Ngunguru welcomes Scotland's women's rugby team

By Tumamao Harawira

Scotland's women's rugby team has taken a break from competition to enjoy a cultural experience at Ngunguru Marae in Northland.

Bagpipes and karanga welcomed the team onto the marae, an experience that affected both visitors and hosts, and it was a chance to celebrate the genealogical links between the two people.

Many Ngāti Wai uri have whakapapa links to Scotland, and for the team and head coach Bryan Esson, it was a homecoming of sorts for his players.

"There's probably more Scots in the tribe than there is in the squad."

The Scottish team has so far suffered two defeats at the Women's Rugby World Cup, so this was an opportunity to relieve some of the pressure and to get a real-world experience of te ao Māori, including hākarī and kapa haka performances from Tikipunga High School.

Rhona Lloyd, who plays on the wing for the Scots, says they weren't expecting such a warm welcome.

Scottish whakapapa

"We thought we were coming here for a cultural experience but I think we gained so much more than that. We felt so welcome. It was really emotional actually to see the young kids dancing and doing their haka."

Furthermore, according to Rōpata Diamond, the cultural experience went both ways, and it was a chance for rangatahi from the region to see what a professional sports team looks like.

"They can see that there is a pathway for them to chase their dreams in the years to come."

Simon Mitchell, who chairs Ngunguru Marae, says they wanted the marae to be a part of the local experience for those visiting the region.

"We have been reaching out to a few of the teams to come to our marae, learn about who we are and welcome them into our area, and give them a bit of a cultural experience, and also to learn from them as well.

"Today, a lot of us started to share our Scottish whakapapa. At four o'clock they weren't Scottish but now they are."