New 21st century jersey for NZ Māori rugby teamWhen the New Zealand Māori rugby team runs out on to the field next week the players will be sporting a 100-year heritage on their shoulders - a new black jersey that recalls the team’s illustrious history.
Te Ao Hou / ‘new dawn’ is the name given to the team’s new jersey - marking the much anticipated 2010 centenary season of NZ Māori rugby - which was formally blessed in Wellington yesterday (2.06.2010).
The jersey will get its first official outing on 12 June when the team plays the New Zealand Barbarians at Whangarei - the first of the three-match celebration series on home soil. The other games are against England and Ireland.
New Zealand Post is also commemorating the centenary with two special issue stamps - one incorporating the new jersey design.
Māori rugby story
New Zealand Māori coach Jamie Joseph said the jersey told the story of Māori rugby.
Te Ao Hou is inspired by Timitanga, the New Zealand Māori haka challenge that is performed before each game.
The intricate design incorporates two Māori taonga / treasures - the korowai or ceremonial cloak and wharenui / meeting house.
It also features the koru / silver fern encircled by two mangapore / hammerhead shark patterns representing strength and symbolically protecting the fern and the legacy of the New Zealand Māori rugby team.
"This year is such a significant year for all Māori rugby players and coming from someone who has worn the jersey before, it is going to be a great honour for every player that gets to pull on this very special taonga (treasure)," Joseph said.
Symbolic Māori design
Te Ao Hou was collectively designed by Māori artist Dave Burke from Dunedin, NZRU Māori Liaison Officer Tiki Edwards and New Zealand Māori team kaumatua / elders Whetu Tipiwai and Luke Crawford.
Tiki Edwards said the jersey would represent different, unique things to each player. The wharenui and korowai were chosen as part of the design because they represented warmth, shelter, protection, calmness, peace and mana / prestige.
"What they bring is their whanau, their family, and all the history into their jersey and into the performance so they can do all Māori proud," Edwards said.
New Zealand Māori centenary series
The centenary series celebrates 100 years since New Zealand Māori first took to the rugby field on 21 May 1910.
The Māori team won their first game against a local Rotorua team 25 - 5, launching a long and successful career that has seen the side play 429 times for 297 wins, 109 losses and 23 draws. The wins include 58 against international sides.
The three-match centenary series kicks off with a game against the New Zealand Barbarians on 12 June, in Whangarei.
The team will play Ireland in Rotorua on 18 June, before concluding with a match against England in Napier on 23 June.
Māori national team
New Zealand Māori is New Zealand’s official Māori national team.
It was the brainchild of Wiremu Teihioka ‘Ned’ Parata, who saw how popular rugby was amongst his peers. Parata took his idea of forming a Māori team to the New Zealand Rugby Football Union (now the NZRU or New Zealand Rugby Union), which supported the concept.
For New Zealand Māori’s first nationwide tour, Parata coaxed Billy Stead out of retirement and into uniform. Stead was the vice captain of the original 1905 All Blacks, and pioneer of the first five-eights position.
The establishment of the team also built on the reputation garnered by the New Zealand Natives - a team which consisted mainly of Māori players and toured from 1888 - 1889. The New Zealand Natives were the first rugby team to wear black on the field.
The New Zealand Māori had an historic win against the British and Irish Lions in 2005.
2010 Centenary Series game schedule:
- 12 June - New Zealand Māori v New Zealand Barbarians at Northland Events Centre, Whangarei
- 18 June - New Zealand Māori v Ireland at Rotorua International Stadium, Rotorua
- 23 June - New Zealand Māori v England at McLean Park, Napier
Great New Zealand Rugby legends