Māori language finds a place at NZ longest running netball tournament

Te Reo Māori has found a home at one of NZ's longest running netball tournament.

In its 85th year the Kurangaituku continues to attract teams from around the country and Australia. 

Generations have played at the tournament which began in 1933.

Te Uarangi Teepa of Rangiuru says the tournament is all about building “strong relationships, celebrating our language and unity, installing the language within our babies.” 

More than 350 teams have competed at this year's Kurangaituku Netball tournament, which has embraced Māori language and customs.

Uru Clark of the Rotorua Netball association says, “At the start of tournament we begin with a Māori prayer and at the end of the day we finish with a prayer.”

This tournament holds a Māori name, however it's not a tournament for Māori only.

“I have seen that the Māori language has gained momentum during games, especially words of encouragement, a lot of it is coming from the Māori immersion age group.  I am hearing the language a lot,” says Tahlia Te Kiri.

There has been a strong push to normalise the Māori language at the tournament over the years.  However, Uru Clark of the Rotorua Netball Association says everyone needs to play a part in supporting the language.

“I would like to see more people speaking Māori all the time” says Clark.

The Kurangaituku tournament is run each year between the months of August and September over a three weekend period.