coming true.

We were retracing whakapapa. Not only in travelling back to lands where our ancestors used to live, but competing in activities as they once did, as well.

The amora’a ofai is the traditional rock lifting. Adapted from what young warriors used to have to do, if they wanted to shoot their shot with the princess/chieftainess. A series of tasks were ascribed to the young men, and one of those was to lift a ridiculously heavy rock onto their shoulder x amount of times over the course of the day/s.

Another one of those tasks was to sail on a round trip to Aotearoa and back.

What would happen though, if the young men and their crew sailed to this land and didn’t return? They might be known as the aotea (traditional kupu for warrior/aito) who went far away, or if we translated that - we’d get ‘roa’. meaning long, or far. So, as a result of competing in Tū’aro Mā’ohi, we’re learning another line of kōrero (discussion) that Māori are the descendants of the warriors (aotea/aito) who sailed far away (roa), never to be seen or heard of again.

Not until advances in technology caught up and allowed our return to this land we once called home…

Back to the rocks though, not only symbolic in deciding who might be worthy of the princess/chieftainess - have a think about the biggest rock you know that’s closest to you?


The earth. What about how you start a pepeha? With your maunga (mountain) right? A big rock… Or now think about a smaller rock you might know, one you keep close to your heart.. literally.. Pounamu. Kohatu, rocks, stones are reservoirs of knowledge - our tupuna used them like external hard drives to download and upload knowledge and information… And people wonder why I lift rocks?

Because what kind of gym or piece of gym equipment is gonna give me the knowledge download, transferral and whakapapa/spiritual connection like I get from the simple act of lifting a rock up onto my shoulder? Don’t get me wrong, gyms and modern sports have their place, I ain’t a hater lol but they only scratch the surface when it comes to sustainable, effective outcomes for hauora, optimal health and wellness.

It starts with whakapapa, and that’s why it’s so much more than just lifting a rock.

Tēnā tātou, Mā’uruuru,


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