The All Blacks Experience team will act as kaitiaki of the precious taonga, which accompanies the All Blacks wherever they play, at home or overseas. The stone embodies the team’s mana and offers them protection in their travels and on the field.
All Blacks Experience General Manager Phil McGowan says, “The addition of the mauri stone adds another dimension to the rich cultural aspects of the Experience. Guests to the All Blacks Experience are encouraged to touch the stone. Over time the stone collects the positive thoughts and wishes of manuhiri and in this way the mauri and support of the nation is passed on to the All Blacks.”
The stone was handed over to the All Blacks Experience at a dawn ceremony this morning by Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae, one of the 18 Papatipu Rūnanga of Ngāi Tahu, who are kaitiaki of pounamu. The event was attended by All Blacks head coach Ian Foster, All Blacks manager - leadership Gilbert Enoka and current and former All Blacks including Caleb Clarke, Akira Ioane, and Ian Jones.
The mauri stone is a large piece of pounamu in its raw state. It was discovered by Gaye Tauwhare of Ngāti Waewae, in the Arahura River near Hokitika.
Ngāi Tahu gifted the stone to the All Blacks in 2015 before they left to successfully defend the Rugby World Cup title in England. At the time, the stone was blessed by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei kaumātua Danny Tumahai and Taiaha Hawke and representatives from Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei were in attendance today as mana whenua for Tāmaki Makaurau.
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Lisa Tumahai, who was in attendance for the handover, says “Mauri is the life force, the essence or vitality of something. This beautiful taonga reflects the connection between the All Blacks and Ngāi Tahu and it’s special to be here today alongside mana whenua from Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei to celebrate these enduring relationships.”
All Blacks Experience is open now at SkyCity in Auckland CBD. Visit the website HERE.
Pounamu is only found in Te Waipounamu, the South Island of New Zealand, mainly in Te Tai Poutini (the West Coast) and it has great significance for Ngāi Tahu, who have always been its kaitiaki.
The kowhaiwhai patterning on the plinth that holds the mauri stone has been designed specifically for the All Blacks Experience by well-known Ngāi Tahu artist and master carver Fayne Robinson. The kowhaiwhai tells the story of Poutini, the legendary taniwha who swims up and down the rough seas off Te Tai o Poutini protecting both the people and the mauri of pounamu.