New Zealand Māori Rugby Board (NZMRB) Chair Dr Farah Palmer took the opportunity at their Annual General Meeting in Wellington to celebrate the growing number of Māori playing at representative level in Aotearoa, many of whom have come through their regional development programmes.
“It’s a great source of pride to look at provincial and Super Rugby sides as well as the Teams in Black and see such strong Māori representation,” Dr Palmer said.
“This speaks to the talent, skill and dedication of our people, and the support structures that enable them to represent their culture at the highest levels of rugby.”
In particular, Palmer reflected on the importance of regional development camps, which have been in place since 2015. The E Tū Toa Under 18 programme has played a vital role in the lives of rangatahi on and off the field, and 2021 saw more than 60 alumni of the programme playing representative rugby.
“We aim to use rugby as a way to encourage young Māori to be proud of who they are and to reach for higher peaks. To see such a large number of kōhine and tama graduate from the E Tū Toa programme and excel in the game as tāne and wāhine is validation that our mahi is making a difference for the young people involved.”
Fifty-three tāne who had attended E Tū Toa played across the Bunnings NPC, Super Rugby, All Blacks Sevens and Māori All Blacks during 2021, while 14 wāhine graduates played across the Bunnings Farah Palmer Cup, Black Ferns and Black Ferns Sevens.
Dr Palmer also acknowledged the recovery of participation numbers, with 25 percent of rugby participants in Aotearoa having Māori whakapapa – 26,551 wāhine and 120,879 tāne.
Departing Board members Rick Steedman, Chair of Te Hiku o Te Ika (Northern Region), and Richie Milner (Appointed Board member) were also farewelled at the AGM, although both will stay involved in regional Māori rugby. Rick’s enthusiasm for rangatahi development through Māori rugby was infectious, and he was a champion for the benefits of the Rangatira workshops. As Chair of the Rugby Committee, Richie initiated a survey to determine the state of provincial and Māori rugby relationships, and his aroha for his community through rugby and the Covid-19 pandemic kept the NZMRB focused on their ‘why’.
Newly appointed Board member Associate Professor Anne-Marie Jackson was welcomed, and her strong connections to Māori rugby in Ōtākou, the Otago Rugby Union and the Highlanders will provide great insight for the Māori Rugby Board as it looks to activate its new four-year strategy for 2022-2025.
“In 2021, we took the opportunity to review our strategy so that we could reimagine rugby to further enhance positive outcomes for Māori. This is especially important as rugby emerges from the pandemic, and we seek to keep Māori rugby relevant and transformative into the future,” Dr Palmer said.
In what was a challenging year for Māori wellbeing, Dr Palmer reiterated the importance of whanaungatanga and and a sense of kotahitanga through Māori rugby.
“Through our camps, workshops and online wānanga we were able to provide the social and cultural connections Māori were craving. We became even more acutely aware of the importance of connection as we grieved the passing of Rangiora Reweti and Sean Wainui, two amazing young people that we became close to through rugby, taken too soon.”
Regional and provincial Māori boards demonstrated resilience in 2021 by organising local derby games when and where they could. Some coveted trophies were contested, with Te Upoko o Te Ika Senior Tāne side claiming the Sir Eruera Tihema Tirikatene Shield, and the Waitaha Colts winning the Matt Moeahu Taonga in Te Waipounamu. Games of three halves also featured throughout the year, offering the opportunity for numerous teams to take the field in an increasingly condensed rugby window.
“It was great to see the determination of our regions to run their own local matches. It gave people the opportunity to represent their whakapapa and talents while also having fun.”
The Māori All Blacks celebrated their 125th match as part of their two-match series with Manu Samoa. “The festival atmosphere in Auckland was an amazing evening celebrating all that Māori and Pasifika bring to rugby on and off the field.”
The assembly of the inaugural Ngā Māreikura Under 18 team in 2021 was another indicator that investment into Māori development pathways is paying dividends. “It is a team for wāhine, by wāhine, with female coaches, management and kaihautū all volunteering to invest their time and energy into this amazing kaupapa. As we look ahead to Rugby World Cup 2021 (playing in 2022), Ngā Māreikura is just one of the programmes we will be championing in a year to celebrate women and girls in rugby.”
The achievements of multiple Māori players were recognised with respective awards over the year, with two in particular being highlighted by Dr Palmer.
“Sarah Hirini had an exceptional year as captain of the Olympic gold medal winning Black Ferns Sevens and it was wonderful to see Sir Wayne “Buck” Shelford being knighted and inducted into the Māori Sports Hall of Fame. He has demonstrated rangatiratanga on and off the field for a long time, and these honours acknowledge his mana.”
Ngā Māreikura Under 18 Girls Team assembled for the first time in 2021
The contribution of New Zealand Rugby staff members Luke Crawford (Kaihautū Māori / Māori All Blacks Kaumātua) Tiki Edwards (Māori Rugby Development Manager) and newcomer Kahu Carey (Māori Rugby Development Officer) were also praised.
“The commitment of Luke and Tiki plays a significant role in the success of Māori rugby programmes from grassroots to high performance,” said Palmer. “Tiki continues to be the backbone of our development of players and rangatira in the game, and he is now ably supported by Kahu, meaning their impact will continue to grow across the motu.
“Luke continues to be a champion of tikanga, te reo and taonga for all environments within New Zealand Rugby. He has provided invaluable input into strategic and commercial projects, Teams in Black campaigns, and demonstrated exceptional leadership through our times of grief.
“As Chair, it is a wonderful feeling to know that Māori rugby is in such good hands, and that our partnership with NZR was strengthened in 2021 with the mutual launch of our strategic plans to our stakeholders in December. I give my thanks to our regional committees and kaimahi who continue to dedicate themselves to the hauora and aspirations of our people in and through rugby.”
Farah Palmer - Chair
Robert Clark – Te Hiku o te Ika Chair
Andre Baker – Te Tini Māui Chair
Andre Thompson - Te Waipounamu Chair
Doug Jones – Appointed Member
Anne-Maire Jackson – Appointed Member
Cushla Tangaere-Manuel – Appointed Member
Merewaakana Kingi – Independent Member
Arran Pene – Independent Member
I whai wā te Hea o te Poari Whutupōro Māori o Aotearoa (NZMRB) a Tākuta Farah Palmer i te hui ā-tau ki Te Whanganui-a-Tara ki te whakanui i te tipuranga o te hunga kaitākaro Māori kei ngā taumata whakakanohi i Aotearoa nei, ko te nuinga kua hua mai i ngā kaupapa whakawhanake ā-rohe.
“He āhuatanga whakahīhī mō mātau ki te titiro ki ngā kapa ā-rohe, ngā kapa o te Super Rugby, me ngā kapa e komo nei i te pango ka kite ai i te tokomaha o Ngāi Māori e whakakanohi atu nei,” te kī a Tākuta Palmer. “Ka whakaatu tēnei i ngā pūmanawa, ngā pūkenga me te tōngakingaki o ō tātau uri, me te whai hua o ngā anga tautoko ka āwhina kia whakakanohi rātau i tō rātau ahurea ki ngā taumata tiketike o te whutupōro.”
Me te aha, i hoki kōmuri ngā whakaaro o Palmer ki te hiranga o ngā hōpuni whakawhanake ā-rohe, kua whakatūria mai anō i te tau 2015. Ko te hōtaka E Tū Toa i raro i te 18 tau kua noho manapou ki ngā oranga o ngā rangatahi i runga, i waho hoki i te papa tākaro, waihoki i te tau 2021 neke atu i te 60 ngā ihu puta o te kaupapa i tākaro ki ngā taumata whakakanohi.
“E whai nei mātau ki te whakamahi i te whutupōro hei whakakipakipa i a Ngāi Māori kia tū whakahīhī i ō rātau tuakiri, me te toro ki ngā taumata tiketike. Ko te kite i te tokomaha o ngā kōhine me ngā taitama e puta ana ō rātau ihu i te kaupapa E Tū Toa, me te whai hua i te kēmu tāne mai, wāhine mai hoki he whakamanatanga kei te tautoko ā mātau mahi i ngā taiohi e whai wāhi atu ana.”
E 33 ngā tāne i tae atu ki te kaupapa E Tū Toa i tākaro i te Bunnings Cup, te Super Rugby, te kapa Ōpango Takiwhitu, me te kapa Ōpango Māori i te tau 2021, ā, 14 ngā ihu puta wāhine i tākaro i roto i te Bunnings Farah Palmer Cup, ngā Black Ferns, me ngā Black Ferns Takiwhitu.
I whakamihi hoki a Tākuta Palmer ki te aurakitanga mai o te hunga tākaro, e 25 ōrau o ngā kaitākaro whutupōro i Aotearoa he whakapapa Māori - 26,551 wāhine, ā, 120,879 tāne.
Ko ngā mema poari e wehe atu nei, ko Rick Steedman, Hea o Te Hiku o Te Ika (Northern Region), rāua ko Richie Milner (Mema Poari I Kopoua) i tukuna kia haere i te AGM, ahakoa ka noho tonu rāua ki ngā whakahaere o te whutupōro Māori i ngā rohe. Ko te hīkaka o Rick ki te whakawhanake i ngā rangatahi i roto i te whutupōro Māori i hōrapa, ā, he kaipara a ia mo ngā hua o ngā Wānanga Rangatahi. I tāna noho hei Hea o te Kōmiti Whutupōro, i whakahaeretia e Richie tētahi patapatai kia mōhiotia ai te āhua o te whutupōro ā-rohe, me ngā whanaungatanga whutupōro Māori, ā, ko tōna aroha ki tana hapori mā roto i te whutupōro, i te wā o te mate Coivd-19, i whakatina i tā te NZMRB aro ki tōna ‘pūtake’.
Ko te mema poati hou, ko Ahorangi Tūhono Anne-Marie Jackson i pōhiritia, ā, ko āna hononga kaha ki te whutupōro Māori i Ōtākou, te Otago Rugby Union me ngā Highlanders ka tuku māramatanga ki te Poari Whutupōro Māori i a ia ka titiro ki te whakatinana i te rautaki whā tau hōu mō te tau 2022-2025.
“I te tau 2021, i whai wā mātau ki te arotake i tā mātau rautaki kia pohewatia anō e mātau te whutupōro hei whakawhānui i ngā putanga mō Ngāi Māori. He hiranga nui tō tēnei i te putanga o te whutupōro i te mate urutā, ā, ka whakatika mātau kia noho inamata tonu te whutupōro Māori, kia whanake hoki ki te anamata.
He tau uaua mō te toiora o te Māori, i toaitia e Tākuta Palmer te hiranga o te whanaungatanga, me te kotahitanga i roto i te whutupōro Māori.
“I roto i ā mātau hōpuni, wānanga, wānanga ipurangi hoki i taea e mātau te tūhono ā-pāpori, ā-ahurea hoki, tērā i minaminatia. I mārama hoki ki a mātau te hiranga o te tūhono i tā mātau murimuri aroha ki ngā rirohanga o Rangiora Reweti rāua ko Sean Wainui, he tokorua taiohi mīharo i tata ki a mātau mā roto i te whutupōro, i kapohia moatatia.”
I whakatauiratia e ngā ngā poari ā-rohe Māori te toka tūtanga i te tau 20211 mā te whakarite i ngā tukinga ā-rohe i ngā wā i taea, i ngā wāhi i taea hoki. Ko ētahi o ngā taonga puipuiaki i pakangatia, ko Te Upoko o Te Ika Senior Tāne i kapo i te Hīra Sir Eruera Tihema Tirikatene, ā, ko ngā Waitaha Colts i papatū i te Matt Moeahu Taonga i Te Waipounamu. Ko ngā tukinga toru hāwhe i kitea puta noa i te tau, i tukuna he wāhi mō ngā kapa tini kia eke ki te papa ahakoa ahakoa te kūiti o te wā tākaro.
“I pai te kite i te pūtohe i ngā rohe ki te whakatū i ā rātau tukinga ā-rohe. I whakapuaretia ki ngā uri he wā kia whakakanohi i ō rātau whakapapa, pūmanawa hoki i roto i te wairua ngahau.”
I whakanuia e ngā Ōpango Māori tā rātau tukinga 125 i tā rātau terenga tukinga rua kēmu ki a Manu Samoa. “Ko te wairua ngahau i Tāmaki i mīharo i te pō whakanui i tā Māori, Pasifika hoki koha ki te whutupōro i runga, i waho hoki i te papa tākaro.”
Ko te whakakotahitanga atu o te tira o Ngā Māreikura i raro i te 18 tau i te tau 2021 he tohu pai mō ngā hua o te whakangaotanga ki ngā huarahi whanaketanga Māori. “He kapa mō ngā wāhine, nā ngā wāhine, he wāhine ngā kaiako, ngā kaiwhakahaere, ngā kaihautū hoki e tūao ana i ō rātau wā, kaha hoki ki tēnei kaupapa mīharo nei. I a mātau ka anga whakamua ki te Kapu Whutupōro o te Ao 2021 (e tākarohia ana hei te 2022), ko Ngā Māreikura tētahi o ngā kaupapa e whakatū nei mātau i tēnei tau hei whakanui i ngā wāhine, kōhine Māori hoki o te whutupōro.
Ko ngā whakatutukitanga a ngā kaitākaro Māori i whakamihia i ngā pō tuku taonga o te tau, he tokorua i whakamuramuratia e Tākuta Farah Palmer.
“I mīharo rawa atu te tau tākaro o Sarah Hirini hei kāpene i te kapa i toa i te mētara kōura, i ngā Black Ferns Takiwhitu, ā, i mīharo hoki te kite i te whakatātanga o Tā Wayne “Buck” Shelford, me tana kopoutanga ki te Māori Sports Hall of Fame. Kua whakaatu ia i te rangatiratanga ki runga, ki waho hoki i te papa tākaro mō ngā tau e hia kē nei te roa, ko ēnei hōnore ka whakamihi i tōna mana.”
Ko ngā tautoko a ngā kaimahi o New Zealand Rugby, pēnei i a Luke Crawford (Kaihautū Māori / Kaumātua mō ngā Ōpango Māori), i a Tiki Edwords (Kaiwhakahaere Whanaketanga Whutupōro Māori) me te tauhou, me Kahu Carey (Āpiha Whanaketanga Whutupōro Māori) i mihia.
“Ko te manawanui o Luke rāua ko Tiki ka koha nui ki te angitū o ngā kaupapa whutupōro Māori i ngā pārekereke, ki ngā taumata tiketike,” te kī a Palmer. “Ka tautoko a Tiki i te tuaiwi o te whakawhanake i ngā kaitākaro me ngā rangatira o te kēmu, ā, e tautokona ana ia e Kahu ināianei nō reira ka nui atu te hau o ō rāua rongo pai puta noa i te motu.
“Ka kōkiri tonu a Luke i ngā tikanga, te reo Māori me ngā taonga mō ngā taiao katoa o roto i a New Zealand Rugby. He uara nui kei āna koha ki ngā kaupapa rautaki, kaupapa pakihi hoki, ngā kaupapa Teams in Black, ā, i tino ārahi ia i roto i te wā o te mate.
“I taku noho Hea, he koanga ngākau ki te mōhio kei ngā ringaringa pai te whutupōro Māori, ā, ko tō mātau whanaungatanga me NZR i whakarenarenatia i te tau 2021 mā roto i te whakarewanga ngātahitanga o ngā mahere rautaki ki ngā hunga whaipānga i te Tīhema. E mihi ana ki ngā kōmiti ā-rohe, ngā kaimahi hoki e tōngakingaki ana mō te hauora me ngā wawata o ō tātau uri i roto i te whutupōro.
Farah Palmer - Hea
Robert Clark – Te Hiku o te Ika Hea
Andre Baker – Te Tini a Māui Hea
Andre Thompson - Te Waipounamu Hea
Doug Jones – Mema i Kopoua
Anne-Maire Jackson – Mema i Kopoua
Cushla Tangaere-Manuel – Mema i Kopoua
Merewaakana Kingi – Mema Motuhake
Arran Pene – Mema Motuhake