Mau-rākau lessons for Silver Ferns and NZ Netball stars

By Taroi Black
Silver Ferns GK Jane Watson (centre) learning mau-rākau during the netball pre-season tournament in Otaki.  Photo/Supplied

New Zealand netball stars have converged on Otaki to kick off the ANZ Premiership pre-season with Māori mau-rākau and haka practise.

Silver Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua saw this as a huge opportunity for all the franchise teams to incorporate a Māori flavour into the pre-season tournament organised by Te Wānanga o Raukawa.

“Those things I think not only help the individuals but also the team to learn the Māori culture and the kawa,” Dame Noeline says.

Photo/Supplied

Te Wānanga o Raukawa are the leading sponsors for the defending champion Central Pulse team, helping them to excel in reo Māori lessons and haka.

During last year’s grand final win, the Pulse elevated the sport to new heights performing their team’s haka to the crowd and acknowledging the tangata whenua of the Wellington region.

This builds player profile and a willingness to learn the indigenous culture, which many ANZ coaches are practising today.

“I like to think that we’re leading the way and we’re doing things a wee bit different.”

Photo/Supplied

The tournament hosted by the sport’s sponsor partners with Te Wananga o Raukawa for the 4th consecutive year and will run for the entire weekend. The event will give players ample time to prepare for the season opener in 14 days.

Central Pulse head coach Yvette McClauseland-Durie has high expectations for her side since winning last year’s premiership. The team is still looking good on paper with a mix of youth and experience, such as current Silver Ferns captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio and former captain Katrina Rore.

“Winning the grand final was incredible for our franchise and for those who supported us for a long time was really awesome, so for us I think it just sets higher expectations,” McClauseland-Durie says.

“I think in the start we were all anxious about what that might look like, but we’ve certainly both changed in lots of ways to make sure we reflect the kaupapa that the wananga are about and make sure it’s part of who we are.”

Who to look out for in the ANZ Premierships?

Maddy Gordon.  Photo/Getty Images

Mid-courter Maddy Gordon will be a force to be reckoned with representing the Pulse in 2020. She got her first taste of elite level in netball in 2019 starring at centre, wing defence and now has added wing attack to her repertoire. Since then, she has gained a position in the Silver Ferns development squad.

Grace Nweke (Right).  Photo/Getty Images

Standing at 1.93cm and becoming the best secondary school player of 2019 is the talented shooter Grace Nweke. Her time in the Northern Mystics last season has paid off, to the extent where Ferns shooter Bailey Mes has improved her craft as a goal attack for the Auckland side. Now, the New Zealand-born shooter is on a mission to be the best in her game.

Tayla Earle.  Photo/Getty Images

Tayla Earle is also tipped to be another mid-courter starring in the Mystics line up. Last year, she was recognised as an Aspiring Silver Fern of the future, having played a consistent level of elite netball in the premiership. Her strength and ability to run out a whole four quarters will be evident in the pre-season tournament.