Culture key to Māori ABs' and Black Ferns' success

By Ruth Smith

The Māori All Blacks and the Black Ferns will soon be leaving home soil to represent our national sport in the home of football when they take on the USA Eagles in November. 

It will be a prime opportunity to expose some Māori sportsmanship on the world stage.

Māori All Blacks first-five Otere Black says that the Māori culture is one of the secrets to their success.

"We are very fortunate to have an elder in our team.  For about a half an hour to an hour everyday, we have sessions were we learn to speak, we sing, we haka- it's good.  These are some of the things that current players rarely get to experience in, say, Super Rugby teams," he says.  

"So, when you get selected for the Māori team, you know the environment is unique.  It's a team with a rich history, run by tikanga Māori and our elder is the driving force."

Black says that although there are only a few speakers of te reo Māori in the team, there has been an increase in team mates wanting to learn.

"In the last three or four years, there haven't been a lot of speakers, so it was a bit difficult, but some have opted to learn.  That's a good thing."

Although the athletes will be more than 13,000 kilometres away from home, their Māori culture will remain with them.