Netball at the highest level celebrates Maori culture in Otaki

By Taroi Black

The top netballers across Aotearoa got a taste of mau-rakau, haka and waiata in Otaki during their ANZ Premiership pre-season tournament.

Te Wānanga o Raukawa – major sponsors of the two time defending champions Pulse designed the programme which involves Māori games, waiata and marae style sleepovers.

Amorangi Malesala who signed with Auckland based club Robinhood Stars is proud to reconnect with her culture after a stint with the NSW Swifts in Australia.

“It's essentially a tool for newcomers to learn about our customs on the marae,” she says.

Te Wananga o Raukawa initiated the aspects of kaupapa Maori into the pre-season tournament with the aim of instilling culture and language.

“I was there to develop my skills and hopefully, I get a chance to showcase what I have learned. But I am glad to be back,” says Malesala.

"He pai mo nga iwi waewae tapu."

Australian Diamonds shooter Caitlin Bassett who has linked up with Waikato BOP Magic was in awe when she finally learnt how to haka. “For me coming in as an Aussie and not know much about the Maori culture it was incredible.”

Te Wananga o Raukawa CEO Mereana Selby says the programme has been running since the inauguration of the New Zealand domestic league in 2017.

“I'm sure some were shocked to see the mattresses on the floor, but they all went along with it. But they will gain a lot through this experience,” Selby says.