Māori rugby update

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NZMRB Chair Dr Farah Palmer said Cushla Tangaere-Manuel, Arran Pene, Andre Baker and Andre Thompson are valued additions to the NZMRB and will ensure the continued growth and development that has been achieved.

The AGM reflected on what has been a strong year for Māori rugby and Palmer said there was success across the four strategic priorities.

Poutamatanga - achievement

The number of Māori rugby players numbers continued to grow in 2019, with a two percent increase on the previous year to 43,090 players.

“We are proud to see the Māori waka continue to grow at community level and know that this can be directly attributed to the incredibly hard work our volunteers are leading around the country.

“As we move into a challenging time for rugby, Māori rugby will continue to focus on our Māori values, networks, and practices to ensure we continue to push the waka forward in the future,” said Palmer.

The Māori representative calendar continues to expand, a highlight in 2019 seeing an eight-day camp for the New Zealand Māori Under 20 team in Rotorua which culminated in playing the curtain raiser for the Māori All Blacks v Fiji fixture.


Māori Under 18 teams were selected from regional camps, with the Nga Whatukura team playing a game of three halves against the New Zealand Schools and New Zealand Schools Barbarians in September. An Under 18 wāhine team was also selected after a camp in Rotorua.

Sevens was also on the calendar with poutamatanga on display with both Under 18 teams making the semi-finals of the Condor World Schools tournament.

Whanaungatanga – kinship

Palmer noted whanaungatanga was on full display at the festival week of Māori Rugby in Rotorua in July, leading into the Māori All Blacks’ sole home fixture of the year.

“That week was really enhanced by the four-day training camp for our Under 18s and a whanau day which was well attend.

“We had Under 18s, Under 20s and Māori All Blacks all interacting and creating a real buzz about the benefits of combining rugby and tikanga Māori in a way that creates a sense of belonging, pride, and achievement for all involved.”

Rangatira – Leadership

The three regional Māori Rugby committees worked together to align their respective tournaments to play out in October, which Palmer said showed a collective leadership.

“I had the privilege of attending the invigorated Te Waipounamu tournament in Southland and the Te Tini a Maui tournament in Hawke’s Bay and they were incredible displays of Māori Rugby – both on and off the field.”


Future Rangatira in the South Island were involved in E Tu Toa Māori Rugby and life skills development days in Dunedin, Nelson and Invercargill. The wananga, led by Te Waipounamu, will look to be developed, creating a platform for learning and leadership skills.

Taumatatanga – excellence

As well as having pride in the Māori All Blacks, Palmer paid tribute to the Māori representatives across all teams in black, in particular those selected for Rugby World Cup 2019.

Māori players, coaches and administrators were recognised at the 2019 Halberg Awards, Māori Sports Awards and ASB Rugby Awards.

“Two awards that really stood out were Sarah Hirini becoming the first wāhine toa Rangatira to win the Tom French Memorial Māori Player of the Year, and Tiki Edwards having his contribution to Māori rugby acknowledged at the Māori Sports Awards, receiving the Māori Sports Administrator of the year award. 

“This was a small acknowledgement for the massive amount of work and aroha Tiki puts into our programmes and people through Māori rugby,” said Palmer.


2019 Award winners

•Louisa Wall – Māori Sports Hall of Fame inductee, 2019 Māori Sports Awards
•Dr Farah Palmer – Sport New Zealand Leadership Award, 2019 Halberg Awards and Māori Sports Hall of Fame inductee, 2019 Māori Sports Awards
•Sarah Hirini –Tom French Memorial Māori Player of the Year, 2019 ASB Rugby Awards
•Allan Bunting and Cory Sweeney – ASB New Zealand Coach of the Year, 2019 ASB Rugby Awards
•Charmaine McMenamin – Black Ferns Player of the Year, 2019 ASB Rugby Awards
•Tyla Nathan-Wong – Black Ferns Sevens Player of the Year, 2019 ASB Rugby Awards
•TJ Perenara – SKY Television Fans Try of the Year, 2019 ASB Rugby Awards and IRPA Try of the Year, 2019 World Rugby Awards
•Aaron Smith, Senior Māori Sportsman winner, 2019 Māori Sports Awards
•Tiki Edwards, Māori Sports Adminsitrator winner, 2019 Māori Sports Awards
•Ben O’Keeffe, Referee winner, 2019 Māori Sports Awards


Board appointments

Four new Board members have been appointed, with Arran Pene an independent member, Cushla Tangaere-Manuel an appointed member, Andre Baker the Chair of Te Tini a Maui and Andre Thompson Chair of Te Waipounamu.

Former All Black and Māori All Black, Pene brings a wealth of rugby and governance experience to the Board table, as does Tangaere-Manuel who is the current CEO of the East Coast Rugby Football Union.

Thompson holds several governance positions within rugby and Māori organisations and has taken the role as Chair of Te Waipounamu, while Baker, a former Horowhenua Kapiti representative player, also adds his extensive rugby experience as Chair of Te Tini a Maui.


New Zealand Rugby Māori Board  (*indicates new member)

Farah Palmer – Chair
Rick Steedman – Chair of Te Hiku o Te Ika
Andre Baker - Te Tini a Maui Chair*
Andre Thompson - Te Waipounamu Chair*
Doug Jones – Appointed Member
Richie Milner – Appointed Member
Cushla Tangaere-Manuel - Appointed Member*
Merewaakana Kingi – Independent Member
Arran Pene - Independent Member*




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