Māori sport is to reap the benefits of a new partnership with Ihi Aotearoa-Sport NZ formalised today.
The Mana Ōrite agreement between the newly formed National Māori Sport Authority, Te Huinga Tākaro, and Ihi Aotearoa will also see $1.225m in investments over two years from the Kaupapa Māori Response Plan, which was created in response to Covid-19 put into the authority.
Te Huinga Tākaro brings together 12 Māori national sporting organisations (NSOs) and their collective aspirations for the development and survival of Māori sports.
Establishment board member Carol Ngawati says it's the culmination of more than 25 years of determination by the largely volunteer-led NSOs, which have remained unrecognised and subsequently unfunded.
"A group of us got together, mandated by the Māori sports organisations to put together a legal entity and come up with a strategic plan, and of course work with Sport NZ on a potential agreement."
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Ngawati, a co-founder and life member of Māori Touch NZ, has dedicated much of her life to the sport. which is one of the organisations represented by the new national authority. The others are Aotearoa Māori Netball, Aotearoa Māori Tennis, Māori Basketball New Zealand, Māori Football New Zealand, New Zealand Māori Golf, New Zealand Māori Hockey, New Zealand Māori Rugby League, Te Tohu Tākaro o Aotearoa, Aotearoa Māori Bowls, Aotearoa Māori Surfing and Aotearoa Tag.
Tribute paid to elders
She says today's partnership agreement with the national sports governing body allows those Māori NSOs to look forward to and plan for a long-term future.
"It does recognise that all of the 100 years of contribution of Māori sport, and it's an opportunity to be able to build a strong collective, so we're able to support the sports to be sustainable, build appropriate infrastructure and maybe have some efficiencies around financial management and all the things that run an organisation.
"Many of those sporting organisations are just run by a few dedicated individuals, who are getting tired. So, what's the sustainability plan? What do we need to do to keep this going? Of course, a lot of sports organisations have pathwayed Māori into Olympics and Commonwealth Games and all those kind of global accolades as well as their national sporting organisation."
She also paid tribute to the immense work others have done over the past three decades to get Māori sport to this point.
"Dick Garrat has been a part of the working group, and of course Sir Tamati and Lady Tilly Reedy are our patrons, with Dame June Mariu. So we've recognised them and their prowess in sports and their leadership, but we also remember Albie Pryor and Amster Reedy and all the hard work that they've done."
Ihi Aotearoa chief executive Raelene Castle says the agreement indicates a long-term partnership that will enable more culturally distinctive pathways for Māori to engage with.
"Māori NSOs play a vital role in supporting Māori participation, performance and success, and Sport NZ is proud to provide significant investment for the first time.
"We acknowledge what the Māori NSOs do, and have done, for sport and especially for whānau, hapū, iwi, Māori to uphold te reo, tikanga Māori, and raise participation and performance as Māori."
Ihi Aotearoa toihautū principal advisor Māori Moana-Lee Raihania, is excited by the mutual benefits and the value the partnership will bring to sport in Aotearoa, and more importantly to Māori wellbeing.
"This is a ground-breaking relationship for Sport NZ, and as an organisation we are extremely humbled to be able to be working alongside Te Huinga Tākaro to improve participation and wellbeing outcomes for Māori.
"The accomplishments of the Māori national sports organisations are remarkable when you factor in the challenges they face.
"This day has been a long time coming and we must not forget the shoulders and legacy of those that are still with us today and those who have passed, their struggles and their joy in keeping the kaupapa of Māori sport going for future generations."
Ngawati says today's significant outcome is just the beginning and is hopeful more Māori NSOs will join the 12 original members.
"Nau mai, haere mai and we'll do it together. It's not an exclusive club, it's a club by whakapapa Māori."