Mission accomplished for the New Zealand Maori sides after nailing the inaugural test series against the Australian First Nations.
Some of New Zealand’s top Maori men and women took out the historic first-ever Trans-Tasman Clash of the Cultures in Auckland on Saturday with the women completing a resounding 5-0 victory while their male counterparts also won their corresponding fixture 3-2.
Aotearoa Football Charitable Trust Chairman and Head Coach of the NZ Maori women’s side (MAURI), Phillip Pickering-Parker, was pleased with the results but gave an even bigger tick to what was achieved off the field.
“The model we used was sport for development and the theme of the MAURI – Nga whanapoikiri punga wahine (female) week long camp was about empowering women in sport, in this case, football was our vehicle.
“Bringing together a group of young Maori women to embrace, enhance their cultural identity and pride within a vehicle of football was empowering for everyone, including the management.
“We created a safe space to open up to learn about ourselves and Tikanga Maori, with the support of one another,” Pickering-Parker said.
Before the battle took place on the pitch, each side engaged in their cultural challenges and Pickering-Parker said it was inspiring to watch his charges’ journey to the unveiling on game day.
“Particularly inspiring and empowering was our journey to learn our women’s team haka, Kia Mau ki te hoe, expertly composed by Katarena Potae and Iwingaro Matthews.
“Football is a great opportunity to bring the best out of us and our culture.”
MANAWA (Men’s) Head Coach Hoani Edwards echoed Pickering-Parker’s thoughts stating his men showed plenty of mana on match day and proved that we have Maori football talent that needs to be given an opportunity.
“We underestimated the importance of the cultural implications, but the players embraced it and there was a real sense of pride to be a footballer representing Maoridom.”