For all its charismatic star power and global influence, a singular question has enshrouded football in New Zealand for some time.
Why are so few Maori footballers represented among the historic and contemporary figures that drive the key plotlines in the countries most played sport?
All is about to change however, with a talented crop of Maori footballers set to create New Zealand Football history on Saturday at Papakura’s McLennan Park.
New Zealand Maori men’s and women’s teams have been selected to take on the Australia Indigenous men and women in a test series. Aotearoa Football Charitable Trust Chairman and Head Coach of the women’s side Phillip Pickering-Parker says the movement is twofold.
“We’re trying to use football as a vehicle to use those with Maori lineage to not only play the game but also to explore the culture of Maori and what it means to be Maori.
“So for us, it’s twofold really. In a sporting context, the performance of the team on the field is really an empowerment of the teams to work together towards a collective goal that they will put together.
“Secondly, the cultural aspect, which we are hopeful will come across very clearly, is their pride. How they represent themselves, their culture, but more more importantly how they represent our people – Tangata whenua of New Zealand.”
The 20-strong women’s squad have been in camp since Monday and despite the short amount of time together, Pickering-Parker is pleased with how things are progressing ahead of game day.
“It’s [camp] gone really well considering all the girls have come from different parts of the country, different backgrounds and different levels of football.
“There is obviously a lot more we could do given more time but with the time we’ve had they are progressing very well. It’ll be a dangerous team on Saturday.”
The women kick things off in the ‘Clash of the Cultures’ at 12pm on Saturday followed by the men’s test match.
Trans Tasman ‘Clash of the Cultures’
Saturday 21 January
12pm Mauiri vs Kalya (Aust.)
1.Brooke WYLIE, 2. Samantha BUTLER, 3. Georgia BUTLER, 4. Jayden WATTS, 5. Macy BRADY, 6. Elizabeth TAKEREI, 7. Catherine CLARK, 8. Grace JALE, 9. Samatha TAWHARU, 10. Ella GOLDING, 11. Amy McQUOID, 12. Sam WARU, 13. Shae BRADY, 14. Tatjana SCANLON-TIMMINS, 15. Taelor PICKERING-PARKER, 16. Tara JACKSON, 17. Steph TROWILL, 18. Kalani WALTERS-HEWSON, 18. Rosa MURU, 19. Kalani WALTERS-HEWSON, 20. Meripa SEUMENTAFA
Coach: Phillip PICKERING-PARKER
2:15pm Manawa vs Kalya (Aust.)
1. Jack McQUOID, 2. Caleb SOUTHEE, 3. Cody RICKARD, 4. Sean CLARK, 5. Charlie THOMAS, 6. David RAYNER, 7. Darcy KNIGHT, 8. John CLOUT, 9. Harlem SIMIONA, 10. Lewis TILLER, 11. Quest TIPPING, 12. Nick SNEEDEN, 13. Alex McGREGOR, 14. Ben McCAFFERTY, 15. Dan Haua, 16. Arnon TAPP, 17. Mel CROPP, 18. Eli TIMMINS-SCANLAN
Coach: Hoania EDWARDS